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Natural Food Cures for a Hangover

Natural Food Cures for a Hangover

A hangover is your body’s reaction to toxicity. Author Kate Hunter lets us know what goes on in our bodies after the wine hits your gut: When alcohol breaks down in your liver it produces acetaldehyde. This byproduct of alcohol metabolism is more toxic than alcohol itself. Fortunately, its effects on the body are short lived — that is, if you only have a few drinks every now and then. What’s more is women tend to have longer-lasting hangovers than men because we produce less of the enzyme that breaks down the alcohol.

And what’s up with that groggy feeling the morning after, even though you passed out hard? Because it’s a depressant, alcohol inhibits the natural stimulant glutamine, causing the body to increase production of glutamine and causing the brain to remain active even after you have already passed out — so you feel fatigued the next day even though you got your full eight hours in.

Headaches can be one of the worst, all-too-familiar hangover symptoms and are linked to dehydration as well. (See these tips on Natural Headache Cures.) As for any vomiting, that’s your body’s way of telling you that your stomach is producing too much hydrochloric acid and it’s time to pump that stuff out!

So what are the cures? Hydration, of course. But you can also try a little food therapy for hangovers, using ingredients you may already have in your house.

Honey exhibits antioxidant properties and neutralizes toxins in alcohol. In addition, natural fructose in honey helps the body rapidly metabolize alcohol. According to a statement made to Reuters Health by headache expert Dr. Merle Diamond, honey could help you avoid the hangover headache altogether: “Honey on a cracker or piece of toast, before or after drinking, may prevent a hangover. Honey, as opposed to some other sugar stores, has fructose, which competes for the metabolism of alcohol. This competition prevents the rapid change in alcohol levels that causes the ‘bang’ headache in the morning. Tomato juice, another good source of fructose, also helps to burn alcohol faster, but honey works best.” So, in the morning or after a night of drinking, spread some honey on a piece of toast. Toast can provide you with little potassium and sodium, both of which aid in the task of digesting all that alcohol. Cooking with honey opens up delicious options for hangover remediation.

Eat a banana to restore potassium in your body. We all know not to “break the seal,” because alcohol dehydrates by causing you to urinate more. And each time you do, your body expels valuable water-soluble vitamins and minerals along with the waste. A lack of potassium will leave you weak and nauseous.

You can count on cabbage to help you through a hangover. At least that’s what Roman soldier and statesman Cato the Elder believed. He advocated for cabbage as a preemptive hangover cure, and told his fellow statespersons to eat large quantities of it raw with vinegar as an appetizer to counter the effects of heavy drinking. The benefit may come from the fact that cabbage is chock-full of vitamins and can be grown throughout much of winter. Plant a little in your garden and you’ll have this hangover remedy right outside your door for when you need it.

Ginger is one of the longest used vomit suppressors. It has been used to alleviate motion sickness, indigestion and nausea. The list of benefits of ginger for cooking and healing goes on and on, but for a hangover, one of the quickest ways to incorporate the root is by taking it in capsule form or making ginger tea. Simmer a few slices in water for 15 minutes. Ginger ale is known to remedy an upset stomach, but most store-bought ales are not actually ginger-based and also include synthetic ingredients and way too much sugar. Try making your own ginger soda and enjoy the beverage for pleasure and healing.

Cook some asparagus, rather than dialing your nearest Chinese food joint for greasy and sodium-heavy lo mein. Korean researchers found that asparagus boosts production of enzymes that break down alcohol, and volunteers who participated in the study reported fewer hangover symptoms. Eating asparagus both before and after drinking can help reduce symptoms. From lemony asparagus soup with tarragon croutons to spring asparagus pasta (find these recipes here), this culinary “medicinal” will keep you coming back even on a healthy day.

Finally, if you are going to drink, make it count by choosing quality beverages. To control quality to the fullest, try making your own. This guide to making eau de vie, or fruit brandy, will walk you through the steps for making one of my favorites. Cheers!

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Shelley Stonebrook

Shelley Stonebrook is an Associate Editor at Mother Earth News—North America’s most popular magazine about sustainable, self-reliant living—where she works on exciting projects such as Organic Gardening content and the Vegetable Garden Planner. Shelley is particularly interested in organic gardening, small-scale, local food production, waste reduction, food preservation and cooking. In her spare time, she posts in her personal blog, The Rowdy Radish.


+ add your own
5:20PM PDT on Aug 10, 2013


8:03AM PDT on Jul 15, 2013


3:23AM PDT on Jul 1, 2013

I have to agree with Jane

"Some of these also work for nausea from other causes. I find that eating a salty dill pickle calms my stomach. I don't know if it's the salt or the vinegar, but it helps instantly, and I love pickles"

The only thing I added was a bar of chocolate. I ate chocolate and pickles together, and it worked wonder.

11:48PM PDT on Jun 29, 2013

Hmm...Now I'm almost out of drinking alcohol, but some years ago I used to drink yoghurt in case of hangover.

7:18PM PDT on Jun 25, 2013


7:14PM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

Why coudn't I have had this list when I was 40 years younger and partied on the weekends?
Thank you.

5:27AM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

thank you

6:59PM PDT on Jun 22, 2013

great info

7:03PM PDT on Jun 20, 2013


5:36PM PDT on Jun 20, 2013

Thanks. Some of these also work for nausea from other causes. I find that eating a salty dill pickle calms my stomach. I don't know if it's the salt or the vinegar, but it helps instantly, and I love pickles.

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