Thursday, April 26, 2007

Top 10 Hangover Cures

The morning after the night before. You wake up on the floor of your room in the same clothes you wore last night and you can still taste the remnants of the takeaway you devoured on the way home. Upon opening your eyes you utter the immortal and too often spoken words “I'm never drinking again!”. The promise is made every saturday and sunday morning by anyone who has overindulged themselves the night before and you can gaurantee that as soon as the following weekend comes around these same people will be out drinking themselves into the same state.

Of course I am referring to every drinkers nightmare – The Hangover. It simply drains the energy from you and turns you into a walking zombie.
If like me you suffer with terrible hangovers then never fear because help is at hand. I have prepared a top 10 list of hangover cures and remedies to get you back to your old self as soon as possible with minimal hassle.

Cure Number 1 – The Hair of the Dog.

OK so this is probably not the best way to cure the hangover. The last thing anyone wants to do after a severely heavy night on the town is to go back down the pub. This technique is simply a way of postponing the horror of the hangover by topping up the levels of alcohol already floating about in your bloodstream. This method is commonly used among students and younger drinkers who love to live the party lifestyle but beware it only postpones the inevitable.

Cure Number 2 – Re-hydration

This is a common mistake made among most people. Making sure to take on as much water as possible is one of the best ways to avoid a hangover. Around about 200ml of water per 30ml of alcohol is a good rule of thumb. Usually most people are either too tired or too drunk after their night of drinking and simply collapse when they get home. So make sure you drink lots of water before you go to bed. It may mean several trips to the toilet in the night but believe me its worth it.
Sports drinks are also a good idea. The taste might not always be any good but try and consume as much Lucozade, Powerade and any other “ade” you can find.

Cure Number 3 - Food

If you've got a steaming hangover get over to your local café and order a huge big fry-up.

Protein is a good source of amino acids and a good hearty breakfast has loads, so you'll soon be on the road to recovery.

Actually food is a good idea all round - before, during and immediately after drinking. Food doesn't absorb alcohol, but it does increase metabolism, activates alcohol absorption, and increases the speed with which the body processes alcohol.
You may not be able to keep any food down but as much as it might not feel like it it is helping.

Cure Number 4 – Lots of Rest

Going back to bed is an effective way to help your body regenerate and recover. The reason I say “go back” to bed is because simply staying in bed all day is not a good idea (unless you have found some poor mug to cater for your ever need). Make sure you get up, have something to eat and drink, maybe even have a shower to freshen yourself up. Only then should you consider going back to bed. Wouldn't you much rather be asleep for the pounding headache and the upset stomach?

Cure Number 5 – Don't drink so much in the first place!

I no it seems obvious but its true. Try and think about moderating the amount you drink during the night. Don't be conned by your mates or crack under peer pressure to have that “one more” shot or that “swift pint” before you go home. Make sure you no when you've had enough.

Cure Number 6 – Fresh Air and maybe some exercise.

The second last thing you probably want to do is to crawl out from under your duvet and brave the sunlight. The last thing however would be to do any exercise. However this is good for you as it speeds up your metabolic rate and processes the alcohol quicker. It doesn't have to be anything too strenuous just a simple walk around the block would be fine.

Cure Number 7 – Headache Pills

Some people swear by the notion that taking headache tablets before you go to bed is a great way to prevent a hangover or at least reduce the pain. Wrong! A better idea is to take a couple of headache tablets, preferably ibuprofen based ones, in the morning followed by a big glass of water then head straight back to bed. At least his way your head won't feel as thought there is a Frenchman living in it.

Cure Number 8 – Don't mix your drinks.

A good way to make sure that the hangover from hell doesn't come and invade your skull is to stick to one type of drink. Drinking spirits, lagers, shots and anything else you may get your hands on is not a great idea. Its not big and its not clever.

Cure Number 9 – Banana's

Bananas have sugar in the form of fructose, they also have potassium, which is one of the things you lose a lot of when you've been out getting hammered. Bananas are also a natural antacid which helps with the nausea, and are high in magnesium which can help relax those pounding blood vessels causing that hangover headache.

Cure Number 10 - Tomato's

Tomatoes are full of antioxidants and vitamins and they're healthy so get munching. If you don't like eating tomatoes, drink them in a Bloody Mary. You'll feel better in about 15 minutes.

Bloody Mary

  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • Dash of lemon (or lime) juice
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 or 3 drops Tabasco sauce
  • Pepper, salt and celery salt
  • 5 oz tomato juice
  • Serve in a tall glass over ice

If the idea of more alcohol turns your stomach why not try making a Virgin Mary, it's exactly the same recipe except without the Vodka.

