3 Ways to Cope with a Hangover
It’s the holiday season and celebrations are ON. Often, for that very reason, this time of the year brings increased invitations to drink. And I’m not referring to root beer!
Consumed in moderation, alcohol can be a fun part of adulthood! However, when moderation slides into excess, a hangover is almost sure to follow.
You might end up with a pounding headache that lasts for hours. Sometimes that throbbing pain brings some friends to the party: a fuzzy tongue, fatigue, and an upset stomach.
Of course, abstaining from alcohol is the surest way to prevent a hangover. However, for those times when you just can’t resist, I want to share three all-natural ways that you can ease your post-party suffering.
In this article we’ll explore:
- What causes a hangover?
- Why is it called a hangover?
- How much alcohol can you drink before getting a hangover?
- Can you prevent a hangover?
- What are 3 natural ways to cope with a hangover?
You’re probably thinking this is the biggest “duh” question of all time. While the obvious answer might seem to be alcohol, the science behind hangovers is a little more complicated than that.
Yes, alcohol is the main culprit behind a hangover. However, it’s not alone in triggering the unpleasant symptoms you can experience after hitting the bottle a little too hard. Two other components of alcoholic beverages contribute to your pain and suffering.
Congeners are compounds produced during the fermentation process. All alcoholic beverages undergo fermentation that turns grains (or fruits) into spirits. Congeners are naturally created during fermentation and are what give alcoholic beverages like beer and wine their unique aroma and flavor.
Some darker spirits, like bourbon, produce higher levels of congeners during fermentation. Drink too much of these thirst quenchers and you can experience the hangover to end all hangovers.
Sulfites are another culprit contributing to hangovers. A type of preservative, sulfites are added to wine to extend its shelf life. Some beers also contain sulfites for the same reason.
Some people can be sensitive to sulfites. If they consume too many, they can get a raging headache. Pair an ingredient prone to cause headaches with an alcoholic beverage and, voila, you’ve laid the foundation for a horrific hangover.
Our wordy friend the Merriam-Webster Dictionary explains the word hangover originally described someone or something that “remained or survived.” The word later was co-opted to describe the effects of imbibing too much alcohol.
A false claim circulated online a few years ago that said the word hangover was derived from an old practice among British sailors during Queen Victoria’s reign of sleeping on a rope. Supposedly, it would prevent the drunken sailors from falling overboard. While it’s an interesting explanation, it’s not accurate.
One of the most common hangover symptoms is a pounding headache that can feel like a herd of elephants stampeding through your brain. It’s not, however, the only unpleasant side effect of drinking too much alcohol. Here are some of the other signs you partied just a wee bit too hard:
- Excessive thirst
- Increased blood pressure
- Muscle aches
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Stomach pain
Causes of hangover symptoms
Congeners and sulfites, combined with alcohol, can trigger reactions throughout your body that then produce the unpleasant symptoms associated with a hangover.
- Disrupted sleep can lead to the ongoing fatigue you get with a hangover. While liquor can make you fall asleep faster, you may struggle to get a full and restful night’s sleep. For example, it’s common to wake up just a few hours after dozing off, only to find yourself unable to get back to sleep.
- Gastrointestinal irritation happens when alcohol hits the lining of your stomach. Drink too much alcohol, and your stomach can go into overdrive releasing acid. Nausea and stomach upset often follow.
- Mild dehydration can cause excessive fatigue, headaches, and thirst during a hangover. Alcohol suppresses the release of vasopressin, the hormone that tells your kidneys to retain a healthy level of fluid. When the hormone isn’t released, you urinate more, which makes you dehydrated.
According to the science guys at the Cleveland Clinic, consuming more than one alcoholic drink per hour can lead to a hangover. Your body needs about one hour to properly metabolize one drink. Serving sizes for alcoholic beverages that fall under the one-hour rule include:
- 12 ounces (1 can) of light or regular beer.
- 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor (includes craft beers).
- 5 ounces (1 glass) of wine.
- 5 ounces (on shot) of hard liquor.
