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Top 5 Hangover Hacks: Effective Tips and Supplements for Fast Relief

Here we have it. “I am never going to drink again”, you said once upon a time. And it happened now. Probably everyone has uttered those words in great discomfort at least once before.
As alcohol is quite deeply engraved in western society, it’s difficult to completely shut it out.
Telling a Frenchman to never drink again would probably even be a disgrace and insult.

When I drink, I get incredibly sick the next day. A lot more than most people around me.
Either because everyone else is much tougher than me and I am just soft. Or because my body simply reacts differently than most other people’s bodies. The tolerance just seems a lot lower for me. It certainly makes a difference what I drank. When I just drank a few beers, I may have low anxiety, diarrhea, brain fog and multiple other minor symptoms.
When I drink more or stronger alcohol, I’ll get shivers, strong digestion problems, headaches, panic attacks, visual focus issues and many more horrible symptoms that I do not wish on anyone.
This is also why I tend to stay away from alcohol altogether and try to drink not more frequently than once a month, if at all. But still, there are occasions when it happens.

Over the years I’ve tried a lot to counteract this and I’ve tried a lot of the common tips. Drink raw eggs, drink slowly, eat greasy stuff, drink 2 liters of water before going to sleep. You’ve probably heard these as well. While some of these may help, most of them are utter bullshit.

This article focussed on what I’ve found that actually are so called hangover cures that helps to recover as quickly as possible from an alcohol hangover, what a full hangover cure is exactly, and what happens in the body.
I will list actual remedies, supplements and a few hacks that boost the recovery process tremendously in my opinion and make life less intolerable on those hangover days.

In my opinion hangover’s are to be taken as seriously as actual medical conditions, because they are one. The whole “toughen up, be a man and just get going” only goes as far.
So in case you’re laying in bed right now, looking up alcohol hangover cures and recovery tips because you’re desperate, this article should help out a bit.

A few of the tips you’re probably rolling your eyes at, because they are quite obvious. But you may take a few golden nuggets out of a few.
Everything in this article is my bro-science opinion and should definitely not be taken as medical advice.

Hangover hacks – short answer

Hangovers are caused by dehydration, toxic metabolite accumulation (acetaldehyde), vitamin and mineral depletion, inflammatory responses, and disrupted sleep due to excessive alcohol consumption.

Immediate Relief Tricks:

  • Prioritize adequate sleep to mitigate alcohol’s impact on sleep quality and hangover severity.
  • Rebalance electrolytes lost due to alcohol’s diuretic effect. Useful interventions include:
    • Eating potassium-rich foods (Bananas, Potatoes, Spinach)
    • Drinking hydrating beverages (Cranberry juice, Orange juice, Herbal tea)
  • Counteracting Anxiety and GABA Imbalance: Manage psychological discomfort using:
    • Supplements like Phenibut for GABA system stabilization.
    • Natural remedies (Magnesium, L-Theanine, Melatonin).
    • Physical Activities:
  • Take a walk or have a cold shower to enhance mood and blood circulation.
  • Liver Stimulation:
    • Consuming glucose-rich foods
    • Avoiding additional liver stressors
  • Focus on foods and drinks that aid in rebuilding electrolyte balance and easing nausea, such as:
    • Herbal teas (especially ginger and honey-based)
    • Fruits like watermelon and bananas
    • Yogurt, eggs, and salty foods like bacon
  • Supplements for Recovery: Include B Vitamin Complex, Magnesium Glycinate, Phenibut, and NAC to replenish nutrients and support recovery.

Understanding Hangovers

A hangover is a complex and multifaceted condition that typically follows the excessive consumption of alcohol, understood scientifically as the body’s reaction to the toxic effects of alcohol and its metabolites. By excessive consumption, it’s just meant too much alcohol. That already counts as excesive or excessive drinking anyway. At its core, a hangover manifests due to ethanol – the primary ingredient in alcoholic beverages – which acts as a diuretic, leading to increased urine production and, consequently, dehydration. This dehydration is one of the primary causes of hangover symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and dry mouth.

Furthermore, as the liver metabolizes ethanol, it produces acetaldehyde, a toxic by-product more harmful than alcohol itself. Acetaldehyde’s buildup contributes significantly to the hangover experience, causing symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sweating. Another critical aspect of alcohol poisoning is the depletion of essential vitamins and minerals, notably B vitamins and electrolytes, due to the diuretic effect of alcohol, further exacerbating hangover nausea and feelings of fatigue and weakness.

