Effective hangover remedies based on natural, wholefood healing techniques are discussed below. The holistic health approach is to detoxify the alcohol quickly from the system and replace lost nutrients - these are key elements in improving how you feel. For these cures to be effective against hangover, many of them will have to be employed at once, not only one.
How to cure a hangover quickly and cheaply by using home remedies?
The best hangover remedy is six-fold:
1) Help the body detoxify alcohol quickly and effectively by supporting the detoxifying organs.
2) Move blood and lymph.
3) Address blood sugar imbalance.
4) Alkalize to enable your body to correct the acidic pH caused by alcohol.
5) Hydrate to counter hangover dehydration.
6) Address nutrient deficiencies caused by alcohol.
"For a hangover, juice:
1 head of romaine lettuce
1 stalk of broccoli
1 handful of spinach
"Process all ingredients through a juicer. Drink immediately. Alcohol destroys the B vitamins. Romaine lettuce, broccoli and spinach contain excellent quantities of the B complex, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), and folic acid (B9). I used to be quite a social drinker before I became a raw foodist. As I began eating significant quantities of raw foods, I no longer would feel hangover after a night of drinking with friends."
- Sunfood Diet Success System, p. 103
The second hangover remedy David Wolfe provides in the same book would be to eat one whole cantaloupe fruit because it is the richest fruit in B vitamins. He reminds that for best results the fruit should be organic and eaten all the way to the rind as melons contain most of their vitamins and minerals near the edge of the rind.
So the first hangover remedy is: Replace lost B vitamins in quickly and easily absorbable form, such as juice. Also, it is a good idea to take a Vitamin B complex supplement when drinking.
B-vitamins have been linked to mental disorders and depression as well so replacing these might be helpful for the sour moods that sometimes accompany hangover.
Niacin (vitamin B3) may be an especially effective hangover remedy. Dr. Andrew Saul and other orthomolecular medicine practitioners who promote megavitamine therapy are of the opinion that niacin supplementation, when correctly done, can help against alcohol cravings and even remedy alcoholism.
Alcohol is very dehydrating and very acidifying to the body and so it is important to rapidly alkalize to beat the hangover. Alkaline drinks and food will help to regain your energy and not feel so tired. Achieving the right body pH balance means countering the acidic condition in the body caused by alcohol and becoming more alkaline. This will also help your inner organs function better and detoxify you more efficiently.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to alkalize is by drinking lemon water. I have personally found this to be a very effective remedy for hangover. Squeeze the juice of half or one full lemon into a glass of water, and drink. If you can do this on the night you have been drinking, just before going to bed, even better.
Other ways to alkalize, which will also help cure hangover, are freshly squeezed green juices, wheatgrass, chlorella, spirulina and other green superfoods, which you may or may not be able to handle in large quantities. I can drink two large glasses of green juice, mixed with lemon water, and can also take 1-2 tablespoons of green powders with no problems. But if you've never taken these before, best start slowly, because everyone's system is different, and they are very cleansing. And even if you have taken them, see how your body reacts.
However, the larger quantities of green juices you are able to take, the more effective the hangover cure, within reason. It might be a good idea to make green juices and powders a part of your daily routine anyway and slowly build up to, say, 2 large glasses of fresh green juices daily - made from a mixture of different dark, leafy green vegetables - and 1-2 tablespoons of a mixture of green superfood powders, such as chlorella, wheatgrass, spirulina, etc. There are also blue-green algaes which you usually take in smaller quantities.
Ginger added to the green juice may work well also. Note that green juice can be quite strong on the stomach so never drink on an empty stomach, and dilute with water as necessary.
You can already start to alkalize while drinking. E.g. home-made limoncello, margarita or another drink with much freshly squeezed lemon or lime may make you feel much better the next day than a drink without lemon would. In this case the more sour the drink the better (i.e. more lemon and less sugar).
More ideas on how to alkalize for hangover remedy.
Nothing, in my view, provides relief from a hangover quicker than going for a good, sweaty, heart-pumping run.
However, I cannot recommend this technique since it may strain your heart or even cause a heart-attack. Nevertheless, I do it myself and even though it is hard to run in a hangover, it does really help, as it gets the blood moving, the alcohol pouring out of your sweat glands, and generally just speeds up your system and detoxification.
The feel-good hormones and adrenalin you get from exercise provide an immediate mood-lift and also work as natural pain killers. The enhanced oxygen intake you get through the lungs helps the blood carry the much-needed nutrients and oxygen into the cells quicker as well, which can then, in turn, act as a hangover remedy.
Anything to get your blood and lymph moving, in my experience, can help greatly with clearing the hangover symptoms. It is not necessarily safe, however, so although I do it myself I cannot recommend it to others. It is up to you if you choose to try this or not.
Another one in the same risky but powerful category of hangover cures is swimming in very cold water. This will again increase blood flow and shock the body out of hangover! I'm not sure for what reason, but I can feel the effect of the endorphins after swimming in cold water as well, it makes you feel on top of the world! Even cold showers can give you a milder version of this effect.
