Today I woke up with a hangover. Last night was awesome, but this morning is hell.
Here’s how I beat my hangover and here are 11 guaranteed ways to cure yours.
First of all, we’re going to start with a disclaimer: Contained in this guide, we will never recommend that you drink less (or not at all) as a way to cure a hangover.
The same reason abstinence does not work as a form of birth control, recommending you drink less as a way to reduce a hangover is just annoying.
By the way, none of the recommendations have been approved by a doctor, and you should ask yours before trying anything that may endanger you.
Basics of Being Hungover
First off, let’s figure out what causes a hangover (aside from the obvious, copious amounts of alcohol) and maybe we can better understand how to treat it. The common misconception is that being hungover is just being really dehydrated. If that were true, every time you exhaust yourself running, you would become hungover.
Being hungover is more like a complete shutdown of your body.
Here’s the basics: when alcohol is consumed, it enters the bloodstream and causes the pituitary gland in the brain to block the creation of vasopressin (also known as the antidiuretic hormone). Without this chemical, the kidneys send water directly to the bladder instead of reabsorbing it into the body (thus the need to frequently pee).
According to studies, drinking about 250 milliliters of an alcoholic beverage causes the body to expel 800 to 1,000 milliliters of water; that’s four times as much liquid lost as gained. This diuretic effect decreases as the alcohol in the bloodstream decreases, but the aftereffects help create a hangover.
The morning after a few too many shots, the body desperately needs to replenish its water supply (usually you know this immediately by waking up with a dry mouth). Headaches result from dehydration because the body’s organs try to make up for their own water loss by stealing water from the brain, causing the brain to decrease in size and pull on the membranes that connect the brain to the skull, resulting in, at least from my experiences, excruciating pain.
The frequent urination also expels salts and potassium that are necessary for proper nerve and muscle function; when sodium and potassium levels get too low, headaches, fatigue and nausea can result. Alcohol also breaks down the body’s store of glycogen in the liver, turning the chemical into glucose and sending it out of the body in the urine.
Lack of this key energy source is partly responsible for the weakness, fatigue and lack of coordination the next morning. In addition, the diuretic effect expels vital electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium, which are necessary for proper cell function.
Thanks to How Stuff Works for this information
Now, how to cure a hangover.
1. Drink coconut water. A lot of it.
Before you go to bed, and when you wake up, pound this stuff. Its got as many electrolytes as gatorade and less sugar.
We recommend Taste Nirvana with pulp. Its made from Thailand coconuts which are sweet naturally. No added sugar or additives. Just pure coconut water. Get it delivered via Amazon Prime for $27/case.
2. Skip the weights. Hit the elliptical.
Despite what you may have heard, you can’t tough it out. Vigorous exercise leaves you more likely to become more dehydrated, which will actually intensify your hangover.
Try going for a walk or a light jog instead, getting your ass off the couch and moving around a little bit will release endocannabinoids in the brain, which can put a positive spin on your mood without increasing your aches.
3. Eat your veggies.
A few studies have shown that asparagus can actually reverse the harmful effects alcohol has on the human body. We can’t promise it will erase those last few shots, but it might help them sit a little better with you for the rest of the day.
Doctors suggest eating asparagus before the hangover sets in, be proactive before you are curled up on the bathroom floor unable to be reactive.
4. Say no to cigarettes.
A study at Brown University found that students who smoked while drinking were more likely to wake up with severe hangovers. So while smoking may cause you to look like Humphrey Bogart all night (at least in your mind), you’ll be more likely to look like Zach Galifianakis come morning.
5. Bacon. Lots of it.
According to Ellin Roberts at The University of Newcastle’s Centre for Life, “…bacon is full of protein, which breaks down into amino acids. Your body needs these amino acids, so eating them will make you feel good.” Roberts goes on to say that “Bingeing on alcohol depletes neurotransmitters too, but bacon contains a high level of aminos which tops these up, giving you a clearer head.”
