Hangover Cure

Although my lifestyle is extremely clean during the week, I’m no ascetic. The pleasures of alcohol are no strangers.

But I refuse to let an enjoyable Friday night ruin my entire Saturday. I researched the medical literature for hangover cures and devised one after experimenting on myself and my friends.

The medical research is sparse: “More than 4700 articles have been written about alcohol intoxication since 1965, but only 108 have addressed alcohol hangover.” – Jeffrey G. Wiese, MD, The Alcohol Hangover.

Much of the literature explored the effect of a hangover rather than a hangover cure. “It is evident that awareness needs to be raised that performance the morning after alcohol consumption is at the same level if not worse than when participants are at the legal limit for driving (0.08% blood alcohol concentration).”

Science supports two supplements that mitigate hangovers. The first is the common aspirin, taken before a night of drinking. “Prostaglandins may be involved in several acute or short-term reactions caused by alcohol. Chlorpropamide-alcohol flush, alcoholintolerance and hangover are effectively alleviated by a prophylactic use of PG-inhibitors.” Aspirin is a PG-inhibitor.

The second is vitamin B6, in pyridoxine/pyritinol form (iHerb; Amazon):

Prophylactic vitamin B6 (pyritinol) reduced the number of hangover symptoms by approximately 50% in one study (57). Seventeen men and women attended two parties and were asked to drink the alcoholic beverage of their choice until intoxicated. Fifty percent of participants received 1200 mg of vitamin B6 (400 mg at the beginning of the party, 400 mg 3 hours later, and 400 mg at the party’s conclusion), and 50% received placebo. At the second party, participants received the alternate tablet. A survey instrument of 20 symptoms was used to assess hangover severity. On a scale of 1 to 10, the mean symptom score (±SD) was 3.2 ± 2.8 with pyritinol and 6.8 ± 3.8 with placebo (P < 0.01). The mechanism of this effect is unknown.

Unfortunately, that’s about all the science there is.

But I devised my own cure through the guidance of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and stoic philosopher who advised: “Look to the essence of a thing, whether it be a point of doctrine, of practice, or of interpretation.”

What’s the essence of a hangover?

The essence of a hangover is intoxication. We use intoxicated and drunk synonymously for that very reason.

What organ is responsible for detoxification? The answer is the liver. How does the liver detoxify your body? By using glutathione.

Thus to mitigate or prevent a hangover, we need to ensure that the body has adequate stores of glutathione.

Direct supplementation of glutathione is ineffective. However, you can increase glutathione levels by supplementing with a potent glutathione precursor called N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (N-A-C sustain).

Alpha lipoic acid is another powerful detoxifying agent. In Germany it’s approved for the treatment of liver disease. A practical assay of lipoate in biologic fluids and liver in health and disease.

Alpha lipoic acid regulates blood sugar as well, which probably prevents the blood sugar crash that seems to accompany a hangover. For whatever reason, alpha lipoic acid prevents hangovers.

So here’s what I take before going out:

3 N-A-C Sustain;
1 Super Lipoic Acid;
1 B Complex.

(Although aspirin may help, my hangover cure is so effective that I don’t feel the need to add it.)

As long as I’m able to sleep in, I wake up without any hangover symptoms.

Some of you may feel tricked. “That’s not a hangover cure. That’s a prevention.” Exactly.

Three thousand years ago, the youngest of three physician brothers was asked why he was a better doctor than his two older brothers. Thuis put the young man in a precarious situation, since in China is disrespectful to elevate yourself over your elders.

The young doctor explained:

“My first brother heals sickness before it even develops, so his methods appear hidden, his science is an art form and he is known only within our village. My second brother deals with illnesses while they are minor, preventing sickness from getting worse and returning the body to health. I deal with sicknesses when they have reached the level of disease and threaten to destroy the organism of which they are a part. This requires numerous medicines, and skill and knowledge in their use. For this reason my name has become famous throughout the kingdom and I have been asked to be physician to the king. Yet my first brother has the knowledge to deal with sicknesses before they arise and my second brother is able to treat them at an early stage and prevent them getting worse. Though my fame has spread throughout the land, their knowledge is greater.

[Save $10 (coupon code EKO606) in your first order at iHerb that is over $40; save $5 on all other orders. Free shipping on most orders, including international orders.]

  • D

    How much of each do you take? Great article. Thanks.

    • http://www.gvictor.wordpress.com G VIC


  • http://flyfreshandyoung.wordpress.com FFY

    Sounds enticing.

    My college biology teacher once stated (during our cell membrane diffusion and osmosis section) that the feelings of a hangover are largely a result of dehydration, and that the best cure was pure water, way moreso than any liquids with stuff in it due to the principle of diffusion across a membrane. So every morning after I get hammered I drink shit loads of water and it works.

    But I like this. Solves the problem, before it becomes a problem.