Always keep in mind when swimming in cold water, however, that you should cool off before going in. Don't ever jump into cold water straight from running, from sauna, from hot sunshine, or when your body is hot for any reason. This can really cause a heart attack even in a healthy person. When I go swimming in the winter in Finland (through a hole in the ice) I come out of the sauna, sit outside with a towel for 5 minutes to cool off, and then walk over to the frozen sea to dip in for a few seconds. Never do it alone and always is quite shallow water. This is perfectly safe for most people who are in good health, though such extremely cold water is not recommended in a hangover.
Other ways to help the blood and lymph move, and so to provide a part of a remedy for hangover, would be skin brushing. Additionally, other techniques such as massage, deep breathing, stretching, yoga and walking outdoors (especially if the weather is cold!) may help as well, although these are subtler methods than vigorous exercise.
My naturopath diagnosed me as carbohydrate sensitive, which means that I have problems with unstable blood sugar. This does not, however, show up in the blood sugar readings I have been taking. Also reading other people's experiences on the internet, I have found that it is possible to get low blood sugar symptoms and unhealthy blood sugar spikes even if it doesn't show on the readings. Not quite sure why this is and I'm not 100% sure if the naturopath's diagnosis was correct, but from my experiments with different foods and supplementation, it does at the moment seem that he was correct.
The point here is that even if you don't think you have blood sugar problems, they are likely to be part of the hangover you are feeling.
This is what David Wolfe has to say:
"[The glycemic index] chart makes evident the sugar imbalance that beer can cause. Alcoholics, in general, have a disrupted sugar metabolism, but they can find relief eating mostly sweet fruits (berries) as a replacement for alcohol. Regular fruit meals can keep the blood sugar levels balanced; assorted greens, plant fats, and superfoods (spirulina, blue-green algae, goji berries, maca, bee pollen, etc.) can provide the B vitamins and trace minerals which are usually deficient in the alcohol consumer."
- Sunfood Diet Success System, p. 189
What I try to do these days to keep my blood sugar levels optimal is to ensure I eat no bread, wheat flour, processed sugar or processed carbohydrates and whenever I do eat whole-food based sugar or carbs, I eat them with protein and fibre on the same meal, as these help to release the sugar from food in a more manageable way. I also take supplements to strengthen my adrenal glands, whose health is a key part of the blood sugar metabolism. Adrenal fatigue and insufficiency are very common problems these days and often contribute to make hangovers worse. Magnesium supplementation may help to manage blood sugar levels as well.
For first-aid in a hangover, however, and in addition to the drinks mentioned above, one could eat a stomach-friendly snack of wholefood carbohydrate combined with protein and/or fruit to get over the initial blood sugar low. This could be organic fruit, for example, or oat porridge (has protein), or a berry smoothie with added protein powder, nuts and seeds, or peanut butter (no sugar added) for protein.
Even better if you can also have a protein, healthy carbs and fibrous foods on the same night as drinking. Also, even though alcohol itself is a sugar, choosing lower-sugar alcoholic drinks may make you feel better the next day, e.g. tequila/vodka with sparkling water and lemon.
If you have a known blood sugar problem, such as diabetes, please follow your doctor's advice instead of mine.
Your liver is the main detoxifying organ cleaning the alcohol off your system and the kidneys are the main organ to clean your blood. Both will suffer from alcohol consumption.
The worst thing you can do to your liver, then, when 'hanging over', is to take pain killers or a 'hair-of-the-dog' drink of alcohol. These are both very distressing for the liver.
To help these organs detoxify, drink plenty of good quality water and antioxidant-rich teas. Lemon water, especially, is very cleansing and helpful for the liver. The liver also likes movement, laughter and happy moods, plenty of water, and natural antioxidants.
Natural antioxidants will help support these organs, so eat plenty of colourful fruit and vegetables. Some of the best antioxidants out there are chaga mushroom tinctures or tea, broccoli sprouts and other sprouts, and berries, redbush tea, etc. Alkalizing, grounding, and antioxidants are to some extent the same thing and will all greatly help with hangover..
Artificial antioxidants may actually harm your kidneys so I would personally stay away from those.
Also, stay away from green tea and other caffeine sources and toxins, as these may stress your liver and adrenals further and make your current and possibly future hangovers worse as well!
You can also find the meridian points for the kidneys and the liver - these are located on your back and elsewhere. Massaging these points will help you identify and support distressed organs: i.e. a painful point will mark a compromised organ and massaging will help strengthen it. Sometimes massaging one acupoint too much may cause some problems, however. For more information you can refer to Donna Eden's work, for example.
In addition, you can of course research liver and kidney strengthening herbs and foods, take water enemas or colonics, coffee enemas, liver flushes (not when hangover!), wheatgrass implants, etc. There are supplements also suitable for strengthening these organs but it would be best to consult a nutritionist first because 1) there are many bad-quality supplements out there, 2) taking supplements can cause imbalances if not done correctly, and 3) because it is easy to waste a lot of money on supplements which then turn out not to be the most critical ones for you. A nutritionist can see what the main health challenges you are dealing with are, and help you strenghten your body over the long-term so that you won't get as bad hangovers anymore in the first place!
