Do herbal remedies exist to combat or cure hangovers?
The best remedies reported on lifestyle and health websites often lead to major disappointments due to lack of understanding of how our body react to these herbs.
Ginger, Turmeric, Milk Thistle, Korean Panax Ginseng and even Malaysian Ginseng (i.e Tongkat Ali) are touted to be one of the effective herbs that can potentially treat symptoms associated with hangovers.
But do multi-vitamin herbal supplements work better than single-herb supplements?
This article aims to bring a detailed information on the best herbal remedies for hangovers by understanding how your body react to hormone changes when you drink.
This will help you to decide better.
- List of top herbal remedies that work best to manage general hangovers
- Understanding how your body react from the effects of alcohol.
- How alcohol affects your hormones
- Overcoming hangovers with clear goals
- The best herbal remedies to manage specific hangover symptoms
Top Herbal Supplements for Hangovers
Herbs were studied extensively in recent years as it provides unique medicinal properties that may reduce some of the symptoms related to hangovers.
Here are the top herbs that may potentially reduce the effects of hangovers.
- Malaysian Ginseng / Tongkat Ali
- Korean Panax Ginseng
- Prickly Pear
- Milk Thistle
Popular herbal supplements often contain a good mix of herbal extracts from Panax Ginseng, Tongkat Ali, Ginger and many others.
The effectiveness of each herbal supplement is assessed based on individual studies and its unique properties to manage some of the symptoms of hangovers.
In reality, there are two types of herbal supplements for hangovers:
- Multi-Vitamin Herbal Supplement
- Single Herb Herbal Supplement
These herbs can be mixed to reduce hangovers or taken in isolation as a single herb remedy.
Popular herbal remedies amongst consumers include multi-vitamin herbal supplements and single-herb supplements such as Tongkat Ali and Ginger extract.
Multi-Vitamin Herbal Supplements
Multi-Vitamin herbal supplement combines multi vitamins and herbal extract touted to deliver better effect in combating hangovers.
Popular AfterDrink® hangover herbal supplement is packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6 and other botanical extracts including ginger extract (140 mg), Korean Panax Ginseng extract (140mg) and Milk Thistle (180mg).
- May cure some of the hangover symptoms
- Restores the nutrient loss due to alcohol consumption
- Multivitamins are known not to deliver any health benefits.
- Lack of clinical trials to prove its efficacy in combating hangovers.
Single-herb supplements such as Korean Panax Ginseng or Malaysian Ginseng (Tongkat Ali) can be used and may work as a remedy to reduce hangovers too.
This trend has been popular as it reported to be more effective than multi-vitamin supplements.
Herbal supplements containing 100% pure Tongkat Ali root (200mg) such as AKARALI™ Tongkat Ali is backed by 26 clinical studies. Tongkat Ali’s hormone-inducing mechanism is proven to reduce cortisol levels whilst promoting healthy testosterone levels; two key hormones affected by alcohol consumption.
- Works well to mitigate specific hangover symptoms (eg: improved mood by regulating stress hormones cortisol)
- Adaptogen herb such as Tongkat Ali is proven to provide a boost of energy by promoting healthy testosterone levels
- Some herbs such as Tongkat Ali and Panax Ginseng are backed by decades of clinical trials and studies
- It may work to cure chronic hangovers associated with alcohol addiction, mental depression and others.
A Word On Herbal Remedies
Herbs are used to manage or potentially reduce the symptoms of hangovers or effects from alcohol. It is not intended to treat, cure any diseases, allergies, mental health or medical conditions related to hangovers, or caused by alcohol consumption.
If you are diagnosed with a medical condition that is related to, or caused by alcohol consumption, we highly recommend to consult your nearest doctor immediately.
This is what happens when you drink
Before you consume any of the herbal remedies, understanding which hormones are affected by alcohol is a great way to identify the right herbal remedy to combat hangovers.
Lets dive in.
When you consume alcohol, “feel good” hormones, such as dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin are released in your body.
But there are vital hormones which are caused by alcohol consumption; further damaging your body and brain functions.
Alcohol can cause adverse effects on your cortisol and testosterone hormones as follows:
- Alcohol reduces testosterone levels 30 minutes after you drink.
- Excessive alcohol consumption leads to testosterone-related complications which affects your libido and sperm reproduction.
- Alcohol can increase a stress hormone; cortisol, which is known to decrease testosterone synthesis.
- Prolonged consumption of alcohol (more than 3 glasses a day) further damages Leydig cells in the testes which produce and secrete testosterone.
- Chronic alcohol assumption can lead to increase cortisol and in turn may accelerate aging process
- The increased cortisol secretion due to alcohol impairs your ability to adapt to stress, which may cause depression and other related mental health symptoms.
A Word On Cortisol
Cortisol is a stress hormone and excess cortisol levels have been shown to be detrimental to health. This hormone is related to hypertension, impairment of immune function, and alteration of metabolism, causing premature aging.
Cortisol work in parallel with other hormones such as testosterone. There is a close association of these two inter-related hormones and how it function to deliver optimal health.
In addition, studies have shown that the increase of cortisol from alcohol consumption may lead to a premature aging process.
Cortisol secretion is an indicator of the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a hormone system that coordinates the stress response in our bodies.
A diagram showing a three-way interaction of alcohol, cortisol and the aging process.
