Experts Says “Yes” to these at-home natural hangover remedies that will help you tackle nausea and a banging headache the morning after.
After an evening of drinking bouts, you may see yourself waking up to a banging headache, incessant nausea, excessive thirst, and extreme tiredness.
This is a hangover, but don’t worry much — you are not alone. These are some of the most commonly reported symptoms of a hangover, according to a study published in September 2017 in the journal Human Psychopharmacology.
The body takes in a fixed amount of alcohol per hour. “That amount varies widely depending on numerous factors, including sex, body composition, and how heavily the individual drinks,” says Edouard Coupet II, MD, a Yale Medicine emergency doctor in New Haven, Connecticut, and a Yale-sponsored National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) scholar.
According to Dr. Coupet, alcohol goes into the bloodstream within minutes of your first sip and is then absorbed by the digestive tract — starting in the stomach before it is processed by the liver — as your body works to break it down, also known as alcohol metabolism.
During alcohol metabolism, a toxic byproduct called acetaldehyde is produced, which your body works to eliminate, explains Peter Malamet, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Mike O’Callaghan Military Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“The effects can often rest on how fast you metabolize acetaldehyde and how fast you can get rid of it,” says Dr. Malamet. “Some people don’t break down acetaldehyde as well as others.”
Although alcohol metabolism majorly occurs in the liver, it is believed that some alcohol metabolism can occur in the pancreas and brain, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
So what exactly is responsible for that excessive thirst, horrible headache and feelings of nausea?
“The impurities in alcohol (which vary from one type of alcohol to another) can also contribute to the severity of the hangover. In other words, the more pure the alcohol, the less severe the hangover,”
Kennedy advises drinking in moderation and emphasizes that there’s no actual cure for a hangover except not to get one in the first place.
But what if you want to enjoy a few cocktails and not feel terrible the following day? There are a few things you can do to ease the pain.
1. Drink Water to Avoid Dehydration
“The alcohol in your drink acts as a diuretic, which can make you urinate more,” explains Kennedy. “This can result to dehydration, which is one of the major causes of hangover symptoms.”
In other words, that desert-level thirst that wakes you up in the wee hours of the morning is a signal that you’re well on the way to hungover. The amount of water that you take in should equal that amount you lose, and alcohol can alter this balance.
“If you know you’ll be drinking that night, stay well-hydrated throughout the day and have plenty to drink before heading to bed,” she says. And if you do wake up with a hangover, do your best to drink as much water as you can. “Even having little sips every so often will help.”
2. Drink Other Fluids to Restore Electrolytes
“Because alcohol is a diuretic and you’re urinating a lot, you’re also losing electrolytes, and you can experience dizziness, nausea, and cramping as a result” says Malamet, who credits an electrolyte imbalance as one of the leading causes of feeling fatigued from a hangover.
Research published in February 2015 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that drinking electrolytes after long periods of dehydration can significantly help restore important minerals, like sodium, potassium, and calcium.
What electrolyte-rich drinks should you reach for? Kennedy recommends sports drinks and broth to help restore and replace lost electrolytes and to get you back on the mend faster.
Fermented drinks like kombucha can also be beneficial to drink when feeling nutrient-depleted because they’re rich in minerals, antioxidants, and good-for-you-gut bacteria.
3. Eat Foods Rich In Nutrient Before and After Drinking
To avoid a hangover, past research has shown pairing alcohol with food can help your body more efficiently metabolize the alcohol. The digestion of food before or during alcohol consumption can help increase anti-diuretic hormone levels (ADH), sugar fructose, and blood flow to the liver, all which work to help your body more quickly break down alcohol.
What do you eat if you’re already hungover? Contrary to popular belief, greasy foods will not help you to absorb a hangover. “Craving a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich the morning after a night out drinking is your body’s response to low blood sugar and dehydration,” explains Maggie Michalczyk, RDN, a dietitian and food blogger based in Chicago.
But it’s not going to absorb the alcohol — that’s already made its way through your liver. Instead, complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables are your best bet, says Michalczyk.
Experts advises eatingfruits like bananas, because they are chock full of minerals like potassium that alcohol can deplete. A roughly 7-inch-long banana has 422 milligrams (mg) of potassium and 32 mg of magnesium, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If you can handle the sound of a blender, a smoothie of coconut water and banana, two tablespoons of peanut butter, and your favorite protein powder is what Michalczyk orders.
