Natural Hangover Helpers

Overdo the holiday “cheers”? Here are healthy remedies to get you feeling better quick

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By Beth Lipton

We know it isn’t you that needs a hangover cure. You’re asking for a friend, right? Anyhoo…The holidays mean more: More parties, more socializing, more drinking—and that leads to less sleep and less healthy eating. The result: You’re likely to not be your usual bright-eyed self when The Morning After hits.

Read on for some expert tips on what to do in the light of day to kill the headache, nausea and other ickiness that can follow a night of holiday “cheers.”

Soup Up
You already know that soup can work wonders when you’re not feeling well. Miso soup, in particular, “contains vitamin B12, antioxidants and probiotics,” Dr. Christine Hwang, naturopath and partner at Serenity Natural Health, tells Clean Plates. “Antioxidants are necessary to sop up free radicals created by one of the toxic by-products of ethanol metabolism, acetaldehyde. Alcohol can disrupt the balance of your gut microbes, so making sure you replenish them is important.” She recommends also taking a probiotic to support this.

Tip: Miso soup is usually made with dashi, a broth that has kombu and bonito flakes in it, but in a pinch, you can simply add hot water to miso paste. “Make sure not to boil miso paste, as that will kill the good microbes,” Hwang says. “Simply add 1 to 2 teaspoons to hot water and mix.” White miso paste is mildest; the darker the miso paste, the saltier and more strongly flavored it will be. Got mushrooms? Slice ’em up and throw them in, too. 

Get Bitter
Upset stomach? We feel you. Back away from the antacids and try herbal bitters instead. “Bitter flavors stimulate the digestive system, including the stomach and liver,” Hwang says. “Many bitter herbs also function as a liver tonic, so you’re getting additional protective benefits.”

Tip: There are many digestive bitters on the market; Hwang recommends Wise Woman Herbals “Bittersweet Elixir” formula. “It contains ginger and fennel to help soothe the stomach,” she says. “Put 1 to 2 dropperfuls in a glass of sparkling or still water. You can have a couple of glasses throughout the day.”

B Fruitful 
If you usually just pop a multivitamin, the holidays are a good time to add a B-complex to your routine. “The B vitamins are depleted as your body breaks down alcohol,” Hwang notes. “Alcohol also inhibits the absorption of B vitamins, so supplementing can help replenish your body’s levels. And because large doses of niacin alone can cause flushing or liver damage, a B-complex is preferable.”

Tip: Always follow the dosing instructions on the bottle.

Feel The Pressure
If needles freak you out, no worries: Acupressure, another ancient Chinese medical technique is relaxing and effective, but with no needles. “There are a couple of points that can help you cope with some hangover symptoms,” Hwang says.

Tip: Using your finger and moderate pressure, massage these points for a couple of minutes throughout the day:

  • Pericardium 6. Used for nausea and stress relief, this point is located on the inside of the wrist, approximately 4 finger-widths up from the wrist crease. 
  • Large Intestine 4. Good for treating headaches, this tender point is located on the webbing between the thumb and index finger. 
  • Kidney 1. Useful for headaches or nausea, this point is approximately 1/3 of the way down on the sole of the foot. Massage this point or roll your foot on a tennis ball to bring your energy downwards. 

Take a Breather

Vedic meditation teacher Ben Turshen recommends taking time to close your eyes and meditate. “During the practice of Vedic Meditation, the body achieves levels of rest exponentially greater than can be achieved in a night’s sleep,” says Turshen. “The deep rest helps the body purify and detoxify, which means that you’ll feel better quicker after having a few too many drinks.” And by feeling calmer this might result in less drinking again because you’re already feeling good.

And by feeling calmer, you just might forgo that extra cocktail next time.