61—Steady yourself...

‘Tis the time for Tipple Tips

A group of people clink filled wine glasses to indicate drinking alcohol responsibly

Hangovers are the antidote to self-inflicted fun

There is no two ways about it, the process of creating a Hangover is jolly rollicking fun. Unfortunately though, having to suffer through ‘the day after the night before’ more than counter-balances all this festive frivolity.

While the cause of a Hangover is multi-factorial, I think we can all agree on the primary issue — drinking too much! A hangover stems from drinking in excess (not just from drinking alcohol), and impacts the body in the following ways:

  1. Excess alcohol overwhelms the liver

    Excess alcohol cannot be effectively eliminated from your body therefore harmful metabolic byproducts build-up  e.g. acetaldehyde.

  2. Alcohol causes dehydration

    Alcohol inhibits ADH secretion (Anti-diuretic hormone). This causes you to need to urinate.

  3. Alcohol depletes your nutrient levels

    Primarily electrolytes e.g. Potassium.

  4. Alcohol affects your blood-sugar balance

  5. You can be sensitive to other substances in alcohol

    Your body can overreact to sulphites + sugar + colourings + congeners

    Note:  Congeners are substances produced during the fermentation process (other than alcohol).

A hangover can include the following symptoms: nausea, headache, dizziness, disorientation, sweating, low blood-pressure, fatigue, depression, disturbed sleep, and ‘The Shakes’.

Note: Severe self-pity is also a very common side-effect of drinking to excess…

My top Tipple-Tips

The best Naturopathic tip I can give you — to prevent a Hangover — is not to drink more than two standard drinks in a day. However, if this is unrealistic for you, then you will thank me for the following recommendations:

  1. Really focus on what you're drinking

    If you buy cheap alcohol, then you’ll treat it like cheap plonk. You won’t really appreciate the quality of it (the aroma, taste, or texture). You will be more inclined to drink more of it, and more often.

    I encourage my clients to drink high quality, more expensive alcohol.  This way they savour it (sit on it) and are reluctant to drink large quantities of it.

    Note: An average person’s liver can only break down around one standard drink of alcohol per hour.

  2. Time yourself

    Your body-clock works in strange and mysterious ways. If you drink alcohol at lunch-time it tends to make you sleepy. If you drink it too late at night, it interrupts your sleep. And, if you drink even the slightest bit past ‘The Witching Hour’ the effects can be very disturbing (the liver will struggle to metabolise alcohol and thus intensify the ill-effects — including making you feel + act drunker!)

    The best time of the day to metabolise the ‘demon drink’ is generally 5pm—10pm. This makes after-work drinks, and dinner-dates the perfect time to partake in a tipple.

    I generally tell my clients who are over 30 years old to make 8pm their cut-off time. (As you physically can’t handle liquor as well as you did in your 20s.)

    Note:  If you are a female, you will probably find that the rate at which you metabolise alcohol is variable depending upon where you are in your menstrual cycle. You may find that the first two weeks of your cycle you can metabolise alcohol better than the last two (after you’ve ovulated). If you’re on ‘The Pill’ you may find that you’re more susceptible to hangovers in general…

  3. Cheer up, Charlie!

    Straight fructose (fructose without the fruit) speeds up the metabolism of alcohol by your liver.

    If you’ve over-indulged with your ‘Grog’, make sure you chug back 1—2 250ml glasses of Charlie’s OJ or Coconut Water before you retire for the evening. (Or let the last thing you order at the bar be a glass or two of pure tomato juice).

    Note: Make sure the product is pure juice (that there is no table sugar added).

    Alternatively to juice, you could have 1—2 heaping dessert spoons of honey, agave syrup, or maple syrup (either take directly off the spoon or add it to warm water and drink).

    Important: Don’t think you can save this trick for the next day — it’s likely to make you feel worse when you actually have a Hangover.

    Note:  I don’t encourage my clients to have straight fructose at any other time other than if they have been drinking alcohol. (I only encourage them to eat fructose in the form of fruit – and only in moderation.) This is because fructose wreaks metabolic havoc in the body.

