Christmas party season is in full swing. But partying can mean hangovers – especially for the less careful among us.
If you’ve overdone it a little and need to perk yourself up, medication can be tempting. But if you’d prefer to avoid pharmaceuticals, there are natural options.
While there’s no such thing as a complete “cure” for a hangover, there are measures you can take to ease the pain while you wait out the unpleasant symptoms of a heavy night.
We’ve talked to nutritional experts to get the lowdown on some natural hangover cures you could try instead.
Now you already know about this one, but we can bet you haven’t adhered to it. Even relatively light drinking leads to dehydration. This, in turn, can cause the headaches, fatigue and lack of energy that so many of us associate with hangovers. When you wake up feeling rough, drinking a glass of water should be top of your to-do list.
Rhiannon Lambert, a Harley Street nutritionist and author of the book Re:Nourish says that, despite not being a big drinker, she is sure to drink more water on the days after she’s had a glass or two of wine.
Getting rehydrated will be even easier if you remember to drink some water before going to bed at the end of your night – but don’t panic if you haven’t managed this. Making sure to take regular sips throughout your morning should still help you to feel better.
Ginger has long been used in Chinese medicine as an anti-nausea measure. This traditional thinking is well-founded: a 2016 study concluded that the plant is “an effective and inexpensive treatment for nausea”.
A cup of ginger tea the morning after a heavy night could be a cheap way of hitting two birds with one stone. You’ll be replenishing some of those much-needed fluids, and also getting an important shot of stomach-calming ginger. Since the spice also has anti-inflammatory and heart benefits, you might just find yourself making it part of your daily routine.
When it comes to getting ginger to taste good, registered nutritionist Rob Hobson recommends that you add 1-2 tsp of ginger powder, half a lemon and 2 tsp of honey to a teapot and fill with boiling water. Leave it to brew for five minutes before serving. “The zingy flavour is very energising, and the honey will help to re-balance low blood sugar levels,” he says.
A balanced breakfast
Tea is well and good, but many of us can empathise with a lack of appetite for actual food the morning after drinking. Eating is also vital, though, with alcohol consumption hitting your blood glucose levels hard.
Cliches would dictate that you tuck into the greasiest full Scottish breakfast available, but our experts warn against this. “Ditch the morning-after fried breakfast,” says Hobson.
Granola with sliced fruit can give you a hit of natural sugars and also get you some valuable vitamins as a bonus. Lambert says: “Foods containing potassium can help your body to recover lost electrolytes from a night of drinking. Bananas and avocados are good sources.”
The prickly pear is a photogenic cactus with a vivid red fruit. Studies have shown that extract from this fruit can be used on hangovers to impressive effect. It has been found to reduce nausea, dizziness and headaches, all of which sounds pretty brilliant from the point of view of the over-indulger. If you want to try it, look for a supplement called Hovenia Dulcis extract.
Another extract to try is Artichoke.
“This supplement stimulates bile production and can help to relieve bloating and other symptoms of indigestion associated with alcohol consumption,” says Hobson.
There really is no substitute for sleep.
Whether the night went on into the small hours, or alcohol reduced your sleep quality, the downsides to even light sleep deprivation are significant. So, if the worst comes to the worst, you might just have to resort to a lunchtime nap. Just don’t forget to set the alarm.