As long as you’re frying up some bacon, you might as well throw some eggs on too. Eggs have a lot of cysteine, which is an amino acid that can break down the toxins your body can’t.
On top of this, eggs are high in B vitamins, which a study at The Annals of Internal Medicine showed can actually reduce hangover symptoms.
Trade in your Tylenol for some ibuprofen. While both are pain relievers, acetaminophen can be harder on your (already hurting) liver. When your liver is metabolizing alcohol it reacts differently than it normally would to acetaminophen, which can cause damage in the long run and keep the pounding in your head going for that much longer.
Help the headache and your body by choosing ibuprofen instead.
8. Ease up on the caffeine.
While coffee can help jumpstart those sluggish mornings, it can do just as much bad as good. Caffeine can work as a diuretic causing you to be more dehydrated and more hungover than you were to start.
However, while multiple cups of coffee may leave you worse off than you started, one cup of quality joe is fine to get your day going.
Have a cup of coffee and pop the ibuprofen. Anymore and you’ll be going overboard.
9. Go to bed, already.
If you’ve ever heard that you can stay awake to beat a hangover, well, you’ve heard wrong. According to Michael Fingerhood, MD, and Chief of the Department of Chemical Dependency at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, this is a a bunch of shit (our words, not his).
Fingerhood does say that due to the excellent chances you’ll be woken up at least once in the middle of the night (nightmares, running to the toilet, need to quench your thirst, etc.) the sooner you lie down the better.
According to Fingerhood, sleep deprivation makes hangovers worse, so if you do know you’ll be going all night long on Saturday, try and stay in and make up the sleep on Friday. You might miss out on Friday night’s fun, but at least you’ll feel good on Sunday.
10. Don’t drink on an empty stomach.
While this seems like common sense, it is often forgotten. Eat. No one wakes up feeling good after drinking on an empty stomach. Eat some foods that digest slowly, like proteins and fats. Having food in your stomach will slow down the rate in which your body absorbs alcohol and will help keep you from feeling the residual effects in the morning.
If you can load in a few slices of bread before drinking, it really does make a world of a difference. If you’re out drinking with the buddies, it’ll keep you level headed longer and ease the pain the next morning.
11. Be proactive.
In the days of quick fixes, of course there is an over-the-counter-hangover-killer. This Red Bull shaped, miracle in a can should be your new best friend. Mercy boasts that their unique blend of amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants and herbal supplements are proven to detox your body while boosting your body’s natural defenses.
They recommend using it basically however you’d like, whether you choose it as a mixer or gulp one down between every 3-5 drinks, a few cans of this gift from the heavens should keep you from throwing up during tomorrow morning’s meeting.
This stuff tastes like it works. That is, it tastes like you’re chewing vitamins. We recommend drinking one before bed, along with a shit ton of water.
12. Bonus: Visit The Hangover Heaven in Vegas
If you should find yourself in Vegas, with a Vegas sized hangover, then go ahead and skip steps 1 through 11 and call Hangover Heaven.
If you haven’t heard of Hangover Heaven, it is an RV that will fuel your body back up while cruising around Las Vegas or if you can’t make it out of bed, they will come to your room and get you moving again.
Hangover Heaven will cure your hangover using an IV containing fluids to hydrate you, along with headache medication, nausea medication and anything else you may need to hit The Strip again that night.
A few ways our forefathers attempted to cure their hangovers…
In the 1600’s: King Charles II and his friends were fans of “Goddard’s Drops.” Created by Jonathan Goddard, a physician at the time, Goddard’s Drops included a dash of ammonia mixed with a few household items like the skull of someone who had been hanged, dried viper… you know, things like that.
The 1800’s: With chimney sweeping being an actual profession at the time, chimney sweeps added a teaspoon of soot to a glass of warm milk to help get their day started after a heavy night of drinking.
1938: Coca-Cola and Milk. Invented by a banquet man at The Ritz, this drink involved shaking up Coca-Cola and spraying it into a glass of cold milk. Sounds delicious, no?