    • http://dangerandplay.wordpress.com dangerandplay

      “About half of the participants (56.1%, n = 791) reported having had a hangover during the past month. Most commonly reported and most severe hangover symptoms were fatigue (95.5%) and thirst (89.1%). Factor analysis revealed 11 factors that together account for 62% of variance. The most prominent factor ‘drowsiness’ (explained variance 28.8%) included symptoms such as drowsiness, fatigue, sleepiness and weakness. The second factor ‘cognitive problems’ (explained variance 5.9%) included symptoms such as reduced alertness, memory and concentration problems. Other factors, including the factor ‘disturbed water balance’ comprising frequently reported symptoms such as ‘dry mouth’ and ‘thirst’, contributed much less to the overall hangover (explained variance <5%).
      Drowsiness and impaired cognitive functioning are the two dominant features of alcohol hangover.

  • http://gravatar.com/peterthephoenix Peter Phoenix

    What is your opinion on the gmanifesto hangover cure?

  • Fuckaire

    Two Emergen-C’s + Liter of water after drinking. One beer the morning after.

  • thor jackson

    Very nice write up. I’ve found that when I eat paleo and only drink straight liqour no chaser I rarely get hangovers. When I start drinking mixed drinks and beers and end the night at some bs pizza place I wake up feeling like shit. I have also found that taking a bath in epsom salt followed by a cold shower in the morning helps as well. Sometimes I go for a run as well to sweat out the toxins. Peace bros.

    • MadMav

      I agree my hangovers have gone way down with paleo diet. Using tonic water with vodka also reduces the suger intake of most mixed drinks.

  • B.

    This, and things like the link to the McGonigal willpower book, is what I come here for. Pickup lines and body language are what newbies want, but underneath it all: when your life is better and you know how to get the best out of yourself, you have more and hotter women.

    And Roissy is a wise guy I hope they teach him in schools one day, but what the hell with all his weird right wing political ranting?

    Thanks for this stuff that makes our lives better.

  • Cesare

    I used to take a B mega vitamin and 4 aspirin when I got back, usually laid out in advance in discreet location. But while the B really toned down the hangover, I also tended to wake up still drunk which sort of violated my rules about being able to function next day regardless. I have had the same experience as Thor with the Paleo diet in terms of hangovers being much milder to non-existent.

  • http://www.drinkpregame.com/ Dan Clarke

    I love drinking alcohol. But when I drink in excess it leaves a terrible hangover which I hate. I search for remedies all the time. I will try this and see whether it works.

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  • Lamarsh

    The most important principal you point out here is the fact that a hangover is caused by several different things. I think that’s the best thing to communicate to people who are trying to understand a hangover. Sometimes you only have a headache, and sometimes you don’t, but you’re entire body hurts and you are vomiting the following morning. Do you agree that there are several different “types” of hangovers? My observation on hangovers, which I have an expansive experience with, is that they are mainly the result of dehydration and poisoning which alcohol causes on your body (which directly translates to nutrient imbalance and deprivation). This is all processed through the liver, like any other reaction to poison.

    The dehydration prong is easily addressed by hydration, of course. Water can never steer you wrong, but my new thing is coconut water, and I swear by it. Have any of you used this for hangover prevention and treatment? One liter before I go to bed drunk, and another liter the following morning. This alone works wonders on my hangovers. Coconut water is high in electrolytes such as potassium, and is low in sugar as compared to other drinks such as Gatorade. I think it’s even higher in electrolytes than Gatorade.

    My personal remedy for tackling the poisonous effects of alcohol is to try to supplement my body’s nutrients, which D&P hits on nicely. I haven’t tried N-A-C Sustain or Super Lipoic Acid, but I surely will. Always open to new things. I usually take down one Vitamin B complex before going out, and try to remember to take another one before bed. I think this helps. If you ever take those 5-Hour energy drinks as a pick-me-up before heading out, or to wake up the following morning, those are also loaded with Vitamin B.

    I haven’t taken aspirin for hangovers, and I avoid Acetaminophen like the plague. Acetaminophen is like poison in your body if you take it while your liver is oxidizing alcohol, so I avoid things like Tylenol, etc. I’ve always had a lot of success with 2-3 200mg Ibuprophen tablets. It’s arguably the easiest OTC painkiller on your stomach, and doesn’t have the same harmful effects as Acetaminophen when mixed with booze. It’s a very effective anti-inflammatory, so it can also alleviate some of those unidentifiable injuries that you may incur while out on the town.

    Another thing I’ve observed for hangovers, and this is not always easy to do, is that your hangover recuperation is always sped up if you are active. While laying in bed with your AC blasting and your lights out and your shades closed is tempting, and sometimes feels like the only thing you can do to avoid wanting to die, it actually slows the recovery process down quite a bit. Your body needs to active in order to maximize the speed at which it processes toxins such as alcohol. That’s why we always feel better, after laying in bed for 2 hours after waking up, after we take that first shower or after walking a few blocks to the local breakfast joint. Nobody’s saying we have to get up and hit the gym, but something as small as a 15 minute walk can make all the difference in the world when you compare it to a day in bed.