Now that I’m a ripe 25 (read: 84), not only can I officially not hang, but I definitely can’t hang(over). To put simply: I just don’t have the time to be bed bound for the entirety of the day, wallowing at the sorry state of my head, stomach, and soul. But drinking is a pretty regular part of my social life, and I love going out to dinner and nice drinks with friends. I guess it’s rare for those in the health and wellness space to advocate for alcohol, but idk drinking can be fun, I’m in my early 20s, I’m responsible and I’m realistic. I’m not one to smuggle a bottle of kombucha in my purse to a restaurant and slyly pour it over ice under the table, evading eye contact of the restaurant staff (actually reminds me of the time I was underage and brought a flask of rum to a restaurant. My friends and I giggled as we passed it back and forth underneath the table, pouring the equivalent of a quarter shot into our Diet Cokes. Ah, yes, how cool I felt, until the restaurant asked us to leave. But that’s another story for another day). So I’ve included what I drink when I do drink, a bit of research, and suggestions from you guys about how to conquer the hangover! Please feel free to comment below and leave your own tips and tricks!! We’re all(cohol) in this together!
What I drink:
- When I go to a bar this is my drink of choice: tequila, soda water (club soda), lemon, lime, and a splash of grapefruit. I haven’t really done extensive research, but tequila is reported to lower cholesterol, optimize heart function, and help with digestion. I drink it because I like it, but a few health benefits sprinkled in there is just the icing on the cake. Or the salt on the rim if you will.
- alcoholic seltzer (I like Truly because there’s only 1g of sugar)
- Dry farm wines: ORGANIC WINE CLUB – no sulfates, no pesticides = less likely to get a hangover the next day. Wine has resveratrol (duh): Although these findings may suggest that resveratrol treatment has preventive but not curative activities in the pathogenesis of liver diseases, daily supplementation with 500 mg resveratrol for 12 wk improved the outcomes in a randomized, double-blinded, controlled clinical trial that enrolled 50 patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Also helps increase skeletal muscle mitochondrial capacity upon low-intensity exercise training. Lastly, resveratrol was shown to be an effective therapy for conditions associated with androgen excess, thereby protecting against age-dependent decline in fertility by increasing the ovarian follicular reserve, ovarian life span, and preventing oocyte apoptosis
- prickly pear cactus: overall hangover symptom scores were not significantly reduced, but the risk of having a severe hangover was significantly reduced by 50%. Less nausea, lack of appetite and dry mouth though no real changes found for headache, soreness, weakness, tremulousness, diarrhea and dizziness. Seemed to be more effective in those participants who consumed drinks bourbon, scotch, tequila (high congeners) vs. vodka, gin, rum (low congener). ( 1 )
- jurubeba: In Brazil, the herb jurubeba (Solanum paniculatum) is the most popular hangover remedy which is used after excessive food and alcohol consumption to alleviate indigestion and bloating in the stomach. ( 2 )
- In Egypt, cabbage with vinegar is considered as an effective hangover remedy. ( 2 )
- concoction containing a mixture of alder, licorice root, honey and ground gourd that allegedly helps the liver to detoxify alcohol ( 2 )
- EAT TONS OF ANTIOXIDANTS: oxidative stress / formation of reactive oxygen species is a dominating mediator of a number of the negative effects of excessive chronic alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption disturbs the balance between the pro- and anti-oxidant systems of the organism, so as to cause oxidative stress. Free radicals or reactive oxygen species attack fats and proteins and rapidly enter cell membranes causing damage to the membrane, which leads to alcohol-induced oxidative tissue injuries. Therefore, effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory drugs or foods might be useful for alleviating the harmful health consequences of excessive alcohol consumption ( 3 )
- fenugreek seeds (Trigonela foenum-graecum) may have liver protecting activity by enhancing antioxidant properties, likely due to bioactive antioxidants called polyphenols ( 3 )
- japanese raisin tree: used as a traditional herbal medicine in China for a long time, contain abundant nutrients, possess free radical scavenging ability, has liver protective properties and so has been used for the treatment of liver diseases and alcohol toxicity. ( 3 )
- pyrus pyrifolia (Korean pear) has been used as a prophylactic agent for alleviating alcohol hangover due to polyphenols content In one study, he total and average of hangover severity were decreased to 16% and 21% by Pyrus pyrifolia juice after the alcohol consumption. Impaired memory and sensitivity to light and sound were also significantly improved among the subjects. In addition, the pear juice treatment decreased the levels of blood alcohol ( 3 )
- several compounds in mango fruit, such as fructose and aspartate, might enhance alcohol metabolism, and may decrease plasma alcohol level after excessive alcohol intake. ( 3 )
- the extracts of thyme (Thymus vulgaris) have detoxifying and antioxidant effects. The essential oil of thyme has showed free radical scavenging and antibacterial activity, and it could detoxify alcohol toxicity. ( 3 )
