Natural Home Remedies for Hangovers
By Alysa Bajenaru, RD
The sun streams through the windows and falls across your face. As you open your eyes it hits you that you had a few too many drinks last night. Your mouth feels like cotton, your head is pounding, and that sunlight is way too bright. You have a hangover.
Is there any way to make this feeling go away? Read on for some ideas.
What Is a Hangover?
A hangover is a physical reaction caused by the overconsumption of alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the worse these symptoms can be. Lack of sleep makes a hangover worse as does the emotional baggage that can come along with it.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of a hangover may include:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Excessive thirst and dry mouth
- Headaches and muscle aches
- Nausea, vomiting or stomach pain
- Poor or decreased sleep
- Increased sensitivity to light and sound
- Dizziness or a sense of the room spinning
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Mood disturbances, such as depression, anxiety and irritability
- Rapid heartbeat
Can You Prevent Hangovers?
The easiest way to prevent a hangover is obviously to avoid drinking alcohol, but if you are going to drink, do so in moderation (up to one drink a day for women, and up to two drinks a day for men). Always have food in your stomach before drinking alcohol, and stay fully hydrated by alternating alcoholic beverages with a full glass of water. Getting a full night’s sleep can help too.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Make a Hangover Go Away?
Other than time, there is nothing that will completely cure a hangover, but there are some home remedies that can help you feel better while you wait it out.
Fluids, Fluids, and More Fluids
- Water: If you have a hangover, you are definitely dehydrated, so start by sipping as much water as you can tolerate right when you wake up.
- Electrolyte Drink: Electrolytes help your body re-hydrate faster. The best natural electrolyte drink is coconut water which contains the same five electrolytes that are found in human blood. (Sports drinks usually only contain two.) Coconut water is also low in sugar and contains no artificial colors or sweeteners.
- Coffee: If you are a regular coffee drinker, a cup of joe might help soothe your headache. If you aren’t a regular coffee drinker, skip it.
- Tea: Your stomach lining has taken a pounding. Ginger or peppermint tea might help soothe pain and decrease nausea.
- Juice: The natural fruit sugars in a glass of juice can help break down the alcohol more quickly.
The Best Foods to Eat
- Eggs: Eggs contain a substance called cysteine that helps break down the toxins left behind by alcohol. Scrambled eggs are also well-tolerated by an irritated stomach.
- Soup: Broth is a great way to help rehydrate the body and replace electrolytes.
- Toast or Crackers: Especially if you’re feeling nauseous, these might help settle your stomach so you can eat more later.
- Smoothie: If you can tolerate it, a smoothie made with bananas and leafy greens will help you hydrate and detox.
- Oats: A warm bowl of oatmeal can settle your stomach while providing essential nutrients like B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and iron.
- Supplements: If you’re having trouble eating anything more than crackers, there are a few supplements that can help, like magnesium, B vitamins and chlorophyll
Things to Avoid
- Hair of the Dog: It’s a common myth, but drinking more of what gave you a hangover won’t help you get over it. It might make you feel better for the moment, but the hangover will still eventually happen when you stop drinking.
- Greasy Food: A giant burger is better suited for preventing a hangover than for treating one. Stick to the bland and basic foods listed above for now.
- Acidic Food and Drinks: Remember, your stomach is ultra-sensitive right now, so stay away from anything acidic or sour that could make it feel worse such as orange juice, tomato juice or grapefruit.
Like I said before, time is the only thing that makes a hangover fully disappear. Depending on the severity, it can take anywhere from 8-24 hours. If you are able to rest, rest. If you have obligations like work or school, hydrate throughout the day and eat as tolerated. If you’re able to fit some exercise in, that might rev up your metabolism to process the alcohol more quickly and help you feel better. Just make sure to have plenty of water on hand and don’t push yourself too hard.
There is no magic cure for a hangover, but I promise, it won’t last forever.