Additionally, alcohol induces inflammatory responses from the immune system, contributing to cognitive deficits like memory problems, decreased attention, and sensitivity to light and sound. Alcohol also disrupts sleep patterns and overall sleep quality, leading to grogginess and lethargy. Factors such as congeners – substances other than alcohol found in drinks – can also influence the severity of a hangover, with darker liquors generally causing more severe hangovers due to their higher congener content.

Genetic variations in alcohol-metabolizing enzymes play a role in how individuals experience hangovers, with some people being more susceptible than others. While research continues to unveil the complexities of hangovers, it’s clear that they represent a multi-pronged physiological challenge, encompassing dehydration, toxic effects, immune response, and metabolic disturbances, all contributing to the undesirable physical symptoms commonly experienced after excessive alcohol consumption.

Immediate Relief Tricks

1. Sleep

I know it sounds incredibly dull, but sleep should be one’s number one priority when having an alcohol hangover.
Oftentimes, when drinking alcohol, one also goes to bed late. This usually highly exaggerates the alcohol withdrawal symptoms by a ten fold.
Sleep deprivation – especially if you’re under 6 hours of consecutive, high quality sleep – makes it incredibly difficult for your brain to create homeostasis (biological balance).
Aim to get in 9 hours of full sleep. This is probably the biggest influencer in how bad you perceive the symptoms of a hangover as.
Oftentimes this is easier written than actually done. Alcohol, through its conversion into Acetaldehyde and later into Acetic Acid, puts a lot of stress on your body. This leads to lighter and less regenerative sleep.

A further stressor is your basal body temperature. This goes along with your usual sleep rhythm. The body temperature minimum is around two hours before one wakes up on average.
Let’s say you went to bed at 3:00 am after a rough night. Usually you wake up at 7:00 am.
Your body now is completely confused and after two hours of sleep prepares for waking you up through adrenaline and cortisol building up in your adrenal gland and cortex.

A few tips on how assure most beneficial sleep:

1. Shut your room as dark as possible
2. Go to the toilet before going to bed
3. Open the window for fresh oxygen
4. If you live somewhere loud: use ear plugs or actually close the windows (30dB already decrease sleep quality)
5. Do NOT drink a ton of water when coming home. Rather drink herbal tea. Merely drinking water will not hydrate you and will only make you pee during the night.

What can I do if I can’t sleep more?

Now, you went to sleep drunk, woke up with only a few hours of sleep and can’t get back to sleep. Damn. What can you do?

First of all, should you not be able to continue to sleep – don’t even try to fall back to sleep.

a) Take a walk: Taking a 15+ minute walk already significantly decreases the effects of Cortisol in your bloodstream and therefore simply decreases the stress levels.
It also stabilizes your circulation and has a calming effect on your mind.

b) Drink herbal tea or broth. Anything without caffeine or a lot of sugar, but not water precisely if possible. This is important because it doesn’t just flush through, but actually helps to stabilize your electrolyte levels and hydrates. Also, in most herbal tea you’ll find plants like chamomile or lavender, which have a calming effect and perhaps even make you sleepy in combination with the hot water. Herbal teas are also great if your stomach is problematic.

c) Now that you’ve metabolized cortisol and adrenaline in your bloodstream and hydrated a bit, try to get back to sleep. It now highly depends if you still have alcohol in your blood. I would encourage you to do a rough estimation of remaining blood alcohol with a calculator like this.

If your remaining blood alcohol is below 0.001% (meaning you’re sober), I would take something like Phenibut (described later) or over the counter sleep medication like Doxylamine Succinate.
Seriously make sure that the blood alcohol levels are below 0.001%, otherwise you risk serious health issues. The mentioned substances interact directly with your cerebellum, cross the blood brain barrier and have negative interaction with alcohol.

If the remaining blood alcohol is above 0.001%, you’ll have to work with natural remedies and wait for sobering up. What’s very useful here is taking Magnesium, L-Theanine, or Melatonin. Those can be greatly combined with NSDR (Non-Sleep-Deep-Rest), which resets your nervous system and will allow easier falling asleep.
If this still doesn’t work, I personally try Wim Hof Breating. This also reduces upcoming anxiety.

Should you have reached the mark of about nine hours of actual sleep, you will most likely already feel a lot better.

2. Electrolyte Balance

Should you have slept enough, the next priority should be to help your body with balancing electrolytes and attaining adequate hydration levels. It’s a common misconception, but just drinking water doesn’t help. It might even make it worse, as it helps flushing out minerals and electrolytes. Dehydration with an alcohol hangover is usually what causes the strong headaches.
There are multiple reasons for alcohol causing an electrolyte imbalance. The major reason is that alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you have to urinate more often.
Further, alcohol has a dehydrating effect, which leads to flushing out electrolytes even more.
This is due to its effect on ADH (antidiuretic hormone) and the inhibition of Vasopressin. This again is responsible for regulating water retention in the body.

