Hangover Cures – How to Cure a Hangover
For those of us who enjoy a cold beer, a glass of wine, or a good cocktail now and then, there’s a certain inevitability. A couple glasses of your favorite wine leads to a morning after of regret, complete with headache, dry mouth, sour stomach, or even nausea …
If you’ve never had a hangover, consider yourself fortunate. A hangover is a sure way to render your day crabby, tired, and unproductive. Of course, the easiest way to cure a hangover is to prevent your hangover by not drinking too much in the first place! But that’s the obvious answer and it’s often easier said than done …
We created this article to explore all things hangover … what causes a hangover, myths about hangovers, hangover cures, what to do when you have a hangover, and natural hangover remedies.
You’ll even discover a few “hair of the dog” concoctions that may well help ease your hangover pain!
Other than the obvious (don’t drink), there really are a number of hangover cures that actually work. Time is the first and surest hangover cure … eventually the hangover goes away. But if you’re looking for a hangover cure that works a little faster (translated: right now!), we’ll share them with you. But here’s the first undisputed fact: Different cures work for different people. Our bodies and internal systems are all unique and different … so what works for your buddy might not work for you at all.
Further down this page you’ll discover what a hangover really is … the science behind the agony, so to speak. While we all know a hangover is the result of drinking too much, what are the real causes? Read on, but before that let’s talk about why you’re probably here: What to do when you have a hangover …
Hangovers are no fun, but there are a few things you can do to prevent a hangover or minimize its’ effect …
It goes without saying the best way to prevent a hangover is not to drink. But we’re not here to preach anti drinking … in fact we enjoy a few social drinks and we imbibe in beer, wine, and spirits from time to time. So let’s just assume you’re a social drinker and you’re in a situation where you’ve had one or two more drinks than normal … and now you’ve got a hangover (or you sense one is coming on).
Here’s what you can do before you drink, while you’re drinking, and afterwards …
Before You Drink
First off, try to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. For a variety of reasons, your hangover effects will be much more severe. Food serves to absorb alcohol in the blood stream, and certain foods will provide vitamins and minerals helpful to your body. We can’t really tell you which foods to eat and not eat … but having some food in your system will help ward off alcohol’s effect on your stomach lining, possibly preventing an upset stomach …
For our purposes, something hearty is always a good choice. Pizza, a good burger, or just a simple balanced meal with meat, potato, and vegetable. Plus, you’ll tend to drink less if you’re not hungry.
As a last resort, try eating something just before you go to bed … even though most health experts tell you not to eat right before bedtime. Some food in your system is better than no food in your system, and it’s worth it to help ward off an alcohol-induced upset stomach.
Be careful, though. Choose only the type of food that normally digests easily for you …
While You Drink
It’s a real good idea to have water handy while you drink. Yes, you’ll make more frequent bathroom trips, but it’s the key element to warding off a hangover. A good rule of thumb … a glass of water for every two drinks.
Even better is a 1-to-1 ratio, though it might be impractical in a bar setting.
Keep yourself hydrated with water while you’re drinking and chances are good your hangover symptoms will be much less severe …
Also, try to get as much fresh air as you can while drinking. Oxygen speeds up the detoxification of your body’s cells, and although we won’t get into the science of the process here, suffice it to say ample fresh air will minimize a hangover’s effects.
After You Drink
One thing that has always worked for us … drink as much water as you can handle before going to bed, and if you remember, keep water at your bedside if (when?) you awake during the night.
Try to eat something simple before going to bed. Even a piece of bread will help normalize your system. Again, stick with food that has historically agreed with your system. Strangely enough, Chinese food has always worked for me! Just try to eat a little something and chances are great it’ll help minimize your hangover …
Exercise is a great hangover cure because it brings higher levels of oxygen into your system, thereby speeding up the detox process.
Problem is, exercise is about the last thing you want to do when your head is pounding, you’re tired, and you’ve got world class case of dry mouth. Instead of a run or a spin class, try a brisk walk instead. You’ll be amazed how clearing your head with a brisk walk will help alleviate your symptoms …
One Hangover Don’t …
It’s not a good idea to take acetaminophen tablets (commonly known as Tylenol) to ward off or cure a hangover. Alcohol and acetaminophen are a bad mix and very hard on your liver. Regular aspirin is ok, but not Tylenol. Tylenol is great for flu and body aches and pains, but not when you’ve got a bunch of alcohol in your system.