  4. Shake it off

    A Banana Protein Shake is one of the best brekky’s you can have after a night of heavy boozing.

    Blend together:
    1x ripe banana
    1x serving of protein powder, and
    250ml of non-dairy milk

    The ‘narnie’ helps to replace lost potassium and gives you a serotonin boost. And the protein powder provides the amino acids needed to speed up alcohol detoxification.

    As an added bonus: There are no ‘cooking smells’ to set-you-off, and a ‘milky’ smoothie helps to ease irritated stomach linings.

    Note: You’ll obviously need to continually hydrate throughout the day – as you normally would. However, in this instance it would pay to add a pinch of unrefined salt to each 1L water bottle that you drink. This will help to replace electrolytes and boost your lowered blood pressure (due to your low water volume).
    If you are suffering from mental confusion or you’re feeling shaky (as an alternative) you might like to add 1 tsp of magnesium powder to your 1L bottle of water. Sip away on this. (This mineral helps to create energy + relax you.)

If you must have coffee the next day — to minimise a headache or to give you some OOMPH — limit yourself to 1 cup.  While drinking caffeine is better than taking painkillers, this drink will further rob you off water + nutrients if you’re not careful.

A man lies on a couch hiding his head with cushions as he is experiencing severe untreated food intolerance
Say "Whoa — that's me" the night before, so you don't have to say "Woe is me" the next morning ;-]

Timeless Tipple—Tips

DON’T do this on big nights out

1. Don’t drink Champagne, sparkling wine, fizzy drink or sparkling water. Fizz sends alcohol into your bloodstream more quickly.

2. Don’t alternate alcoholic drinks with mocktails. This sugary crap will mess with your blood sugar levels and will also dehydrate you.

3. Don’t drink ‘dark’ drinks (bourbon, brandy, whiskey, tequila, dark beer, and red wine). They contain more congeners than ‘light’ or clear drinks (rum, vodka, gin, ales, lagers, and white wine). Congeners can cause or intensify your hangover symptoms.

4. Don’t be a bloody idiot — don’t drink and drive.

DO do this on big nights out:

1. Do eat a complete dinner before you start drinking (this contains fat, carbs and protein)

2. While you would normally avoid taking your (good quality) Multi-vitamin + mineral at night (as it would effect your ability to fall asleep). When you’re going ‘boozing’ —  Do take an extra ‘Multi’ straight after your dinner (it should contain between 25-50mg of the B-group vitamins).

It would also pay to take:
Vitamin C 1000mg
(it helps to clear alcohol from your system)

Zinc 25mg
(it helps your body to make alcohol dehydrogenase – the enzyme you need to metabolise alcohol)

Milk Thistle (Silymarin marianum) standardised to contain 168mg
(to protect and rebuild your liver.)

Note: Take these tablets straight after you’ve eaten your dinner, and again in the morning after your Banana Protein Smoothie

3. Do nurse two drinks — one alcoholic + one plain, filtered water. Alternate sips!

Would you like to read more from me about alcohol?

Then, by all means, please click this link.


Lisa says:


It’s my job to put a dampener on such things! ;-]

Regardless of anything else, alcohol is bad for your liver, it affects your sleep, it depletes you in nutrients, and can cause you to feel depressed, among many other health issues and social concerns.

Medication and alcohol is also bad

There are many over-the-counter + prescription medications that interact negatively with alcohol. If you are taking any of the following types of medication, it would pay to do your homework to be aware of any potentially harmful interactions that could occur:

Antacid (Heart-burn)
Blood pressure control
Blood thinner
Blood-sugar control
Cholesterol reducing
Cold + flu
Cough inhibitor
Hypnotic (Sleep inducing)


Ideally I advise my clients to drink no more than two nights per week, and to ration out the bottle.  Contrary to what most Kiwis think, there are — on average — 8 glasses of wine to the bottle (more if the alcohol content is higher) Therefore a standard drink is approx. 100ml (not a quarter of a bottle).

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night out!

Make an appointment with Lisa

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a degree qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice – OOMPH in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand.

Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 16 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.

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