Electrolytes – such as sodium, potassium, iodine and magnesium – are responsible for many crucial processes in the body. A balance between them is what’s important.

What’s useful in order to stabilize the electrolyte balance?

Eat something small containing a lot of potassium. These foods usually are also easy on your stomach: Bananas, Potatoes or Spinach.

In order to reset your electrolyte balance, you will need electrolytes but also enough water.
The best drinks for me are: (pure) cranberry juice, orange juice or herbal tea.
Cranberry juice contains a lot of iodine, which tends to be forgotten.
This in conjunction with a lot of water and a small, salty meal should already do wonders.
On top I’d drink multiple liters of herbal tea.

When it comes to food, you do not crave greasy and salty food for no reason on these hungover debt-collection days. Your body is trying to push you to balance your electrolytes.
Usually on these days you’re not in the mood to throw a Jamie Oliver in your kitchen. Most likely neither personality-wise, or food-wise.
Therefore, try to get something high quality and not too much. A small meal should already do the trick.
Eggs with cheese and mashed potatoes, high quality frozen pizza or similar. Something that’s dirty, but not too dirty.

3. Counteracting Anxiety and GABA Imbalance

My biggest issue when having drunk alcohol the day before is the psychological side. I feel like the world is living hell and nothing really seems to help with this. It’s a mix of feeling really sad for no reason and “panicky” without a direct stimulus. I can just say that this is incredibly uncomfortable and one of the main reasons why I rarely drink alcohol.
My theory is that it may have to do with a sensitive GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) system. The GABA system is responsible for relaxation and cools your brain in simple terms. Alcohol has a huge effect on the GABA system, alongside multiple other medicines and substances. This is also why alcohol tends to have a care-free, anxiolytic effect.

Many people tend to take Benzodiazepines in these situations in order to alleviate hangover symptoms. This is drugs like Valium, Travor, Alprazolam, Lorazepam and many others. Unfortunately, these medicines are highly addictive and often misused. Also, from my experience they also produce their own many hangover symptoms a couple of days later, even if taken in homeopathic doses.
A good friend of mine once tilted my head towards a supplement called Phenibut. In most European countries it’s completely legal and you can buy it on Amazon.
Phenibut was originally developed in Russia as a sleeping aid and drug to treat ADHD. Today it’s sometimes used in order to enhance strength lifting performance, treat anxiety and just used as a supplement. Some people even prescribe it a neuroprotective effect, when taken in small doses. Phenibut has an effect on the GABA-B receptors and acts as a Agonist, mimicking our human GABA neurotransmitters. This leads to a calming and anxiolytic effect.
For me personally, this is the perfect medication for hangovers. It doesn’t give me any hangovers, makes me sleep better, relieves the anxiety and is freely available over the counter.
I neither recommend this to anyone else nor claim medical authority. This whole article just represents my personal experience.

4. Take a Walk… or a Cold Shower

Either or ideally both of those will have a positive effect when having a bad hangover.
Taking a walk provides many different positive benefits.

Through the increased blood flow of taking a walk, one enhances nutrient and oxygen support to the cells. Also, toxins (such as alcohol) will be transported out quicker. Especially after a meal, a ten minute walk has shown to decrease insulin response by up to 40%.
A simple walk, just like a cold shower, will also give you a boost in endorphins. These are natural painkillers and can help the perception of pain and hangover symptoms like headache or body aches. At the same time, cortisol and adrenaline will be metabolized quicker as mentioned before. This overall leads to an elevated mood and better state of mind.
There are many other benefits to taking a 15 minute walk (or longer), especially after drinking.

5. Pushing the Liver

Now we’re really approaching bro-science levels.
Alcohol, as described earlier, is mainly metabolized in the liver. First it’s converted into Acetaldehyde and afterwards into Acetic Acid. In order to speed up this recovery process it seems important to stimulate the liver. This can for example be done by glucose. I do this by drinking fruit juice or eating fruit multiple times throughout the day. As outlined in my article about the Ray Peat diet, fructose in combination with glucose doesn’t require a pancreas response and stimulates liver function.

Furthermore, it’s not just important to stimulate the liver function, but also to be aware of stressors. The most common stressor on hangover days, next to alcohol, is ingesting pain relieving medication. Especially those metabolized by the liver. This pain reliever, is for example Paracetamol.

Technically, coffee is supposed to have a protective effect on the liver. Try to only have one drink of coffee, once your sleep debt has been paid.