Special Tip Number 11 – The Sauna.

This is a potentially dangerous method of recovery and will involve you having to set some sort of world record for the most glasses of water drunk consecutively. If you and a few friends take a trip down to the local sauna then stay in there for around 10mins (No Longer!) then you will sweat out all the toxins in your body. However you will have to drink as much water as you possibly can because you will obviously be dehydrated to begin with. Beware because there are some nasty side effects of you spending time in this sweaty environment. The place will smell of pure alcohol and sweat and it will not be pleasant.

This is about all the advice I can offer you except for good luck and happy drinking.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Help for That Holiday Hangover Does Not Include Hair of the Dog

Q. During the holidays, I occasionally overdo hot toddies, not to mention champagne on New Year's Eve. What can I do for a morning-after headache?

A. Everyone seems to have a hangover remedy they swear by, such as a cup of coffee, a Virgin Mary or milk. Whether they work, however, is debatable. The surest remedy, of course, is not to overindulge. But if the holiday spirit should prevail, here's what can happen and what to do about it.

Clues to the Cause, But Not the Cure. Scientists have a pretty good idea what causes hangovers. Alcohol dilates blood vessels in the brain (contributing to headaches), acts as a diuretic (causing cotton mouth from dehydration), wreaks havoc with blood sugar (triggering dizziness and fatigue) and is irritating to the intestinal tract (causing stomach upset). Alcohol byproducts, called congeners, also contribute.

Less is known about combating hangovers. The caffeine in coffee may lessen a headache by constricting blood vessels, but it can also cause stomach upset and dehydration. The old adage to drink more "hair of the dog that bit you" (i.e. more alcohol) is the worst advice, says Seymour Diamond, M.D., chairman of the National Headache Foundation. What might help, he says, is honey, a good source of fructose, a sugar that speeds alcohol metabolism.

A recent review concludes that replacing lost fluids is what helps hangovers most. And of the few nutrients scientifically tested, vitamin B6 reduced hangover symptoms by half in one study of 17 people who took 400 milligrams before, during and after drinking.

What about advertised remedies like Hangover Helper? Don't count on them. Most such products combine herbs, vitamins, minerals and other substances to purportedly replace lost nutrients and counter the toxic effects of alcohol. Alcohol does cause nutrient deficiencies in chronic drinkers, but not in the occasional overimbiber.

EN's Bottom Line. The only sure way to prevent a holiday hangover is to abstain. If you do indulge, keep it moderate. Dilute liquor (even wine) with mixers like seltzer, water or juice. Eat something before and during drinking to slow alcohol absorption. Drink extra fluids before going to bed and the next day. Be especially cautious about taking over-the-counter pain relievers after ingesting alcohol: Aspirin and ibuprofen can trigger stomach bleeding; acetaminophen can cause liver damage.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Valerian: Improved Sleep without the Hangover

Two recently published studies add to the growing body of evidence that valerian improves sleep quality without impairing morning performance. The earlier of the two studies examined the influence of valerian treatment on reaction time, alertness and concentration in healthy people. The randomized, controlled, double-blind trial engaged 102 male and female volunteers. The effect was first examined the morning after a single evening dose of valerian root extract (600 mg), flunitrazepam (1 mg) or placebo, and then after two weeks of evening administration of valerian and placebo. The primary criterion was reaction time (RT) measured with the Vienna Determination Test. Secondary criteria included an alertness test, a tracking test (two-handed co-ordination), sleep quality and safety criteria. The single administration of valerian did not impair the reaction abilities, concentration and co-ordination compared to placebo. This was not the case for the flunitrazepam (a benzodiazepine drug) which ca used a deterioration relative to placebo.

Results after 14 days confirmed that there was no difference between valerian and placebo in terms of effect on reaction time and other psychometric test results. There was a trend towards improved sleep quality for valerian over placebo which did not achieve statistical significance. In terms of adverse effects, valerian and placebo were not significantly different.

