Natural Remedies for Hangovers

woman in bed not feeling well
Man in bed with headache

You may have heard or even tried some of the strange and unreliable “cures” for a faster hangover recovery. The surest cure for a hangover is not to drink at all — or to know your limits when you do. But if you find yourself hurting after a night of excess, there are better plans than binging on vitamin C or taking a bath in wasabi (two false cures).

Here are some reliable strategies to help you get through a hangover more quickly.

Know your limits. Since everyone is different and metabolizes alcohol differently, you may find that even one drink may be too much for you.

Understand booze basics:

  • A serving of beer is 12 ounces of 4-percent alcohol by volume (ABV). A beer with a higher ABV, such as many microbrews, may have up to 13 percent ABV.
  • A glass of wine is 4 ounces.
  • A shot of 80 proof liquor is 1 ounce.
  • A double is actually two drinks.
  • Dark alcohols like bourbon and red wine may be additionally problematic because of their chemical congengers, which contribute to their smell and flavor.

Water. Drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume. This will help you stay hydrated and may help you avoid a hangover completely.

Food. Eating helps your body slow down absorption of alcohol into your blood vessels. It can also help protect the lining of your stomach from the irritation caused by alcohol.

Replete. Nutrients diminished by alcohol can be found in foods. B Vitamins, especially B1 and B6 are found in bananas, meats, whole grains, potatoes and nuts. Vitamin C is found in strawberries, greens, and citrus, while magnesium is found in greens and almonds, and glutathione is supported by cysteine from eggs. Electrolytes can be replaced with coconut water or Pedialyte, which can be especially important if you have been vomiting.

Restore. Protect, tonify, and detoxify your liver with herbs such as Silybum marianum (Silymarin/milk thistle). They can help support detox through the liver and may help with upset stomach. Talk to a naturopathic doctor (ND) about doses and interactions of herbs ahead of time.

A few more tips:

  • Get plenty of rest, as quality of sleep is affected by alcohol.
  • If you need coffee to give you energy to make it through your day, drink an extra glass of water to avoid additional dehydration from coffee’s diuretic effect.
  • Fight off nausea with ginger tea or chews.
  • Avoid acetaminophen (Tylenol) for that headache, as it could add to the toxic load placed on your liver by the alcohol.

 By Meghan Kemnec, ND, resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health