Natural hangover cures

Photo: istockphoto.com/zemdega

It's not the New Year's resolutions we dread but the morning after. Hangover cures could fill a book but here are some gentle and healthy suggestions that actually work.

That pounding feeling
A hangover is a mild version of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The headache is due to the relaxing effects on blood vessels that starts off with that nice warm feeling and moves into a pounding head.

That morning-after thirst is from fluid (alcohol is a diuretic) and the nausea is due to the irritating effects on both the stomach and central nervous system. The aches are from a build up of acidosis in the blood.

Alcohol is also a depressant which gives you that overall feeling of fatigue and feeling horrible. (Or maybe you're just remembering singing karaoke the night before.)

Number one is no fun!
The best cure (and most boring) is prevention. But with all that good cheer tonight, it's going to be hard not to overindulge. One way to remedy that is to drink slowly, limiting yourself to one drink per hour.

Choose your drink carefully.
The darker the alcohol, the worse the hangover. That's because of congeners, the toxic chemicals formed during fermentation. Vodka and white wine have the fewest followed by gin. Red wine, scotch and whiskey have about four times the amount than vodka while brandy, rum and single malt scotch have six times more. Bourbon has 30 times as much as vodka. Like liquor, everyone handle their congeners differently. People with allergies to corn, wheat, barley or yeast often have stronger hangovers.

Go organic
The herbicides, pesticides and insecticides used on the various plant can also contribute to a hangover. Some people also react to the preservatives, like sulphites, found in many wines. Organic wine and spirits are easier on the system.

Eat before drinking
Drinking on an empty stomach will get you drunk quickly, which guarantees a wicked hangover.
Eating a meal before you drink slows down the alcohol consumption. Carbohydrates will delay alcohol consumption while protein snacks such cheese will decrease how much your body absorbs. A few capsules of evening primose oil will also help to reduce the effects of imbibing.

Wide awake drunks
If you're mildly tipsy then a brisk walk in the cold air will help you feel better. But when you're really drunk, exercise is not going to help one bit. You'll just be fit and drunk. Coffee isn't going to sober you up either but it will keep you awake and probably add to your hangover.

The night before
Before stumbling off to bed, drink two to three glasses of water and pop some Vitamin B and Vitamin C tablets. Both help to clear alcohol from the blood. Evening primrose or flaxseed oil, both rich sources of essential fatty acids, will help relieve symptoms as well.

Do not take ibuprofen or aspirin before going to bed. These drugs are hard on your liver, which is already busy trying to process all that booze in your system!

If you're sick before sleeping, then try some ginger ale with one or two saltine crackers to settle your stomach. If you're not queasy then try having some whole grain toast with honey on it. The high fructose will help your body absorb all the alcohol.

The morning after
The best hangover cure of all time is rest and fluids. Keep drinking lots of water to rehydrate the body. Avoid coffee since it's also a diuretic and can actually make your hangover worse. Green tea or ginger tea will help with the headache and nausea.

Now is the time to take your headache remedies. Feverfew capsules, sold at most health food stores, are good for headaches. A well rounded vitamin pill with thiamine, riboflavin, some potassium, calcium and magnesium and zinc and a high dose of Vitamin B-12 will also help balance you out.

A banana milkshake sweetened with honey will calm the calm the stomach and re-hydrates your system with electrolytes, magnesium and potassium, which also get depleted during heavy drinking.

When you feeling more human take a walk in the fresh air and breathe. Oxygen will help clear the system. Then take a shower to help the blood get moving, drink more water and rest.

Above all, don't take another drink, commonly known as "the hair of the dog", since that puppy will keep on biting.

Feel better. After the hangover passes you'll have your fond memories of celebrating the New Year. Happy 2009!