3 ways to treat a hangover

The best hangover cures for the morning after the night before.

02 February 2009
by Joanne Kotze

1. Herbal healers

Tiva Luckett, a registered naturopath, suggests drinking lots of water the night before and making sure you drink on a full stomach. ‘Milk thistle or dandelion will help protect your liver, so there’s no harm in taking those,’ says Luckett. ‘You can also take chamomile, verbena or melissa the next day to reduce feelings of anxiety or irritation.’ ,What about some guarana to boost your energy levels? ‘Taking guarana would be the equivalent of having a cup of coffee because it contains caffeine,’ comments Luckett. ‘It will perk you up and maybe make you feel a bit better briefly.’

Luckett also recommends taking herbs which are high in antioxidants, such as rosemary, sage and lemon balm. ‘They will help the body deal with the toxins you consumed the night before,’ she says. You’ll find tinctures and teas in a health shop, or you can visit a naturopath or herbalist. If you have fresh herbs, then you can make a tea with one tablespoon of fresh leaves and a cup of boiling water. Flavour the tea with lemon juice and honey.

2. Post-party fry-up

This is a great English tradition – a big, greasy breakfast of fried bacon and eggs, toast, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans after a night of excessive drinking. The theory is that the starchy, protein-rich breakfast will soak up the alcohol.

But Cape Town-based general practitioner Dr Steve Cornell disputes this logic. ‘I’m not sure that having an oily breakfast will make much difference at all,’ he says. ‘It’s more likely to make you feel worse. The alcohol you consumed the night before is absorbed within half an hour by your body, so trying to soak it up the next day won’t work. Your liver is already toxic by then.’ Dietitian Ashleigh Caradas agrees that an oily breakfast may not be the ideal solution. ‘Fat is metabolised in the liver in much the same way as alcohol, so a fatty breakfast actually just puts more stress on the liver,’ she says.

Nevertheless, she does maintain that there are benefits to eating a hearty English breakfast. ‘Eggs are rich in cysteine, which helps the liver metabolise alcohol, while tomato juice contains many of the minerals and vitamins that alcohol depletes. Bland complex carbohydrates like toast are easy on the stomach and help raise blood-glucose levels.’

3. Nutrient replacement

Caradas suggests eating food high in vitamin C to get you on the road to recovery. ‘Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries and green vegetables,’ she says. ‘Also make sure you’re eating food that contains B vitamins, such as beans, wholegrains and fish.’

You can also try a juice blend of carrot, beet, celery and parsley. ‘It contains many of the nutrients your body needs to flush out the toxins,’ she says. Alternatively a banana milkshake with honey will calm the stomach and rehydrate your system with electrolytes, magnesium and potassium. ,A glucose drink such as Energade, Powerade or Lucozade will also help to rectify the low blood-sugar levels brought on by a hangover.

Supplements

Clicks pharmacist Khin Ohn says some of the most popular over-the-counter remedies for a hangover are Clicks Fizzi B or Berocca. These effervescent tablets contain vitamins B and C, calcium and magnesium. Because alcohol is a diuretic (it depletes the body of water), Ohn advises drinking lots of water both while you are indulging and the next morning. ‘That way you’re giving the cells in your body the water they need,’ , she says.
Head to your nearest Clicks store and there are plenty of other products that promise to relieve the symptoms of a hangover, such as Regmakers (which is high in caffeine) and sachets of Soba, which contains vitamin B6, vitamin C, guaranine and guarana.

For headaches, Ohn suggests you take a painkiller such as Panado or Nurofen. If you’ve been vomiting, rehydration salts will help your tummy feel better. And don’t forget to take care of your liver: if you know you’re going to be overdoing it, take a product containing phospholipids and vitamins like Essentiale, Prohep or Clicks Overindulgence beforehand, recommends Ohn.