This is how it works:
1a – Alcohol consumption stimulates cortisol secretion
1b – In turn, cortisol facilitates alcohol’s rewarding effects (eg: feel-good)
2a – Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to premature and/or exaggerated aging
2b – The aging process may increased blood alcohol levels following consumption of the same alcohol dose as well as increase vulnerability to alcohol’s negative effects.
3a – Chronic cortisol elevation also results in premature and/or exaggerated aging
3b – Aging process can lead to more cortisol secretion by impairing human’s ability to adapt to stress.
Managing hangovers after you drink
Now lets take a step back.
Do you feel lethargic, blurry, head buzzing, inability to focus at work, lack of coordination or making poor decision or even moody the next morning after a night of drinking?
Managing the symptoms of hangovers is a great way to find the best solution to reduce the impact of alcohol consumption, or from overdrinking.
Symptoms of Hangovers
Mild dehydration is common that causes thirst, fatigue, and a possibly mild to chronic headache. The effect of alcohol is that it suppresses the release of vasopressin. This is a hormone produced by the brain that sends signals to the kidneys causing them to retain fluid.
Disrupted or sleep deprivation (sleep debt) is equally common when you drink. You may fall asleep faster after drinking alcohol, but studies have shown that the sleep is fragmented, with less REM sleep and tend to wake up earlier than you should. Sleep debt causes cortisol level to increase, leading to fatigue, affects your cognitive ability as well as lost productivity at work.
Alcohol increases inflammation in the body. Inflammation contributes to the malaise that people feel when they are sick, so it may play a role in hangover symptoms as well.
Alcohol metabolism, primarily by the liver, creates the compound acetaldehyde, a toxic, short-lived byproduct, which contributes to inflammation in the liver, pancreas, brain, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.
Alcohol is known to depresses the central nervous system. People can feel more restless, anxious than after they drank.
Overcoming Hangovers: Set Your Goals
Setting goals and expectations enable you to identify which herbal remedy works best.
Example of goals:
- Do you want to achieve greater mental clarity so that you can focus at work or your daily tasks the next morning?
- Do you want to feel less grumpy, lethargic or improve your moody after a heavy night of drinking?
- Or do you want an immediate improvement from lack of coordination or impairment of judgement from alcohol consumption?
- Or do you want to reduce nausea?
- Or do you want to feel fully-charged, or boosted the next morning and energy that can last you throughout the day?
If you are targeting to recover from hangover with the objective of achieving better cognitive ability and greater mental clarity as a result of a better mood, then there are some herbal remedies that may work for you.
Find herbal remedies that work best
With a clear objective or goals in mind, you may find a set of herbal remedies that work for you.
Each herbal has unique properties designed to serve one, or several benefits associated with managing or reducing hangovers.
Here is a short list of herbal remedies to manage your symptoms better.
The best herbal remedy
Nausea, stomach upset
Ginger contains natural antioxidant —many of which are thought to help control the oxidative stress induced by alcohol consumption.
Sufficient evidence that suggests turmeric exhibit strong anti-inflammatory properties and there are many people who see benefit from using it for hangovers as a preventative aid.
Lethargic, miserable, sluggish or bad mood
Sufficient evidence from decades of clinical trials which shows release of free testosterone and reduction of cortisol, which leads to improved mood profile and boost of stamina / energy.
Used mainly in competitive sports, muscle building and other anaerobic exercises to give a noticeable boost of energy.
Waking Up Fresh the Next Day
Since cortisol level may increase between 16-20% whilst testosterone drops significantly from alcohol consumption, this is best managed by consuming Tongkat Ali the night before you go to bed.
A study have shown that Tongkat Ali improves stress hormones by reducing cortisol whilst other several studies showed increased in testosterone levels from multiple independent clinical trials across various age groups (25 years to 78 years).
This is based on 200mg daily consumption of Tongkat Ali.
So taking Tongkat Ali may help you to improve your mood, and wake up to a fresh productive day!
While Tongkat Ali and Panax Ginseng work in similar principles by reducing cortisol levels and increasing testosterone, there are technical differences between Panax Ginseng and Malaysian Ginseng.
Tongkat Ali may offer a wider range of health benefits beyond reducing or even prevent hangovers.
Whilst Milk Thistle, ginger and Panax Ginseng combo may work, you may want to consider Tongkat Ali before you head out for late night drinking, or taking it regularly to minimize the impact from hangovers.
With more than 12 scientifically proven health benefits on Tongkat Ali from decades of clinical trials and research between 2000-2020, this could be the next best option for consumers.
Once believed as “the tree that cures hundred diseases” centuries ago, Tongkat Ali’s hormone-inducing benefits were validated by scientist time and time again due to unique bioactive ingredient – eurycomanone and other various medicinal properties.
Do give it a try and feel the difference.
Don’t forget to add Tongkat Ali with Ginger to boost your day.
Yes, you can manage hangover with the right herbal remedies.
Only when done right.
Till then, enjoy your drink and get home safe.
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Naressa Khan contributes regularly on AKARALI. As a researcher and investigative journalist, Naressa is all about creating, deconstructing, and reassembling meaningful content through words and facts. With this approach always in mind, she eagerly explores the nuances in life via the aspects of lifestyle, culture, travel, health, and wellness in Malaysia .
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