Hangover Cures

Given that today is St. Patrick’s Day it seemed timely to share a few of my favourite hangover cures and prevention methods here on the blog. For those of you who celebrated over the weekend and for whom this post comes 24 hours too late, I apologize for not being there for you earlier. I’ve always suffered from terrible, gut-wrenching, head-pounding day long hangovers. When I was in my twenties these hangovers could be predicted and were generally well deserved. Since turning 30, they are as unpredictable as spring weather in Toronto. What felt like a civilized evening out on a Friday all too often feels instead like a frat house keg party on Saturday morning. Truth be told, for me, there’s no such thing as a “cure” to this misery I speak of. There are, however, some things that help minimize the pain and/or help prevent its onset. So for those of you suffering at your desks this fine Monday and for those lucky/irresponsible folks just commencing your day of debauchery, I give you 5 awesome ways to feel less like you’re 50 after a day/night/weekend of imbibing:

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1) The Great Grundy Hangover Prevention Method: You know the old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? It’s worth even more than that when it comes to hangovers (trust). Taken before passing out after a night of drinking, this patented (not really) combination has been known to save many a weekend from complete and utter self (imposed) destruction: one dose of chlorophyll as per bottle instructions to help soothe your ailing liver (pill form is the easiest to shove in your face and avoids the inevitable mess that will result from drunken attempts to measure powder or liquid) taken with a glass of water; 1 banana to fill your belly and your body with potassium; one package of Emergen-C (I’m partial to the pink lemonade flavour) mixed with water to restore lost electrolytes; one dose of vitamin B as per bottle instructions to help your body metabolize the poison; a big glass/can/bottle of sweet delicious coconut water to aid in the rehydration process; and finally, if you’re the drug taking sort and/or prone to headaches, now might be a good time to pop an advil/ibuprofen (not tylenol – see below). Obviously one of the key components of this method is the amount of good-for-you liquids consumed, which leads me directly to point number 2, below…

2) Hydrate: This is an obvious one and we all know that it’s the only real, medically based solution to the damage we’ve caused our bodies. That said, not all liquids are created equal. While sports drinks are an easy go to, we prefer “nature’s gatorade” (coconut water), or, if you’ve got a juicer at home, a big fat glass of hangover juice (roughly one small beet, a couple stalks of celery, a couple carrots, an apple, a handful of kale, a hunk of peeled ginger, about half a cucumber and a big squeeze of lemon juice). There’s also a reason that some people swear by caesars or bloody mary’s the day after – tomato juice is full of vitamins and the drinks contain a good combination of salt, sugar and spice to help your body hydrate and detoxify. That said, the old ‘hair of the dog’ trick is a big fat myth and anything made at a bar or bought from the store is likely to contain way too much sodium. Try mixing up your own tomato juice with a dash of cayenne pepper, sugar and a squeeze of lime to help aid hydration and re-stabilize your blood sugar.3) Detoxify:  As much as a third of toxic body waste is cleared through the skin, so why not let your sweat glands do some of the work for you? If you’ve got access to a sauna, you’re a step ahead of the game, but sweating it out in the tub will do the trick just as well.  Fill the tub with the hottest water comfortable, add some epsom salts and a couple tablespoons of powdered mustard or wasabi. These additions can help increase blood circulation and draw toxins out of the organs. Be sure to keep a big bottle of water beside you during your soak to help replenish as your body as it sweats out the bad stuff.

4) Milk Thistle: This is a new one to me, but given that milk thistle provides nutritional support for the liver and blood and is used to repair and regenerate liver cells, it sounds like a surefire hangover helper. Available in capsule form pretty much wherever you buy vitamins, the internet tells me that milk thistle is safe, natural and well-tolerated by most people. The recommended daily dose is three capsules a day. Based on this, my unsolicited and uneducated advice would be to take one before, during and after drinking for optimal hangover prevention.

5) NOT Acetaminophen (Tylenol).  Okay, this isn’t really going to make you feel better, but whatever you do, please don’t take tyelnol (or worse, tylenol with caffeine) to help treat your hangover. Acetaminophin needs to be metabolized by your liver, just like all that booze you consumed last night. When your liver is busy making up for the damage you did, it processes the tylenol differently than it otherwise would, resulting in toxic compounds that can cause inflammation, or worse, permanent liver damage. For more information on how Tylenol can kill you (for serious), check out this This American Life podcast, or better yet, talk to your doctor (he/she probably knows a little more than I do about this stuff.

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