Alcohol is something best enjoyed in moderation. Excessive alcohol use can do a lot of damage and cause both personal and professional problems. Even occasional alcohol use can have dramatic effects the next day. Hangover cures used at home can ease headaches and settle stomachs. Natural remedies can also help substitute for alcoholic beverages and reduce alcohol consumption as well.

In the following excerpt from Secret Food Cures by Joan and Lydia Wilen relate the hangover cures to use at home they’ve come across, and ways to reduce alcohol consumption.


Drinking alcohol in excess can make you look wrinkled and haggard, can destroy vital organs and, in general, ruin your life.

For the problem drinker, we strongly recommend the leading self-help organization for combating alcoholism—Alcoholics Anonymous. Headquartered in New York City, the organization is a support group for people with drinking problems. Go to for more information, or check the White Pages of the telephone book for your local chapter.

This section provides natural remedies for the social drinker who, occasionally, has one too many.

Dietary Remedies

• Before you have a drink, sprinkle nutmeg into a glass of milk and sip it slowly. It may help absorb and neutralize the effects of alcoholic beverages.

• The Greek philosopher and teacher Aristotle (384–322 BC) advised his followers to eat a big chunk of cabbage before imbibing. Cole slaw—which is made from cabbage and vinegar—is said to be an even more effective intoxication preventive.

• The best way to hold your liquor is in the bottle it comes in! One way to help you do that is, when sober, look at a man or woman who is drunk. It’s not often a pretty sight.

Sober Up

The following suggestions are meant for people who have drunk too much alcohol—that is, these remedies may make them more alert and communicative.

However, DO NOT trust or depend on those people’s reflexes, especially behind the wheel of a car. It generally takes one hour per 20 milligrams of alcohol consumed to sober up…in other words, wait an hour after each bottle of beer, glass of wine or shot of liquor.

• If a drunk person imagines that the room is spinning, have him/her lie down on a bed and put one foot on the floor to stop that feeling.

• Honey contains fructose, which promotes the chemical breakdown of alcohol. Start by giving the drunk person one or two teaspoons of honey. Follow that with one teaspoon of honey every half-hour for the next couple of hours.

WARNING: Do not give honey to someone who is diabetic or allergic to honey.

• To help sober up an intoxicated person, try feeding him cucumber—as much as he is willing to eat. The cuke’s enzyme, erepsin, may lessen the effect of alcohol.

• Try sobering up someone who’s tipsy by massaging the tip of his nose.

CAUTION: Stimulation of the tip of the nose can cause vomiting, so don’t stand right in front of the person you’re sobering up.

• This is a Siberian method of sobering up a drunk person. Have him lie flat on his back. Place the palms of your hands on his ears. Next, rub both ears briskly and strongly in a circular motion. Within minutes, the person should start coming around.

While he may be a lot more sober than before you rubbed his ears, he should NOT be trusted behind the wheel of a car.

Hangover Help

In simplified terms, a hangover is the disagreeable physical effect—a headache or nausea, for example—caused by drinking too much alcohol. Hangovers can make a fun night turn into a bad morning.

• Hangovers can also be caused by an allergy or sensitivity to what you drank. Using homeopathic theory (like fights like), put one drop of the alcohol in a glass of water. Take three sips. If the hangover symptoms do not disappear within five minutes, then drink the rest of the glass of water. If you still don’t feel better within a few minutes, then your hangover is not allergy-caused.

• For the morning after, take 1 ⁄8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a glass of water.

• Evening primrose oil (soft gels are available at health food stores) is said to help replenish the amino acids and gamma-linoleic acid that’s lost when you drink alcoholic beverages. Take 1,000 milligrams (mg) with lots of water or orange juice before you go to sleep.

Too late for that? Okay then, take it when you wake up and are desperate for anything that will help you feel human again.

• According to the Chinese, a cup of ginger tea will help calm an unsettled stomach caused by a hangover. To relieve eye, ear, mouth, nose and brain pain from the hangover, knead the fleshy part of the hand between the thumb and the index finger on both hands. For a pounding hangover headache, massage each thumb, just below the knuckles.

Sweet Solution

• Take one tablespoon of honey every minute for five minutes. Repeat the procedure a halfhour later.

WARNING: Do not give honey to someone who is diabetic or allergic to honey.

• Rub 1 ⁄4 lemon on each armpit. That may ease the discomfort of a hangover.

