Your Guide to a Healthy Hangover Cure
Published on December 31, 2015
by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

Your Guide to a Healthy Hangover Cure

Published on December 31, 2015 by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

cosmopolitan being pouredThe healthy hangover cure does exist! It’s easy to overindulge around holidays, and if you’re like me, every year you get older, hangovers get worse. I don’t know how I could drink heavily for multiple days in a row in my early twenties. A few cocktails generally puts me on my ass for an entire 24 hours IF I just lay around and feel sorry for myself. Greasy pizza and a cold beer might help you initially, but making a habit of it is going to have negative long-term health consequences. Not to mention, the common immediate effects of feeling like a phlegm-ball after eating food heavy in grease, dairy, or processed carbs.  However, there are some tried and true healthy hangover cures to kick your hangover to the curb:

1. The Big Guns

B12 shot, Acu-Style

My personal favorite healthy hangover cure is the B-12 shot. This isn’t an easy at-home solution, but it is an easy 15-minute appointment in my office for times when you really can’t afford to feel like you’re dying all day long. Plan ahead: [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Have] to drive to the mountains or get on a plane January 1st? Maybe you want to get a B12 shot in the morning to get you going. Need to work the day after your big birthday party? B12 shot before you go in to the office.

B12 shots, acu-style means a B12 shot in the acupuncture point, ST 36. This point is located on the outer shin. It is an amazing point for energy, while also balancing digestion and helping with nausea. B12 on its own boosts energy, metabolism, and clears brain fog. Because ST 36 is a muscular point, as opposed to adipose (fat) tissue, the B12 will be released quickly into your system and its effects felt as soon as 20 minutes after injection. B12 shots are the least painful, quickest type of shot most people ever get–well worth it!

2. Hangover Cure in Pill-Form

While ibuprofen can be a lifesaver in the event that you need quick relief, it does not constitute a healthy hangover cure. There are some other more natural options for helping ease your hangover symptoms and minimize some of the damage you’ve done. All of these may be even more beneficial if taken before you start drinking.

Milk Thistle

Silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle protects the liver cells from dying off, helps the liver detoxify, and has even been shown to promote liver cell regeneration. If you are a heavy drinker (more than 2 drinks, more than 2x per week), you should be taking milk thistle daily. Milk thistle also increases glutathione levels (see more below).


N-Acetyl-cysteine is a precursor to the antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione is depleted by alcohol, and acetaldehyde is a byproduct of alcohol in the liver, believed to be responsible for many of the classic hangover symptoms.  What do we need to break down acetaldehyde? Glutathione! Glutathione isn’t well absorbed (if at all) orally, but NAC is, and has been shown to increase blood levels of glutathione. Higher glutathione levels are associated with lower rates of oxidative stress, and cell damage. Lots of alcohol causes lots of oxidative stress, and glutathione is the super anti-oxidant to the rescue. NAC can also help prevent you from getting sick after a long night of hard partying (not that I would know anything about that).

Vitamin C

Alcohol depletes levels of Vitamin C, a potent anti-oxidant that helps cell renewal and can give your immune system a needed boost. Some studies have shown Vitamin C to be as liver-protective as silymarin (in milk thistle). Vitamin C can work wonders as a hangover cure.

Curing pills

Traditional Chinese Medicine makes its cameo here with a little known but incredibly powerful formula, aptly titled Curing Pills. You can find these on or via your local acupuncturist. Curing pills work to address the underlying imbalance caused by alcohol. They calm a queasy stomach, ease headaches, and clear toxicity. They also work for food poisoning, traveler’s diarrhea, and digestive upset from over-eating. Keep them in your cabinet! *Most brands are not gluten-free, so check first.

3. Hydration as a Hangover Cure and Preventative

Coconut Water

Coconut water is naturally balanced hydration with high levels of potassium and no added crap. Skip the Gatorade, which is glorified sugar water, and drink something nature-made. I recommend Harmless Harvest brand, as it has the highest levels of the good stuff, is organic, never heated, and not from concentrate. Pricey, but I’ll bet you’re happy to spend 5$ on anything if it helps you feel human again.


