The ultimate guide to curing a hangover

"I will never, ever drink again!" So says anyone who has ever woken up with a hammering headache and a stomach rolling around like an old trainer in a washing machine. To reduce a horrible hangover, try the tips below…

First steps for fast relief

how to cure a hangover

  • As soon as you wake up, drink 2 large glasses of water to undo the dehydration.
  • Have a large glass of grapefruit, orange or tomato juice. Fruit juice contains the simple sugar fructose, which speeds up the metabolism of alcohol.
  • If you drink coffee, have a cup or two as soon as possible. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it narrows the swollen blood vessels in your head. Just don’t go overboard. Like alcohol, caffeine is a diuretic, and if you drink too much you’ll become even more dehydrated.
  • Kudzu is a traditional Chinese remedy for alcohol poisoning, usually taken as a "morning after" tea. You can buy kudzu tincture at some health-food shops, though it’s hard to find. You can also buy it online but would need to do so in anticipation… Follow the dosage directions on the package.
  • If you feel like being sick, do so. Vomiting is the body’s way of ridding itself of toxins.
  • If you can’t survive without a painkiller, then choose aspirin or ibuprofen. Avoid paracetamol, which can harm your liver if you’ve been drinking.

 

Recovery snacks

what to eat when youre hungover

  • Once you overcome the queasiness, make yourself a nice bowl of hot chicken soup or stock. Either will help to replace the salt and potassium the body loses when you’ve been drinking.
  • A banana milkshake is an especially good way to replace potassium and other nutrients lost during a night of heavy drinking. Mix 1⁄2 cup of milk with a banana and 2 teaspoons of honey in a blender and drink up. Banana is a good source of potassium, which is lost in urine. And honey is rich in fructose.
  • If you feel well enough, eat a light meal—fresh fruit, toast and honey. Fruit and honey are good sources of fructose. Save the bacon and eggs for another day.

 

Get moving 

Although your instinct might be to stay in bed, you’re better off if you can take a brisk walk or go for a run. That will boost your production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Heavy drinking can lower endorphin levels.

 

The power of prevention

how to prevent a hangover

  • If you’re off to a social occasion where alcohol will be served, eat something—ideally something a bit greasy—before you go. Fatty substances help to coat the intestines, slowing down the absorption of alcohol. Slow absorption means less chance of inebriation and a smaller chance of developing a hangover the following day.
  • If you drink spirits, choose vodka or gin over whiskey, rum or brandy, and white wine over red. Clear spirits such as vodka don’t contain congeners—naturally occurring compounds that contribute to morning-after nausea and headache. White wine contains fewer congeners than red wine.
  • Drink slowly. Your body burns alcohol at a regular rate of roughly 30ml (1oz) an hour. Give it more time to burn that alcohol and less will reach your brain.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with sparkling water, fruit juice or other alcohol-free drinks.
  • Avoid champagne or any other alcoholic drink with bubbles in it (gin and tonic or rum and coke, say). Fizz puts alcohol into your bloodstream more quickly.

 

Should I call the doctor?

Even without treatment, a hangover should last for no more than 24 hours. If you’re still feeling bad after that, call a doctor.

Of course, if you can’t remember what happened while you were drinking, or if you get hangovers on a regular basis, you may have a drinking problem. Call your doctor to discuss treatment options.