Since the beginning of time (or at least when alcohol was first discovered), human beings have been looking for a hangover cure.
Essential oils are concentrated liquid plant extracts that have many perceived health benefits.
In today’s article, we’re going to look at the science behind essential oils and explore the best ones to use as a hangover cure.
Hangover symptoms and causes
To understand how essential oils work for hangovers, we first need to go over how hangovers affect your body in the first place.
Hangover symptoms include nausea, muscle aches, lack of energy, poor concentration, and headache to mention a few.
They are caused by several different factors but most of the symptoms can be attributed to:
Alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes you produce more urine. For example, for every glass of wine (around 150ml), you’ll lose around an extra 50ml of water.
Therefore if you’re having a few drinks over the course of your night, this can leave you dehydrated.
One of the main toxic by-products of alcohol metabolism is acetaldehyde. It’s a highly unstable molecule which breaks down to form “free-radicals” that your cells.
Your liver normally clears acetaldehyde before this damage is done, however, during periods of over-indulgence, this toxic substance builds up.
Acetaldehyde is known to worsen hangover headache, flushing and nausea.
3) Poor sleep
Drinking is normally associated with late nights and fewer hours of sleep. In addition to this, alcohol prevents your brain from reaching the deeper stages of sleep (known as REM stage).
Overall, your sleep quality is severely affected by drinking and can leave you feeling exhausted.
How do essential oils help hangovers?
Aromatherapy is becoming increasingly popular, however, despite increased use of essential oils, the science behind its health benefits hasn’t been backed up in research studies.
That being said, many people see benefit from using them, especially as a relaxing and stress relieving aid.
So when it comes to essential oils for hangovers, it’s important to note that it won’t actually treat or cure your hangover symptoms.
The main aim of aromatherapy is to support a sense of calm and comfort when you’re feeling rough.
Best essential oils for a hangover
When it comes to choosing which essential oil is best for your hangovers, you may want to consider which symptom you’re trying to target in the first place.
Essential oils for hangover anxiety
The best known essential oil for anxiety is lavender extract. It’s been used for its stress-relieving properties for centuries.
Other than this, rose water has been shown to have anxiety-busting properties in some research studies.
Essential oils for hangover headache
Peppermint oil at 10% concentration has been shown in some studies to reduce tension-type headache. In one study it’s said that the analgesic effect was comparable to acetaminophen (aka paracetamol).
Essential oils for hangover nausea
Ginger is the most research-backed natural anti-nausea remedy around. It’s well known for its anti-sickness properties and doctors often recommend it first line for pregnant women with morning sickness.
You can get ginger essential oils, but whether it actually soothes nausea is up for debate. That being said, there’s a study on 30 nauseous patients who inhaled ginger aromatherapy after surgery and it helped reduce their symptoms.
Essential oils for sleep
Essential oils including lavender, valerian and chamomile are said to help you doze off to sleep and have been shown to help people with “mild” sleep disturbance.
Essential oils for energy
Lacking energy is a key problem when hungover and is caused by dehydration, acetaldehyde and poor sleep.
Citrus based essential oils could give a kick in the morning and work as an alternative to caffeine which will only worsen some of your hangover symptoms.
How to use essential oils for your hangover
There are many ways in which you can use essential oils for your hangover.
The preferable way that many herbalists would recommend would be using the oils in a diffuser. It’s thought that the smells trigger certain neuronal pathways that promote their beneficial effects.
You can also apply it directly to the skin by rubbing the oils on areas of tension such as the temples for headache.
Others add a few drops to their bathwater to soak in the oils.
Which way you decide to use the oils ultimately depends on personal preference and what works best for you.
Are essential oils good for a hangover?
Essential oils can provide “symptomatic relief”. By this we mean they can provide a short burst of feeling generally a little better when hungover.
If you’re someone who sees a lot of benefits using essential oils with your general daily routine, then you may want to consider trying it for a hangover.
However, essential oils won’t tackle any of the root causes of a hangover.
Once you wake up with a hangover, the damage is already done. Your body has suffered from the damage caused by dehydration and free-radical damage.
Therefore prevention is key when it comes to hangovers. Rehydration with fluids is essential to tackle the diuretic effect of alcohol. and antioxidants can also neutralize the toxic by-products of alcohol metabolism.
But the catch is, you need to replenish these before your hangover has taken hold. By this, we mean taking these steps soon after your last drink to support your body’s recovery.
Do essential oils cure a hangover?
Essential oils can make you feel slightly better when you’re hungover, but they won’t cure it.
In fact, there’s no such thing as a hangover cure other than not drinking in the first place.
That being said, there are many ways in which you can prevent the worst hangovers by taking steps such as eating a meal before going out, sticking to your limits, and stocking up on antioxidants to give your body a fighting chance.
Are there any side effects?
Although essential oils are from natural plant extracts, they are highly concentrated and are often toxic if consumed. You should never consume these concentrated oils directly.
Also, it’s not uncommon to develop contact dermatitis to essential oils when applied to the skin. This is a form of direct inflammation caused by a reaction with the skin. It can lead to red, inflamed and weepy skin which can be very uncomfortable.
Therefore, it’s advisable to test the essential oils on a small area of skin like your forearm first before applying it all over your forehead.
That brings us to the end of our look into whether essential oils are good for hangovers.
Millions of people worldwide use essential oils for symptomatic relief of myriad of different ailments.
Despite the research into their use being limited, the popularity of essential oils is still growing.
When it comes to hangovers, we’ve covered some essential oils that have soothing properties and can give temporary relief.
If you’re looking for something that can target the root cause of a hangover, you may want to invest in something more substantial that can replenish lost nutrients when drinking.
You could also try natural hangover cure ingredients to supplement your recovery.
Prevention is always better than cure and this certainly applies to hangovers as well.
You can check out our pick of the best hangover supplements by following the link below.