Han­govers – how to lessen the pain

The best way to lessen the pain is to avoid over in­dulging in al­co­hol, but for many of us we learn the hard way!

Living Now - - Front Page - By San­dra Cabot

If you have a few too many, you will of­ten for­get how many drinks you have im­bibed as your de­fences are weak­ened – but you will re­mem­ber the next morn­ing!

Your liver is the pri­mary site for al­co­hol break­down (me­tab­o­lism). In the liver, al­co­hol is detox­i­fied through a process called ox­i­da­tion. Ox­i­da­tion pre­vents the al­co­hol from ac­cu­mu­lat­ing and de­stroy­ing your cells and body or­gans. A healthy liver ox­i­dises pure al­co­hol (ethanol) at the rate of about 10ml per hour, which is less than 30ml of hard liquor.

Once al­co­hol is in your blood stream, your body makes get­ting rid of it the top pri­or­ity. Thus it will stop metabolis­ing any­thing else in or­der to first get the al­co­hol metabolised. The rea­son for this is that, whereas pro­tein, car­bo­hy­drates, and fat have some­where to be stored in your body, there is nowhere for al­co­hol – so it has be metabolised first.

Those who choose to drink al­co­holic bev­er­ages should do so sen­si­bly and in mod­er­a­tion – de­fined as the con­sump­tion of up to one stan­dard drink per day for women and up to two stan­dard drinks per day for men.

Why do han­govers oc­cur?

Al­co­hol me­tab­o­lism all hap­pens in the liver! If your liver is work­ing nor­mally, this process works ef­fi­ciently, giv­ing the ac­etalde­hyde only a short amount of time to dam­age cells if only safe amounts of al­co­hol are con­sumed.

BUT – the liver’s stores of glu­tathione rapidly run out if large amounts of al­co­hol are con­sumed quickly. This causes the toxic ac­etalde­hyde to build up in the body for long pe­ri­ods of time. Much more dam­age oc­curs to your cells, es­pe­cially in your liver, kid­neys and brain. Your liver can re­pair it­self. How­ever the brain is less able to re­store se­verely dam­aged brain cells.

The break­down of ac­etalde­hyde is cru­cial to avoid­ing short- and longterm dam­age from al­co­hol ex­cess. For ex­am­ple, stud­ies where the en­zyme ac­etalde­hyde de­hy­dro­ge­nase (which breaks down ac­etalde­hyde) is blocked with a drug called ‘Antabuse’, showed that the re­sult­ing ac­etalde­hyde tox­i­c­ity caused such se­vere headaches and vom­it­ing that even al­co­holics were wary of their next drink. Antabuse is a drug pre­scribed by doc­tors to fight al­co­holism.

Fe­males have less tol­er­ance to al­co­hol be­cause they have less ac­etalde­hyde de­hy­dro­ge­nase and less glu­tathione in their liver. Thus they can get worse han­govers than men be­cause it takes longer for the body to break down the al­co­hol.

Strate­gies to pre­vent a hang­over BE­FORE DRINK­ING Hy­drate

It is wise to drink plenty of wa­ter be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter drink­ing al­co­hol. Be­fore go­ing to bed drink two large glasses of wa­ter and do the same again on aris­ing the morn­ing af­ter.

Wa­ter is the most im­por­tant thing, but it works even bet­ter if you add the juice of a lime or lemon. Add a tea­spoon of high strength mag­ne­sium pow­der to the wa­ter to pre­vent the headache and mus­cle pain and cramps. The most ef­fec­tive mag­ne­sium pow­ders con­tain sev­eral types of mag­ne­sium, and no mag­ne­sium ox­ide, as these are bet­ter utilised by the body, and con­tain ap­prox­i­mately 400mg el­e­men­tal mag­ne­sium per dose.

