St Patrick’s Day… one of those holiday’s where everyone is a little Irish, lots of drinks are had and a few jigs danced (usually after the drinks are had) and then all that fun is followed by any or all of the following: pounding headache, upset stomach, loss of appetite, fatigue, dehydration, maybe even vomiting and the desire to throw the covers over your head and become a grumpy recluse for at least a good 24 hours. Yep, I’m talking about that phenomenon known as the hangover, the worst of them often being experienced after a celebration like this weekend’s alcohol-inspired day!
Now while I do not promote alcohol abuse, I do realize that on these types of occasions many a responsible drinker will find themselves taking it too far and consuming one too many. Hey, it happens. Maybe your mother-in-law decided to extend her March break visit by another two days. Or you never did sign the kids up for camp for their week off and they have been at one another every day. Or maybe you just really like the green beer.
Whatever the case, waking up to a hangover and all those horrible symptoms is a pretty crappy reality any time of year. And while we all have our own hangover cures we swear by there are also lots of natural remedies you can use. Here are a few to try this weekend without needing the medicine cabinet!
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is the king of anti-nausea herbs and who doesn’t need a little ginger on their side after a few too many? Ginger’s strong aromatic qualities are what give it the upper hand when you’ve had a little too much to drink. It eases nausea, reduces pain, and helps reduce the symptoms of other less pleasant digestive complaints.
Now taking fresh ginger straight might be a bit too strong on an already fragile stomach, but steeping it fresh and adding a bit of raw honey (a potassium- and antioxidant-rich choice) will make it a powerful remedy for hangover.
I suggest brewing yourself some, and sip on this tea hot (and often) for best results. If you don’t have time or still can’t see straight to make your own, Traditional Medicinals brand Organic Ginger-Aide tea will do the trick!
Milk thistle (Silybum maranium) has long been coveted for its liver healing and restorative properties. Research has shown that milk thistle helps prevent a hangover by cleansing the liver and increasing its production of compounds like glutathione (as well as glutathione reductase and glutathione peroxidase). Having not enough of these compounds in the liver after a night out can hinder the liver’s ability to metabolize alcohol. Milk thistle is best taken both before and after drinking in order to increase its effectiveness. You can try it in a capsule or a tincture from your local health food store or you can use dried seeds in an infusion (1tsp of seeds to 1c boiling water, steep for 10-15mins, strain and drink).
While this herb is not necessarily a preventative herb for hangover, it will definitely help with an upset stomach the next day. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) has aromatic qualities that give it an edge against nausea. It soothes the stomach by getting rid of excessive acid and reduces inflammation in the intestinal tract. Sipping on peppermint tea the morning after will quell thirst and help bring you back to your normal self. Again, probably best consumed warm, you can make an infusion of peppermint using 1 heaping teaspoon of dried leaves to 1c boiling water. Steep this for 10mins, strain and drink as needed.
Another fantastic herb for liver health, turmeric (Curcuma longa) has the ability to get acetaldehyde levels (poisonous by-products of alcohol metabolism) under control by speeding up the metabolism of alcohol. It soothes the stomach by relieving nausea and reducing the secretion of bile while also balancing digestion. Turmeric is also anti-inflammatory and reduces pain making it a great remedy for before and after drinking. Here’s a shot recipe to add to your weekend drink list!
Turmeric Wellness Shot
• 1 inch of fresh turmeric or ½-1tsp of turmeric powder
• 1 inch of fresh ginger
• The juice of one large lemon or lime
• A small dash of cayenne pepper
Blend the above ingredients and drink it down!
WHITE WILLOW BARK
For those who suffer from a headache the morning after, white willow bark (Salix alba) is for you! Rich in salicylates, white willow bark is both anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain reducing) making it a great remedy for hangovers. After all, it is the original aspirin! Pick up some capsules at your health food store and take 2 with food… preferably something a bit bland after your night out! Caution should be used in those with sensitivity to aspirin, or those with gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcers and gastritis.
When it comes to home hangover remedies, reaching for a simple banana or two is one of the most effective ways to combat a case of post-drinking problems. Excessive alcohol intake can eliminate your body’s supply of potassium. Bananas fill you back up with this essential mineral quickly, safely and cheaply! Leave a couple on your bedside table so you don’t have to go far for them the next day.
This one is a given. Remember, even though you’re filling your body with liquids, all that green beer is sure to leave you uncomfortably dehydrated. Try keeping two bottles of water next to your bed (alongside those bananas!). Drink one before you go to sleep, and drink the other when you wake up the next morning. Many people will only drink water when taking things like aspirin, ibuprofen or other pain-relievers. I say skip the pharmaceuticals when treating a hangover, since they can only complicate things and make you feel worse if there’s still alcohol in your system. Opt to take some B-vitamins instead!
Aside from all of the options listed above, perhaps the best way to get rid of those hangover symptoms is to rest. And get lots of it!
Wishing you all a safe and fun weekend!
(top image courtesy of Artisan Brew Club)