The second study, published earlier this year was a carefully designed study to assess the short-term (single dose) and long-term (14 days with multiple dosage) effects of a valerian extract on both objective and subjective sleep parameters. The investigation was performed as a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. Sixteen patients (4 male, 12 female) with previously established insomnia were included in the study. The main inclusion criteria were reported primary insomnia, which was confirmed by polysomnographic recording, and the absence of acute diseases. During the study, patients underwent 8 polysomnographic recordings: 2 recordings (baseline and study night) at each time point when the short- and long-term effects of placebo and valerian were tested. The target variable of the study was sleep efficiency. Other parameters describing objective and subjective parameters such as sleep quality, morning feeling, daytime performance, sleep latency (time to fall asleep) and sleep period time, were assessed. After a single dose of valerian, no effects on sleep structure and subjective sleep assessment were observed. After multiple-dose treatment, sleep efficiency showed a significant increase for both placebo and valerian in comparison with baseline polysomnography. However, there were significant differences between valerian and placebo for parameters describing slow-wave sleep (SWS). In comparison with the placebo, slow-wave sleep latency was reduced after administration of valerian (21.3 vs. 13.5 mm respectively, p[less than]0.05). The SWS percentage of time in bed was increased after long-term valerian treatment in comparison to baseline (9.8 vs. 8.1% respectively, p[less than]0.05). A remarkable finding of the study was the extremely low number of adverse events during the valerian treatment periods (3 vs. 18 in the placebo period). The authors concluded that treatment with a valerian extract demonstrated positive effects on the sleep structure and sleep perception of insomnia pat ients and can therefore be recommended for the treatment of patients with mild psychophysiological insomnia.


The sleep quality study revealed two interesting findings which should not surprise natural therapists familiar with the use of valerian. The first is that valerian begins to significantly improve sleep quality only after continuous short-term use. A single dose before bed is unlikely to improve sleep quality (other than a placebo effect); valerian's effect on sleep is a cumulative effect which takes repeated doses over several days. Part of this cumulative effect could be a reduction in stress and anxiety during the day which flows on to improved sleep. The second finding was the remarkable safety of valerian, with much fewer adverse events than placebo. This might have resulted from its anxiolytic influence.

Despite this high safety profile of valerian, it is much maligned in the scientific literature. It is almost as if researchers find it difficult to comprehend that a proven anxiolytic and sleep-promoting agent is free of damaging effects on the nervous system. A case in point is a letter published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. The letter, entitled An assessment of the delayed effects associated with valerian overdose purports to describe 24 cases of overdose of valerian, with symptoms of central nervous system depression and anticholinergic poisoning. One patient required ventilatory support and developed aspiration pneumonia. These are serious findings that will doubtlessly be recirculated in the scientific literature as one example of the "dangers" of taking herbs safely used every day by thousands, if not millions, of people. But a close reading of the letter shows that the culprit was not valerian at all. As well as containing valerian, the product contained the drugs hyoscine hydrobromide and cyproheptadine hydrochloride, which would readily explain the symptoms observed on overdose. Another letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association attributes surprising benzodiazepine-like withdrawal symptoms in one patient to his use of valerian. This contrasts strongly with the findings of controlled clinical trials, such as the two described above.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Need Help To Get Rid Of An Hangover? Here's How

A hangover can be one of the most terrible feelings you ever experience. If you’re badly hungover you don’t want to move, you don’t want to eat, you don’t want to drink, and you really don’t want to go to work. It’s painful, and you want it to stop as soon as possible. “Make it go away,” you mutter, growing even more conscious of the throbbing sound in your head, “just make it stop.”

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best way to deal with a hangover is often not to get one in the first place, which really isn’t too difficult. Of course, you could avoid getting a hangover by not drinking alcohol at all, but many people don’t really see the fun in that. It is not realistic, you might say. If you do plan on consuming alcohol, then take some preventative measures. In other words, prepare for the battle you know you’ll have to face. First of all, don’t go drinking on an empty stomach. If you have food in your stomach it’ll help you absorb the alcohol more slowly, which is generally a good thing if you don’t want to feel terrible the next morning. Also, make sure you’re hydrated, since the majority of the symptoms of a hangover come from merely being dehydrated.

Once you’re out on the town, be cautious with your alcohol choice. Drinks with high sugar content or sulfites (like wine) will probably make you much worse the next morning. Also, it helps if you stick to one drink the entire night; your stomach won’t be as upset as when you gulp down ten different kinds of drinks from Long Island Tea to Sucking Cowboy. Moreover, you’ll probably end up drinking less. Drink water while you are out too in order to try and stave off dehydration.

When you make it back home, drink a big glass of water or two; this is one of the most important prevention steps. Stay away from Tylenol since it’s hard on your stomach and liver if you take it with alcohol, but a multivitamin will probably do you some good.

When you wake up in the morning, hopefully you’ve avoided the worst of a hangover. If you’re still hurting, don’t reach for the coffee nor the Tylenol. To relieve your headache, take a couple of aspirin instead and drink more water, and if you’re still feeling nauseous don’t go to work. Lie if you have to, say you have the stomach flu, since your body is filled with toxins and will take some time to recover. When you can finally eat, something full of vitamins will work wonders, and some people have a lot of luck with fattier foods like hamburgers to help replace nutrients and settle the stomach.

John Wellington provides readers with up-to-date commentaries, articles, and reviews for health, skin care, and other related information.

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