- ginger (Zingiber officinale) exhibits antioxidant potential and liver protective activity. The antioxidant compounds of ginger may modulate the oxidative stress induced by alcohol.( 3 )
- asparagus may alleviate hangover and protect liver cells from alcohol toxic due to its dietary fiber and flavonoids – these improve the plasma lipid profile and reduce liver oxidative damage in mice models ( 3 )
- asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) has therapeutic potential for the treatment of alcohol toxicity and as an anti-hangover agent, showing positive effects on alcohol metabolism ( 3 )
- st. John’s Wort: could reduce voluntary alcohol intake and act on opioid receptor to prevent further alcohol consumption. It also has protective effects to alcohol-induced toxicity in major organs in animals such as reproduction and gastric. ( 3 )
- berberine: has property of modulating several neurotransmitter systems, especially in alcohol use disorder. In an alcohol withdrawal-induced experiment done on mice, acute and chronic administration of berberine (10 and 20 mg/kg) dose-dependently lessened alcohol withdrawal-induced hyperexcitability signs ( 3 )
- glutathione content was 43% and 17% decreased after drinking, and supplementation may be effective to reduce hangovers. one study combined glutathione with yeast extract and showed that this combination enhanced alcohol clearance rate by lowering blood concentrations of alcohol, as well as by exerting antioxidant effects. ( 4 ) ( 5 )
- activated charcoal: This one I’m still on the fence about. Apparently charcoal: binds to toxic metabolites that are produced when drinking alcohol. Though I wasn’t able to find many studies confirming its claims.
- Oral activated charcoal is often used to treat drug overdose – large reductions in drug absorption occur when activated charcoal is administered soon after drug ingestion. And most studies I found were about drugs and not alcohol, though both are metabolized in the liver, so it’s possible for parallels to be made. But again this is my own speculation, motivated by readers suggesting this as a good hangover remedy.
- When administered after 1 h activated charcoal reduced individual plasma paracetamol concentrations significantly at all times between 4 and 9 h after paracetamol administration. Administration at 2 or 4 h had no significant effect. So you have to have it either before drinking or directly after, gathered from this study. For slow release drugs or those with delayed absorption, the efficacy of delayed activated charcoal may be greater: activated charcoal 25 g reduced absorption of amlodipine by 99%, 49% and 15% when administered immediately or after intervals of 2 or 6 h . Similarly, the same dose reduced absorption of a slow release verapamil preparation by 35% and 32% when given after 2 or 4 h, but did not significantly affect absorption of a standard release verapamil preparation after these intervals ( 6 ). It was also effective in reducing deaths and life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias after yellow oleander poisoning and should be considered in all patients. Use of activated charcoal could reduce the cost of treatment ( 7 ).
- I did find one study regarding activated charcoal and alcohol absorption and its inefficacy, though it was super small and the study is pretty outdated. Six healthy young adults drank a dose of ethanol designed to give a peak concentration of 125 mg/dl on two different days after overnight fasting. Each individual drank the same dose on both occasions; but on one of these days, the subjects drank an aqueous slurry of 60 g of superactive charcoal prior to alcohol ingestion. The mean peak ethanol concentration after pretreatment with activated charcoal was actually 8% greater than ethanol alone. This study conflicted that oral activated charcoal does not significantly impair ethanol absorption ( 8 )
Things that are depleted by drinking alcohol: sodium, B vitamins, magnesium, antioxidants, potassium
Hangover grocery list:
- pickle juice: replenishes depleted sodium levels
- eggs: taurine boosts liver function and may help prevent liver disease – casein breaks down acetaldehyde, acetylcholine, calcium, vitamin D, B12
- potassium: bananas, dates, leafy greens, coconut water
- miso soup: stock helps replete sodium levels while fermented miso can help aid digestion
- toast with honey
- chia seeds
- oats: b vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron
- avocado: B6, carotenoids, heart healthy fats
- ginger lemon herbal tea: nausea and anti-inflammaotry
- beans: body craves magnesium after drinking – B vitamins, calcium, vitamin D
- salmon: alcohol depletes B vitamins
- broccoli – has folate and it’s depleted you feel fatigued
- sweet potato: fiber, potassium, carotene, B vitamins
- beets: nitric oxide increases blood flow and oxygen efficiency – potassium, vitamin C, fiber and folate
- quinoa: b vitamins, fiber
- chlorophyll: delivers magnesium to tissues, chelates calcium, stimulates red blood cells to improve oxygen supply, neutralizes free radicals
- don’t eat: greasy food, more alcohol, OJ (too much acid production)
Recommended hangover preventers:
- bulletproof charcoal: 2 before I drink and 2 the next day – this effects other medications beware
- bulletproof unfair advantage
- zaca (**I tried this – unsponsored – and had no headache after three glasses of wine. THREE GLASSES. Also another reader said she tried using it after a few martinis and half bottle of wine at a bachelorette party (YAS) and said no headache the next day).