Natural Hangover Remedies – Speed Your Recovery
When you drink in excess, you flush (literally!) a lot of helpful vitamins from your system, particularly B vitamins. Making sure your body is in a healthy internal balance is crucial for not only easing a hangover’s agony, but helping prevent one in the first place …
Water is a great way to flush toxins from your system, but sometimes your body needs a little more help. There are a number of so called “cures” on the market, few of which are worth your time. One supplement we do recommend is Morning Hangover Med, a 100% homeopathic hangover cure that comes in convenient capsules and drastically reduces the effects of a hangover.
If your hangovers come with the added problem of an upset stomach, something you have around the house will help. Just add a spoonful of baking soda mixed into a glass of water and drink up … the baking soda is a great acid neutralizer that will ease the queasiness …
What Is A Hangover?
In order to properly treat (cure) a hangover, it’s important to understand the medical science behind what’s happening when you overindulge.
First, the actual medical name for a hangover is “veisalgia”. That’s a combination of the Greek word for pain – “algia”, and a Scandanavian word for debauchery or having too much fun – “Kveis”. So basically, pain from having too much fun!
Hangovers differ from person to person. Their severity is dependent on body chemistry and how much alcohol was consumed. There are more than a dozen symptoms, but here are some of the most common.
- Dehydration, including dry mouth and dry eyes
- Sensitivity to bright light and loud noises
- Nausea and upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
If this sounds all too familiar, let’s examine what’s actually going on in your body when you drink too much …
What Causes a Hangover – The Science of a Hangover
Some fascinating things occur in your brain, bloodstream, and body when you drink alcohol. As you probably know, alcohol is created via a fermentation process. If you’ve ever toured a brewery, you’ve seen the large fermentation tanks where liquid mash is fermented at high temperatures and turned into beer.
Anyway, one of the by-products of the fermentation process are chemicals known as congeners. These congeners enter your bloodstream and block the production of a hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin is an anti diuretic, meaning it causes liquid to be absorbed into the body instead of going directly to the kidneys and hence, urination.
So … when there is no vasopressin being created, most liquid goes directly to your kidneys. Liquid is not absorbed in the body, and you become dehydrated. Drinking alcohol causes more urinary production (you have to “go” more) because much of the liquid goes to your kidneys instead of absorbed into your bloodstream.
Have you ever noticed, when drinking, how you have to “go” more frequently? Now you know why. In fact, studies have shown that drinking causes a urination rate almost four times higher than normal. The liquid is entering your body … but it’s not being absorbed. You become dehydrated much more quickly …
Of course, not all the liquid goes directly to the kidneys … it’s also present in your bloodstream, which accounts for high blood alcohol content.
Dehydration, of course, causes dry mouth and headaches, two common symptoms of a hangover. Further, alcohol interacts with your stomach lining, which often leads to the sour or upset stomach often associated with over indulging and hangovers …
To be precise, it’s not just congeners that wreak havoc with your system. Hard alcohol, along with some trendy beers, have other additives as ingredients. Believe it or not, some common additives are zinc and ethanol, neither of which are good for you in large doses …
Well, now that we know what causes hangovers from a scientific point of view, let’s move on to one commonly used hangover “cure” …
Coffee and Hangovers
It’s A Myth …
In the morning, most people with a hangover can’t reach for a cup of coffee fast enough. This is because they’re tired and unfocused, two common hangover symptoms.
The thought behind coffee as a hangover cure is caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, and as such, it’s commonly thought a cup or two of coffee will snap us right out of the dreaded hangover.
Unfortunately, it’s a myth. Coffee is a dehyradating beverage, and as we noted above, dehydration is the primary cause of why you feel lousy with a hangover. Drinking coffee will only serve to prolong the agony!
Do yourself a big favor … if you’re suffering from a hangover, drink water instead of coffee. Your body is crying out to be hydrated, which is what causes hangover headaches and dry mouth and fatigue in the first place. Drink water consistently for a few hours, and then maybe have coffee or soda or an energy drink …
Mixing Liquor, Wine, and Beer…
Your Worst Hangover Ever!
Have you ever heard the phrases “Beer after liquor, never been sicker” or “Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear”?
