With her knowledge of the way alcohol influences the body, naturopath Sara Gatt is in a good position to offer preventative natural remedies for hangovers. Follow her tips – and nutritional supplements – to get through the morning after the night before.
What is a hangover?
A hangover is the body’s reaction to having consumed too much alcohol, which is diuretic in nature, meaning it excretes vital minerals and vitamins from the body every time we drink it.
Overconsumption of alcohol leads to dehydration and fatigue, disruptive sleep patterns and depletion of vital nutrients from the body.
Although research shows that in moderate consumption, alcohol has shown to be slightly protective against heart disease, many overdo this amount and experience the dreadful hangover the morning after.
In making use of the term ‘moderate consumption’, we refer to that single unit of alcohol as being equivalent to one shot of a spirit, one glass of wine, or half a pint of beer.
Bearing in mind that it takes 20 minutes for alcohol to have an effect and more than one hour for the body to process each unit, it is no wonder that many have experienced the dreadful hangover due to overindulgence.
Alcohol also places an enormous strain on the liver, which reduces its ability to detoxify the body.
With the knowledge we have about the way alcohol influences the body, we are in a better position to take preventative measures by using the necessary tools before and after a night out.
So how do we prepare the stomach in advance?
Our alcohol blood level is affected by how much and how fast we drink and absorb, therefore, drink slowly. If we drink fast on an empty stomach, absorption is immediate. Here are some words of advice that could help to prevent drunkenness and hangovers:
• It is best to have some food in the stomach, or to limit consumption to one drink before eating.
• Eat complex carbohydrates such as bread, crackers, or vegetable sticks because carbohydrates delay alcohol absorption.
• Fat and protein snacks, such as milk and cheese, also decrease alcohol absorption, reducing drunkenness and hangover.
• Some people have been known to drink a little olive oil before parties to coat their stomachs before drinking.
• For every alcoholic drink, make sure you have a non-alcoholic one in between. Generally, drink more water because alcohol severely dehydrates the body.
Excessive alcohol on an ongoing basis can have serious consequences, and although the effects of a hangover can be minimised, alcoholism is a different matter altogether. If alcohol is to be consumed on a more frequent basis, the ideal option would be to drink red wine, most noted for its polyphenolic antioxidants, which play a crucial role in cardio protection.
To avoid hangovers the natural way, take the following nutritional supplements:
• 2g evening primrose oil
• 1g vitamin C
• A vitamin B complex, which is very much depleted by alcohol intake. B vitamins are vital for the health of the nervous system, hormone production and the maintenance of hair and nails.
• 500mg of milk thistle with a full glass of water before going out. Repeat this dosage the next morning upon waking.
• Homeopathic Nux Vomica 30c; take one before bed and another upon waking.
• If you have a hangover, you need to raise your blood sugar level quite quickly upon waking. Eat a banana, or blend various fresh fruits, such as figs, dates, raisins and low-fat, live yoghurt (or rice milk) and drink immediately.
• Drink three glasses of water slowly as soon as you wake up, to rehydrate the body.