We’ve all had one drink too many and woken up feeling nauseous with a ruined day ahead of us. We’ve all also read hundreds of ads, blog posts, and articles claiming they’ve found the answer to ending hangovers. None of them work. None of them are backed by science.
The purpose of this guide is to explain what causes hangovers, why they have such a negative influence on our lives and scientifically-proven ways of ending them for good.
What actually causes a hangover?
What is it about drinking that actually causes us to feel so crappy in the morning? We’ve broken it down into three main culprits. The first, a little thing called acetaldehyde. Never heard of it? Allow us to explain.
When you drink, your body undergoes hundreds of metabolic reactions to process alcohol and remove it from your system. When alcohol is broken down in the liver, a toxin called acetaldehyde is produced. Acetaldehyde then lays waste to your body.
A buildup of acetaldehyde causes drowsiness, stomach issues, nausea, and anxiety. The longer it takes for your body to remove all of the acetaldehyde, the worse you’ll feel.
While all of this is going on, your body is also suffering the consequences of alcohol being a diuretic. This is the second major cause of hangovers.
A diuretic substance causes the body to urinate more often. The more often you urinate, the quicker you deplete your body’s nutrients. As your body loses iron, magnesium and vitamin b’s, you begin experiencing cramping, headaches, anxiety, etc.
Last but not least, alcohol takes quite a toll on the central nervous system. Alcohol suppresses the central nervous system, which is in charge of your spine, skull, nerves, etc. By slowing the CNS down, you are slowing down brain function in charge of a majority of your movements.
Alcohol also causes a release of epinephrine (commonly known as adrenaline) and cortisol from the cortex. This can lead to higher stress being put on the brain.
All in all?
The creation of the toxin acetaldehyde, it’s diuretic attributes and its impacts on the CNS are the three most problematic changes that alcohol causes in the body. These changes cause all that nasty morning-after pain! Not sure exactly what pain we’re referring to? Read on.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of them. So we’ve put them into a categorized list for you.
Headaches: often referred to as a “pounding” of the head. This is one of the most commonly exhibited hangover symptoms. It distracts you from even the simplest of tasks and can stick around for several hours.
Migraines: A headache on steroids. Can cause light sensitivity, dizziness, and nausea.
Sluggishness: the general feeling that your body is moving more slowly than normal, as though you are moving through water. It’s a rather pathetic feeling to experience and often last 24 hours after your last drink.
Stomach issues: can be in the form of stomach pains, vomiting, and nausea. These pains can be so severe that Peptobismal and other stomach treatments cannot stop them.
Muscle Cramping and Weakness: Has anyone ever kicked you in the calf and you collapsed in agony? Well, imagine that ALL over your body. Dehydration causes your muscles to cramp up and become extremely tense.
Brain Fog: When you finally drag yourself out of bed and to the kitchen, only to forget what you were looking for as soon as you open the fridge, that is brain fog.
Anxiety: Alcohol alters the GABA receptors in your brain, leading to an increased amount of dopamine in the moment and a shortage the following morning. Whether you blacked out, remember everything, or didn’t even drink that much, you’re likely to experience increased anxiety the morning after.
Depression: Alcohol impacts is a depressant, so it is no surprise that drinking increases depression the following morning. Increased levels of dopamine at the moment decreases your levels in the morning.
Guilt: Depending on the severity of your hangover, it is not uncommon for people to spend the entire day after drinking in bed or in the bathroom. Unfortunately, this means you’re missing out on everything you intended to do that day. Whether you’re missing the gym, vacation or a family outing, you’re going to feel guilty about missing because of a hangover.
FOMO: FEAR.OF.MISSING.OUT. We’ve all had. Especially with society becoming more and more addicted to social media. When you’re sitting in bed feeling like crap and your loved ones are out and enjoying the day, you are likely to feel left out and fear you’re missing an important experience.
Everyone experiences hangovers differently. Symptoms can fluctuate based on height and weight, the amount you drank, what you drank and how much food was in your system. Regardless of the type of hangover you’re prone to, they all suck.
And unlike fine wine...
