Forget over-the-counter hangover cures – there are plenty of ways to beat a hangover without taking onboard yet more chemicals. Here are our suggestions using natural supplements, herbs, fruit and veg…
- Milk thistle A herb with a good traditional track record in supporting liver function, milk thistle contains silymarin and silybin, active ingredients that help protect the liver from toxins associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Silymarin increases levels of glutathione, often nicknamed the ‘master’ antioxidant, and may even help to regenerate liver cells.
Antioxidant smoothie Whizz up a mix of brightly coloured fruit and veg – they’re the richest in natural antioxidants. We suggest: apple, carrot and beetroot with a dash of grated ginger (great for nausea). This is an antioxidant power pack containing Vitamins C and E, quercetin, co-enzyme Q10 and N-acetyl-cysteine. NAC is a particularly beneficial morning-after-the-night-before nutrient: a form of the amino acid cysteine, it increases glutathione, the antioxidant that helps the liver to break down acetaldehyde (a byproduct of alcohol processing that is more toxic than alcohol itself).
- Magnesium Many people are low in this essential mineral anyway, and it is quickly depleted by alcohol. Magnesium has anti-inflammatory activity and so may help to reduce hangover symptoms such as a thudding headache.
- Vitamin C Alcohol depletes the antioxidant Vitamin C so taking a high dose of this vitamin (1,000mg) can help reduce oxidative stress in the liver as well as bolstering the immune system.
- B-Vitamins Alcohol also depletes B-Vitamins, yet these important nutrients are essential to help clear it from the body. So it’s important to ensure you are getting extra B-Vitamins to avoid getting trapped in this vicious circle. Vitamin B1 is thought to enhance the effects of NAC, so helping to break down the alcohol in the body.
- Curcumin A long-used natural anti-inflammatory, curcumin is the compound responsible for the bright-yellow colour of the spice turmeric.
- Coconut water The sodium: potassium balance becomes disrupted with alcohol consumption, and you can help to restore this by ensuring a good intake of potassium. Coconut water is a good natural source– try having a glass before you go to bed.
- Electrolytes These help restore the sodium:potassium and pH balance following alcohol consumption, essentially reversing dehydration. Here’s a simple home-brew electrolyte drink for the morning after the night before: juice of 2 oranges and 1 lime, top up with coconut water and add a sprinkle of Himalyan sea salt and 2tsp of honey.
Nux vomica As the name suggests, this homeopathic hangover cure made from the poison nut helps with nausea and vomiting. Available in Boots, Holland & Barrett and health food stores.
Artichoke This vegetable, traditionally used to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver , is thought to help reduce the symptoms of a hangover