Sometimes the “hang” in a hangover lasts longer than one’s liking. Though time is a proven cure for just about anything, sometimes methods to speed up the process are helpful. Surely, when it comes to hangovers, like all else, prevention is the best medicine.
It’s also important to remember that the best cure is always in the cause. You can avoid the morning-after headache by reaching for a Paleo mocktail that’s healthier (and arguably tastier) instead. However, for those special occasions, these natural cures will be sure to keep you from the hangover blues.
Why Hangovers Happen
A hangover is more than awful feelings. They are the experience of your body struggling to dispel the toxic overload from a night of alcohol, disrupted circadian rhythm and excess adrenal stimulation.
Worse than a headache and dehydration, a hangover is a sure sign that your immune system, digestive tract and organs are taking a hit. When the liver struggles to remove and filter out the excessive toxins from a night of too much fun, we experience blood sugar roller coaster rides and fatigue.
5 Natural Hangover Remedies
There are actually a few great alternatives to alcohol I’ll mention later on in this article. But before that, if you are reading this because you’re in the midst of it, here are a few tips on relieving the discomfort.
Because a hangover is essentially an overly toxic body, the real key to remedying a hangover is going to be supporting the detoxification process and aiding the liver.
Here are a few ways this can be achieved:
1. Skip the aspirin
It’s common for someone to take an over-the-counter pain reliever when they are hungover; however, I do not recommend this. While they may provide some temporary relief, overall these do more damage to the liver. Additionally, while pain may subside, it is replaced with a lingering numbness, not a sense of revitalization and renewal.
In physics, we see that all pain is broken communication. When we break a limb, there is pain because the extremity has lost communication with the whole. There is a simple mental exercise you can do to bring some relief to pain that I find effective. This may sound strange; however, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
Locate the pain or discomfort, and then instead of shying away from it and trying to mask it, do the opposite and confront it. For example, if your head hurts, actually focus on your head, bring attention there and see if you can actually feel it more.
This helps in two ways; first, by bringing your attention to the area you will actually promote blood flow there and support the body’s natural healing process. Second, by feeling it more consciously, you will have more of a sense of control over your situation.
There are also more natural painkillers you can use, such as fresh ginger and turmeric. Make a tea using these with lemon balm or kava kava as a base.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Dilution is the solution to pollution. As we learned, a hangover is just the body’s way of letting us know it is overburdened. Water is nature’s solvent, pour some into a dirty pan and it’ll eventually dissolve even the toughest residue. Water is what carved out the Grand Canyon! Not only will drinking enough water help your body clear out toxins, it will also hydrate a dehydrated and hungover body. For optimal hydration tips be sure to read this article!
3. Drink coconut kefir
This is a probiotic beverage made from raw coconut water. Because it is fermented, it contains little to no sugar, which makes it superior to plain raw coconut water for many reasons. Too much sugar can actually dehydrate the body and feed pathogens.
One of the first things to do when remedying a hangover is to get hydrated. From there, helping the liver detox is key. Probiotics are detoxifiers. They help the body eliminate toxins in the liver, kidneys and digestive tract. Getting probiotics in the form of a food is best.
Coconut kefir is an all-in-one remedy, since it holistically works to hydrate the body with it’s mineral content, aid detoxification with probiotics and also replenishes B vitamins, which are often lost during alcohol consumption. For a great hangover remedy, try a different type of shot: two ounces of coconut kefir and one ounce of wheatgrass. This will help alkalize the body, provide powerful enzymes and probiotics, and support the liver and intestinal tract for detoxification.
4. Take a detox bath
Taking a hot bath with mineral salts or Epsom salt is a great way to aid the detoxification process. The magnesium in Epsom salt is a great natural muscle relaxer and also aids in the detoxification process. Light a few candles, dim the lights and play some relaxing music or even nature sounds to upgrade the experience.
Nothing heals quite like pure relaxation; this is why sleep is so healing! When we are resting, our body has its greatest opportunity to regain equilibrium and achieve homeostasis, during which the body releases self-repair enzymes and hormones.
Detox baths are great, too, because there are endless ways to upgrade their detoxification and healing properties. Try essential oils; lavender is especially soothing. You can add in vitamin C powder, dried kelp powder or wasabi. Anything hot or spicy will stimulate the detoxification process. You could add cayenne powder, ginger, mustard or wasabi to your bath to help increase circulation and blood flow.
The liver is responsible for the blood and circulation. When the liver is detoxifying, it needs moving, flowing blood to remove metabolic wastes.
5. Sweat it out
If you have access to an infrared sauna, you could take this route for stimulating the detoxification process. This is helpful for a few reasons. The first is the obvious: sweating. This is a great way to help expel toxins, but the most effective way to do that is actually via the colon and lungs.
However, saunas are great, because they don’t just promote sweating, they get you breathing, too. A good session in a sauna is actually as good as decent exercise. Saunas are also very relaxing, which is helpful for the body, because detoxification requires energy. Allowing the body to relax in a serene setting that most saunas provide can promote healing. I would advise against using a sauna early in the day. Instead, first start with the first few suggestions here, and then work your way up to the sauna for additional support.
6. Make a healthy swap
Finally, if you are going to drink, remember this rule of thumb: the poison is in the dose. Hard liquor and commercial beer are usually exceptionally high in alcohol and additional toxins; this is usually the cause of most of the destruction in drinking them.
Fortunately, there are some healthier options. For example, instead of beer, opt for a local kombucha beer. These are unpasteurized, raw and contain beneficial bacteria as well as B vitamins. Though they contain higher amounts of alcohol and should still be consumed conservatively, they are higher in quality, lower in toxins and provide some nutritional benefits, to boot.
(Related: 8 Paleo Sunburn Remedies)