It’s holiday party season, and with that, for many, holiday “over-drinking season” (that’s a discrete was of writing hangover).
There are a number of factors that appear to contribute to the symptoms experienced in a hangover: inflammation, oxidative stress and alcohol-induced nutrient deficiency specifically, that suggest that certain natural medicines may be effective “hangover cures”.
Here are a few “clinically proven” (by us) solutions to not feeling awful the day after celebrating.
The Affordable, Easy to Source, Hangover Preventing Vitamin/mineral Cocktail
About 12 years ago at a course on nutrition for conventional medical doctors, the discussion at one point took a turn to hangover prevention. The speaker, well-respected nutrition authority Aileen Burford-Mason, PhD shared her personal hangover prevention recipe: magnesium, zinc and B-complex.
I don’t recall her precise explanation for the how/why of this recipe: the magnesium I expect as a muscle relaxant to reduce the “clenched”/poorly relaxed sleep many have after excess alcohol ingestion; the B-complex because folate (vitamin B9) levels are adversely affected by heavy alcohol intake; and the zinc I assume because it is commonly deficient in those with a history of heavy alcohol use (but I’m not sure the role this plays in the occasional hangover haver).
Anyway, this was my “go-to” for many years, and I found it very effective. It prevents headaches, which I find the most unpleasant symptom of a hangover, as well as the muscle and jaw tension I am prone to experience.
I have found that although I feel quite well the morning after using this recipe, I am aware that my sleep is still of a very “light” quality, and I still need for a nap after a late night.
When I do this, my specific recipe is:
- Magnesium – 150 mg
- Zinc – 15 mg
- B-Complex – the amount of the product that results in consumption of 1000 mcg of vitamin B12
- Water – as much as I can remember to drink
I take this combination at the start of the evening, before bed (I leave the products on my night-table with a glass of water before leaving the house – this is how a 45-year old parties), and in the morning on waking.
The above combination will supply you for 20 to 30 nights out.
PartySmart® claims to help your liver metabolize alcohol, speeding the removal of acetaldehyde from your system.
I have used PartySmart® several times over the past year, favouring it over the above cocktail primarily for it’s convenience. My experience has been that the results are similar: no hangover symptoms, but tiredness as the day progresses.
Room for Improvement!
In writing this post, I thought I might see what else is out there.
Apart from the usual: drink water, eat a heavy meal on waking, etc., what struck me was that neither of our above approaches really addresses what appear to be the most commonly accepted conventional explanation for hangover symptoms: inflammation and oxidative stress1.
To rectify this, I might add to either of the above protocols:
- Curcumin – if not the, then one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories. Importantly, curcumin is poorly absorbed unless it is combined with black pepper or processed (e.g., Theracurmin™).
- Antioxidants – Antioxidant Synergy (manufactured by AOR) is a nice, well-costed option containing both fat- and water-soluble antioxidants for distribution through-out the system, including N-Acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), which crosses the blood-brain barrier for action in the brain.
Actually Clinically Proven in a Clinical Trial (as opposed to by carousing TCNMers) Hangover Prevention
I can’t believe researchers spend money on this, but a quick PubMed search revealed that they do!
The most compelling study I read demonstrated that an extract of Opuntia ficus indica (Barbary fig) was effective in reducing hangover symptoms2. Key findings were that risk of “severe hangover” were reduced by half, and notably inflammation (as measured by c-reactive protein) was 40% higher in subjects using placebo.
Unfortunately, I’ve never noticed a Barbary fig extract on the health store shelf (but in fairness, I’ve never really looked for one, so presumably it’s out there, if you do).
A Freebie: Making an Ass of Yourself Prevention
It’s all well and good to not have hangover the day after an office party, but you’re not going to be feeling well long if the night before you told your boss what you really think of them.
LivCo® is a natural medicine that we typically use in the context of metabolic detoxification protocols.
We learned of this application for LivCo® from a colleague of ours who recommends it for “industry types” who in the course of their work are required to attend frequent, boozy events, but by unfortunate coincidence, also need to stay sharp and tactful throughout.
Again, two tablets a few hours before, two tablets at the start of the evening, help one maintain a clear had with alcohol use.
Two more tablets at the end of the evening, and again the following morning can also reduce the probability of waking with a hangover, likely by a similar mechanism to PartySmart®.
As the botanical medicines in this product supports liver metabolism of chemicals, those using pharmaceutical medications should not use LivCo® without professional supervision.
Finally, and most importantly, the most effective method of preventing a hangover is drinking moderately (and always responsibly).
Happy holiday party season!
- Min JA, Lee K, Ki DJ.The application of minerals in managing alcohol hangover: a preliminary review. Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2010 Jun;3(2):110-5.
- Wiese J, McPherson S, Odden MC, Shlipak MG.Effect of Opuntia ficus indica on symptoms of the alcohol hangover. Arch Intern Med. 2004 Jun 28;164(12):1334-40.
Posted: 2018 November 8