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Hangover Got You Feeling Like A Half-Frozen Moldy Corpse? Fret Not!

Updated: Jan 3, 2019

MC Jizzy’s Tried-and-True 5-Step Rescue Remedy

Bacchanalia Revelers in stone relief carving with wine, grapes and ... lions?

It happens.

It’s maybe that time of the week, or that time of year. Weekends, Holidays, End-of-year parties, Family gatherings, four years of University, or just a crap day… occasionally, we overindulge and we feel it, I mean, really feel it, the next day. Our livers and brains like to remind our whole damned bodies that they’re unhappy with our particular lifestyle choices…

So, rather than mumble-moaning back and forth in self-deprecation and self-pity, here is a targeted list of what you can do for yourself to start feeling better, and a little about why these things work.

First off, a big important DON’T:

1. Do NOT take anything containing Acetaminophen (like Panadol or Tylenol).

These may take the edge off things a little during your monthly cycle or when you’ve got a hell of a headache or aches and pains for other reasons, but taking medications containing acetaminophen after alcohol can seriously damage your liver, or even kill you. So don’t. “But I always do…” NO! Your life has clearly been charmed thus far, so don’t push it. Just don’t. It’s an even more horrible idea than that thing you don’t remember doing last night that got you tagged in so many people’s newsfeeds this morning.


Sweet faced border collie dog looks you straight in the eye

2. Don’t be tempted by a “hair of the dog”.

Yeah, it does work. Like, amazingly. I won’t lie. But it’s only a short-term “fix”, and you’ll still have to pay the piper — and follow the other advice further down this article — later. So don’t be tempted to put it off. It’s like choosing whether to be hit by a steam train now or a diesel train later.

Because alcohol inhibits glutamate production in your brain (glutamate is the principle excitatory neurotransmitter in your brain, and alcohol inhibits this while stimulating other inhibitors like dopamine and serotonin that make you feel goooood), when your drunken revelry has found its natural end, your brain is, well, out of sorts and stressed. A dearth of glutamate is what makes you clumsy while your drunk… and why you keep dropping the butterknife the day after when all you want to do is butter a damned bagel.

So, the “hair of the dog” cure is a stop-gap, not a cure, and just shuts down glutamate production again, gets the dopamine and serotonin flowing, making you think you feel better, but it’s only postponing the inevitable neurochemical re-balancing that must come. It’s a trap, in other words. Choo-choo!

Now some DOs:

3. Drink Lots of Water.

Alcohol is a diuretic; it makes you pee and dries you out. It’s the main cause of the headaches, body aches and creaky bones you may be suffering. If it’s already too late this time, next time you know you’ve drunk too much, put a (full) glass or jug of water next to your bed, and sip from it whenever you wake up. Then, when you (eventually) get up in the morning, drink another full glass or two in the first hour of… erm… wakefulness. Seriously, sip it alongside your coffee, too, if you can face coffee. Keep sipping water throughout the morning and into the afternoon. If you chug it down, especially if it’s cold, you could throw up, though, so show a little restraint, you animal.

If you don’t like plain water, add some squeezed lemon and a little honey. The mineral salts in both will help your body to rebalance any electrolytes you may have left on the pavement and streets outside wherever the hell it was you were last night. Use some hot water to dissolve the honey, top up with cold water and then squeeze in some lemon. It’s really very easy if you have these to hand.

Some people drink ready-made sports drinks for this, but to be honest, your liver won’t be too pleased about the extra ingredients in a lot of those.

4. Eat Something Soaky and Fatty

…When you’re ready, that is. As long as you’re rehydrating your poor, blasted body, there’s no real need to eat straight away if you just… can’t. But the sooner you can manage to get something in you, the better you will start to feel. Just don’t force it.

sandwich on homemade bread yum

Part of your queasy stomach may come from the effects of dehydration. Or maybe it’s … completely empty for some mysterious reason (vide supra). But, if, in your infinite inebriated wisdom, you thought it was a great idea to binge out on chimichangas, pork fried rice and pizza with french fries folded in, and oh my God, lots and lots of corn chips, chances are, your stomach’s still holding onto those. That’s because when you drink, your digestive system makes it a priority to process the alcohol. So that platterful of 3-cheese Tex-Mex meat feast potato skins with extra bacon they say you ate just before streaking through the streets singing the Rocky theme song at the top of your voice…. all that stuff is probably still sitting there in your stomach, waiting for processing (and hopefully you are not waiting for processing at the police station).

