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10 Tips to Lessen Hangovers Backed By Science

10 Tips to Lessen Hangovers Backed By Science


The holiday season is in full swing and with it comes food, family, and parties all within a handful of weeks.  With these festivities comes the dreaded hangover.  We all know it, the symptoms of an upset stomach, nausea, headache, and overall decrease in mood.  Given all this, here are a couple tips to follow so that you can wake up feeling great throughout the holidays.  

1. Pick drinks with fewer congeners. 

Studies have shown a connection between overall hangover severity and the type of alcohol that you drink.  The reason for this is because chemicals called congeners (which are created in the fermentation process of alcohol) are in different concentrations depending on your beverage of choice.  Congeners can be toxic to the body and are one of the main causal factors of a hangover.  When trying to avoid a hangover, choose drinks like beer/vodka/gin and avoid brandy/red wine/whiskey.  A good rule of thumb is to pick drinks that are clearer.

Hydrate before, during, and after drinking.  

Dehydration has been shown to play a role in hangover symptoms like headaches and decreased mood.  Since alcohol acts as a diuretic and increases urination, it is especially important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after a night out. 

3. Eat a hearty meal 

Making sure to eat before drinking has been shown to decrease the absorption of alcohol which reduces the peak blood alcohol concentration attained.  It has been shown that high peak blood alcohol concentrations have been positively correlated with severe hangover symptoms.  

4. Drink less or don't drink

Probably the most boring and least exciting advice on the list, drinking less or completely abstaining from drinking is the most effective way to avoid hangover symptoms.  

5. Panax Ginseng 

Panax Ginseng or Korean Red Ginseng has been shown to reduce overall hangover severity in a crossover study of 26 participants compared to placebo.  The thought is that Panax Ginseng may have an anti-inflammatory effect thereby decreasing some hangover symptoms caused by inflammation.  

6. Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica)

A crossover study of 55 participants has shown that Prickly Pear reduced hangover symptoms like lack of appetite and nausea.  Prickly Pear contains powerful antioxidants which may help protect against some of the negative aspects of alcohol.  

7. Hovenia Dulcis (Japanese Raisin Tree) extract

A recent study with 26 participants found that Hovenia Dulcis extract taken before drinking resulted in a reduction of hangover symptoms.  Researchers found that the Hovenia Dulcis extract decreases the amount of acetaldehyde (a toxin) when ethanol (alcohol) is metabolized in the liver.  Jiang Liang, a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles also found that Hovenia Dulcis extract plays a role in preventing alcohol from interacting with the brain's GABA receptors which might play a role in explaining reduced hangover symptoms.  

8. Milk Thistle 

Also known as Mary's thistle, Milk Thistle has been used for centuries to protect the liver.  The active ingredient in Milk Thistle called silymarin has been shown to help with the liver's glutathione levels which is important in protecting the liver from the oxidative stress of alcohol metabolism.  In a rodent study, increased glutathione levels have been shown the protect against alcohol damage.  

9. N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)...don't waste your money 

A recent trend in the supplement industry is the rise in popularity of NAC due to it being linked for its usage in acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose.  Though, like Milk Thistle, NAC aids in glutathione production, there are little to no studies that have shown NAC's connection towards decreasing hangover symptoms when taken orally.

Specifically, increased glutathione production from oral dosages has been shown to be so small that its almost clinically irrelevant.  In other words, save your money because you would need to take upwards of 50 to 100 times the amount of NAC being advertised right now for any active effect to take place.  

10. hang/OVER by Second Wind Nutraceuticals

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