a severe headache or other after effects caused by drinking an excess of alcohol.
Overconsumption. On a basic level we all know how to combat its adverse effects - the clue is in the name people. But if it were that simple then we at Faust’s Potions might as well pack it all in. Thankfully (for universal fun levels) the picture is far more nuanced than that. Get to know the hangover demon well enough and eventually you will become his master.
What Causes Hangovers? The Science Bit
Depending on just how much you managed to imbibe, symptoms may range from fatigue, dry mouth and a nasty headache, to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, depression, confusion or even a case of the shakes. Most of these symptoms are caused by dehydration and the depletion of vitamins (namely A, B6, C and potassium) that occurs because of alcohol’s diuretic effect.
Aside from being deprived of vitamins (and probably sleep) your body is also reacting to the highly unwelcome presence of acetaldehyde in your system, a toxic byproduct of alcohol metabolism in the liver. Your liver can only produce enough enzymes to break down small quantities of acetaldehyde at a time, so after a big night out the toxin build up can make you feel very ill. The stomach also kicks back - as alcohol is absorbed through its lining it produces hydrochloric acid, which in high enough quantities will cause the nerves in the stomach lining to let the brain know that the stomach contents need to be expelled. P.D.Q.
Alcohol is also a depressant, as it inhibits of one of the body’s natural stimulants - glutamine. When you stop drinking the body goes into glutamine production overdrive, something called ‘glutamine rebound’. This will probably coincide with you hitting the hay, so in a sense your body conspires with that devil on your left shoulder to ensure that what little sleep you do get is in no way deep enough to be restorative. Nice.
How to Prevent a Hangover - The Drinking Bit
We at Faust’s Potions are in no position to preach moderation. Yet despite all of the above there are many little known secrets of quaffing heritage that when worked into your drinking schedule will leave you ready for action and fully functional the next day. Here is our guide to preventing hangovers:
- The purity of the alcohol you consume can affect the severity of your hangover. Congeners - what a love-hate relationship that is. Congeners are the impurities found in alcohol, i.e. anything that is not ethanol, and alcohols that are high in them cause the worst hangovers. Clear liquors and white wine are low in congeners, while red wine and dark liquors like whiskey and rum are full of them. As you might have guessed congeners are also responsible for colour and flavour. Major bummer.
- The freshness of alcohol can affect the severity of your hangover. The hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde is a natural product of alcohol oxidation, so don’t be tempted to finish off previously opened bottles of wine.
- Straight up is the way to go as carbonated drinks and a high intake of sucrose whilst drinking will make your hangover much worse. Avoid sugary, fizzy drinks at all costs.
- However, snacking whilst drinking is a great idea. It will help stabilise your blood sugar levels, protect your stomach and keep your metabolism high. Try to take some nuts and crackers with you next time you head out.
- Remember, 1:1 is the golden ratio. Drink one glass of water for every drink you order at the bar, this is by far the most effective trick of them all.
- Stop drinking a few hours before you go to bed, and make the most of that glutamine rebound!
- Can women drink as much as men? Despite common protestations and attempts to demonstrate the contrary the answer is a firm no. Women have less acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and glutathione in their livers and so it takes longer for their bodies to break down alcohol. Fact.
How to Cure a Hangover - with Faust’s Potions' Hangover Remedies
We at Faust’s Potions are experts in having your cake and eating it too. That’s why our founder, Nina Faust, created two all natural herbal hangover potions - to help bon viveurs get the most out of life, 24/7. Both delicious vials can be diluted in water to help you reabsorb those much needed fluids.
Asleep Potion - A Before-Bed Hangover Tincture
- Honey - which is high in fructose, a source of energy that rebalances blood sugar levels. It is absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly than the sucrose found in sugar, and is better for you. Fructose has also been proven to help the body speed the expulsion of toxins.
- 5HTP (5hydroxytryptophane) - helps replenish serotonin levels. Taken before bed it can improve sleep and relaxation and fight the effects of the ‘glutamine rebound’ mentioned above.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine - an amino acid and powerful antioxidant that neutralises the toxin acetaldehyde. It provides partial protection against the short-term (hangover) and long-term (degenerative disease) effects of alcohol consumption.
- Electrolytes - help rehydrate the body and replace lost minerals.
Awake Potion - An On-Rising Hangover Formula
- N-Acetyl Cysteine - see above.
- Electrolytes - see above.
- Green Tea - a powerful antioxidant which has been known to protect the liver against excessive alcohol consumption.
- Guarana - contains caffeine to fight fatigue, acts as a minor painkiller and can help settle the stomach.
- Ginseng - an adaptogenic herb, is known to increase energy, has some anti-fatigue components, relieves stress and increase memory.
- B Vitamins - to replenish those lost through drinking. B vitamins are essential for the correct functioning of the nervous system and brain and so can help ease the jitters and feelings of confusion.
- Vitamin C - an antioxidant that helps minimise tissue damage and hangover discomfort. Alcohol also depresses the immune system, so vitamin C can help ward off colds and flu after drinking.
The Awake Potion can also be used as a pick-me-up before you head out. It is recommended that you use the Potions in conjunction (the Asleep Potion before bed and the Awake Potion on rising) to maximise their hangover minimising effects. Both potions are available from our online shop.
How to Cure a Hangover - by Comfort Feasting on Kitchen Remedies
Restorative feasting is the most enjoyable aspect of every hangover but it can be easy to make the problem worse. Follow us on Pinterest for recipes that will push every button without clogging your system. Below are our favourite hangover curing ingredients and recipes.
Kitchen Remedies for Hangovers:
- Eggs - high in cysteine which breaks down the hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde.
- Bananas - high in potassium (which is lost through the vitamin depleting effects of drinking alcohol).
- Fruit Juice - high in fructose (just like our Asleep Potion ), a vital energy source that speeds the expulsion of toxins from the body.
Recipes for Preventing Hangovers:
Studies have shown that eating a meal with a relatively high fat content before drinking alcohol can help prevent a hangover. Fats stick to the stomach lining, thereby protecting it and slowing alcohol absorption, allowing the body more time to process the toxic byproducts that build up in the liver. Below are our favourite pre-party dinners:
Recipes for Curing Hangovers:
Despite what your cravings might tell you, fatty foods will not help your body to recover from a hangover; they slow down detoxification and may irritate the stomach further. Lighter/fresher ingredients will provide you with a quicker energy boost and help replenish the vitamins lost through drinking. Below are some quick and easy morning-after recipes with healing properties that will really hit the spot:
- All Day I Dream About Food’s Avocado Green Tea Power Shake
- Mind Body Green’s 3 Ingredient Cookie Dough Bites
- Mind Body Green’s Wilted Kale with Horseradish Sauce
- Gourmantine’s Sauerkraut Hangover Soup
- Rasa Malaysia’s Kimchee Fried Rice with Egg
So there you have it, Faust’s Potions’ comprehensive guide to hangover prevention and remedies. You are well on your way to partying like a pro. Remember to drink responsibly and have fun out there night owls! May the farce be with you.