Sensible precautions—and what to do if you’ve thrown caution to the wind
—by Trisha McMillan
Parties are great; we get to see our old friends, make new ones, and generally just celebrate being human and alive. However, merrymaking comes with a price: the hangover. What to do?
If you’re going to a boozy party, make sure you eat a decent meal first. Food in your belly will moderate the rate at which your body absorbs the alcohol, keeping you less toxic. Include nuts, seeds, fish, dark leafy greens, bananas, avocados, yogurt or dark chocolate for the magnesium, a nutrient depleted by alcohol which has anti-inflamatory properties; and some citrus for vitamin C, which reduces oxidative stress.
Supplements: N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) helps increase glutathione. Take 200 mg of NAC, 30 minutes before imbibing.
Combined with thiamine and B6, NAC may work even better. Try a B-vitamin supplement beforehand and after.
Milk thistle contains antioxidants that protect the liver from toxins. Consider taking it daily throughout the holiday season if you’re drinking regularly.
At the party:
Choose clear liquors (vodka, gin, white wine) over darker (brandy, whiskey, red wine) to avoid congeners, ingredients produced as byproducts of fermentation that may make hangovers worse. Alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of plain water or club soda to keep you hydrated and to help flush out toxins as they are created.
When you start to feel buzzed, back off for a while. Let your liver catch up.
When you get home:
Drink at least two cups of water before you fall asleep. Not only will this keep your kidneys and liver working efficiently at eliminating those toxins while you slumber, you’ll also wake up a couple of hours later to pee and you can drink more water then, too. It’s helpful to add a fizzy electrolyte powder to your hydration as well, to combat out-of-whack potassium and sodium levels. Coconut water is a good choice, too.
The following morning:
If a marching band is going off in your head the next morning, try this: Run a warm bath and add a couple of tablespoons of Dr. Singha’s mustard bath. The mustard will stimulate your skin and open your capillaries, boosting your metabolism and helping you detoxify more quickly. (See recipe, this page, for homemade alternative.) Get into the bath with a tall glass of water or electrolyte mix. Eat a banana for a little extra potassium and some fructose to alleviate your low blood sugar. When you can stomach it, eat some eggs or perhaps an asparagus omelet. Some research suggests that asparagus or eggs may provide specific amino acids that help you metabolize that toxic acetaldehyde. Add some cayenne pepper to stimulate your body’s natural endorphins and to help kill pain without pills.
Later in the day:
Go for a walk or take a restorative yoga class. Get clean air into your lungs and drink plenty of clean water. And remember not to hurt yourself so badly next time!
Homemade version of Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath
Ingredients to make 4 baths:
1 cup sodium carbonate (aka washing soda; Arm & Hammer makes it, available in the laundry aisle)
1/4 cup mustard powder (available in bulk spice section of natural foods stores)
6 drops wintergreen or peppermint essential oil
6 drops rosemary essential oil
6 drops eucalyptus essential oil
Place all of the ingredients in a
storage jar and shake. Add 1/4 cup
(4 Tbs.) to a running bath and swish around to dissolve the powder. (Note: You’ll feel great, though your tub will be quite yellow.)