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Understanding and Addressing Hangover Causes Cures Hangovers
Hangover sufferers can look toward hangover causes in order to find the most effective hangover remedies. Hangovers are caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a diuretic, which results in eventual dehydration. When too much alcohol is consumed, vomiting may also occur, which causes even greater levels of dehydration. Alcohol also has an irritating effect on the lining of the stomach. The combination of these factors result in severe hangover symptoms such as headaches and nausea or upset stomach.
What Is A Hangover?
There are more slang words for ‘inebriation’ than for any other word in the English language. Some of them are relatively modern, while some go back for centuries. Up until the 20th century, the term ‘hangover’ was used to describe just unfinished business, like an agenda item left over from a meeting. Sometime in the early 1900s, however, it came to be applied to the aches and distress felt the morning after a night of drinking.
Of course, the hangover wasn’t invented in the 20th century. Although there is little scholarly material on the subject, it’s safe to assume that, human nature being what it is, the hangover was probably discovered the morning after the discovery of fermentation. And drinkers have been in search of the perfect hangover cure ever since.
The Cause of a Hangover
The pounding headache, the upset stomach – of course, in its simplest terms, it’s a no-brainer. A hangover is caused by the consumption of alcohol. But why does drinking alcohol cause a hangover? There are several reasons.
Alcohol is a drug, and physiologically it doesn’t really belong in the human body. Drinking is an enjoyable way of introducing a toxin into the system. The body produces enzymes to protect itself, but if the toxin level is too high, the body can’t metabolize them efficiently, and the excess toxins make the victim ill.
Compounding the misery is the fact that alcohol is a diuretic, which is also why there’s always a line in the bathroom at the bar. The kidneys and liver need water to dilute and flush the toxins away, and if there’s not enough fluid coming in, the body will start pulling fluid from other places to send into the battle. The result? Dehydration.
Avoiding the Hangover
The main cause for a hangover is that alcohol dehydrates the body by increasing the amount of urine production in the drinker. Dry mouth, shaking and headaches are caused from dehydration, and will persist until the body is hydrated through drinking water or other hydrating beverages.
A hangover may be avoided by limiting oneself to drink a set amount of cocktails during the night. Once the limit is reached, water or another non-alcoholic beverage should be substituted. Drinking a glass of water between each drink is also an excellent way to keep oneself hydrated.
For many people, eating greasy foods or taking vitamins prior to drinking also works, but may not be the end all-be all. Over drinking, no matter what precautions are taken, will most likely cause a hangover.
The simplest way to avoid a hangover then is to not drink, period. This eliminates the chance of dehydration and any other negative side effects that consumption of alcohol will cause. Any unfortunate behavior associated with alcohol that causes the psychological hangover can also be avoided.
The Psychological Hangover
On occasion, some drinkers will be faced with a psychological hangover. This hangover will not cause headaches, dry mouth or nausea, but will leave the drinker with a feeling of regret or shame. There may or may not be a reason for the person to feel regret or shame, but they feel it nonetheless. The most likely explanation for this is that alcohol is a depressant, and will give the drinker symptoms of depression. It is also likely, since alcohol lowers the inhibitions of the drinker, that bad choices were made the night before and there is a reason for the regret.
Preventative Hangover Best Medicine: Water
Hangover medicine can be as simple as a glass of drinking water. Many of the symptoms of a hangover, including fatigue, dizziness and the excruciating headache, are the result of severe dehydration. Drinking water as well as alcohol during a night out can reduce the symptoms of a hangover by maintaining hydration. According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking one glass of water in between each round of alcoholic beverages can help to reduce the level of hangover experienced.
In addition to water consumption during the evening out, drinking at least one large glass of water prior to going to sleep for the night, and a glass of water upon waking up in the morning will also help reduce dehydration. Fruit juice can also be helpful, but hangover sufferers should be wary of caffeinated beverages due to their diuretic properties, which can worsen the hangover.
Curing a Hangover
One of the oldest cures known is “the hair of the dog,” or the notion that after an evening of over-indulgence, another drink is just the ticket. Consider it a homeopathic remedy – too much is a harm, but just a little is a cure. That concept can be traced back at least as far as Hippocrates. (The Greeks took it literally, rubbing dog bites with dog hair.) One of the most famous morning-after cocktails is the Bloody Mary, although the Bullshot is also popular.
Oddly enough, there may be some validity to the practice. It’s believed that a portion of the misery of a hangover is caused by the withdrawal from alcohol, so it’s reasonable that consuming a small amount of alcohol would ease that pain. On the downside, while another drink may help alleviate the pain of withdrawal, there’s not going to be a way to avoid that withdrawal completely.