Eat­ing fatty foods be­fore you go out to party

Eat­ing fatty foods be­fore drink­ing can re­duce chances of a hang­over. Putting any food in the stom­ach prior to drink­ing al­co­hol helps to pre­vent a hang­over. Fatty foods in par­tic­u­lar take longer to digest and there­fore slow down the ab­sorp­tion of al­co­hol into the blood­stream. This gives the body more time to process the al­co­hol and will in­crease your chances of feel­ing rea­son­able the morn­ing af­ter.

DUR­ING Drink in mod­er­a­tion

Ideally limit your­self to one stan­dard drink per hour be­cause the body takes about an hour to process a stan­dard sin­gle drink.

Mix your drinks with le­mon­ade, other soft drinks or wa­ter, or add a lot of ice Drink one or two glasses of wa­ter af­ter every al­co­holic bev­er­age

This will keep you well hy­drated and give your liver more time to process the al­co­hol and di­lute the tox­ins. As a pre­ven­tion method, drink­ing a glass of wa­ter for every al­co­holic bev­er­age slows down drink­ing, pro­vid­ing more time for the body to deal with the al­co­hol

Watch your drink choice

Drinkers gen­er­ally fare bet­ter when they stick with one type of drink. Each new type of al­co­hol a drinker im­bibes makes the body work that much harder and puts that many more tox­ins in the body, lead­ing to a more se­vere hang­over.

AF­TER DRINK­ING Be­fore bed

Take a good liver tonic that con­tains milk this­tle, turmeric, B group vi­ta­mins and se­le­nium to help sup­port your liver to re­cover and detox­ify your body.

Take vi­ta­min C 1,000mg to get rid of the rest of the tox­ins and re­duce in­flam­ma­tion.

In the morn­ing

Take the liver tonic again to help sup­port your liver to re­cover and detox­ify your body. Take an­other dose of vi­ta­min C 1,000mg.

Make a raw veg­etable juice – in­clude or­ange, lemon, lime, pineap­ple, gin­ger, car­rot, cab­bage and some green herbs such as mint and pars­ley.

If you feel like it, eat break­fast – in­clude some scram­bled eggs as they con­tain sul­phur-bear­ing amino acids such as cys­teine and me­thio­n­ine. In­clude a ba­nana for ex­tra potas­sium. Keep in mind that caf­feinated cof­fee and tea will fur­ther de­hy­drate you, al­though it can re­duce a pound­ing vas­cu­lar headache.

‘ Hair of the dog’

Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, more of the ‘hair of the dog that bit you’ only de­lays the in­evitable. One of the rea­sons han­govers are so un­pleas­ant is the liver is still pro­cess­ing the tox­ins left over from al­co­hol me­tab­o­lism. Drink­ing more al­co­hol can make the symp­toms seem to lessen at first but will only make the sit­u­a­tion worse once the liver breaks the al­co­hol down, be­cause it will have even more tox­ins to deal with.

The next day, try to get straight back to your reg­u­lar healthy diet. Many peo­ple crave high sugar and high salt foods af­ter a night of drink­ing, and this is a com­mon symp­tom of adrenal gland ex­haus­tion. Drink­ing al­co­hol is very stress­ful to your body and it de­pletes your body of sev­eral vi­ta­mins and min­er­als; par­tic­u­larly B vi­ta­mins, vi­ta­min C and mag­ne­sium. Aim to eat lots of fresh veg­eta­bles the next day, along with high qual­ity pro­tein and fat.

Take care of your liver as it is work­ing 24 hours, 7 days a week to pro­tect you. Your liver is the cleanser and fil­ter of your blood­stream, breaks down tox­ins so they can be elim­i­nated and man­u­fac­tures pro­teins es­sen­tial to life. The liver stores pre­cious vi­ta­mins and is also the ma­jor fat burn­ing or­gan in your body. n Dr San­dra Cabot grad­u­ated with hon­ours in Medicine and Surgery from the Univer­sity of Ade­laide in 1975. She is a pilot and uses her plane to work for the An­gel Flight Char­ity. Dr Cabot has ac­tive med­i­cal prac­tices in Cam­den, Ade­laide and Mer­im­bula in Aus­tralia.

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