One of the biggest myths about hangovers involves alcohol tolerance. The belief is that the more you drink, the longer it will take you to get drunk. While some people might take longer to feel buzzed, that’s just a huge warning sign that they may have caused significant damage to their bodies with repeated alcohol abuse.
Bottom line, the only way to prevent a hangover is to not drink alcohol. However, if you do drink, there are some things you can do to lessen the negative consequences.
First, avoid drinks that contain a lot of congeners. Alcoholic beverages that contain very little amount of congeners include gin, rum, and vodka. On the flip side, you’ll want to avoid cognac, tequila, and whiskey, as they have some of the highest concentrations of congeners.
Another way to prevent a hangover is to stay hydrated and follow the one-drink-per-hour rule. Dehydration contributes to many of the symptoms of a hangover. If you alternate water with alcoholic beverages throughout the night, you’re less likely to get hit hard the next day.
Finally, hosts, it’s best to assume that not all your guests want to drink alcoholic beverages—for a variety of reasons. Be a good host and provide non-alcoholic alternatives that can be substituted without question or judgment.
You did it. You knew the dangers but still consumed enough alcohol to end up with a whopper of a hangover the next day. While there are no solutions to make your symptoms magically disappear, there are some things you can do to lessen your suffering.
Apply Headache Releaf Roll-On
A pounding headache can be the worst part of enduring a hangover. When your head hurts, it can make it difficult to be a productive human being. That’s not good news if you must go to work the day after you drank too much.
Popping some ibuprofen might seem like a good idea to combat the headache. However, if you also have an upset stomach, it can be a bad decision since the pills might cause further gastric upset.
A better option for soothing your headache is Headache ReLeaf Roll-On. It’s an effective and safe treatment for all headache types. The active ingredients – menthol, eucalyptus leaf, wintergreen leaf, peppermint, coconut, lavender, rose – are known for tackling even the toughest headache pain naturally. Apply it directly to the back of your neck, forehead, or temples to get fast relief.
Eat a bland breakfast
It might seem counterintuitive to eat when your stomach is threatening to empty itself of everything you consumed. In fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to cope with a hangover that’s causing an upset stomach.
Now, I’m not suggesting you scarf down anything you can find in your kitchen. Science suggests that eating foods high in L-cysteine – like eggs, oatmeal, and yogurt – yields the best results.
Take a supplement
Some supplements can help ease your worst hangover symptoms. For instance:
- Borage oil mixed with prickly pear can reduce several hangover symptoms.
- Ginger is an age-old treatment for stomach discomfort when mixed with brown sugar and tangerine extract.
- Red ginseng might reduce blood alcohol levels and hangover severity.
Be smart though. Before using any supplements, consult your primary care provider to be sure they won’t interact with any of your prescription medications or medical conditions.
Drink responsibly to avoid hangover hell
Drinking responsibly can prevent you from landing in hangover hell the next day. If you goof, there are natural solutions to help you cope with the negative side effects of too much merry-making. And if you’re open to hearing it: the best way to ease your suffering is to prevent it by not drinking at all.
Shari Berg is a researcher, frequent blogger, feature writer, and author of Wars End with Me.
Ask the doctor: What causes red wine headaches? health.harvard.edu. Accessed October 4, 2022.
Busting 6 Alcohol Myths: Fact or Fiction? drugabuse.com. Accessed October 4, 2022.
Clinical effectiveness of KSS formula, a traditional folk remedy for alcohol hangover symptoms. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed October 4, 2022.
False claim circulates online that ‘hangover’ is a term derived from the historic practice of ‘sleeping on a rope.’ factcheck.afp.com. Accessed October 4, 2022.
Hangover. merriam-webster.com. Accessed October 4, 2022.
Hangovers. niaaa.nih.gov. Accessed October 4, 2022.
Interventions for treatment and/or prevention of alcohol hangover: Systemic review. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed October 4, 2022.
Metabolic Acidosis. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed October 4, 2022.
Red ginseng relieves the effects of alcohol consumption and hangover symptoms in healthy men: a randomized crossover study. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed October 4, 2022.
What Is Alcoholic Fermentation? liquor.com. Accessed October 4, 2022.