What is a Hangover?
A hangover is a term used to describe the effects felt the morning after a night of excessive drinking. If you are guilty of consuming just a little too much the night before, then you will most likely wake up with a hangover.
Physical symptoms such as a pounding headache, queasy stomach, dry throat, redness of the eyes, thirst and fatigue are characteristic of a hangover. In addition, you may also experience a rapid heartbeat, tremors, muscle aches and sweating. Mental symptoms such as dizziness, depression, irritability and anxiety are also common.
It makes sense that a mood-altering substance, such as alcohol, will affect mood. Although it may feel like it alters your mood in a positive way at the time of consumption, the remnants of alcohol in your bloodstream and brain the next day affect your natural ‘feel good’ chemicals and cause mood disturbance.
What Causes a Hangover?
If you drink too much the night before, there are a number of reasons you may wake up with a hangover.
Causes of a Hangover
- Drinking more alcohol than your body can metabolize efficiently causes the toxins in the alcohol to build up in your body. A chemical known as acetaldehyde is an alcohol by-product and is responsible for the severe symptoms of a hangover.
- The ethanol found in alcohol has a dehydrating effect which is responsible for your raging headache, dry mouth and tiredness.
- Dark spirits such as red wine, brandy and whiskey contain more congeners (by-products of the process of alcohol fermentation) which increase the symptoms of a hangover. Cheaper spirits are also known to cause a worse hangover because fewer impurities have been removed.
- Body weight can be a key factor: A smaller body weight usually means a greater hangover.
- Mixing your drinks is a sure way to become inebriated and lead to a hangover. When you mix your drinks, for instance tequila and whiskey, you are actually mixing the different poisons of the alcohol together. More pressure is then placed on the liver to get rid of the toxins and cleanse the system by flushing them out – causing more dehydration.
Help for Hangovers
Without a doubt, the best hangover prevention is to abstain from alcohol or to limit your intake to amounts that your body can easily metabolize without causing too much harm. While this sounds great in theory, it is not always so easy in practice.
Conventionally there are several treatments commonly recommended for hangover prevention. Some medication may reduce the severity of the symptoms of a hangover. Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs such as aspirin, and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen are also useful for hangover prevention. Remember that anti-inflammatory drugs are actually gastric irritants, so use them with caution as they may intensify alcohol-induced gastritis and further irritate any gastric problems.
After a night out drinking - the most important thing is to drink water the next day. Dehydration is one of the main causes of hangovers and a headache is usually the first sign that the brain is dehydrated. It is essential to replace the delicate balance in the body by consuming an adequate amount of water, as well as eating a healthy balanced meal (even though you may not feel like it!).
Natural Remedies for Hangovers
To treat a hangover the natural way and cleanse and detox the body of toxins (brought about by excess alcohol) herbal and homeopathic remedies can be gentle, yet very effective hangover cures. Natural hangover cures can help to kick-start your body and restore balance.
Herbs such as Taraxacum officinalis (Dandelion), Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel) and Pelargonium reniforme can serve to flush out the system, rejuvenate liver functioning and eliminate bloating. It is important to always remember to source herbal remedies from a reputable company to ensure non-contaminated ingredients, maximum efficacy and product integrity.
More Information on Hangovers
Helpful Hints for Healing Hangovers
Because abstinence is easier said than done, we have put together some useful tips that can be used as hangover cures to help you get through ‘the morning after the night before’:
- If you do have any alcohol, drink small amounts, and remember that small amounts of better quality alcohol will have fewer hangover symptoms.
- Drinking on an empty stomach is one of the better known causes of a hangover. Eat a large meal before drinking to line the stomach and slow down the rate of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream.
- Eat bland foods such toast or crackers to relieve nausea.
- Fructose-containing foods such as fruit and fruit juices may also decrease hangover intensity.
- Drinking water during and after alcohol consumption can minimize alcohol-induced dehydration, one of the main causes of a hangover.
- Know your limits and pace yourself by drinking slowly (the body metabolizes alcohol and needs time to do so).
- Avoid smoking while drinking because smoking constricts the lungs and decreases oxygen flow to the blood stream.
- Vitamin B helps to replace the nutrients lost while drinking.
Disclaimer Native Remedies does not advocate the misuse of alcohol, alcoholism, hazing, binge drinking or any other form of alcohol abuse. We strongly recommend that if you do drink alcohol, you do so with moderation and caution.