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7 Simple Ways to Prevent or Treat the Symptoms of a Hangover

James is known to enjoy a sip or two from the devil's cask. These tips are how he retains his sanity the next day.

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How to Prevent and Treat the Symptoms of a Hangover

While there is no known cure for a hangover, we can treat the symptoms and make the previous night's revelry worth the price.

This guide is for those who don't want to spend the next couple of days alternating between the bed and the bathroom—people who'd rather cook up something simple and plow ahead with their everyday grind.

It's time to get organized. Check my list. Pick one of the following ideas, and watch that hangover melt away.

The Hangover Checklist

  1. A nutritious breakfast (complex carbs)
  2. Red ginseng
  3. Ginger tea (with lemon or honey)
  4. Coconut water
  5. Watered-down coffee
  6. Dihydromyricetin (DHM)
  7. Antacids
Complex carbs will help regulate your blood sugar.

Complex carbs will help regulate your blood sugar.

1. Eat a Nutritious Breakfast (Complex Carbs)

A breakfast rich in complex carbs (avoid refined sugars) is a proven way to improve both energy and mood, even when your stomach is throwing a tantrum.

Some good breakfast choices include:

  • Bananas: Replenish the potassium lost while drinking (especially if you threw up).
  • Eggs: Helps replenish glutathione stores. Replenishes crucial amino acids, such as cysteine, which help clear acetaldehyde from your body.
  • Oatmeal: Helps with blood-sugar regulation by releasing sugar in a slow and steady fashion.
  • Nuts: For all your magnesium needs.
  • A smoothie: If you can't stomach solid foods, try blending some important nutrients instead.

Preventing Rather Than Curing

Don't forget the value of eating well before drinking. The presence of food in your stomach slows the absorption of alcohol and reduces the severity of hangover symptoms.

Red (Korean) ginseng

Red (Korean) ginseng

2. Red Ginseng

Red (Korean) ginseng is a staple in many people's kitchens, and if you have it, you're halfway back to your healthy, rosy self.

A randomized crossover study of the effects of ginseng found positive effects both with regards to:

  1. Reducing the severity of hangover symptoms
  2. Effectively reducing plasma alcohol levels

These findings make red ginseng both something you can take during a bender to prevent severe symptoms and as a curative after the fact.

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Availability

Ginseng is available as a herbal or dietary supplement. You can drink it as tea and consume it in every way imaginable (200 milligrams to 3 grams a day by mouth daily).

Personally, I'll take a warm, hydrating tea over a pill. But when the headache's thumping, I'll take whatever is in reach.

Note: Some energy drinks will mention ginseng in their ingredients and may seem like a good idea on a hangover day, but the dosage is too low, and we're interested in Korean ginseng only!

Ginger tea to help manage your nausea and hydrate

Ginger tea to help manage your nausea and hydrate

3. Ginger tea (With Lemon or Honey)

Made from ginger root, this tea is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to control stomach-related problems such as nausea and vomiting.

On a personal note, I admit it can be difficult to get ginger tea to taste right. One way to find your personal balance is to use honey and lemon to slide the sweetness scale in the direction you want it.

Availability

You're not limited to just brewing teas. You can mix it with your food (soup!), take it as a supplement, or even eat it fresh if that's your thing.

Ginger is widely available and is likely lurking deviously somewhere in your kitchen. Why not go and take a peek?

Rehydrate rapidly with this low-calorie, low-sugar, natural energy drink.

Rehydrate rapidly with this low-calorie, low-sugar, natural energy drink.

4. Coconut Water

Maintaining adequate hydration during a drinking session (and after one) is the best way to avoid waking up with a hangover.

If any of these symptoms are routine for you after a night of drinking, coconut water might be your ticket out of hell.

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion and irritability

Studies have shown that coconut water is effectively an all-natural energy drink. It is rich in vitamins and other nutrients vital to the process of rapid rehydration. What's more, it's low in both sugar and calories (45 calories per cup, or 240 grams).

What's not to love?

Availability

Coconut water is safe and readily available just about anywhere as a prepackaged beverage. Alternatively, for those of you who prefer a truly DIY homemade remedy approach, you could extract the water (not the milk) yourself. But given that an entire coconut is good for just one cup, I don't recommend it.

Weigh the pros and cons of drinking a caffeinated beverage.

Weigh the pros and cons of drinking a caffeinated beverage.