Find it in the baby section of the store. Get the clear one (avoid the added food coloring), and add some flavored Natural Calm (magnesium powder) or lemon juice for flavor and alkalinity–the electrolyte combo will work wonders as a healthy hangover cure.

Magnesium Water

This is often my go-to because I rarely plan ahead of my hangovers, and I always have this on hand at home. Natural Calm is a powdered magnesium citrate that you can find at any natural grocery store. Most of us are magnesium deficient, and alcohol depletes magnesium even more. Magnesium helps with sleeping, anxiety, muscle cramping, and is a gentle natural laxative.

4. Sweat it Out

While exerting any effort above that which is required to get from the couch to the fridge may sound daunting, exercise can slay a hangover and salvage your day. It may not feel good while you’re doing it, but I promise the movement will help get the toxins out of your system. Sweating helps detoxify, the circulatory boost is going to speed up the processing of any alcohol left in your system, and the endorphins will counter headaches and brain fog. Try to do it first thing when you get up, and you’ll likely feel good enough afterwards to go about your day being productive. Pro-tip: Get outside. Fresh air, and sunshine (if you’re lucky) will help your body’s hormones reset, especially if you stayed up till the wee hours the night before.

5. Sex + Sleep

I feel like this doesn’t need a lot of explanation. You’re probably sleep deprived, but you might not be able to get back to sleep. After you force down some breakfast (see below), get your circulatory system moving with an orgasm, and ride that endorphin rush right to back to bed. Orgasms have the added bonus of relieving headaches (even a migraine!) and lowering stress levels. More advice on curing a headache, here. If you’ve got the day off and nothing pressing needs to be done, why not indulge?

6. Breakfast of Champions

aerial view of breakfast, a healthy hangover cureEating before you go out drinking as well as first thing in the morning is going to make you feel better. Alcohol causes a blood-sugar rollercoaster. One of the reasons you might wake up after a night of drinking feeling weak, light headed, or shaky is due to low blood sugar. Blood sugar fluctuations throughout the night are to blame for waking up multiple times after hitting the sauce, and for waking up earlier than you want to in the morning.

While biscuits and gravy or a flight of pancakes might sound like the best hangover cure, it’s not going to make you feel better for long. You’ll get an initial boost from the sugar (biscuits are just as much glucose as pancakes), but then you’ll feel even more drained after a few hours. The key to a good hangover breakfast is thinking longer-term and getting a heavy dose of protein and fat.

My favorite post-booze meal:

Bacon, eggs, avocado, and some greens. Greens probably won’t sound good the morning of, but sneaking some spinach into an omelette or scramble will give you extra Vitamin C, flavonoids, iron and fiber which your body needs. Nitrite-free bacon is the perfect combo of grease, salt (necessary!), and protein, and will be appetizing no matter how nauseous you feel… because, bacon. Avocado is some healthy fat and a huge dose of potassium. Those electrolytes will be welcome relief in your dehydrated state. Eggs for fat and perfectly balanced protein, while still easy on the tummy. The only thing missing is…

7. Hair of the Dog

lemon water with honey is a healthy hangover cureBe it science or just life-wisdom, a little imbibing the next morning is going to ease your pain. Is there a healthy version of booze for breakfast? I present the ultimate psuedo-healthy hangover cure, The Hangover Toddy: turmeric, fresh ginger, honey (local and raw ideally!), whiskey, black tea, splash of lemon. It has all the makings of a superfood anti-inflammatory miracle, plus a little whiskey for your soul/head. The caffeine in the black tea will help the headache and energy level, lemon to detox liver, turmeric for it’s incredible anti-inflammatory properties, and ginger to calm the tummy. It’s bloody mary’s hippy cousin, and you’re gonna love her.


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