- peppermint essential oils – apply topically a few drops to the back of your neck and on your temples and diffusing is great too
- garden of life refrigerated probiotic UTI specific and lots of alkaline water. works every time for me. boyfriend is a huge wine snob and a full day tasting (turns out to over a bottle of wine for me) and I’m in the clear – plenty of water before and after and the probiotic a few hours before
- umeboshi paste – plum paste you take before you start drinking
- magnesium drops and a ton of water
- Party Smart (found at whole foods and on amazon) – main ingredient is chicory root
- 2 tbsp chia seeds in water before you go to bed
- take a borage supplement before drinking and I guess it works wonders
- Life aid has a bunch of different recovery drinks and one called Party aid
- try Nuun. It’s not marketed for hangovers but does the trick for me every time
- “I woke up hungover last weekend and had a glass of the aloha superfood greens and it saved my life! So I guess that isn’t prevention but it cures haha”
- “pear juice mixed with coconut water”
This post is entirely UNSPONSORED. I really wanted to give a non-biased account of what works for some people in the hopes that it might help others.
( 1 ) Verster, J.C. & Penning, R. (2012). Treatment and prevention of alcohol hangover. Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 3, 103-109.
( 2 ) Xu, b.J., Zheng, Y.N., & Sung, C.K. (2005). Natural medicine for alcoholism treatment: A review. Drug and Alcohol Review, 24, 525-536. doi: 10.1080/09595230500293795
Virgate Wormwood is known to be tremendously effective in expelling accumulated alcohol from the body. It removes toxic wastes from the blood and organs and promotes urination.
( 3 ) Wang, F., Li, Y., Zhang, Y-J., Zhou, Y., Li, S., & Li, H-B. (2016). Natural products for the prevention and treatment of hangover and alcohol use disorder. MOlecules, 21(1), 64. doi: 10.3390/molecules21010064
( 4 ) Karadayian, A.G., Malanga, G., Czerniczyniec, A., Lombardi, P., Bustamante, J., & Lores-Arnaiz, S. (2017). Free radical production and antixoidant status in brain cortex non-synaptic mitochondria and synaptosomes at alcohol hangover onset. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 108, 692-703. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2017.04.344
( 5 ) Lee, H-S., Song, J., Kim, T.M., Soo Joo, S., Park, D., Jeon, J.H., Shin, S., … & Kim, Y-B. Effects of a preparation of combined gluathione-enriched yeast and rice emryo/soybean extractis on ethanol hangover. Journal of Medicinal Food, 12(6), 1359-1367. doi: doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2008.1367
( 6 ) Yeates, P.J.A. & Thomas, S.H.L. (2000). Effectiveness of delayed activated charcoal administration in simulated paracetamol (acetaminophen) overdose. British Journal of Clinic Pharmacology, 49(1), 11-14. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.2000.00107.x
( 7 ) de Silva, H.A., Fonseka, M.M.D., Pathmeswaran, A., Alahakone, D.G.S., Ratnatilake, G.A., Gunatilake, S.B., Ranasinha, C.D., … & de Silva, H.J. (2002). Multiple-dose activated charcoal for treatment of yellow oleander poisoning: a single-blind, ranomised, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet, 361(9373), 1935-1938. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)13581-7
( 8 ) Minocha, A., Herold, D.A., Barth, J.T., Gideon, D.A. & Spyker, D.A. (1986). Activated charcoal in oral ethanol abosrption: lack of effect in humans. Journal of Toxicology: clinical Toxicology, 24(3), 225-234. doi: 10.3109/15563658608990460
( 9 ) Weiskirchen, S. & Weiskirchen, R. (2016). Resveratrol: How much wine do you have to drink to stay healthy? Advances in Nutrition, 7(4), 706-718. doi: 10.3945/an.115.011627