‘Tis the season for overindulging in a little bit of everything—including alcoholic drinks. Whether you want to prevent a hangover before you’ve had your first cocktail, are looking for a last-ditch effort after having one too many, or, you woke up feeling like you’re knocking on death’s door, the following suggestions may help you nip hangover symptoms in the bud. Here’s what to do in advance of your first drink, what to take at night before going to bed, how to start your next morning, and tips to put into practice so you’re not sidelined by too much holiday cheer.
Before the Party
Pop a supplement. You can take the herb milk thistle before drinking alcohol to protect your liver, as it has natural hepatoprotective properties and can ease morning-after hangover symptoms. You can also take vitamin C and/or vitamin B-complex before drinking to help prevent a hangover. Keep in mind that taking these supplements may also hinder your ability to get a buzz. It’s always a good idea to have some food in your stomach before drinking alcohol, and it might help while taking these vitamins as well.
Whip up a vinegar-based coleslaw! Thought it sounds odd, my German patients swear that eating a raw cabbage and apple cider vinegar coleslaw combination can help prevent a hangover. Have it as a late snack before bed.
Before Falling Asleep
Hydrate. If you didn’t take vitamin C, milk thistle and/ or N-acetyl cysteine before the party, wash them down now with a tall glass of water before bed. Drinking water throughout the night and before going to sleep will slowly dilute the alcohol and help flush it out of your system.
Sip kombucha. The combination of apple cider vinegar, natural probiotics from fermentation, B vitamins, and the assortment of nutrients in kombucha help change up the pH and mildly detoxify the liver and bowel. Taking this with a large glass of water before bed can sometimes stop a hangover in its tracks.
The Morning After
Have some ginger tea. Whether you wake up with mild or severe hangover symptoms, have a big glass of water and fix yourself some ginger tea to alleviate nausea and indigestion associated with hangovers. Grate a few pieces of fresh ginger into a mug and pour boiling water over it, letting it simmer for 10 minutes. Or, try hot lemon and honey tea to replenish fluids and sugars lost.
Snack on a banana. Bypass the greasy breakfast that will likely upset your stomach later, and have a banana as part of a healthy breakfast for carbs, sugar, and potassium. After a night of drinking your body experiences an imbalance of electrolytes, which causes a drop in potassium. Depending on how much your stomach is flip-flopping, toast with butter might help you feel better, too.
Make a virgin Bloody Mary. Many people claim the spicy foods and drinks help them feel better after a rough night of imbibing. Try a blend of tomato juice and hot sauce.
Take an antacid. If your stomach feels unsettled, take Alka-Seltzer or Alka Seltzer Gold (sodium bicarbonate) to neutralize stomach acid.
Try a homeopathic remedy such as Nux Vomica. The Chinese herb Pueraria (Kudzu) and the fermented herb Hovenia dulcis can also help minimize symptoms. If you find you have difficulty digesting the next couple of days consider a probiotic or Gentian Root to ease digestive problems.
Later That Day
Nourish your body. Sip homemade chicken broth with ginger to hydrate you and calm your digestive system. Eat simple and clean meals today and the next few days—give your digestive system a break!
Try a natural quick-fix. The homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica can provide fast-active relief for your symptoms. Take one dose twice an hour for a couple of hours or until you feel better, for up to three hours.
Move your body gently. You may be tempted to “sweat out the alcohol” with a high-intensity workout, but depending on the severity of your symptoms, you could wind up feeling worse. Any time you improve rest you’ll feel better sooner. In Chinese medicine we call rest yin. When we drink too much alcohol we get hot (more yang) and inflamed and rest (yin) can reduce the inflammation. Gentle yoga is a great idea to try the next day (try our 10-minute home yoga sequence!) or any light exercise that gets your blood moving and encourages breathing.
Exercises to Help You Recover from a Hangover
Sit upright on your bed with your feet firmly planted into the ground. Center your neck so it’s in line with the spine and the chin is parallel with the ground. Allow the throbbing in the head and/or belly to settle and take full deep breaths.
Now use the support of the interlaced hands to press the head slightly forward. Repeat the sequence of tilting the head forward and back as slowly as you need to reduce any tension in the neck or throbbing in the head.
Lie down on the ground in static back. Use a chair to rest the backs of the knees and lower legs parallel with the ground and the knees at a 90 degree angle with the hips. Let the neck, back, and arms relax. Stay for as long as you need.