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Inside the body, alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde, which is toxic in excessive amounts. (1) It damages the DNA, hampers normal cellular function, and also inhibits the body’s ability to reverse this damage.
This is why drinking too much alcohol usually triggers a number of side effects that are collectively termed a hangover.
Symptoms of a hangover may vary from person to person, but some of the most commonly reported ones are: (2)
- Rapid heartbeat
- Body ache
- Foul breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach ache
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to loud sounds
Hangovers usually subside on their own within 24 hours, but there are things you can do to ease the symptoms and speed up recovery.
Best Home Remedies for Hangover Relief
Here are some tried-and-tested remedies to get rid of a hangover more quickly.
1. Drink more water
Alcohol functions as a diuretic, which means it increases urine output and therefore makes your body lose more water. It does so by suppressing the release of a hormone called vasopressin, which helps your body retain water.
High intake of alcohol can result in excessive water loss from the body, causing dehydration. (3) Thus, increasing your water intake when riddled with a hangover can be a quick way to ease discomfort. (4)
Consume at least 8–10 glasses of water along with other bland fluids such as fruit and vegetable juices to rehydrate your body all through the day. At the same time, avoid caffeinated beverages since they also work as diuretics and can worsen dehydration.
2. Sleep properly
As discussed earlier, too much alcohol in the body causes cellular damage, which is responsible for various hangover symptoms. Your body needs good restful sleep to repair this damage and properly overcome a hangover.
Since your body goes without any fluid intake for a long time during sleep, the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle), kicks in to manage a balanced level of hydration. (5) Circadian signals trigger the body to produce a hormone called vasopressin, which promotes water retention.
Thus, it’s critical to obtain enough sleep and to stay away from screens and other stimuli that may cause sleep disruption. (6)
3. Drink ginger and honey tea
Ginger is widely used in Asia as a hangover cure. (7) It is loaded with various active phenol compounds such as shogaols and gingerols, which help the body metabolize or digest alcohol to reduce its concentration in the blood.
Meanwhile, honey contains a natural form of sugar called fructose, which exerts a similar effect. (8)
Thus, consuming both these ingredients together can significantly decrease the amount of alcohol in the body, thereby relieving the side effects of binge drinking such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. (9)(10)
How to use:
- Boil 10–12 slices of fresh ginger root in 4 cups of water for around 10 minutes.
- Filter out the liquid.
- Squeeze half a lemon in it.
- Mix in 2 tablespoons of honey.
- Sip this tea throughout the day.
4. Drink black tea
Black tea contains tannic acid, which can help eliminate toxins from the body that are responsible for a hangover. (11)
How to use:
- Heat 1½ cups of water in a pan and add 2 teaspoons of black tea powder when it starts to boil.
- Let it simmer for 2–3 minutes and then switch off the flame.
- Cover the pan with a lid and leave it for 2 min.
- Strain the liquid in a serving cup, mix some sugar or honey if you like, and drink this tea.
5. Consume L-cysteine-containing foods
L-cysteine is a form of the semi-essential amino acid cysteine. It binds acetaldehyde, which is the toxic compound that alcohol is converted into in the body. By trapping and eliminating acetaldehyde from the body, L-cysteine may help diminish the intensity of hangover symptoms such as nausea, headache, stress, and anxiety.
So, it is recommended to have a hearty and healthy breakfast consisting of eggs and a complex carbohydrate after a night of heavy drinking. The L-cysteine in eggs helps to break down, bind, and eliminate the toxins released from alcohol that cause hangovers.
L-cysteine is also suggested to exhibit antioxidant effects that may neutralize the oxidative stress caused by alcohol consumption and curb the resulting hangover. However, studies on this topic have produced conflicting and inconclusive data which warrants the need for further research to properly establish this claim. (12)
Nevertheless, there is no harm in consuming foods rich in L-cysteine such as eggs, (13) cheese, and yogurt to potentially relieve your hangover symptoms. Moreover, consuming alcohol along with such protein-rich foods can reduce the risk of a hangover later.
How to use:
- When you wake up with a hangover, toast 2–3 slices of bread and fry or soft-boil an egg.
- Drink 1–2 glasses of water and then eat your breakfast.
6. Eat bananas
Magnesium and potassium are essential electrolytes that are generally depleted from the body during a hangover due to dehydration.
Since bananas are replete with both these minerals, they can help restore electrolyte balance in the body and thus promote full and fast recovery.