Hangovers tend to get worse with age. Throwing back a six-pack with your buddies in college may have left you with a headache before your workout the following morning, but it’s likely that that same amount of alcohol could knock you out for 2 days in post-grad life. But why is this?
Internal medicine expert in Los Angeles, MD Monya De, explains that “age can affect the performance of the liver in making some drug-related metabolizing enzymes, which could explain the heightened effect [of alcohol on the body] as you age.” Your body’s water content also decreases over time, so you’re more likely to be dehydrated. If your liver’s efficiency is declining and your level of dehydration is increasing, you’re bound to feel more negative effects from drinking than your younger acquaintances.
This is the unfortunate truth that leaves adults suffering from two-day bad hangover, the spins, nausea, and vomiting. These miserable consequences are the perfect motivation to prevent hangovers instead of treating them.
Prevent vs Cure
If you type “hangover cure” into Google your search will pull up thousands of articles claiming to possess The cure for hangovers. Unfortunately, none of them are true. In a market that is saturated with misinformation and very little scientific backing, it is difficult to understand what the best option to treat a hangover is. What most people don’t realize is that there is no proven hangover treatment, all they can do is focus on prevention.
“Prevention is the only way to truly treat a hangover,” says Dr. Ed Boyer, a medical toxicologist at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Not one treatment on the market has been scientifically proven to prevent hangovers, but if you begin your prevention strategy prior to consuming alcohol, you are 90% more likely to wake up feeling hangover-free. Some of the best recommendations are as follows:
Steps to Hangover Prevention
1. Drink water
We all know not to drink on an empty stomach, but if you eat a fatty meal prior to drinking, your alcohol absorption will be slower and you will be less likely to experience a hangover. We recommend healthy fats like avocados, almonds, and walnuts.
Take one capsule of Over EZ before your first drink. This all-natural supplement aids your body in processing alcohol, removing acetaldehyde and replenishing crucial vitamins like zinc, magnesium and complex vitamin b. It also does all this before you start drinking, making it the perfect prevention strategy.
Alcohol that is light in color like vodka or white wine possesses fewer congeners (hangover-causing toxins). The darker the liquor, the worse the hangover. We also recommend you stick to one type of alcohol all night, switching between various kinds increases the likelihood of a hangover.
Drink water between each alcoholic beverage. This will keep you hydrated. You should also snack throughout the night. Avoid salty snacks that will further dehydrate you and reach for finger sandwiches or vegetables to munch on. Food will help slow the absorption of alcohol throughout your body.
No matter how late you get home, stick to your routine. Studies show that waking up at the same time each day is good for you, as is continuing to exercise even if you feel hungover. Whatever you do, get up and get going.
I know, getting out of bed can seem exhausting after a night of drinking, let alone getting to the gym. But sweating out toxins and kick-starting your day is an excellent way to strip your body of a nasty hangover.
Drinking caffeine will only dehydrate you more so skip the coffee. Instead, mix yourself a glass of water with lemon juice and a couple pinches each of sugar and Himalayan salt. This mix will help to replenish your electrolytes and rehydrate you.
So are you telling me ALL of those other hangover cures are bogus? Yes, yes I am.
Don’t Waste Your Money On…
1. Activated Charcoal
Activated Charcoal can help prevent the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, thereby mitigating the effects of alcohol on the body. However, this does not make sense in terms of curing hangovers.
The purpose of taking activated charcoal is to soak up the alcohol in your stomach before it is absorbed into your bloodstream. On average, this process takes one hour. This suggests that in order for charcoal to mitigate the impact of alcohol on the body, it would need to be consumed prior to the absorption of alcohol. If this is the case, then you would never even feel the impact of drinking alcohol prior to charcoal eliminating its absorption into the bloodstream. In which case, why would you drink at all? A study by four leading scientists at the National Center for Biotechnology Information did a study to determine the effectiveness of activated charcoal at treating hangovers. Their results “do not support the use of activated charcoal in an overdose of ethanol” because it does not counteract the impact of alcohol on the body post-absorption.
