Christmas is a time for gatherings and partying for many. If you are like me, who cannot even take half a pint of beer (let alone wine or hard liquor), you may choose to keep away from alcohol altogether and not have the problem of a hangover. However, if for some reason you have had a little too much to drink, below are some natural ways to make yourself feel better the day after. But before going to that, what is a hangover anyway?
A hangover is actually the body’s way of showing signs of toxicity. Alcohol in the drinks is being taken to the liver to be broken down, and the by-product, called acetaldehyde – which is more toxic than alcohol itself, is the culprit that causes most of the symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. As alcohol is a diuretic, the body also becomes dehydrated and you get dry mouth, fatigue, general discomfort, etc.
So what can you do to help yourself feel better?
Eating Before Drinking
Prevention is better than cure. A meal of carbohydrates and preferably some fats slows down the absorption of alcohol. Eating while drinking helps too, as it also gives the mouth some other work to do and prevent over-drinking.
Water helps to hydrate the body and prevents dehydration from setting in. You should already be drinking water on the same day after your drinking, or better still, take it intermittently with your drink, and not wait until the hangover sets in the next day. This would help to ease the discomfort when you wake up the next morning. Of course, waking up and immediately drinking water definitely helps as well.
Studies show that coconut water contains more electrolytes than the common isotonic drinks that are often used as hangover cures. Its natural sugars also supply quick energy to the fatigued body after a night of partying and drinking. What’s more, it is natural without added sucrose, artificial flavourings, colourings, etc., and best of all; don’t we all agree that fresh coconut water tastes absolutely delicious?
Umeboshi, or plum, is a traditional hangover cure in Japan. Umeboshi drink can also be taken before taking alcohol as a preventive measure. If you are not in Japan, you can readily get a bottle of preserved umeboshi from a Japanese supermarket. Buy the type where there is only umeboshi, salt and shiso leaves as the ingredients without added colouring and additives if possible.
Honey is a common hangover cure in Korea. Make a drink with a generous amount of honey using warm water. It can be drunk twice or even 3 times a day for a more continuous effect; or you can take honey as breakfast by spreading it on toast like the Koreans do.
The ever-versatile egg makes a great breakfast (or brunch or lunch, depending on what time of the day you managed to drag yourself out of bed) to beat the hangover. Eggs are rich in cysteine, an amino acid that breaks down acetaldehyde, the poison that is creating the havoc in the body. It also contains taurine, which boosts liver function and helps it work better in its detoxification process. The best part of it is that with the headache and heavy body that you drag along as you attempt to function like your normal self, you need not spend an arduous effort to think or to prepare yourself a simple yet delicious breakfast.
If you have done the above and still require some help, consider going for a session of acupuncture, which helps to relieve symptoms of headache and nausea, and at the same time further enhances your liver’s function for the much needed detox.
Shiau Tse is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and manager at Heritage TCM Clinic. Her passion lies in her patients, and her mission in life is to Heal, Educate & Inspire the world, one consultation at a time.
Read more about her and view her other articles here.