And the Bloody Mary contains tomato juice, which is rich in Vitamin C, while some drinkers swear by orange juice or sauerkraut. Vitamin C is proven to help (not cure) a hangover, since it helps the liver in clearing toxins. Juices can work faster than water to re-hydrate the body and replenish lost nutrients, so they may be a better choice than just taking a vitamin pill. Milk thistle aids liver function, and may give a boost to the toxin-clearing process, while ginger root tea is a traditional remedy to settle an upset stomach.
Number one on the list of hangover cures is eating. According to Lifehacker.com, researchers in Britain found that eating concentrated doses of carbohydrates and protein after overindulgence can speed up your metabolism and provide the amino acids needed to start feeling better. Translated, eating foods like a bacon sandwich, eggs and toast or a greasy burger will make a hangover go away faster.
Toast Away the Night
A simple slice of toast, or bread if the application of heat seems a bit of dizzying idea, will help to replenish lost sugars in the blood. Overnight this should absorb some of the bubbling mixtures and should help avoid some of the empty, hollow feelings of the morning and avoid the sensitive shiver of the cold steadying sober.
The BRAT diet, composed of bland foods that do not upset even the most delicate stomach, is recommended by doctors for individuals who have lost excessive fluids due to viruses or digestive problems. The foods in this diet, Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast, are also excellent for a hangover’s upset stomach. Eating a small snack of one of these bland foods, or a saltine cracker, can help to settle the upset stomach that comes after drinking.
Moderation Offers Remedies for Hangover
Looking for remedies, hangover sufferers often overlook the obvious. Moderation in alcohol consumption can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of a hangover. Limiting the number of drinks consumed during a night out can make a big difference when it comes to the level of pain and discomfort experienced the following day. Drinking a glass of water every other round, as mentioned above, not only helps to maintain proper hydration, but also has the effect of reducing the amount of alcohol consumed, thereby helping to reduce the level of hangover even further.
Alcohol Destroys Vitamin B
Alcohol destroys Vitamin B in the body. Vitamin B is responsible for mental functioning, thyroid health, and many essential functions. Take a Vitamin B (50-100mg) along with a vitamin C (1000 mg) immediately upon rising in the morning. If alcohol is a prominent fixture in one’s life, then it is essential to include Vitamin B and C daily.
Replace Lost Potassium
Potassium is one of the electrolytes lost in a night of heavy drinking. The easiest source to replenish potassium is from fruit. Bananas, cantaloupe, and potatoes are all good sources of potassium, as is yogurt. If a sports drink is going to be used for electrolyte replacement, then make sure ample water is used to wash it down as sport drinks cause dehydration.
Avoid Sugar in Drink Mixes
Sugar is another cause of dehydration, so it is wise to limit the sugar in drink mixes. At the same time, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, cause increased stress on the body and should be avoided.
Hair of the Dog?
The last of the wine slowly rolling scarlet in the over turned bottle may seem like the answer, may seem to force away bitter reality for a few hours.
The hair of the dog originates from the myth that eating the hairs of a rabid dog, which has bitten you, will avoid contracting any further illness.
A hangover is effectively the short term withdrawal symptoms of alcohol abuse, therefore drinking more will push it away by filling up the missing substance.
However, of course once this dose is done, once these final few bottles glimmer from the ground, the hangover will be shadowing higher and higher.
Ginger Tea as a Nausea Hangover Treatment
Place a few fresh slices of ginger in a cup of hot water, and allow to steep for 2-3 minutes. Sweeten the resulting tea to taste and drink while hot. Ginger has well-known anti-nausea properties, and the lemony smell of fresh ginger is refreshing to even the most nauseated hangover victim. In addition to soothing the upset stomach, drinking ginger tea during a hangover helps to rehydrate the body, which shortens the duration of the hangover symptoms overall.
Black Coffee Cure?
Many swear that a strong black coffee will both get rid of the heavy headedness of the hangover and clear anyway any twinge of remaining alcohol in the blood with a strong sobering grasp.
In actual fact coffee will help the emotions and pain of a hangover. The caffeine will help ease headaches and make one feel perhaps a tiny bit more alive.
However caffeine in itself is dehydrating, therefore it’s only a good idea if drunk with lots of water or other liquids, otherwise after the relief, it may well just drag things deeper into that heavy heartbeat pounding through the skull.