4. Try Ginger to Ease Nausea
Doctors and nutritionists alike agree that ginger is one of the best natural remedies for soothing an upset stomach, which is often a common symptom of a hangover.
“Ginger can aid digestion and in this way can ease stomach upset,” explains Kennedy, who credits alcohol irritating the lining of the stomach as one of the reasons for hangover-related nausea.
The chemical compounds in ginger are believed to help ease stomach pain and aid digestion. A meta-analysis published in December 2019 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that ginger reduced vomiting in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy treatment by 60 percent and fatigue by 80 percent.
You can enjoy this superfood in many different ways. For soothing an upset stomach, try brewing some ginger tea or mixing fresh ginger into a smoothie.
5. Have Chamomile to Reduce Anxiety (or Hangxiety)
For some, hangover-induced anxiety, or hangxiety, can be as taxing emotionally as some of the physical symptoms of a hangover.
If this doesn’t sound familiar, it might be because hangxiety affects us all differently. In a study published March 2019 in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, researchers discovered that shy people had greater anxiety levels the day after drinking alcohol.
Michalczyk suggests chamomile tea to calm any emotionally overwhelming feelings brought on by drinking, and research supports using this flowering plant to soothe anxiety. Double bonus: Chamomile can help you sleep more soundly and relieve an upset stomach, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
6. Restore Energy With Vitamin B and Protect Immunity With Vitamin C
Many hangover symptoms result from nutrient deficiencies, and vitamin B is particularly affected by alcohol use, according to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Vitamin B is responsible for energy, brain function, and keeping the immune system and nervous system acting properly. A depletion of vitamin B can be associated with feelings of fatigue and low energy levels. If you still can’t get your mind off breakfast sandwiches, Michalczyk suggests eating eggs — which are a great source of the energy-producing B vitamins that alcohol flushes out — with lean protein like turkey bacon and a whole-grain English muffin.
According to experts, another vitamin to be mindful of when recovering from a hangover is vitamin C. Research published in 2015 in Alcohol Research Current Reviews showed a connection between alcohol use and a weakened immune system, impairing the body’s ability to defend itself. To avoid opening yourself up to colds, viruses, and potential alcohol-related illness, load up on vitamin C with fruits and vegetables like broccoli, which has 135 percent of the daily value per cup, according to the USDA. Also reach for oranges, red bell peppers, kiwis, and strawberries.
7. Stay Clear of Medication That Can Cause Adverse Effects With Alcohol
There are certain drugs that can interact with alcohol and cause severe hangover-like symptoms, explains Malamet. One in particular to be mindful of is Flagyl (metronidazole), which is often used to treat bacterial infections of the skin, stomach, vagina, joints, or respiratory tract.
Other common medication, when consumed with alcohol, can cause dizziness, drowsiness, impaired concentration, and an increased risk of overdose, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. These include antidepressants, like Effexor, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, and Zoloft; stimulants, such as Adderall (Adderall XR) or Ritalin (methylphenidaten); and benzodiazepines that treat anxiety, including Xanax (Alprazolam) and Clonazepam (Klonopin). Allergy medication can negatively interact with alcohol, as well.
Malamet recommends always speaking with your doctor about possible medication interactions. “Some medications interact with the body’s ability to break down the alcohol, which can increase the severity of the hangover,” he says.
8. Go Back to Sleep to Restore Circadian Rhythm
One of the most restorative remedies you can try when hungover is simply to get more sleep. In fact, delayed cognitive function during a hangover is likely linked to the poor sleep associated with alcohol use, according to Harvard Health. In fact, a study published in December 2018 in the journal Addiction found that a hangover may impair sustained attention and negatively impact everyday tasks like driving.
The National Sleep Foundation notes that alcohol disrupts your circadian rhythm and prevents REM sleep; it’s unlikely you’ll fall into a deep, restful sleep after drinking more than a glass of wine or two. Poor sleep, according to Harvard, is linked to anxiety, irritability, and depressed mood, and alcohol, as a depressant, exacerbates these effects.
“It’s been shown that you’re unable to achieve the usual REM sleep cycle when drinking alcohol, so even if you’re getting a couple hours of sleep, you’re probably not getting good sleep,” says Malamet.Follow my blog with Bloglovin