7. Consume mango
Consuming mango can help decrease plasma alcohol levels to ease the symptoms associated with a hangover. (14) It is abundant in powerful antioxidants that help fight the damaging toxins released in the body by alcohol. (15)
How to use:
Eat a mango fruit or consume a mango smoothie to ease hangover symptoms.
8. Drink tomato juice
Tomato juice is composed mostly of water, which makes it quite hydrating. Thus, it can help reverse the diuretic effects of alcohol and thereby ease your hangover symptoms.
Tomato also contains a lot of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that help counter the harmful aftereffects of drinking too much alcohol. It is replete with vitamin C, which works as a strong antioxidant that can neutralize the harmful by-products of alcohol metabolism. (16)
How to use:
- Mix some cayenne pepper, honey, and lemon juice in a glass of tomato juice.
- Drink this solution once in the morning and then again in the afternoon.
9. Take Indian gooseberry extract
Indian gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica) is a medicinal herb that may improve the metabolism of alcohol in the body, thus reducing its concentration in the blood. The drop in blood alcohol levels will inadvertently reduce hangover symptoms.
Moreover, Indian gooseberry was found useful in curbing inflammation and enhancing liver function after intoxication while also improving mood in regular drinkers. (17)
How to use:
Take Indian gooseberry extract twice a day for 10 days.
10. Try ginseng (ashwagandha)
Ginseng (ashwagandha) belongs to the family Araliaceae. Ginseng berry contains a variety of biologically active compounds and has higher ginsenoside content than its roots. It increases the activity and amount of enzymes that help metabolize alcohol and aids in its removal from the body.
Ginseng extract also improves hangover symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and stomach ache. Moreover, ginseng helps in dealing with hangovers due to its anti-inflammatory properties, which help break down alcohol, detoxify your body, and improve an upset stomach. (18)
Note: Ginseng is safe for most people. Check with your doctor before using it if you have diabetes or high blood pressure. Some evidence suggests it might affect blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
11. Drink peppermint tea
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) helps relieve nausea, vomiting, bloating, and digestive distress caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
Plus, this therapeutic herb helps flush out the toxins produced by alcohol, which are responsible for hangovers, thus reducing hangover symptoms and speeding up recovery.
How to use:
- Put 1 teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves in a cup and pour hot water into it.
- Put a lid on and let it steep for 3–5 minutes.
- Add 1 teaspoon of honey.
- Sip the tea slowly while it is still warm.
12. Take nutritional supplements
If you’re finding it difficult to replenish your body’s essential minerals through food and drinks alone, you can take some supplements. Magnesium and potassium supplements can help restore lost minerals, while B vitamins can help boost energy levels and reduce inflammation.
A study reported higher dietary intake of nicotinic acid and zinc can significantly lessen the severity of hangovers. (21)
What Medications Are Used to Deal With a Hangover?
Painkillers ibuprofen and aspirin can assist with headaches and other hangover symptoms. If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting, you may want to consider taking Pepto-Bismol, Dramamine, or another antinausea medication.
It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any medication because it may interact with alcohol or have negative side effects.
Self-Care Tips to Deal With a Hangover
If you have had too much to drink, here are some measures that can help you avoid a bad case of hangover:
- Alcohol dehydrates the body, which triggers and exacerbates hangover symptoms. Drinking a big glass of water before going to bed can help restore some of the water loss and reduce the intensity of a hangover the next morning.
- For headaches, take 400 milligrams of magnesium. If you are a diabetic or drink alcohol regularly, you may be deficient in magnesium; hence, take a magnesium supplement daily upon the approval of your healthcare provider for best results.
- Take vitamin B6 before or after drinking alcohol to reduce hangover symptoms.
- Take 150 milligrams of milk thistle to help detoxify and repair the liver after having too much alcohol.
- Hangovers are not dangerous, but many of the symptoms mimic the life-threatening condition of alcohol poisoning. If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately.
- Never take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for a hangover because this medication combined with alcohol can trigger serious long-term liver problems.
- Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach.
- Do not smoke while you are drinking alcohol.
Hangovers can make you feel terrible all day. This is why it is best to tackle it right away in the morning. Try out these safe and natural remedies to get rid of hangovers so you don’t have to have a lousy day because of one night of excessive drinking.
It’s important to note that the severity of a hangover can vary depending on several factors, including the amount and type of alcohol consumed, body weight, age, and overall health.
If you’re experiencing severe or persistent symptoms, or if you’re concerned about your health, it’s important to seek medical attention.