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Ways to Minimize The Effects of a Hangover

Written: 10/29/2007

I woke up with a terrible headache this morning after drinking a lot yesterday at a friend's birthday party and I'm sure now after this, you won't ever catch me again with a pounding headache in the morning.

Why Do You Have A Hangover?

Headaches, Irritability, Stomach pains, Nausea, Vomit are well known symptoms of those who are accustomed to alcohol. The following hypotheses have been given to explain the symptoms of a hangover:
  • The headaches can be explained due to the release of a toxic substance during the degradation of the alcohol in the bloodstream, by the additives in certain alcoholic drinks or by the impurities present in some distilled alcohols.

  • Nausea and stomach pains can be due to the irritation of the inner lining of our stomach.

  • Alcohol is a dehydrating drink, which can amplify the symptoms linked to an over-consumption of alcohol.

  • Alcohol is a sedative and if consumed in excess, can cause a state of drowsiness similar to the effects produced by sleeping pills. And like in the case of sleeping pills, it is normal to feel a feeling of nervousness and irritability when you wake up after the tranquilizing effects of the pills have dissipated.

  • The consumption of alcohol increase the acidity in your body and destabilize your nervous system and decrease your reflexes.

How to decrease the effects of alcohol

There is no miracle product to get rid of hangover at will. The only true cure for hangovers is time... that the alcohol takes to degrade. However there are some means to decrease the effects of the alcohol.

Change the wine.... into water!

Drinking a lot of water is the most important way to avoid acute headache and to tolerate more the alcohol. Alcohol makes you urinate more and it will make you lose a lot of water, even more if you drink it "dry". If take down a few shots of whisky without diluting it with a juice or water, then you are a guaranteed an acute headache the other day. Note that coffee can help you clear your head during a hangover but it is "diuretic" and will decrease the amount of water in your body by making you urinate more.

Eat good things

Eating a lot of salted chips or other salted snacks during a drink is not a very good idea because they will make you feel more thirsty. You will tend to drink more to get rid of the feeling of thirst. (This is one of the technique employed by many bars and discotheques which give free salted nuts or other salted products to their clients. This is not a free service but a mean to entice you to drink more.) One thing you can do is to eat a lot of protein-rich foods like meat, etc... or starchy foods. They will take longer to digest and will have a damping effect on the absorption of the alcohol by your body.


Take about 1000 mg to 3000 mg of ginseng before the party. You will be able to support the effect of alcohol better and your mind will be more focused without having to resort to a cup of coffee. Ginseng also helps the liver in its job to neutralize the toxic agents in alcohol. Ginseng accelerates the decomposition and the elimination of alcohol. But note that you must not take ginseng just before bed, else sleep will take a long time to arrive because the plant has a stimulating effect on the nervous system.

Choose your drink carefully

Certain types of alcohol are more incline to give you a headache.
  • Certain alcohol drinks contain impurities like rum, bourbon or cognac. The more an alcoholic drink's color is dark, the more impure it is; "vodka" is one of the purest alcoholic drink. Sake remains the choice though if you want to drink more than the usual.

  • Champagne and some wines loaded with sugars are the usual generators of headache.

  • Certain low quality drinks contain additives that can cause asthma crisis, migraines and other undesirable effects. So better invest more money in quality drinks and avoid painful tomorrows.
Sex counts

Women generally tolerate alcohol less than men. It is one of the reasons why women are asked to limit themselves to one or two drinks while men are usually limited to 2 or 3 drinks. When a woman drinks the same amount of alcohol as a man, the concentration of alcohol in her blood is higher. Intoxication comes more quickly. This vulnerability of some women to alcoholic drinks is due to 3 causes:
  • Volume of a woman's body compared to that of a man is less. Proportionally, the concentration of alcohol is more in women than men.

  • The body of a woman has more fat and less water than a man's body. As alcohol dissolves in water (blood in this case), it is more concentrated in women than in men.

  • Alcohol is degraded more rapidly by men than women.
  • Avoid taking alcohol with medications.

  • Taking aspirin before drinking or before going to bed is not advised. If you have a headache, you must wait at least 4 hours before your last drink to take aspirins.

  • Combining several alcoholic drinks together. It is generally not advised because you may get ill and also the mixing of two or more alcohols like in a cocktail make it harder for the stomach to get rid of them.

  • Driving after more than two drinks!

How to survive the hangover
  • Continue to drink a lot of water.

  • Avoid eating acidic foods to remove the load on your stomach. Foods rich in proteins and foods like chocolate, coffee (other drinks which contain caffeine like cola soda), orange juice, spicy sauces, meals based on tomatoes,etc...

  • Take natural fruit juices. (Avoid orange juice because of its high acidity.)

  • Even if you think this is beyond your capacity, try to eat a wholesome breakfast but which is easy to digest like toasts with honey.

  • Drink a vegetable or chicken soup.

  • Take an energy drink if you are feeling very tired out because it will replenish any loss of salts like sodium and potassium. Avoid drinks with caffeine content though.

  • Take more ginseng.

The above methods will dampen the effects of a terrible hangover but the only efficient method to get rid of hangovers is to avoid drinking too much.

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