January 1, 2010

USA: Hangover remedies by nature

. TULSA, Oklahoma / Tulsa World / World Scene / December 31, 2009 By Jason Ashley Wright, World Scene Writer Hair of the dog that bit you will only bite back. The old nostrum that drinking something alcoholic will help speed you through a hangover isn't going to help you, warned Dr. David D'Alessandro, an internal medicine physician with Omni Medical Group in Broken Arrow. Considering quite a few of you may be imbibing with bubbly or something similarly adult, we thought we would share some tips — natural ones, at that — to help prevent or recover better from hangovers. If you get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, drink more water while you're up. stock.xchang Of course, the No. 1 way to prevent hangovers is to not drink in the first place, pointed out Mary Ann O'Dell, registered dietitian for Akin's Natural Foods. D'Alessandro dittoed that sentiment. From there, drink plenty of water while drinking alcohol, O'Dell said. "Excess alcohol consumption leads to dehydration, which can contribute to the symptoms people experience — nausea and upset stomach, specifically." Other symptoms include thirst, fatigue, mood disturbances (like being more anxious or depressed), tremors, bloodshot eyes, dizziness and, of course, headaches, including sensitivity to light or sound, D'Alessandro said. Alcohol can cause the release of inflammatory chemicals in blood, which causes you to have symptoms like you're sick. To help prevent hangover, drink water up until the time you go to the party, O'Dell advised, then drink a lot of it afterward. If you get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, drink more water while you're up. You should drink a glass of water for each alcoholic beverage you consume, D'Alessandro said. It "tanks you up," hydrating you. Also, don't drink on an empty stomach, which will cause you to absorb alcohol faster, he said. And keep in mind that colored alcohols have ingredients that can cause more hangover symptoms. Things like dark beer, rum and bourbon have congeners, toxic substances created during the alcohol fermentation process, according to hangover information at DrinkFocus.com. When you drink alcohol, these toxins are dispersed through your system as your liver breaks down the alcohol. While congeners are not the sole cause of a hangover, they do seem to contribute in some manner to its quality. Vodka and gin have low levels of congeners, D'Alessandro said, but they also have a higher alcohol content. "The problem is, it's a two-edged sword," he said, as you have lower congener levels with higher alcohol content in some liquors, vice versa in other beverages. The day after OK, so you drank the water (or didn't, be honest), and you're in pain — specifically, in bed with a hangover. If you can, stay there — rest helps, D'Alessandro said. It's best, of course, to have had good sleep the previous night. If you're up to it, try to exercise, he added. This can help your body eliminate the alcohol faster. Otherwise, keep the fluids flowing. Some studies suggest that drinking things containing fructose will help. Drinking fruit juice or honey in drinks is said to help speed up metabolism, which gets rid of the alcohol more quickly. Photo credit © Darius Ramazani/Corbis Also, go on a diet — the BRATS diet, specifically, D'Alessandro said. BRATS stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, toast and saltine crackers — bland foods. You could also mix a tablespoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of water and guzzle that. "That's not going to taste good," he warned, "but it might help with nausea." Not hungry? Pop some pills. Supplements with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), a form of the amino acid cysteine, acts as an antioxidant that helps protect the liver and reduce the toxic effects of alcohol, O'Dell said. Another amino acid is methionine, which may reduce the severity of hangovers, said Dr. Eric Braverman, founder of PATH Medical Center in New York City, during a recent phone interview. It has been demonstrated to lower circulating levels of acetaldehyde, which is the main underlying cause of hangovers. Taurine, another amino acid, may reduce the incidence and severity of hangovers, Braverman said, as will vitamin B6. Take the latter before bed, O'Dell said. "When you consume more alcohol," she said, "you use the restroom more, and that is causing your body to use up the B vitamins faster since they can be excreted in urine." Milk thistle can help detoxify the liver, she continued, and ginger capsules taken before bed and in the morning can help alleviate nausea and upset stomach. Also, D'Alessandro said, borage and prickly pear cactus extract. Head killing you? Take ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, he said, never acetaminophen, like Tylenol, which is safe except in excess. As acetaminophen is processed by the liver, just like alcohol, taking Tylenol while drinking or during a hangover may lead to toxicity build-up. By the way, drinking caffeine won't speed up your recovery, D'Alessandro said. In fact, it might make it worse, as caffeine is a weak diuretic, causing you to eliminate fluids your body needs, adding to dehydration. So when you belly up to the bar the second time, ask for a water. Ask for a lime wedge and a cocktail straw, if you need to feel more festive. Otherwise, you won't feel like partying the next morning. [rc] Jason Ashley Wright E-Mail: jason.wright@tulsaworld.com Copyright © 2010, World Publishing Co.