To quell the burning ache of those real ales swallowed deep last night it is a good plan to drink some fiery strong ginger ale. Ginger helps settle an upset and rebellious stomach, this should help prevent those queasy blurring bus rides to work in the morning.
Having an Orgasm
A lesser known and possibly more fun cure is to engage in sex, or more specifically, have an orgasm, while hung over. It will release oxytocin, which will increase the body’s pain threshold and make the hangover less severe.
Exercise may also be helpful. Many people may not want to get up and move when experiencing a hangover, but sweat will help cleanse the body of toxins by increasing circulation. Do not overdo it, however. Too much exercise may increase dehydration.
Although the best way to avoid a hangover is to keep hydrated while drinking, or by not drinking at all, it is possible to cure a hangover by eating correctly, resting and drinking plenty of water. It may also be possible to use alternative methods to alleviate the sick feelings after a night of drinking. It is important to remember, however, to always drink responsibly, and to address concerns for anyone who may have a drinking problem.
Red Wine and Histamines
Red wine contains high levels of histamines. For people that are sensitive to it, it can lead to stuffed up sinuses, headaches, and extreme lethargy. Quercetin found in onions, apples, capers and black tea has an anti-histamine effect and should help counter the effects of histamines in the red wine. Quercetin can also be purchased in capsule form.
When all else fails, when the sun just seems too bright, when the ground dwells too low and the ticking of the clock hammers in the head, the best idea is clutch the cushions tight and go back to those sweet champagne dreams. The body will work more effectively at clearing up the rubble of the evening whilst resting.
Time Cures All Hangovers
After taking action to rehydrate the body with ginger tea, supplemented with water and bland soothing foods, a hangover victim may still feel tired and nauseated. Unfortunately, the damage done to the body with excessive alcohol consumption does not disappear immediately. While there may be many promised miracle cures, the only true hangover cure is time.
It is no secret that alcohol is a poison to the body. When the body is healthy and the amounts of alcohol are small to moderate, the toxin can easily be filtered out without any undue harm. There are even health benefits to small amounts of alcohol. The key words are small to moderate amounts.
When the liver gets impaired from alcohol poisoning or disease, it can no longer do its filtering function and it starts to die. The good news is that the liver is easy to regenerate if some simple protocols are followed.
First, increased water consumption makes the job of the liver and kidneys easier. Herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion, shizandra, and bupleurum have amazing regenerative properties on the liver. Carrot juice, artichokes and citrus peal are all helpful to liver function.
Do not take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) to combat a hangover. Acetaminophen is damaging to the liver and is just another stressor when metabolising alcohol.
Hangover Medicine vs. Natural Hangover Treatment
A holiday party, birthday celebration, or a night on the town can sometimes result in a difficult “Morning After”. Hangover medicine can treat many of the symptoms that come from a night of drinking, including the hangover headache and upset stomach. Natural hangover treatments are also helpful in treating drinking effects, by addressing the cause of the symptoms.
Treat a Hangover Headache
A hangover headache is best treated with a combination of pain relief and hydration. The main cause of headache associated with excessive drinking is dehydration, due to the fact that alcohol is a diuretic. Drinking too much alcohol causes enough water loss to result in a state of dehydration. In order to fight this aspect of a hangover headache, increase fluid intake.
In addition to hydration, pain relievers such as Tylenol and aspirin are also helpful as a hangover treatment for a headache. Avoid taking headache medicine while drinking. Aspirin can irritate the stomach, and combining acetaminophen (Tylenol) with alcohol can result in liver problems. Taking a multivitamin, or drinking sports drinks such as Gatorade works to replenish vitamins and minerals lost through the alcohol’s diuretic effects.
Treat a Hangover With an Upset Stomach
Alcohol can irritate the stomach lining, resulting in an upset stomach. In addition, extreme drinking that leads to vomiting causes a sore stomach the next day. Taking an antacid, such as Tums or Alka-Seltzer, as a hangover medicine is a simple way to soothe the upset stomach that is one of the more uncomfortable drinking effects. In addition, the BRAT diet, which consists of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, is composed of foods that tend to settle an upset stomach caused by excessive drinking.
Of course, the best way to avoid a hangover is not to consume dangerous amounts of alcohol in the first place. The second best way is to repair the body and return it to a sense of balance as quickly as possible after an over indulgence. Plenty of water, a banana, and Vitamin B and C are a good start to feeling better.
There is one thing that almost all hangover cures have in common. They might speed the process, or help reduce the symptoms, but they don’t really cure a hangover. When it comes right down to it, the only true cure for a hangover is time.