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Naturally Prevent, Relieve and Eliminate Unpleasant Hangovers

by Tony Isaacs
author of Cancer's Natural Enemy

(The Best Years in Life) Most of us who drink alcoholic beverages have over-indulged on occasion and most often paid for our excesses by being cursed with a nasty hangover. It might be argued that the bleary-eyed, queasy, head-aching morning after is a just reward for not exercising better judgment and restraint. However, even though we know better, hangovers do happen to some of us. Using a bit of common sense and natural remedies can help prevent future hangovers and take the bite out of ones that do happen.

Hangover symptoms include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dysphoria, diarrhea and thirst, typically after the intoxicating effects of the alcohol begin to wear off. Symptoms may persist for several days after alcohol was last consumed. Hypoglycemia, dehydration, acetaldehyde intoxication, glutamine rebound, and vitamin B12 deficiency are all theorized causes of hangover symptoms.

Here are some commonsense guidelines and natural remedies to use to prevent hangovers:

Obviously the best way to prevent a hangover is to avoid heavy alcohol consumption. Try to alternate with a glass of water between drinks and avoid sugary, flavored drinks that can mask the amount of alcohol consumed. Drink a tangy drink o help stop the urge for alcohol, such as tomato with lemon juice, and a dash of cayenne pepper added.

One tip that may help avoid hangover or at least lesson the symptoms it to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Another tip is to rehydrate by drinking 2-3 large glasses of water before you go to bed. Drinking alcohol is very dehydrating and re-hydrating helps counteract the effects of alcohol.

Sports drinks are usually high in electrolytes and can help replenish what the kidneys have excreted during drinking. Take before bedtime. Note however, that most commercial sports drinks may contain unhealthy items such as high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, artificial colors and flavors and more. For a recipe for a healthy and delicious natural sports drink and other tips about dehydration, see:

Avoiding and Treating Dehydration During the Dog Days of Summer


One remedy for lessening the morning after pain is: Drink a large glass of water before you go to bed, take a B-complex supplement that supplies at least 50 mg of niacin, and take a liquid bitters preparation (look for products that contain dandelion, gentian, mugwort, or Angostura bitters) in water with a little honey (raw organic is best). 

Another suggestion is to use wheatgrass. Wheatgrass is a natural detoxifier. The chlorophyll in wheatgrass helps clear toxins, heals the intestines and maintain a healthy pH balance. In addition, it delivers powerful antioxidants and enzymes to support the body. Drink a glass at the end of the night and then again the morning after to further detox and energize.

Acetaldehyde is a digestive byproduct of alcohol that is a major cause of hangovers. Bifidus is a "friendly" bacteria that detoxifies acetaldehyde. Put a teaspoon of bifidus powder in a glass of water and drink before going to bed.

The herb milk thistle (silymarin) has a long history of protecting the liver. Take 70 to 120 mg once before drinking.
Take one tablet of activated charcoal per drink while you are drinking. The charcoal absorbs the impurities in the alcohol which are the cause of the hangover.
Three other suggestions:

* American Indians claim that eating 6 raw almonds before imbibing helps prevent intoxication.

* Evening primrose oil helps prevent hangovers. Take two teaspoons before going to bed.

* Prickly pear cactus extract is also reported to be effective as both a preventive and remedy.
As mentioned above, the best way to avoid getting a hangover is to not make the mistake of drinking too much to begin with.  However, if you do end up with a hangover, here are ways to safely and naturally relieve and eliminate it:
One of the first things to do for hangover recovery is eliminate built up toxins. Hot baths are great, especially with added Epsom salts to help you relax, relieve aches and restore lost magnesium. A sauna is likewise great and so is exercise or a brisk walk.

A remedy which usually gets rid of hangovers quickly is a banana and honey milkshake. Bananas calm the stomach, and with the honey, build up depleted blood sugar levels. Bananas are also rich in the magnesium and potassium, important electrolytes which are depleted by alcohol.

Honey by itself is a popular remedy. Take 2-6 teaspoons of honey every twenty minutes upon waking, depending on the hangover's severity. Continue until you start to feel better, then take four teaspoons with your first meal. Use only raw certified organic honey if possible.

The bark of willow trees contains the natural form of the same pain-relieving ingredient found in aspirin in much smaller so it may be less stressful on your stomach. You'll also find similar pain-relieving compounds in wintergreen. To make a tea, use the bark of willow or the leaves and flowering tops of wintergreen. Steep 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of powdered bark or wintergreen leaves and flowers in 1 cup of hot water for 10 - 15 minutes and drink 1 to 3 cups of tea per day. 

Dandelion root helps gently relieve constipation and stomachaches and stimulates the liver for better alcohol metabolism. Plus, dandelion is a good source of antioxidants that help repair damage from excess alcohol. Steep 1 to 2 tsp of dried root in 1 cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink a cup in the morning and another in the evening. 

Hot peppers contain the pain-relieving compound capsaicin. Try dried, ground peppers or powdered cayenne in a glass of tomato juice the morning after. But keep this Bloody Mary a virgin - fighting a hangover with another drink delays recovery and may increase the severity of the following hangover. You can also take a pinch or so in food. 

As noted in the previous part of this article, milk thistle (silymarin) protects the liver. It also helps remove toxins. Frequent drinkers and recovering alcoholics should take milk thistle daily. Typical dosage is 70-120 mg three times daily.

Grandma's old stand-by, chicken soup, seems to work as well for hangover problems as it does for colds.
Even more suggestions:

*Drink a glass or two of fresh lime or lemon juice and honey in water as soon as you wake up.
*Drink peppermint tea or chewing the leaves to relax the intestines and help eliminate accumulated gas.
*Take gingko. In Japan, ginkgo seeds are served at cocktail parties to prevent drunkenness and hangovers. 
*Eat apples on an empty stomach the day after drinking.
*Use the herb feverfew in place of aspirin.
*Take ginger capsules or ginger tea every few hours to help soothe the stomach.
*Consider kudzu extract. Studies have shown that its isoflavones help relieve hangovers quickly.
*Eat asparagus. A study has found that the amino acids and minerals in asparagus ease hangovers and protect liver cells.
*Consume plenty of watermelon. 
*Eat raw persimmon or raw cabbage for headache relief.
*Pull your hair in clumps or massage your scalp to increase circulation and relieve a headache.
*Drink thyme tea.
Note: One thing not to do either the night or morning after a hangover is to take aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. All of them can have dangerous side effects, including excessive blood thinning, stomach bleeding, and liver damage.
See also:
Use vanilla and other natural remedies to relieve and prevent headaches

Sources included:

About the author

Tony Isaacs is a member of the National Health Federation and the American Botanical Council. He is a natural health advocate and researcher and the author of books and articles about natural health including "Cancer's Natural Enemy." Mr. Isaacs articles are featured at The Truth About Cancer, the Health Science Institute's Healthiertalk website, CureZone, the Crusador, Health Secrets, the Cancer Tutor, the Silver Bulletin, the New Zealand Journal of Natural Health, and several other venues. In addition, he hosts the Yahoo Oleandersoup Health group of over 3500 members and the CureZone Ask Tony Isaacs - Featuring Luella May forum. He is also the local moderator of the CureZone Cancer Alternatives forum. Tony and his partner Luella May host The Best Years in Life natural health website where their motto is "It's never too late or too early to begin living longer, healthier and happier lives."



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