Hangover is the name given to the heady sensation that follows a heavy alcoholic consumption. Generally, hangovers are felt when the mind returns to its proper faculties, i.e. the intoxication has worn off. Hangovers are felt mostly in the mornings following an alcoholic session the previous night.
Characteristics of Hangover
The general characteristics of hangovers are a feeling of nausea, vomiting, heaviness in the stomach, headache, sensitivity to light and noise, excessive thirst and lethargy. The symptoms may widely vary from one person to another. In people with low resistance to alcohol, there can be diarrheas, fevers and pains in the joints and muscles due to a hangover.
The alcohol that humans normally consume is ethyl alcohol. In its pure form it is a colorless liquid which is very easily miscible in water. For this reason, no sooner does the alcohol hit the stomach than it gets dissolved in the blood stream. The presence of the alcohol in the blood reduces the nervous impulses. This is what leads to the intoxicated feeling when one is drunk. But if the feeling continues until the next morning, then the person will suffer from a hangover.
Just indulging in drinking binges is not enough; it is very essential to know how to tackle a potential hangover. Not only will a hangover spoil the day for you, but it will also wreak havoc on your health. When one drinks, there is a loss of water and essential nutrients from the body. Hence, along with fighting a hangover, the person must also replenish the lost nutrients.
Ayurveda has developed several effective therapies to solve the hangover problem since the time when the maharajas used to drink alcohol. The following are some of the very effective therapies that have been in use:-
- First and foremost, one should never drink on an empty stomach. It is ideal to drink after or with some filling food. That is why the concept of appetizers and starters has arisen. The food to be taken in accompaniment with alcohol must be ideally a fatty food. This will increase the vata and help the body to get prepared for the alcohol better. Even otherwise, the fried food will stick to the inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract and retard the assimilation of alcohol in the blood stream.
- Water is the best natural therapy that can be used to fight a hangover. Ideally, a person must drink as many glasses of water as they have had of the alcoholic drink. The water can be had early in the next morning to assuage the effects of the alcohol.
- Citrus fruits are very beneficial in fighting hangovers. A glass of juice of a fresh orange or lemon, sweetened with sugar is good. Also, bananas are effective. Bananas contain fructose (a carbohydrate which helps the body to regain its lost energy) and potassium, which is one of the nutrients voided by the frequent urination that alcohol causes. Kiwi fruits are also rich in proteins.
- Caffeine and chocolate have positive effects on a hangover. After an alcoholic binge, chomp on a bar of chocolate or drink a cup of coffee. This will help you regain your nerve impulses. Though, too much of coffee could eliminate the nutrients from the body further. Hence, not more than one cup of coffee must be taken.
- The morning after the alcoholic binge, have a breakfast of two sunny-sides up omelettes with bread. Eggs provide energy to the body and build up the protein content. Also, eggs can help remove the accumulated toxins in the body. Have the omelettes with toast so that the bread will also provide the requisite amount of starch.
- If there is constipation in the morning along with the hangover, then any over-the-counter medicine can be taken in order to stop the constipation. Peppermint and chamomile tea can be consumed in order to stop the constipation.
- Ayurveda uses therapies such as cold irrigations on the head (Shirodhara) and applying cold packs on the body to reduce hangovers. These methods have been found to work excellently. Alternatively, cold foods such as ice-creams are also prescribed to people suffering from hangovers.
- Even Sleep is a good remedy for tackling hangover problems. Sleep relaxes your mind and body and also reduces headcahes.
For people who wish to get their hangover problems solved, Ayurveda prescribed the following medicines:-
1. Brihat vata Chintamani rasa, of which 200 milligrams must be taken at bedtime
2. Vata Vidhwansa rasa, to be taken in the same dosage as above
3. Brahmi ghritam, of which 30 ml must be taken at bedtime with milk and
4. Sarvatha choorna, of which 5 grams are to be taken with either bread or milk at bedtime.
Some people combat hangovers by having another peg of the same drink in the morning. How this works is not known, but having some more alcohol helps to reduce the effects of the hangover. However, it is advisable not to go for a strong peg in the morning. Have a mild alcoholic cocktail such as a Bloody Mary or a Virgin Mary. The salty content of these cocktails can reduce the effects of the hangover to a large extent.