Since four people have asked me recently about hangover cures, the weekend’s upon us and Halloween’s right around the corner, I thought this would be a great time to touch on the dreaded hangover and a whole heap of remedies you can try to get yourself back up and at ’em.
Sometimes you know you’ve overindulged and you’re going to get a big kick in the head the next day. Other times, they sneak up on you.
Take me for example–I can’t drink two glasses of wine without feeling it in the morning anymore. They say aging lowers your tolerance for alcohol, but this is just ridiculous.
And, frankly, I needed to do this research for myself. This weekend is Scaryoke at the creperie my friend owns, and I have zero self control when there’s karaoke and wigs involved. So I’m expecting it. I’m planning for it. I shall overcome this time.
Before I give you this gigantic list, let me just say this:
The only real cure for a hangover is to not drink.
Enough of that. Let’s move on.
I also want to point out a study done recently that found nondrinkers actually have a shorter life expectancy than both moderate drinkers and heavy drinkers. Surprise!
Just thought I’d give you something to NOT feel guilty about before indulging. You’re welcome.
Now without further ado, or any preaching on moderation or being careful when you drink (I trust you’ve heard it a thousand times), here’s how to join the land of the living after a night of one-or-five-too-many.
The Big Compilation of Hangover Remedies
- While you’re at it, drink water. Make it a rule: For every alcoholic drink you have, you drink a glass of water. It keeps you hydrated, slows you down, and allows your body time to process the alcohol.
- Take activated charcoal while you’re drinking. This is a remedy tons of people swear by. I, personally, haven’t tried it. But the word is, if you take activated charcoal two or three times while you’re tying one on, the charcoal soaks up the alcohol toxins that lead to hangovers – and you’re left without any physical pain from the night before. Bonus: You can use activated charcoal as eyeliner. Cool, huh?
- Protect your stomach with olive oil. Before even thinking about your first drink, take 2 teaspoons of olive oil. It will help protect the lining of your stomach and slow the absorption of alcohol. Plus, olive oil is FULL of antioxidants that will hurry away the toxins you’re about to bombard your system with.
- Never, ever, never drink on an empty stomach. This seems like a no-brainer, but honestly I don’t know how many times I’ve forgotten to eat dinner and then had a beer or two and felt just rippingly horrible later. Even if it’s just a bagel, eat SOMETHING before you drink alcohol.
- Stick with clear alcohol throughout the night. Vodka, white wine, light rum – these are all acceptable and less likely to cause a hangover the next day. The dark stuff? It contains compounds called cogeners that lead to the next-day icks.
- Stop by Denny’s before you go home. Fatty foods inhibit or significantly slow your body’s absorption of alcohol, so if you go for a Grand Slam before calling it a night, you just might dodge the hangover. The indigestion you could suffer, though – well, it’s just a trade-off.
- Don’t forget the three-glasses-before-sleep rule. Before nodding off to sleep, drink three glasses of water. Chances are, if you’re fearing a hangover the next morning, you’re probably dehydrated already.
- Take a vitamin B-complex capsule. This is my personal favorite. Before sleeping (and while you’re doing the three-glasses rule), take a vitamin B-complex capsule. It gives your body back the B’s you’ve robbed from it all night, and you wake up feeling more refreshed and less groggy.
- You’re allowed some ibuprofen. But stay away from Tylenol when you’ve been drinking (HORRIBLE for your liver) or aspirin (which thins your blood even more). Ibuprofen, though, is the safest NSAID you could take after drinking. It might hurt your tummy, though, so don’t take it without food.
- Pop two milk thistle capsules while you’re tipping the bottle. Milk thistle protects the liver and helps whisk away toxins. It can help greatly to reduce a hangover in the morning. Plus, it’s fun to say “milk thistle.”
- Learn a little more about kudzu. Kudzu is an indigenous Asian plant related to the pea family that the Chinese have used for thousands of years to cure hangovers and help with alcohol cravings. If you don’t want to eat kudzu, pick up some kudzu extract at your local natural foods store and take the recommended dose in water just before you go to sleep.