5. Watered-Down Coffee

Coffee? You may rightly chide me. Isn't that a diuretic?

Yes, it is. However, as a long-term caffeine addict, not getting my morning espresso means guaranteeing a headache.

Couple that with the promise of nervous energy to beat the general malaise and fatigue from a hangover, and I'll take my chances.

Coffee is not, strictly speaking, the best idea. However, I offer this as personal advice. I feel that what I get out of drinking my morning coffee outweighs what gets taken out of me. It may be a different story for you, particularly if you are not a coffee drinker.

Dihydromyricetin is an effective metabolizer and liver protector.

Dihydromyricetin is an effective metabolizer and liver protector.

6. Dihydromyricetin (DHM)

DHM is a flavonoid found in several species of pines and Cedrus that has been taken for centuries as a hangover cure in many Asian counties (usually as a tea extract made from Ampelopsis grossedentata and Hovenia dulcis).

Studies have shown that DHM does three things particularly well when it comes to curing our hangovers.

  1. It helps metabolize alcohol faster.
  2. It protects the liver.
  3. It counteracts acute alcohol intoxication.

What this means, in layman's terms, is that no matter how far along with the drink slide you are (from preventative to withdrawal), DHM is a proven way to help.

Availability

DHM extract is widely available as a dietary supplement and is commonly taken both as a tea and as a capsule (it can also be injected, but that doesn't seem like a practical home remedy approach).

Sometimes your best bet is cracking open a vial of something synthetic.

Sometimes your best bet is cracking open a vial of something synthetic.

7. Antacids

While antacids are not a "hangover cure", they are an effective way to address the digestive woes that tend to follow a night out.

Alcohol consumption causes the body to produce a large amount of acid to digest it.

To remedy this discomfort, our over-the-counter weapon of choice is going to be an antacid, which works by neutralizing the acid, reducing the severity of our stomach upset.

Availability

Dozens of products exist as over-the-counter remedies. Pepto-Bismol, Alka-Seltzer, and Maalox are three popular examples.

A simple infographic listing my hangover cure ideas

A simple infographic listing my hangover cure ideas

3 Ways to Prevent Hangover Symptoms

While we don't know exactly how a hangover works, we do know that the severity of your symptoms can be drastically diminished with a sprinkling of mindfulness while drinking.

Yes, it's easy to get carried away while under the influence, but don't forget to do these three simple things when you break out the bottle. You'll thank yourself later:

  1. Eat well before and after drinking: Rehydrating is about more than just water. It involves replenishing critically important nutrients such as magnesium and potassium. Food will also slow the absorption of alcohol by the small intestine, reducing the severity of the intoxication and symptoms.
  2. Stay hydrated: Don't wait until your head is pounding to rehydrate. Alternate your alcoholic drinks with a glass of water to improve your hangover outlook.
  3. Get enough sleep: Giving your body time to undo the mess you've created is an essential part of the healing process. Sleep, hydrate, sleep and hydrate again. If you have the morning off, repeat as necessary until symptoms subside.

Making the Night Out Worth It

Enjoying a wild night out doesn't always mean drowning in a sea of pain the morning after.

Chances are your kitchen has at least one of my hangover ideas, and even when it doesn't, copious amounts of sleep and water will eventually take care of the problem.

One thing I do want to emphasize in this article is the prevention angle.

Practicing mindfulness while drinking is often what is forgotten. Small things, such as remembering to drink a glass of water between every unit of alcohol you down and snacking every now and again, can drastically improve your symptoms later on.

So no, we can't cure a hangover or expect to wake up without one if we drank the bar dry, but we can make the tail-end of our night out worth the cost.

References

  • Coghlan, A. (2016, July 4). Chinese tree extract stops rats getting drunk. New Scientist. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21337-chinese-tree-extract-stops-rats-getting-drunk/.
  • Mi-Hyang, L. (2022). Red ginseng relieves the effects of alcohol consumption and hangover symptoms in healthy men: a randomized crossover study. Retrieved 14 January 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24458173/
  • Lete, I., & Allué, J. (2016). The Effectiveness of Ginger in the Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy and Chemotherapy. Retrieved 14 January 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4818021/
  • EV;, W. R. L. A. (n.d.). The effect of food on alcohol absorption and elimination patterns. Journal of forensic sciences. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8454989/

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 James Nelmondo

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