The most common medication used to treat hangovers. While Tylenol helps to minimize headaches and body aches, it has no impact on the often more severe symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. What many people are unaware of is that danger involved in mixing alcohol and Tylenol. Gary Murray, acting director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains, “when you mix Tylenol and alcohol, your liver is forced to work overtime—straining to metabolize both substances....the [mixture of] acetaminophen and alcohol is downright dangerous." The danger of mixing these two substances is far too high for the minimal payoff you receive.
The opioid crisis has caused people to begin turning to opioid-level painkillers to reduce their hangover pains. While opioids are harmful to your body in general, “the mixture of any opioid, and alcohol can be unpredictable and may lead to an unintentional and fatal overdose.” Even if a majority of the alcohol has been processed through your system, it still possesses a great danger because both drugs suppress the nervous and respiratory systems. The American Association of Anesthesiologists warns that “just taking one oxycodone tablet and drinking a moderate amount of alcohol can be enough to slow or stop a person's breathing, potentially resulting in death.”
Drinking electrolytes like Gatorade or Powerade has the potential to minorly reduce headaches and body cramps. Electrolytes are important for several metabolic reactions in the body, however, the amount of electrolytes you lose while drinking alcohol far surpasses what you could hope to replace drinking a Gatorade or two. Refreshing your electrolytes alone is not powerful enough to get rid of a hangover. And unfortunately, replenishing electrolytes in the morning is once again shooting to cure a hangover, as opposed to preventing it.
5. Vitamin B’s
Taking Vitamin B tablets after consuming alcohol helps to replenish the Vitamin B minerals that were depleted thanks to the diuretic aspect of alcohol. Vitamin B’s help in retaining magnesium and l-cysteine, as well as reducing anxiety and assisting liver function. However, similar to replenishing electrolytes, this will not be enough to cure a hangover, especially because you have already lost of all of these nutrients.
6. Coconut Water
Coconut water is high in potassium, which is great to replenish after a hangover. However, that is the only electrolyte in replenishes. If you ask any doctor, you’ll learn that drinking coconut water isn’t any more effective for treating a hangover than drinking a big glass of water (for hydration) and eating a banana (for the potassium). While coconut water certainly won’t hurt, it definitely isn’t the miracle hangover cure you might expect.
A whole pot of coffee might be tempting the morning after a late-night, but in reality, you should avoid too much caffeine the next day. Too much coffee will only dehydrate you more and it may even make your headache worse. And while drinking coffee or other types of caffeine may make you feel less tired, it won’t decrease your blood alcohol content or help relieve the symptoms of a hangover.
8. Orange Juice
Orange juice is rich in Vitamin C and is a delicious way to replenish that mineral deficit. However, orange juice is also extremely acidic and sugary, which will only upset your gut further.
9. Hair of the dog: A couple of mimosas or a bloody mary seem like a perfectly easy, credible way to cure a hangover. After all, you can’t be hungover if you’re still drunk, right? Wrong. Laura Veach, Ph.D., director of screening and counseling intervention services and training in the Dept. of Surgery at Wake Forrest Baptist Medical Center says "there's no scientific evidence that having an alcoholic drink will cure a hangover, It will, at best, postpone one."
10. Pedialyte: These kids drink is used primarily to revive infants all of the minerals lost during a bout of diarrhea. In the last year it has become a massive hangover-cure trend, but “Pedialyte admits on its website that it’s not a hangover cure-all - and doctors agree.”
11. Greasy Food: While eating greasy food before drinking will help slow down the absorption of alcohol in your system, having it after drinking will only irritate your stomach more. By this time, the alcohol has already processed and you’re experiencing the negative effects of what is left. So you’re only adding fuel to the fire by eating unhealthy food!
12. Meat: Meat provides your body with protein which in theory, is great for a hangover. However, unless you are pairing this serving with an adequate amount of carbohydrates, your body’s blood sugar is too low to handle it. This means the protein will only worsen your headache.
ALL of these well-known hangover treatments are a bust. Sticking with prevention strategies are above and beyond your best option. Especially when you have the option of OVER-EZ….