- Drink a giant glass of fruit juice before going to bed. The fructose in most fruits (and their juices) will give your body back the sugars your liver has used up throughout the night. This’ll help prevent dizziness and weakness the day after.
- Eat a meal with a liberal amount of garlic before drinking. Garlic contains a cysteine that neutralizes some of the hangover-causing compounds in alcohol. While it might not make you a great date, it’ll help you the next day.
- Take a SAMe supplement during the night. The properties in SAMe are excellent at whisking away the free radicals alcohol consumption leaves behind, and it’s great for your liver. To top it off, SAMe enhances your mood, which might stave off the end-of-night weepies some people get after an extra glass of wine.
- Drink aloe vera juice before imbibing. According to folk medicine, aloe vera juice inhibits the absorption of alcohol (which means it will lessen the effects). You can find aloe vera juice in just about any grocery store these days, but it’s definitely available at your Whole Foods or local natural foods store.
- Only use your phone in emergencies. So maybe this isn’t a physical remedy cure, but nothing’s worse than a hangover accompanied by a big dose of regret for something you said the night before. Take a cue from Texts From Last Night, and stay the holy bejeezus away from your phone.
Hangover Cures for the Day After
- Decide if “hair of the dog” works. I asked several bartenders what their suggested hangover cure is, and every single one of them said “hair of the dog that bit you.” Of course, that probably means you’ll visit them again, and science says drinking again the next day doesn’t work. But bartenders aren’t the only people who recommend this–the Scots have been using this remedy for hundreds upon hundreds of years. The key is, if you’re going to drink again the next day, make it one drink. Just one. Enough to stop the crash your body’s in from the night before, but not so much you revisit the cycle of hangoverness.
- Drink Gatorade – or better yet, make your own (recipe below)! I posed the “hangover remedies” question to my lovely Twitter friends, and the word “Gatorade” came back unanimously. Even though Gatorade stopped using high fructose corn syrup this year, it’s still healthier and SO much cheaper to make your own. I tried out a recipe last night (which you can find at the end of this article) for homemade Gatorade and was VERY pleased with the results. Try it and see what you think!
- Gulp lots and lots of fruit juice – preferably fresh. The fruit juice will sweep away toxins that are making you feel icky, and the fructose in the fruit gives you energy and resets your sugar stores.
- As unpleasant as it sounds, go for a freakin’ walk. I know, I know … the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling tired, dizzy, and groggy is get outside and exercise, but the fresh air and movement will do you good. Personally, the worst thing I’ve ever done when I’ve overindulged is sit around the entire next day. A body in motion stays in motion, you know?
- Take your Bs and honey. My pharmacist friend recommended this quick hangover cure that she swears by. In the morning, take a B-complex supplement with two teaspoons of honey (or honey dissolved in lukewarm water). Honey is a natural hangover buster.
- Don’t stop drinking water. This is, yet again, a given. I’m just throwing it out there so you don’t forget.
- Take a borage supplement. Borage oil comes from a plant native to Syria and is used to treat things like eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, and PMS. Scientists also recommend it to help with the dizziness, laziness, and tiredness that goes hand in hand with a hangover. Try it and see what you think.
- Power through a prairie oyster. Basically, this involves raw eggs. Period. Make sure your eggs are fresh and from a reliably safe source. Here’s how you do it: Mix 1 raw egg with a little Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Drink it as fast as your body will let you. Or mix it in with the shake recipe below.
- Make a smoothie and don’t forget the banana. Bananas are high in potassium (which also happens to be a main ingredient in Gatorade) and a tried-and-true hangover remedy. Get your potassium fix by making an easy-to-swallow shake with banana, 2 c. milk, 2 Tbsp honey, and an optional 2 Tbsp brewers yeast (and the raw egg if you’re brave) to feel better.
- Break out the ginger root. If a queasy, upset stomach is what ails you, fresh ginger will help like nothing else. Peel a finger of ginger and cut it into dime-sized slices. Pour boiling water over and let it steep for 15 minutes. Add a little honey, and you’ve got a great remedy for the queasy stomach.
