Ah, hangover…the scourge of late-night celebration. There is no adult in the world, of course except teetotalers, who have not been affected by this unfortunate side effect of enjoying life. Be it partying with friends in the neighbourhood pub or attending a formal function with your business associates, alcohol has become an essential part of social gatherings in the world.
While we don’t think twice before gulping down glasses of our favourite wines, or beers, the next morning finds us cursing the gods for allowing the man to discover the joys of tasting alcohol. While hangovers can occur at any time of the day, or night, it is generally associated with the feeling one experiences after a night of heavy drinking since a majority of the population consume large amounts of alcohol only at night.
So what exactly is a hangover? Well in technical terms, hangover is “the sum of unpleasant physiological effects following heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages which includes headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise.” In simple terms, it is nothing but the feeling that your head is just one heartbeat away from bursting while your stomach undergoes a schizophrenic effect of imagining itself as a fountain or a geyser.
Causes of Hangovers
A recent study suggested that around 25 percent of the world’s population is resistant to hangovers. For the rest of the unlucky souls, there are several causes for experiencing a hangover.
All alcoholic beverages contain ethanol. This colourless liquid produces a dehydrating effect in the body and is responsible for headaches, thirst and the constant urge to take a leak. While ethanol in itself is harmful, when it is broken down by liver enzymes, it leads to the formation of compounds known as acetaldehydes which affect the brain and are responsible for fatigue, lack of coordination and mood disturbances.
Home Remedies for Hangovers
Regardless of the advances made in science and medicine, hangover is a subject that is yet to be understood by scientists. Medical professionals are pleased that hangovers do occur since they act as a major deterrent against drinking alcohol in large quantities.
So what are the home remedies for hangovers? Hangover remedies can be divided into two categories; prevention and treatment. Some of the most common remedies for preventing hangovers are:
Know your limitations: The best way to prevent a hangover is to make sure that you don’t overindulge. If the quantity of alcohol consumed is low then the chance of experiencing a hangover automatically goes down.
Know your drink: Recent studies have shown that the severity of hangovers differs from drink to drink. For example, a recent report published in the British Medical Journal shows that drinking bourbon whiskey doubles the chances of experiencing a hangover compared to drinking the same amount of vodka.
Do not mix: Some drinks display different symptoms of hangovers compared to others. Mixing different drinks not only increases the alcohol content in your body, but also increases the severity of the hangover the next morning
Drink water: One of the best home remedies for hangovers is to drink lots of water. Since alcohol produces a dehydrating effect on the body, drinking lots of water restores the water content in the body and reduces the effects of hangovers.
Eat some honey: Honey is a rich source of glucose and fructose. While it does not prevent hangovers, eating honey is one of the best ways to reduce its severity.
Some of the best home remedies for hangovers that treat it are:
Do not drink more alcohol: Many believe that drinking alcohol early in the morning reduces hangover symptoms. While this does provide a short term relief, the next hangover will be more severe
Avoid coffee: While coffee indeed may clear the head (though not the headache) it increases the dehydrating effect on the body and thereby prolongs the hangover
Eat a big breakfast: Eating a big breakfast helps in effectively breaking down alcohol. Eggs are a great source of cysteine (which breaks down toxins) while banana replenishes the body with potassium.
Drink re-hydrating solutions: Consuming electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte is an effective way of treating hangovers since they replenish the lost electrolytes
Vitamin B6 or B12 capsules: While studies have shown that they are only a little better than popping a placebo, many heavy drinkers say that these capsules do work in treating hangovers
Just sleep it off!
There is no medical treatment available in preventing or treating hangovers and short of staying away from a drink, home remedies for hangovers are the only way one can overcome the condition. While studies have been undertaken to check whether hangovers can be prevented medically, they have been inconclusive. The conclusion of one of the studies published in the British Medical Journal suggests that the best way to avoid a hangover is to avoid drinking.
One way that could be used to relieve a hangover is a self-massage of several acupuncture points. Visit AB Acupuncture for more information.