Christmas is a time for gatherings and partying. For those of you who may have had a little too much to drink, we have some natural ways to make you feel better the day after.
What is a hangover?
A hangover is actually the body’s way of showing signs of toxicity. Alcohol in the drinks is being taken to the liver to be broken down, and acetaldehyde, a by-product which is more toxic than alcohol itself, is the culprit that causes most of the symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. As alcohol is a diuretic, the body also becomes dehydrated and you get dry mouth, fatigue, general discomfort, etc.
So what can you do to feel better?
Eating before drinking
Prevention is better than cure. A meal of carbohydrates and some fats slows down the absorption of alcohol. Eating while drinking helps too, as you are occupied with eating rather than simply downing more alcohol.
Water helps to hydrate the body and prevents dehydration from setting in. You should already be drinking water on the same day after your drinking, or better still, take it intermittently with your drink, and not wait until the hangover sets in the next day. This would help to ease the discomfort when you wake up the next morning. Of course, waking up and immediately drinking water helps as well.
Studies show that coconut water contains more electrolytes than the common isotonic drinks. Its natural sugars also supply quick energy to the fatigued body after a night of partying and drinking. What’s more, it is natural without added sucrose, artificial flavourings, colourings, etc, and best of all, don’t we all agree that fresh coconut water tastes absolutely delicious?
Umeboshi, or plum, is a traditional hangover cure in Japan. Umeboshi drinks can also be taken before taking alcohol as a preventive measure. If you are not in Japan, you can readily get a bottle of preserved umeboshi from a Japanese supermarket. Buy the type where there is only umeboshi, salt and shiso leaves as the ingredients without added colouring and additives if possible.
Honey is a common hangover cure in Korea. Make a drink with a generous amount of honey and warm water. It can be drunk up to three times a day; or you can take honey as breakfast by spreading it on toast like the Koreans do.
The ever-versatile egg makes a great breakfast (or brunch, or lunch) to beat the hangover. Eggs are rich in cysteine, an amino acid that breaks down acetaldehyde, the poison that is creating the havoc in the body. It also contains taurine, which boosts liver function and helps it work better in its detoxification process. The best part is that with the headache and heavy body that you drag along as you attempt to function, you need not spend an arduous effort to think or to prepare yourself a simple yet delicious breakfast.
If you have done the above and still require some help, consider going for a session of acupuncture, which helps to relieve symptoms of headache and nausea, and at the same time further enhances your liver’s function for the much needed detox.
(by Tan Shiau Tse, TCM Physician, Copyright® HST Medical Pte Ltd)