You wake up at the crack of dawn with a splitting headache. Just the peek of sunlight through the crack in your curtains is enough to make you turn and bury your face back in the pillows. Your mouth is dry and your whole body aches, but you drag yourself up, down some Advil and a fat glass of water, and put on a pot of coffee. Hungover as can be, you ask yourself: “Why oh why did I do this again?”
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Every night, hundreds of thousands of Americans share a drink or two (or twelve) and the next morning, suffer the consequences. And while that pot of coffee might wake you up a bit and that Advil might take the edge off your headache, they’re not going to cure that nasty hangover.
If you really want to avoid hangovers that take you out for the entire next day, here’s the secret: get started early.
Specifically, at least 12 hours early.
Science has shown that if you start treating a hangover the morning after, you’re already way too late. You can’t cure a hangover once you already have it. So don’t plan to CURE your hangover, plan to PREVENT it. If you head off the worst of your hangover symptoms before you even start drinking, you can avoid the morning-after regret. But you’ve gotta get started early. A full day early, in fact.
So why is getting started early so important? Here’s the science.
This is how hangovers work:
Immediately after you start consuming an alcoholic drink, your liver gets to work processing it. The enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) metabolizes the ethanol (that's the type of alcohol in alcohol) into toxic acetaldehyde. (Buildup of the toxic compound acetaldehyde in your liver is what causes some of your nastiest hangover symptoms including headache and nausea). From there, the liver enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) metabolizes acetaldehyde into acetate, a less toxic compound that breaks down into water and carbon dioxide. This is the normal process and, if it’s working properly, you shouldn’t have any issues.
But here’s the problem:
All this takes time. Your body takes a while to metabolize acetaldehyde into acetate. If you’re drinking quickly (faster than one drink per hour), your body can’t keep up. The more you drink, the more acetaldehyde is left in your system, the worse your hangover is the next day. Womp womp.
This is why you have to start fighting that hangover the night before:
It’s pretty simple, actually. Once you’re hungover, it’s too late. The acetaldehyde is in your liver and all you can really do is wait for it to process. But if you start the night before, you can boost your liver’s natural acetaldehyde processing capabilities and seriously speed up your body’s ability to metabolize alcohol. Experts agree, getting started the night before is the key to being a functioning human the next morning.
“It's much easier to prevent a hangover than it is to deal with it the next morning,"
- Jason Burke, MD, an anesthesiologist who has treated over 20,000 hangovers and the creator of Hangover Heaven, a mobile medical clinic based in Las Vegas.
But how? Here’s how you can prevent the worst of your hangover:
There are a few key natural vitamins, minerals, and herbs that you can use to boost your body’s natural hangover fighting power.
- L-Cystenine (Amino Acid): The Amino Acid L-Cysteine is your body’s #1 hangover fighter. It breaks down the hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde and reduces your hangover symptoms while safeguarding your liver from damage sustained while drinking.
- Vitamin B-Complex: Alcohol depletes your Vitamin B-Complex which is key to feeling on top of your game. Lack of B-Complex vitamins leaves us feeling slow and sluggish. Replenishing your B-Complex Vitamins will get you back to feeling energized and healthy sooner rather than later.
- Milk Thistle: Milk Thistle’s active component, silymarin, is nature’s own liver supporter and protector. Silymarin maximizes the liver’s detoxifying and cleansing capabilities and boosts the liver’s hangover fighting power. It also helps relieve indigestion and upset stomach.
- Chicory Root: Chicory Root Extract is a powerful digestive aid that supports the liver in breaking down the toxins that cause your hangover symptoms.
Taken the night before, these all-natural super-foods can help you avoid the worst of your hangover symptoms. But if you wait until the next morrning, even these powerful natural aids can’t help you (although they definitely won’t hurt).
Want to know how to 100% avoid a hangover every time? Check out THIS POST (link to step-by-step hangover prevention guide) for our best, hour-by-hour, tried-and-true, bulletproof hangover prevention method.
If there’s one take away you should get from all of this, here it is:If you’re seriously serious about stopping that hangover, get started yesterday.