What else can be done to stimulate the liver to speed up alcohol production?

Well, everything I’ve already mentioned. Exercise (walking counts), adequate hydration and less stress – meaning enough sleep.

Dietary Hacks

A simple list of foods, that’s useful to eat when having a hangover:

  • Bananas
  • Eggs
  • Potatoes
  • Red meats (to restore B Vitamins)
  • Spinach
  • Fruits (Watermelon, Bananas best)
  • Cranberries
  • Yoghurt
  • Salty foods like Hering or Bacon

All of these support in rebuilding electrolyte balance (most of them are high in potassium or iodine), are probiotic and good on the upset stomach, and may relieve nausea and feeling ill.

Natural Hangover Remedies

Herbal Teas: Types and benefits (e.g., ginger tea for nausea)

My personal favorite, especially when combined with ginger and honey.
Ginger has an anti-nausea effect, honey gives boosting blood sugar, and herbal tea usually includes herbs like chamomile, lavender and thyme.

Orange Juice and Cranberry Juice

Those two are quite high in Vitamin C, contain good amounts of Potassium and Iodine.
For people with rather weak stomachs, those two are to be kept in moderation as they’re high in acidity.

Coconut water

Unfortunately, I can’t drink this one. It seems that I have an allergy or at least a strong intolerance towards coconut water.
For other people this seems to be an excellent choice to hydrate. It contains all three main electrolytes like sodium, potassium and magnesium, antioxidants and is rather calorie friendly, for those a care.

Supplements for Hangover Recovery

What would this article be without a list of useful supplements?
As outlined previously already there are a bunch of useful supplements that can help recover as fast as possible from an alcohol hangover.

1) B Vitamin Complex

By consuming alcohol, B vitamin levels are depleted. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) are all essential B vitamins. Natural foods may be red meats, which would be an alternative to a supplement.

B Vitamins all have a major impact in nutrient metabolization, the immune system and hemoglobin (red blood cells) production and many other processes.

2) Magnesium Glycinate

As pointed out in my article about the different forms of Magnesium, Magnesium Glycinate has a special effect on the GABA system. Therefore it helps with attaining adequate sleep and rebuilding Magnesium levels in the body.

3) Phenibut

In doses below 1g usually doesn’t have a noticeable effect on the consciousness. Phenibut, for me, is great for stabilizing mood, relieving anxiety and falling asleep on hangover days.
Again: this should only be taken with no alcohol left in the blood stream.

4) NAC

N-Acetyl-Cysteine is the precursor to glutathione, which is an important antioxidant. This helps in detoxifying the liver after alcohol consumption. It may quicken alcohol metabolization by reducing the buildup of acetaldehyde, which is a key byproduct of alcohol metabolism.

Lifestyle Hacks

I pride myself that I do not let my writing or articles be generated by AI. What I do use it for sometimes is to better structure my articles. The AI proposed this block to me, which seems to sound right. Lifestyle hacks.
Yeah well, unfortunately I am not going to tell you to drink water between your alcoholic drinks, do some light exercise or only drink alcohol moderately.
a) Who am I to tell you this?

b) You know all this already.

c) I just told you.

What to Avoid

I refrain from going into too much hypothetical explanation on this point and will simply give you a list:

Do not…

  • eat too much and greasy food
  • ingest too much caffeine or pain relievers (it’s a trap, Luke)
  • continue drinking
  • think you can “sweat” out alcohol
  • downplay a hangover
  • think drinking water cancels out a hangover

Conclusion

Except for the coconut water, I’ve actually tried all of the above mentioned tips with myself. All these mentioned have actually helped me a lot in perhaps making that day not overly productive, but at least more comfortable and regaining optimal health as quick as possible again.

References

Health Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. I am not a healthcare professional, doctor, or licensed nutritionist. The content shared here reflects my personal experiences and insights on health, nutrition, sleep, and supplements. It’s important to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before starting any new diet, exercise program, or supplement regimen, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns. The recommendations and opinions expressed on this blog are solely mine and should not be considered as medical advice.

Affiliate Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links on this blog are affiliate links. This means that if you click on these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help support the blog and allow me to continue to create content for you. I only recommend products and services that I believe in and feel would be beneficial for my readers. My goal is to provide you with valuable information and choices, but please understand that my recommendations are based on my personal opinion and experience. Your trust is important to me, and I strive to be transparent and honest in all my affiliations.

Sources disclaimer: Creating these articles is fun, but also quite a lot of work.
As I am just stating may conceptual understanding as a regular dude, I renounce linking all the different sources and papers. In case you are interested in that, I would simply ask you to do you own further research.

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