Hangover Cure Guide | Best Reviews, News & Information
Hangovers: What Are They & Why Do We Get Them?
A hangover, medically known as "veisalgia", is caused by the consumption of large amounts of alcohol (or some other drug, but we'll talk about alcohol induced hangovers from here on out).
Hangovers are most commonly associated with over consumption of alcohol, or drinking too much. Here we will summarise the cures and remedies available for alcohol hangovers.
A Hangover is a commonly experienced after effect experienced after heavy consumption of alcohol, the amount usually being determined by various factors like diet/food consumption before drinking, physical condition, age and mental state.
Statistics show that while an average person may suffer from a hangover after as many as four to five drinks, some may also experience it with as little as two to three. There also exists a small percentage of people (lucky bar-stewards) who show a complete resistance to the effects of a hangover.
Common effects of a hangover are dizziness, dehydration, fatigue, sensitivity to light, lack of concentration, irritability, headaches and sensitivity to sound. In more serious cases, a hangover can cause vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, nausea and erratic motor functions. Besides these, various physiological side effects like depression and anxiety can follow a hangover.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Hangover?
There are many symptoms that indicate you may have a hangover:
Your mouth can feel very dry and you may feel a strong urge to wet your tongue and throat.
This is when your heads feels very heavy and sometime emits a throbbing feeling that is very painful. You might feel sleepy and drowsy.
Your eyes may look swollen and will be slightly or very red in color. Your eyes may also dislike exposure to light.
Nausea and Vomiting
Strange sensation in the stomach with a feeling of nausea and vomiting.
You feel drowsy when you wake up. There is a very strong urge to go back to sleep.
A hangover usually isn't a serious health condition, although some of symptoms like chills, diarrhea, dizziness and fever can be quite disturbing, and there are plenty of hangover headache remedies and home cures for a hangover headache. Most hangover remedies involve food hangover cures like consuming bananas. There are some that work, provided you aren’t forcing yourself to throw up or anything else drastic. If you are vomiting or experiencing diarrhea then it would be best to rehydrate orally to prevent dehydration. Te same applies with hangover nausea and fatigue.
When looking for hangover cures for vomiting, food and exercise are not the best idea!
So what causes a Hangover and all of the horrible symptoms mentioned above? A hangover is caused by excessive Ethanol being introduced to the body, causing an increase in urine production dehydrating the body leading and a decrease in essential fluids in the body and brain. This is the main factor resulting in headaches and a feeling of lethargy.
Ethanol, which is universally used as the intoxicating agent in alcoholic drinks, is broken down in the body to form acetaldehyde by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which is then further broken down to form to acetic acid (vinegar) from acetaldehyde. The enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase does this, which is found in the liver. Acetaldehyde is actually known to be more toxic than alcohol and is anywhere between ten to thirty percent more toxic.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol causes a lot of dehydration which causes your mouth to go dry and also is responsible for the headaches that come with hangovers.
The mood disturbances, fatigue, weakness and compromised attention span and concentration can also be attributed to the way the body converts NADH from the coenzyme NAD+ (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) which is a coenzyme found in all living cells. An excess in the production of which can result in the enzymes of the Citric Acid Cycle being inhibited and thus, in order to account for the increase of the resultant Pyruvate, which is formed at the final stage of glycolysis, the excess NADH produces lactate from the resultant pyruvate to recreate NAD+.
Due to the drop in pyruvate, its path to gluconeogenesis which generates glucose is obstructed and diverted. Since glucose is the body’s primary source of energy and especially of the brain, this result in the negative effects described above, such as mental tiredness and fatigue.
Alcohol also effectively decreases the livers functionality and its ability to produce glutathione which acts as a detoxifier in the body. This greatly reduces the body’s capability to flush out toxins and importantly acetaldehyde from the bloodstream. Also, alcohol induces the creation of the enzyme CYP2E1 (Cytochrome P450 2E1) in the body which, along with being an important enzyme for the conversion of ethanol to acetaldehyde, is also known to be the cause of additional toxins and other free radicals.
It is believed that in the fermentation of alcohol, certain by-products called congeners are released. These congeners heighten symptoms of a hangover caused by excessive intake of alcohol. Congeners are found in higher concentration in darker alcohol like bourbons (of course, my favorite!) and in much lesser quantities in lighter colored alcohols like vodka. This simply means that darker alcohols are known to cause much more pronounced hangovers than that of lighter colored alcohols.
This blog is dedicated to discovering and reviewing all of the different hangover cures available, but there are some very simple hangover cures that you can try instantly, using common household and home-made items:
Hangover Cure Using Water
Simply consume a lot of water before you go to bed. This should provide some relief to the dehydrating effects of alcohol (alcohol is a diuretic). Drink lots of water again after you wake up.
Hangover Remedy: Eat Some (Lots Of!) Food
It's good practice to eat something while and after you're drinking. This helps reduce the rate at which alcohol enters your blood and can help reduce the after-effects. Try to eat starchy foods to slow down the alcohol absorption.
Hangover Cure: Vitamin C
Take vitamin C tablets. Vitamin C helps break down the alcohol content in your body and clear some of the cogeners. I actually recommend taking vitamin C along with NAC (N-acetylcysteine or N-acetyl-L-cysteine, available in most good health stores) but that's an entire blog post of it's own!
Hangover Cure: Moderation
It's a bit of a cliche point, but moderation with your alcohol consumption is the best route to avoiding hangovers. Try limit yourself to less than 1 drink per hour. An alternative is trying to alternate your alcoholic drinks with nonalcoholic beverages, such as water.
Stick to non-carbonated drinks as carbonation can speed up the alcohol absorption. Similarly, try to avoid sweet drinks (and sugary foods) while you drink. The sweet taste of the drink can make it difficult for you to judge how much alcohol you’re actually consuming.
The truth is that there is no absolute remedy that is accepted by modern medicine for a hangover; there exist however many home remedies for most hangover symptoms, some which have been passed down through generations, even being mentioned in folklore.
One of the earliest recorded remedies for a hangover came from the ancient Romans who on the suggestion of Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus) took to consuming raw owl eggs. Always willing to compromise, the Romans would sometimes settle for canary eggs, instead.
Through the years, the accepted remedy for a hangover evolved. For example, the 1878 Paris World Exposition demonstrated a cure composed of a mixture of raw egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper. In America, people took to consuming a mixture of Coca-Cola and milk. Known author Ernest Hemingway himself swore on tomato juice and beer as the ultimate hangover cure.
Harmful Hangover Cures
Some unproven and potentially harmful cures include:
- The hair of the dog: This involves consuming more of the alcohol that caused the hangover in the first place. While this causes a temporary sedating effect, the body is only more poisoned with additional alcohol and it only postpones the effects and inevitable symptoms.
- Steambaths and Saunas: this can be pretty dangerous as cardiac arrhythmias can be easily caused with the combination of alcohol still in the system and hypothermia.
Potentially Helpful Hangover Remedies
- Antacids like peppermint and chamomile tea may help quell an upset stomach.
- Drink plenty of water or fresh juices to rehydrate yourself. One of the main causes of a hangover is dehydration, however skip acidic juices like orange and opt for apple instead.
- Alcohol causes a loss of potassium within your body. Eating a banana may help regain lost potassium.
- Nausea can be treated with ginger. To counteract the effects of the same, drinking ginger-ale is highly recommended.
- Sports drinks are highly recommended as they help regain lost glucose in the body.
- Other clear liquids like soup are recommended until the stomach is strong enough for solid food after which easy to digest foods like toast are ideal.
Remember, one of the best cures for a hangover is simply plenty of sleep! Make sure you get a few more hours in than normal.