• If you insist on drinking, you may be interested to know that a research team from England advises drinkers to guzzle clear alcohols—gin, vodka or white rum—to lessen the chances of that “morning after” feeling. Red wine and whiskey seem to have more hangover-promoting elements.

Morning-After Breakfast

• Bananas and milk is the breakfast of choice of many hangover sufferers. It may be effective due to the fact that alcohol depletes the magnesium in one’s body, and bananas and milk replenish the supply.

You may want to add tomato, carrot, celery and/or beet juice to replenish the B and C vitamins along with some trace minerals that alcohol may also deplete.

Listen to a Wise Old Owl

• The famed Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (who lived from 23–79 AD and wrote a comprehensive encyclopedia called Natural history) recommended eating the eggs of an owl.

While owl eggs may be hard to come by, all eggs are a source of cysteine, which helps the body manufacture glutathione, an antioxidant that gets depleted when alcohol is present. So an omelet could be a helpful hangover breakfast.

Pliny may have eased the symptoms of many a hangover with those eggs. Look who was the wise old owl, after all.

• Have a hangover? Feel like pulling your hair out? Good idea, but don’t go all the way. Just pull your hair, clump by clump, until it hurts a little (don’t pull the hair out).

According to a noted reflexologist, hairpulling is stimulating to the entire body and can help lessen the symptoms of a hangover.

• When you have a throbbing hangover headache, eat a raw persimmon for relief. From now on, if you insist on drinking, make sure it’s persimmon season.

• Hangover sufferers are sometimes advised to just “sleep it off.” That’s smart advice, since a contributing factor to hangovers is the lack of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which alcohol seems to suppress. So go ahead and sleep it off!

• A Chinese hangover remedy calls for eating 10 strawberries and drinking a glass of fresh tangerine juice. Hmmm—sounds good even if you don’t have a hangover.

• Hungarian gypsies recommend a bowl of chicken soup with rice. What could be bad?

Another Chicken Soup Remedy

• Cysteine is an amino acid that helps the body manufacture glutathione, an antioxidant that gets depleted when it has the chore of contending with alcohol. According to a study performed at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), cysteine is present in chicken. Therefore, chicken soup may help replenish the body’s needed supply of cysteine, easing hangover symptoms at the same time.

• A glass of sauerkraut juice is said to be effective. If the pure juice is hard for you to take, add some tomato juice to it. Or, eat lots of raw cabbage. That’s been known to work wonders.

Gimme a B!

• Some of the B-complex vitamins are B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), nicotinamide and pyridoxine. They are helpful in aiding carbohydrate metabolization, nerve function, the cellular oxidation process and the dilation of blood vessels, all of which are helpful for hangovers. Impressed?

If you have overindulged and are anticipating waking up with a hangover, take a vitamin B-complex supplement with two or three glasses of water before you go to bed. If you pass out before remembering to take the B-complex, take the vitamin as soon as possible after you awaken.

• There are some of you who will not be happy until you find a “hair of the dog” hangover remedy. Here’s one we were told comes from a voodoo practitioner in New Orleans.

In a blender, add one ounce of Pernod, one ounce of white crème de cacao and three ounces of milk, plus three ice cubes. Blend, drink and good luck!

Easing the Urge to Drink

• A tangy beverage can ease and erase the urge to imbibe. Have a glass of tomato juice with the juice of one lemon added. You might also want to throw in a couple of ice cubes. Stir well. Sip slowly as you would an alcoholic drink.

• The supplement glutamine is helpful in easing the urge for alcohol. Take 500 mg three times a day.

Intoxication Prevention

We’re reporting the remedies that supposedly prevent a person from getting drunk, but we ask that you please take full responsibility for your drinking. If you drink, DO NOT trust or test your reflexes—especially behind the wheel of a car—no matter how sober you seem to feel, or which preventive remedies you take. And women who are pregnant or nursing should not consume alcohol.

• Native Americans recommend eating raw (not roasted) almonds before drinking. Consume them on an empty stomach.

• Healers in West Africa suggest eating peanut butter before imbibing.

• Gem therapists tell of the power of amethysts. In Greek, amethyst is ametusios and means “remedy against drunkenness.” Please don’t take this to mean that if you carry an amethyst and you drink, you won’t get drunk.

It’s that carrying an amethyst should give one the strength to refuse a drink and, therefore, prevent intoxication.

Women, Take Heed

Women who drink right before menstruating—when their estrogen level is low—get drunk more easily, usually become more nauseated and experience rougher hangovers than at any other time during their cycle.

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