A new book by Lauren Shockey titled "Hangover Helper" is filled with recipes for those among us that like to do it all our self. But it is very important to understand what a hungover is and what are the main causes. Doctors around the world say that a good diagnose is half the cure.
What are hangovers?
Hangovers: nasty vertigo-inducing, cold sweat-promoting and vomit-producing sensations are a product of your body's attempt to break down the alcohol you consumed so your kidneys can clear it out as soon as possible. These inflammatory and metabolic reactions are what we describe as a hangover.
The body works overtime
Too much drinking will insure a hangover. How much you can drink varies in each person based on genetic factors and also it depends on whether there are other substances along with ethanol in the fermentation process.
During a period of heavy drinking, your blood alcohol level rises progressively and your body works extra to break down the consumed alcohol. This is because this alcohol in your blood is forming oxygen free radicals and acetaldehyde, which is a harmful compound. It affects cellular membranes, proteins and DNA. At this point the body is working very hard so your enzymes quickly metabolize acetaldehyde to a less toxic compound, acetate.
The reaction of the body during this process is what we experience as a hangover and you are likely to experience it as the level of ethanol in your blood slowly decreases. What scientist know to be the leading causes of a hangover include:
· Hormonal levels change to diminish dehydration and cellular stress.
· A variety of neurotransmitter systems in the brain gets affected like glutamate, dopamine and serotonin.
· Increasing inflammation in the body's tissues
· Healthy gut bacteria in your digestive system take a hit too, promoting leaky gut.
The combination of these reactions and protection mechanisms of the body can last up to 48 hours. They can also influence mood as well. Sleep deprivation and hormonal stress reactions can produce fatigue which in turn may influence your neurobiological responses and behavior.
You're more likely to be irritated, exhausted and want nothing more than to be left alone. At the same time your work productivity can go to zero level the day after an evening of heavy drinking.
How do people recover from hangovers?
Suffice to say that like us non-medical specialists, pharmacologists understand somewhat about how hangovers work. However, we still lack a proper remedy.
There are numerous articles describing foods, caffeine, energy drinks, ion replenishment, herbal supplements like thyme and ginger and vitamins to help us prevent and treat hangovers. Sadly, they're not scientifically validated.
Scientist are working to fill this knowledge gap trying to find scientific evidence that support or reject potential hangover remedies. One of those remedies is dihydromyricetin, Chinese herbal medicine that is at present available as a dietary supplement to reduce hangovers or prevent them.
Dihydromyricetin benefits are being analyzed because it enhances alcohol metabolism and reduces its toxic byproduct, acetaldehyde. It increases the expression and activity of enzymes in charge of ethanol and acetaldehyde metabolism in the liver, which we all know is the organ where ethanol is primarily processed.
This enhancement of alcohol metabolism may also result in changes in alcohol drinking behavior. Dihydromyricetin was found to counteract the relaxation effect of drinking alcohol by interfering with particular neuroreceptors in the brain this might reduce levels of intoxicated and consequently reduce ethanol intake which means that it could potentially reduce drinking behavior and damages related with substantial alcohol consumption.
The best method to avoid a hangover is limiting alcohol consumption and replacing with water several of those drinks during social gathering and for those occasions when one drink leads to a few more, make sure to stay hydrated and wait a prudential time between drinks.
The best bet for a smoother recovery would probably be a combination of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen and a little downtime.
Tackling dehydration and increasing low blood sugar levels is key, and drinking lots of water and eating carbs, healthy fats and protein can also help.