Supposedly, these pearls of wisdom were created to guide you in which order to mix your alcohol consumption. But if you’ve ever had one of those nights where you mixed everything together … a few beers, a couple glasses of wine, and mixed drinks on top of it … you know the hangover suffering that arrives the day after.
So why does mixing different alcoholic drinks make a hangover worse? Well, it goes back to congeners, which we discussed above. Congeners are a chemical created as a by product of the fermentation process.
The fact is, congeners are present to a greater degree in some alcoholic drinks than others. Darker spirits like bourbon, for example, have a higher concentration of congeners. The same is true for red wine.
Drinking an equal amount of red wine vs. white wine would (in general) yield a worse hangover for the red wine drinker.
But mixing all sorts of alcoholic drinks, and their various impurities, is a recipe for hangover disaster. Interestingly, the carbonation in beer actually speeds up the absorption process of alcohol. Combined with hard spirits, and the body gets even less time to process the toxins. This, combined with the dehydration effects of various liquor, makes hangover symptoms even worse.
So, forget the old wives tale slogans. If you’re going to overindulge, pick a lane and bowl in it as they say. Stick to just wine, just beer, or just the hard spirit of your choice. Your body will thank you!
Hair of the Dog
More Drinking As A Cure?
It’s long been suggested the best way to cure a hangover is to get another drink in you as soon as possible. Well … this might work for some people … but it’s akin to trying to put out a fire by pouring more gasoline on the flames.
However, everyone is different. Growing up in Chicago in the early 1970′s, my dad had his own special hangover cure. There was (and still is) a great Mexican restaurant on south Halsted Street in Chicago called Tacos Erendira. Every Sunday, they’d make a big steaming cauldron of shrimp soup, a Mexican specialty made from shrimp, broth, and all sorts of spices. My dad always said, “It straightened me right up.”
Other people swear by a good Bloody Mary, spicy or not. Drinking a Bloody Mary makes some sense as the tomato juice and other ingredients add needed nutrients to the body. Still others jump right back in with whatever they drank the night before.
To be truthful, the only thing more alcohol does to a hangover is prolong it. Yes, there might be a period of rejuvination or a pick-me-up feeling, but after an hour or two you’ll be back in the same boat.
With that said, if you’re insistant on a hair of the dog cure, we’d recommend something with a lot of fruit juice in it, along with a lighter liquor with less congeners. Light rum or vodka are good examples, and try to avoid cheap bar vodkas or rums.
The fruit juice will replace some of the fluids you lost the night before … but again, drinking more to cure a hangover isn’t something we recommend.
We’ll be adding a few recipes for “eye opener” drinks here in the future, so stay tuned to this space …
“Cures” From Around The World
Virgin Islands Tropical Banana Smoothie
- 1 large, ripe banana
- 1.5 cups milk (soy, almond, or regular)
- 2 tbs. honey
- Cup of Ice
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend well and enjoy. Drink slowly, allowing your body to absorb the smoothie.
(Adjust the amount of milk to make it thicker or thinner, depending on your preference. Frozen strawberries are also a good addition. You can make a virgin colada by substituting coconut cream for the milk and adding some pineapple juice)
Tomato Juice, Beer … And An Egg?
This hair-of-the-dog hangover concoction is simple to make …
Mix equal parts tomato juice and beer in a pint glass, then crack an egg into the glass. You can mix the egg in if you’d like (or if it makes the mixture more palatable for you!). Then, drink up!
We can’t say we’ve ever tried the beer/tomato juice/egg mixture, but the egg will provide protein for your body while the tomato juice will replenish salt and needed vitamins and nutrients. Give it a try and let us know what you think …
My Favorite Breakfast Sandwich
This can help start your day out right!
- 1 slice of bacon (I use turkey bacon)
- 1 large egg
- 1 English muffin, split and toasted
- 1 slice Cheddar or American cheese
Spray a small nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray then warm over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until browned and crispy. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels.
In hot skillet, cook egg as desired (I like them over hard – no runny yolk for me). Place egg on one half of English muffin, top with cheese slice, bacon and remaining half of muffin. Enjoy!
Well, I hope you liked my rant on hangovers and their cures. I own a bar and have been practically living in them since I was 15. So yes, I really do know something about drinking. Anyways, hope all of this is useful?