If you can't see a nutritionist consider just taking a good quality multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplement - it will be better than nothing.
If you get badly affected by alcohol even after just drinking small quantities, e.g. 1-2 glasses of wine or bottles of beer - you may have histamine intolerance. If you experience sour or depressed moods, negative emotions, fevery feeling, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, red eyes, sinus congestion and mucus the day after drinking even small amounts of alcohol you could benefit from doing the histamine intolerance test on this website: Eat-All.com: Intolerance Test.
You can test whether you have histamine intolerance by taking 2 capsules of DAO Enzyme just before drinking 1-2 small glasses of wine. If the next day you feel much better than you would without the enzyme, it is likely that you are either deficient in the enzyme that breaks down histamine or you have mold infection, or something else causing an overproduction of histamine in your body. The website above (Eat-all.com) has good information on histamine intolerance and they also sell the DAO Enzymes (expensive!). If you are histamine intolerant, the DAO enzymes will usually provide an effective hangover remedy, but they have to be taken just before drinking and you still can't drink much. Each enzyme capsule can only 'neutralize' a small amount of histamine in alcohol.
I have written more about histamine intolerance here.
Book: "What HIT me? Living with Histamine Intolerance: A guide to diagnosis and management of HIT - A patient's point of view" by Genny Masterman:
Additional, symptomatic hangover remedies can also be added to the above list:
For headaches, use a grounding device on your head. Drink plenty of electrolytes. You may try organic, high quality peppermint essential oil on your temples as well, but I have found the grounding mat to provide the best cure for hangover- and other headaches. Drinking plenty of spring water, coconut water, lemon water or other electrolyte-rich fluids will help as well, and staying away from caffeine and other diuretics is important. Dehydration is usually a big part of headaches.
For tiredness and fatigue caused by alcohol, and in general, alkalize as explained in the chapter above.
For sour moods and hangover depression, follow David Wolfe's hangover cure advice at the beginning of this article - i.e. B-vitamin-rich green juices. Cold showers (only a few seconds) and exercise typically release endorphins into your brain and make you feel better. Also, you can drink 'happy tea' made from St John's Wort and passion flowers, which helps release endorphins too, and for more tips on how to improve both hangover moods and bad temper in general, even longer-term, follow the advice in this article: How to Control Anger. Alkalizing, hydrating and chlorophyll-rich juices are also crucial for improved moods.
For alcohol-caused nausea, you can try chewing a fresh piece of ginger, as some people I know swear by this technique. In addition, the usual: not too many liquids without solid food, eating only small pieces of fruit, such as banana, and any other belly-friendly things - porridge, etc. Green smoothies may work better than green juices in this case, but only if you like the taste and are not averse to drinking them!
Hangover prevention is important as well. Drink clean alcohol, not cheap wine which is chemical, not beer. Mix with water or sparkling water, avoid sugary and/or chemical mixers. Margarita cocktails are great because they contain (hopefully fresh) lemon juice. Sparkling wine seems to be ok, as well as spirits with sparkling water. Eat fat-rich foods during and/or after drinking, as well as the next morning (e.g. a smoothie with tahini). Take vitamin B-complex before bed, drink the juice of two lemons before bed with plenty of water (about 1-2 pints).
Variety of berries (lots - fresh or frozen, no sugar added)
1 tbsp peanut butter (need a type with no sugar added, just peanuts - alternatively can use other nuts or seeds, e.g. cashew nuts make it creamy)
1 tbsp of chia seeds
1 tbsp of flax seeds (linseeds)
1-2 dates (without stones)
3 romaine lettuce leaves
Fruit juice of your choice (no sugar added) or almond milk
See more smoothie recipes here: My Favourite Green Smoothie Recipe and Other Healthy Smoothies
I juice the vegetables first in a juicer and add the spices later. You can also experiment with added spices or vegetables and fruit to taste. I have found this to be a very helpful remedy for hangover and I normally drink about a pint's worth of it (1/2 litre, 17 liquid ounces). This recipe is based on David Wolfe's hangover cure above.
Dark Green Lettuce
Cayenne pepper to taste (helps to circulate blood)
1/2 teasp turmeric (antioxidant)
One lemon (or more)
Piece of ginger
Optional: cucumber (very hydrating)
So that is all I have to say on hangover remedies, for now! I will update this if I find out new tricks. The more of these hangover remedies you can do, the more likely you will succeed in quickly and effectively coming out of a hangover. Of course it really is your body, not you, who will be doing the curing, but these methods will greatly support it in its task.
If you are finding it difficult to control the amount of alcohol you drink or you feel that you drink too often, have a look at the alcoholism remedies, they may be helpful for lesser cravings as well. These may be helpful too:
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70 brief chapters, each introducing you to the benefits of a certain technique, or a trick, to improve your health frugally. Natural, noninvasive and easy techniques. Pick the ones that suit your lifestyle and begin enjoying the good life!
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Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.