Most of us have been there before—waking up to the bright sun after a night of drinking and feeling … well … horrible. Your head is pounding with a brutal headache. Your mouth feels dry as the Sahara. You feel nauseous and tired, and somehow your whole body just aches. Welcome to your hangover. It’s a sharp departure from the night before, and it’s no fun at all.
Perhaps you’re already bracing yourself for a post-St. Patrick’s Day hangover, but you want to prevent some of the pain. Luckily, there are some great holistic ways help tame a hangover. Whether using cannabis or other natural hangover cures, your body will thank you.
What Is a Hangover & Why Does it Happen?
A hangover develops after alcohol consumption, usually the morning after a night of drinking. As the pain-relieving properties of the alcohol start to wear off, drinkers feel sick. Typically symptoms include headache, nausea, dry mouth, fatigue and an aching body.
These hangover symptoms happen for a couple of reasons, but the most prominent among them is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, so you’re running to the bathroom more during a drinking session, but you don’t retain as much water or electrolytes. When people don’t stay hydrated while drinking alcohol, an unpleasant dehydration headache is likely to occur.
Another reason for hangovers is that the alcohol you’re drinking is literally poisoning your body. Alcohol is absorbed in your stomach and small intestine and has to be broken down in your liver. The liver works overtime to process these toxins, but at some point, the liver's enzymes run out, and it needs to rest. There are differences among people when it comes to how well their bodies break down these toxins, which is why some people get worse hangovers than others.
And when your body can’t convert all of these poisons quickly, it reacts the way it reacts to most threats. Nausea and vomiting are common ways to expel poison, and the body fends for itself by creating inflammation when it’s sick. The inflammation leads to the achy feeling and general fatigue and malaise that you experience during a hangover.
5 Holistic Ways to Tame Your Hangover
If you’re trying to recover from a hangover or just want to avoid the experience altogether, there’s good news: Hangovers can be managed or dodged completely with a few easy tips. Better yet, you can do this using holistic, all natural methods. Here are our top five ways to tame your hangover:
1. Drink Water With Electrolytes
Drinking alcohol dries you out, and that dehydration can leave you feeling sick all by itself. More than just losing water, you’re losing crucial electrolytes. One way to avoid this part of a hangover is to make sure you stay hydrated before and during your night of drinking. Drink a full glass of water before you go out, and try alternating alcoholic drinks with water. While water in general is a great choice, water with electrolytes is even better. Not all water contains electrolytes, but they’re crucial to avoiding dehydration. Starting with electrolyte-infused water gives you an even better chance of staving off that hangover.
If you do get hungover, drink water with electrolytes the next day. You’ll still feel bad at first, but drinking this water will help you quickly rehydrate and start feeling better.
2. Use a CBD Oil
Cannabidiol (CBD) is another great holistic hangover cure. This potent ingredient in cannabis is known for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects, making it a fantastic hangover elixir. If you don’t already have any CBD oil currently, try making your own with this easy-to-follow recipe.
CBD can not only temporarily ease your head and body aches, it can also reduce the actual inflammation that’s making your body hurt so much. Additionally, CBD is non-psychoactive, so it can be used during a hangover, even if you have things to do.
3. Drink Less Alcohol
One simple way to avoid a hangover altogether is to drink less alcohol. The more you consume, the more intensely your body is likely to react to the perceived threat. Still, restricting your alcohol intake is easier said than done. When you’re out having a good time, the last thing you want to do is cut back. But guess what? This is one more place where cannabis can be helpful.
A study from the U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse actually found that when cannabis was available, people consumed less alcohol. In fact, these two substances interact with each other in some interesting ways. When tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is in your system at the same time as alcohol is, it actually increases the blood alcohol levels relative to that same amount of alcohol alone. This means that when combining these two substances, you’ll feel more intense effects than you might expect. With THC, you can lower your consumption of alcohol without lessening its perceived effects.
CBD, on the other hand, actually lowers blood alcohol levels, without decreasing alcohol’s perceived effects. For this reason, using CBD products in combination with alcohol may also help with cutting back on drinking.
4. Eat Fatty, Salty Foods
Another classic hangover cure is to eat fatty, greasy or salty foods. If you still have some alcohol hanging around in your stomach, the grease or fat will actually slow down how long it takes for the remaining alcohol to get into your system, which may help you stop the hangover from getting any worse.
Salty foods are also helpful, because the salt retains water, which can help you get rehydrated more quickly. Try foods like bacon, eggs cooked with salt and butter, or poutine for your post-drinking breakfast—all classic choices because they work so well.
5. Smoke a Joint
If all else fails, there’s one more holistic option to try: smoking cannabis. Marijuana, particularly when smoked as a joint, is especially helpful for nausea and pain. Vaporizing cannabis can also help with this, although it isn’t rated as highly for nausea.
RELATED: 5 MARIJUANA STRAINS TO EASE NAUSEA
If you have a terrible hangover and nothing seems to help, smoking a joint may be the perfect solution. This potent plant can provide pain relief and leave you feeling much better. By providing nausea reduction and increased appetite, it may also help you get down all the greasy food and water you need to feel like yourself again. If you have things to do, consuming cannabis might not be the best option. But, if you can take the day off to recover, cannabis might be just the thing you need to get back on your feet.
Photo credit: Adam Wilson