We’ve all been there: out on the town, vowing to have just one alcoholic drink, and before you know it you may have consumed one too many. It’s all fun and games until you wake up the next morning with a pounding headache, dry mouth, fast pulse, exhaustion, light sensitivity, nausea…and a to-do list. If you need to function and can’t afford to wait it out, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are science-backed hangover remedies, including how to make the best hangover cure drink, so you can have the most productive day possible.
Hair of the Dog is Not the Answer
Heavy drinking wreaks havoc on the body and more alcohol will just make things worse. Your liver is responsible for metabolizing the alcohol you consume. Acetaldehyde is a toxic chemical and byproduct of the alcohol detoxification process that causes many of the dreaded symptoms of a hangover.
So, although downing a Bloody Mary at breakfast could temporarily relieve your pain, the reality is you’re in for an even nastier case of hangover symptoms when you finally sober up.
Rehydrate and Rebalance Electrolytes
First things first – drink a glass of water. Or five. Alcohol causes your body to release hormones that prevent water reuptake in the kidneys. This, in turn, has a diuretic effect, meaning it causes your body to expel any excess water, leaving you dehydrated after a night of drinking.
Another important part of staying hydrated it making sure your body’s electrolytes are balanced. This includes salts and potassium, and coconut water and sports drinks like Gatorade and Pedialyte are good options for restoring electrolyte balance. Though coconut water is probably a better option because it contains no artificial sweeteners and dyes, you don’t need to worry too much about the sugar content at this point. Alcohol consumption can cause hypoglycemia; increasing your blood sugar levels restores your energy.
If you don’t hydrate the morning after drinking, trying to replenish your body’s vitamins and nutrients will be a futile effort.
Fruits with Healing Properties: Mango, Persimmon, and Asian Pear
An exotic fruit salad may be just what you need to clear your body of impurities and help you feel refreshed.
Mango not only exhibits antioxidant activity but also increases the activity of acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down acetaldehyde. Persimmons, a healing fruit in traditional Korean medicine, protect the liver from ethanol-induced oxidative stress and increases alcohol metabolism. Another study investigating natural hangover remedies showed that Korean pear mitigated symptoms of impaired memory and sensitivity to sound and light.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Protect Your Liver and Brain
Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can protect your liver and brain from the negative effects of alcohol exposure. One study demonstrated that omega-3’s in the form of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) inhibited oxidative damage in brain cells. Another study showed that omega-3’s in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) protected the liver from the inflammatory effects of alcohol.
Food sources of DHA include fatty fish, eggs, and microalgae; ALA can be found in flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.
Amino Acids for Liver Health
Amino acids are crucial for synthesizing muscle, maintaining body homeostasis, facilitating metabolic processes in the liver, and building neurotransmitters. Alcohol can disrupt the structure and function of amino acids in the body, so replenishing with essential amino acids supports your body’s repair mechanisms. There is also evidence that essential amino acids, particularly leucine, support detoxifying enzymes in the liver.
Because of their liver-protecting properties, amino acids may also play a role in hangover prevention. Protein-rich foods contain essential amino acids, but if your stomach is feeling sensitive, an easier and more digestible way to get an optimal ratio of amino acids for cellular repair is through a high-quality supplement.
Antioxidants for Repair
When you drink, your cells have to carry on normal processes in the presence of alcohol. Even after one night of heavy drinking, alcohol deprives the cells of oxygen, produces reactive free radicals, and decreases cellular energy production. All of these factors impede healthy cellular processes and contribute to a condition called oxidative stress.
Therefore, it’s important for hangover cure foods to include antioxidants. A good rule of thumb is any naturally colorful food is probably packed with antioxidants. Examples include blueberries, strawberries, spinach, and kale.
Green tea contains potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory elements that can help your brain and liver cells repair from alcohol-induced damage. Green tea also contains caffeine, which can give you a much-needed energy boost while recovering from a hangover.
Replacing Vitamin C and Vitamin B
Both Vitamin B and Vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins, meaning that your body does not store them and instead, excess amounts are removed from your body through urine. Alcohol consumption disrupts the absorption of vitamins B and C, contributing to unpleasant hangover symptoms.
B vitamins are involved in many neurological processes and having low levels can result in the irritability and brain fog commonly experienced during a hangover. Foods rich in vitamin B include beans, seeds, whole grains, nuts, dairy products, lean meats, avocados, and green leafy vegetables.
Alcohol has an immunosuppressant effect, meaning that your body has a more difficult time warding off foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. Combined with low vitamin C, you are more susceptible to getting sick while drinking and throughout your hangover. Support your immune system with foods and drinks rich in vitamin C, like tomato juice and orange juice.
Keep in mind that vitamins B and C operate best when consumed together. Emergen-C with added B vitamins is an easy option, and B complex supplements often contain a balance of all B vitamins as well as vitamin C.
Beet Juice for Blood Flow
Known for its vibrant color and revered for its impact on cardiovascular endurance, beet juice can help you get over a hangover faster. Consuming beetroot juice increases blood flow throughout your body, allowing more oxygen to be carried to all of your cells. Beets also contain antioxidants to allow your cells to function more efficiently. More oxygen and antioxidant activity helps your organs get back to normal functioning more quickly, which will restore your energy levels. (11)
Ginger to Fight Nausea
Alcohol is an irritant for your digestive system and causes the lining of your stomach to become inflamed. Alcohol consumption also increases gastric acid and pancreatic fluid, which exacerbates stomach pain and nausea.
In numerous studies, ginger has shown promise as an herbal remedy for treating nausea. Try sipping a cup of ginger tea with lemon and honey to soothe stomach pain and nausea associated with a hangover. Probiotics may also help replenish healthy gut bacteria and restore digestive function.
Combining Hangover Treatments into One Shake
If you’re hungover, you may not have the energy to separately prepare and consume a variety of foods. We’ve combined many of the above benefits into a drink that packs a therapeutic punch, so you can get your day going.
Hangover Smoothie Recipe
- 1 or 2 bananas (potassium)
- 1 cup mixed berries (antioxidants and vitamin C)
- 1 cup mango chunks (enzyme activators)
- 1 cup nonfat Greek Yogurt (probiotics and vitamin B)
- 1 or 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds (omega-3 fatty acids)
- Half an avocado (vitamin B and potassium)
- Handful of spinach (for extra antioxidants…you won’t taste it!)
- 1-2 cups coconut water (electrolytes)
- Scoop of your favorite protein powder or essential amino acid powder
Blend until smooth. Using frozen bananas, berries, and mango gives the smoothie a colder and creamier texture, which can be appealing when you’re recovering from a hangover. Keeping frozen fruits on hand is helpful; they can be used on the fly for smoothies and shakes in all situations.
Final Words on Hangover Recovery
Though no magic hangover cure pill exists (yet), natural hangover treatments help your body repair after a night of drinking. Of course, the best method for dealing with a hangover is preventing it in the first place. If you’re finding that you struggle with frequent alcohol binges or chronic alcohol intake and you’re looking for a way to cut back, there are natural remedies that support alcohol detox and liver health.
Harnessing the healing powers of natural foods, drinks, and supplements can make your hangover as short-lived as possible and get you feeling like yourself sooner.