Natural hangover cures

This Week In The HSI Healthier Talk Community

As we prepare to say adios to 2005, while fastening our safety belts for another wild spin through the seasons in 2006, some HSI members are doing what so many others are doing the world over: bracing themselves for amateur night.

A member named Timco starts a Healthier Talk community forum thread titled “Hangovers – any natural cures?” with an elaboration on that question: “Any help for hangovers from the natural world (besides not drinking in the first place, of course)? I’m specifically looking for something to take in place of Advil after drinking and before bed for a good nights sleep and to help prevent a hangover the next day.”

Step one: Don’t try to prevent a headache by taking painkillers (acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen) before going to bed. This can actually increase the time that alcohol is in your system, and you can’t put a hangover behind you until the alcohol has been fully processed. In addition, the liver can be dangerously stressed when acetaminophen is combined with excessive alcohol. (See Thursday’s e-Alert “Safety Measured” below.)

Step two: remember these three words: water, water, water. An HSI member named JonB writes: “If you must go out and drink to excess, then drink 2 large glasses of water before you go and 2 large glasses when you get home. Hangovers are just brain dehydration.”

Here are a few additional suggestions in response to Timco’s question:

Michael: “Try a big glass of milk (organic or raw, of course) before going to bed. Remembering to do so, however, is the most difficult part.”

George: “The liver loves vitamin C, also I’m told oxygen works well. There are oxygen bars in NYC. Or a hair of the dog can work.”

Michael: “The keys to avoiding a hangover, I think, seem to be staying hydrated and quickly processing acetaldehyde (as well as protecting the liver with milk thistle). Along with the vitamin B complex, particularly B1, taking vitamin C and N-acetyl cysteine before drinking has been shown to be a very powerful combination in processing acetaldehyde, which is alcohol’s primary toxic metabolite responsible for feeling lousy. Extra magnesium may be quite useful as well.”

Howard: “Here’s another suggestion to avoid hangovers. Use common charcoal. If you know that you will be in a business/social situation and want to guarantee that you will not become the ‘life of the party’, take charcoal tabs. Start taking them 30 minutes BEFORE you start drinking and continue every 30 minutes DURING the event in order to slow down the process of intoxication.”

Tony: “BIFIDUS: A Teaspoon before Bedtime Heads Off Hangovers.” (Bifidus is one of the helpful bacteria in the large intestine and may help detoxify acetaldehyde.)

Whatever way you choose to celebrate the New Year – imbibing or abstaining – we wish you the very best of health and prosperity in 2006.

Other topics being discussed this week in the Healthier Talk community forums include:

  • Vitamin Questions: Immune system support
  • General Health Topics: The Constant Gardner
  • Arthritis: Arthritic knee
  • Hormones: Natural progesterone cream
  • Humor: Only in America
  • Allergies: Answers for allergy sufferers

To reach the HSI Healthier Talk community forums, just go to our web site at, choose “Forum,” and add your comments to the wide range of topics concerning health care and nutrition.