If you feel full, just keep sipping water until you start to feel a bit peckish. If you feel empty, when you’re ready, try something like these:

A slice of toast or half a toasted bagel with some cheese, or topped with scrambled eggs made with cream cheese and chives, can be very soothing. Or a bowl of rice or rice porridge topped with chopped avocado and tomatoes, dressed with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon (or a dash of balsamic vinegar, if that’s your thing). Or mashed potatoes with butter, oil, some kind of gravy, or cheese.

A lot of people swear by eating something fatty the next day, but I think having something soaky and starchy (like bread, pasta, rice or potatoes) along with your fatty stuff also helps to immediately reduce the achey, acid feeling of a hangover stomach. And over the course of hours after you’ve eaten, the starches break down to provide your body and brain with energy for… at least quasi-normal functionality. Most fatty foods are also fairly high in protein, which will also help heal those strange scrapes and bruises you’ve somehow managed to get.

Of course, making sure you get something fatty in you before you start drinking too much is much more effective… but that might not be practicable right now, if you’re looking this up in a desperate, bleary-eyed state of self-loathing.

An ancient Roman trick was to drink a small cup (about a shot glass full) of olive oil before going all-out on a Bacchanalia. The Romans also mixed their wine with hot water, which makes it go to the head more quickly (kind of like warm sake), and typically valued the state of reverie over the quantity required to achieve it. They said that only alcoholics and barbarians didn’t mix their wine with water. If they knew they’d be required to drink more than they could normally handle, they’d use the olive oil trick to save on unnecessary trips to the vomitorium. But it’s not necessarily a habit you’ll want to emulate. Better, probably, to eat a little something before you go out. Almonds, a few potato pieroghies, or some mini spring rolls … just get something in you.

Anyway… back to the present.

Later on in the day, as you feel better, eat some fruit — bananas, pears, grapes. These are soothing, and also help you to rebalance things inside your unhappy little body. A banana and peanut butter (or fancy nut butter) sandwich, maybe. Or a fruit smoothie made with live yogurt, and sweetened with honey (DON’T add rum… no, don’t, seriously… you’ve come so far).

Then, at supper time, eat a proper and balanced meal. Listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs to eat. But in general, try to balance your macronutrients so that you get a nice portion of carbohydrates, some protein and some fat. It doesn’t have to be a huge meal, but it should be nutritionally decent.

Some kind of soup or bisque, a slice of vegetable quiche, a couple of onigirazu… chicken korma with rice, steamed salmon and a baked potato with broccoli… whatever decent meal suits you. Ramen only counts if you add toppings (half a boiled egg, some lightly steamed green cabbage, and some pickled ginger, say).

springy pasta with tomato sauce

5. Once you’re feeling half-better, take a nap.

I mean, not if you’re at work. Unless that’s a thing you always do at work anyway. And if you do nap on the job, I hope you’re not an air-traffic controller or a railway signalman or something like that. That kind of irresponsibility sucks.

But, barring that, if you have a little time, even just 20 minutes, take a nap. You’ll get better rest than you did while your body was processing all that drink, and at least some of your aching … everything … will go away. Your body is most efficient when you’re not awake, bothering it with all that input-output crap you do. So having a nap or even a bit of a lie-down will help reduce the time you suffer (and you’ll sleep through some of it, besides). If you can’t manage to grab a nap, try, at least, to have an early night. Watch some Godzilla vs. Mothra or snuggle down with something soothing on in the background like Throne of Blood. You will wake up the next morning feeling amazing for the extra sleep.

Feel better -- and better luck next time!

photo credit: (original cover photo by Malchen53 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, , mutilated by Jizzy)

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