You never expected to wake up with a skull-cracking headache and a queasy stomach. How could you have a hangover when you only enjoyed a few drinks? Your body’s tolerance for alcohol can vary greatly depending on such factors as your level of hydration, overall nutrition, and how frequently you consume alcohol. If you find yourself unexpectedly ill after an evening out – or if you’d like to avoid an unpleasant surprise-these natural remedies are your allies. They are gentle and nourishing, and may all be used simultaneously if you wish.
Water. Alcohol is metabolized in your liver, and the toxic byproducts are filtered from your bloodstream by your kidneys, which require plenty of water to do their work. As a result, it’s easy to become mildly dehydrated after drinking alcohol. Without sufficient water, the toxins will remain in your body and cause morning-after woes. Drink a large glass of water before bed, and you’ll be able to process the alcohol much more comfortably.
Nutrition. Your body uses many nutrients in the process of metabolizing alcohol, especially vitamins A, B, C, and zinc. If you consume alcoholic beverages regularly, you may be deficient in these nutrients. Linda B. White, MD. and herbalist Stephen Foster, authors of “The Herbal Drugstore,” recommend that you take a multivitamin containing the following nutrients after an occasion of drinking: 15 milligrams of zinc, 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C, 100 micrograms of folic acid, and at least 50 milligrams each of thiamine, niacin, B6, and B12. Most multivitamins include vitamin A, but you could treat yourself to an alcohol-free Bloody Mary instead, as tomato juice is high in lycopene, a close relative of vitamin A.
Cayenne. Capsaicin is a pain-relieving chemical compound found in the seeds of hot peppers. Try adding a pinch of powdered cayenne to your virgin Bloody Mary.
Honey. Fructose is a form of sugar found in fruit and honey. It may be useful for decreasing the symptoms of a hangover and increasing your body’s ability to metabolize alcohol. Mix one tablespoon of honey into a cup of tea before bed, or spread honey generously on your morning bagel.
Ginger. Much loved by seafarers and pregnant women, ginger is very effective against nausea. Chew a piece of candied ginger or pour yourself a cup of ginger tea.
Willow. Salicin, found in the bark of willow trees (Salix spp.), is a natural version of aspirin that’s gentler on your stomach than its pharmaceutical counterpart, and safe to take after drinking alcohol. Steep ‘A a teaspoon of powdered bark in a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes; drink 1-3 cups per day.
Dandelion. The bitter flavor of dandelion root gently stimulates the liver, which may help you process alcohol more efficiently. Dandelion contains antioxidants, including vitamin A, and is also useful for relieving constipation and upset stomach. Steep 1-2 teaspoons of dried root in a cup of water for 10-15 minutes; drink one cup in the morning and another at bedtime.
Milk Thistle. Silyrnarin is a flavonoid complex found in the seeds of the milk thistle (Silybum marianum) plant. Clinical trials have shown that milk thistle extracts are effective at protecting the liver against a variety of toxins, including alcohol. If you drink alcohol regularly or are a recovering alcoholic, consider taking milk thistle daily at a dosage of 70-120 milligrams, three times per day. If you drink only on infrequent occasions, take a single dose before the party begins.
Ginkgo. In Japan, the seeds of the ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) are eaten to prevent the unpleasant effects of alcohol. Try taking three 40-milligram capsules of standardized extract before pouring your first drink.
Alcoholic beverages are a traditional complement to festive occasions, but they take a toll on your body. These natural remedies will gently support your ability to metabolize alcohol, leaving you feeling much more comfortable in the morning.