- Have a virgin bloody mary. Everything in a freshly-prepared virgin bloody mary is going to help your hangover. Here’s how to make one at home. Take 1 cup tomato juice or V8 and add 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp lime juice, 3 dashes Worcestershire, 2 dashes tobasco sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and a little horseradish and olive juice if you have it.
- Nap if you can. Just a quick 20-minute nap may be all you need (after lots and lots of water) to reset your body into go-mode. Remember, 20 minutes of sleeping during the day is equal to an hour of night sleeping, so a little goes a long, long way!
- Sneak in some brewer’s yeast. According to the Mayo Clinic, yeast-based preparations may work well for a hangover. If you can eat cereal, sprinkle on some brewer’s yeast or add it to your smoothie.
- Avoid coffee … or don’t. The jury’s still out on whether coffee helps or hurts a hangover. When you’ve had too much the night before, you’re dehydrated, and coffee does NOT help with that problem. However, the caffeine in coffee could help with a headache and give you energy. If you ask me, the rule of thumb is this: If you drink coffee regularly, have a cup or two (and be sure to still drink TONS of water in between). If you don’t drink coffee regularly, skip it and do something else for the headache.
- Have pickle juice, pickle juice, pickle juice! This is an age-old remedy that’s gaining in popularity again. When you wake up, drink 1/4 c. of pickle juice (however you can force it down). Good luck with that.
- Eat some watermelon. Watermelon may be the very, very best fruit ever for a hangover. It’s sky high in water content (which you REALLY need), contains fructose (which you REALLY need) and gives you nourishment and something in your stomach. Plus, it’s, like, delicious. Snap.
- Brew an herbal tea with peppermint, thyme, and fennel. The peppermint will soothe your stomach, the thyme will soothe your soul, and the fennel helps your liver do the work you’ve assigned it. If you have a headache, you could also sprinkle in a little cayenne pepper for extra taste and capsaicin, which soothes pain.
- Give yourself a scalp massage. If the headache and dizziness is overwhelming, spend 10-20 minutes massaging your scalp. For extra effectiveness, pull your hair gently in big clumps to stimulate the circulation around your head.
- Chomp on some raw carrots. Carrots are fabulous for your liver and high in vitamin C. Plus, the act of crunching on a carrot will stimulate the circulation in your head, which might relieve your headache.
- Make a fizzy drink with bitters. Angostura bitters contain tons of herbal ingredients that are great for all the symptoms of a hangover–including the dizziness, upset stomach, and headache. Make yourself a carbonated drink with three to four dashes of bitters, 1 tsp honey dissolved in a tiny amount of hot water, and 1 cup of carbonated beverage (like soda water). If you use 7-Up or Sprite, you can ditch the honey.
- Drink some warm lemon and honey tea. This will stabilize your blood sugar, calm your stomach, and give you a healthy dose of vitamin C. And it’s SO easy to do. Just heat up 2 cups of water until it’s warm (but not hot) add 2 tsp lemon juice and 2 tsp honey. Sip slowly while you contemplate never touching Jaegermeister again.
Homemade Gatorade Recipe
- 1/2 c. fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 2 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp organic sugar
- 3 Tbsp honey dissolved in 1/2 c. hot water
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 capsule potassium supplement (or 1/2 tsp salt substitute, which is potassium chloride)
- 4-1/2 c. cold water
Combine everything well in a very large container (this makes 6 cups of “Gatorade”) and chill. This should keep in your fridge for at least two weeks, so make a batch before that block party so you’re ready when you accidentally play beer pong. Or whatever people do at block parties. I’ve never been to one. Sigh.
Note: This tastes a LOT like Gatorade, but according to Fiance, it tastes more like Emergen-C (thanks to the addition of honey). I just thought I’d point out that it’s not gross or anything. It’s actually surprisingly good.
What Did I Miss?
Seriously, what on earth could I have missed here?
I bet you have something I’ve forgotten. Even though I spent 10 hours researching this and 5 years in my early 20’s testing a lot of them.
What? What can you add?