11 Natural Tips to Prevent and Recover from Hangovers

By Dr. Joel Kahn-  With New Year's Eve at our doorstep, and the obligatory celebrations of another year, it's certain that January 1 will find many readers suffering from headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. In short, they have a hangover, or veisalgia.

It's obvious that the perfect hangover therapy is to not drink at all or to excess, and many will successfully choose this path. For the rest, a short of summary of what causes hangovers, plus what may be used to prevent and treat the symptoms is timely.

4 Potential Causes Of A Hangover

1. Dehydration

This results from the diuretic effect of alcohol and may lead to headaches.

2. Acetaldehyde buildup

The liver breaks down alcohol into this product, which is many fold more toxic. Antioxidants and liver enzyme pathways try to break this down to harmless products. There is genetic variation in this pathway, and about 25% of people are resistant to hangovers.

3. Congeners

These ingredients found in liquors, such as tannins, aggravate hangovers and are found mainly in darker liquors like whiskey and brandy. Vodka is nearly free of them.

4. Immune system activation

Multiple immune products are released by alcohol, which may cause achiness.

Strategies To "Pre-Tox" Before New Year's

1. Vitamins

Vitamins Vitamin C, thiamine (vitamin B1), vitamin E and selenium are often depleted alcohol consumption, and raising levels of these factors may be helpful.

2. Garlic

A chemical that neutralizes acetaldehyde, s-allyl-cysteine, is found in garlic.

3. N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

This amino acid helps to increase the master antioxidant glutathione, which is involved in alcohol metabolism.

4. Magnesium

Often depleted by alcohol use, magnesium-rich foods and supplements may help you avoid headaches.

5. Milk Thistle

Milk thistle contains sylmarin, used for liver health and to aid excretion of toxins. Sylmarin is a powerful antioxidant.

6. Hydration

Drink as much water as the amount of alcohol you plan to drink.

Strategies To "Detox" Your Hangover

If the preparation and self-control fail to prevent a hangover, there are some things to try the morning after.

1. Ginger 

Soak a piece of ginger in hot water and drink to help nausea and dizziness

2. Red ginseng 

In a study published earlier this year, subjects who drank alcohol along with red ginseng had lower blood levels and fewer symptoms of alcohol toxicity.

3. Prickly pear extract

Long felt to help with inflammation, studies in volunteers showed fewer symptoms and lower inflammatory markers.

4. IV therapy

Although there are no scientific studies, clinics offering IV infusions of saline with vitamin supplements report a resolution of symptoms.

5. If you can move, sweat.

A burst of exercise may help shed some toxins built up from a New Year's shindig.

The challenge of managing alcohol intake is not new. Two thousand years ago Pliny the Elder recommended fried canary and raw owl eggs for hangovers. An understanding of alcohol's metabolism has led to some progress since Pliny's day but no doubt many will be sick January 1. Frank Sinatra was quoted as saying, "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the Bible says love your enemy." I say if you can't avoid it, at least go into battle against your enemy prepared to win.