Over-EZ is an excellent hangover prevention tool. Take one Over-EZ pill with your first glass of alcohol and it starts working while you enjoy your night out. It is all-natural and possesses all of the major nutrients your body loses while drinking - and it begins replenishing your body’s supply before you even notice a depletion. By the time you wake up in the morning, you will feel refreshed and ready to take on the day. Check out the science behind the product, an extensive, transparent list of ingredients and their quality guarantee here. Below is just a quick peek…
(Amino acid): Protects cells from the damage of free radicals and oxidative stress and supports the immune system.
Contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress. Contributes to the normal function of the immune system. Contributes to normal protein synthesis. Contributes to normal carbohydrate metabolism.
3. Milk Thistle Extract
Helps rebuild liver cells while removing from the body toxins that are processed through the liver.
Contributes to a reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Contributes to electrolyte balance. Contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism. Contributes to normal muscle function. Contributes to normal protein synthesis. Contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system.
5. Chicory Root Extract
Pre-biotic that helps improve intestinal flora and contributes to liver health.
6. Vitamin B Complex
Contribute to normal energy-yielding metabolism and to the normal functioning of the cells.
You can’t afford to be hungover...
In the fast-paced world that is the 21st century, you have far too much going on to risk being hungover. When you’re trying to balance work, family, social life and your health, you deserve to know the best, science-backed products that will get you to help you do so. Even if you don’t experience terrible hangovers every time you drink, you’re bound to experience them during big events like...
- Bachelor(ette) parties
- When a good friend is getting married (or even you) it is inevitable that you’ll be having a few drinks with some of your oldest and closest friends. You should NEVER feel like you have to hold back on celebrating your friend and kissing their single life goodbye. But unfortunately, you’re also bound to wake up feeling like crap, despite the expectation that you’ll be doing it all again the following night. Do what you need to do to ensure you’re the one waking up feeling refreshed and ready to rage once more.
- So you survived the bachelor party...now comes the real (family-friendly) fun. Commemorating the marriage of brother, best friend or boss, etc. should know no bounds. Weddings are all about the celebration. It’s likely you’ll be drinking and dancing all night! The only problem is, if your buddies are old enough to get married, you’re probably old enough that you can’t drink like you used to. Weddings are a once in a lifetime celebration of someone you love, don’t let the fear of a hangover hold you back.
- If you’re like most of us, you slave away at work for eleven months of the year, counting down the days until vacation. And when it’s finally here, it is time to CELEBRATE! Grab a cocktail by the pool and lather up in sunscreen, it’s time to relax and absolutely vege. Once you’re done with pool time, head to dinner with your loved ones and start the evening with a glass of wine with cheese….while this all sounds excellent, it’s likely a hangover will be at the bottom of that wine glass. But you’re on vacation, so don’t say no to that poolside margarita and just do what you need to do to avoid that hangover!
- Happy birthday to you, your friends, colleagues, etc….whoever is celebrating another trip around the sun, you should be there toasting their year and wishing them the best. This is a once a year thing, you should treat it as such! Be sure you celebrate to your heart’s content, then a little more!
- After a long week at work, hitting the bars with friends is the perfect way to blow off steam. Throw some drinks back, play some pool and dance...unfortunately, a night like this often spirals out of control pretty quickly. While incredibly fun, you’ll feel the effects the next day.
- DANCING QUEEN, FEEL THE BEAT OF THE TAMBOURINE OH YEAHHHH. You read that to the beat, it is okay to admit it. Nightclubs bring out the dancing queen in everybody, but that also tends to bring the drinks in! No need to cut having the time of your life short, just take the proper preventative actions so that you can feel “young and sweet” the next morning.
- Wine Tastings
- Wine is an art form and wine tastings are often the favored “art museum.” Keep tasting, swirling and learning and don’t fear a hangover the next day. The only thing that should be showing tears is the wine!
- Whether you’re at Coachella, Outside Lands or one of the other amazing festivals that have risen in popularity in the last few years, get ready to have an unforgettable experience. Enjoy the music, the atmosphere, and the drinks, don’t hold back. Just prepare ahead of time to prevent that hangover, otherwise, you’ll be a hurting puppy!
All of these are celebratory times that should not be plagued with head-spins and nausea. Educate yourself on what products are best for you and what YOUR best practice is for preventing hangovers.