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Hangover - The dreadful feeling is caused by the effects of alcoholic poisoning.

Updated on October 9, 2017
Peter Geekie profile image

A retired pharmaceutical and industrial chemist, author and historian specialising in military events.

Was it really worth it ?
Was it really worth it ?
Chart indicating alcohol effects
Chart indicating alcohol effects
The downside of drinking to excess
The downside of drinking to excess
Would you be capable of knowing if you are sober enough to drive ?
Would you be capable of knowing if you are sober enough to drive ?
A prairie oyster - are you brave enough to drink one ?
A prairie oyster - are you brave enough to drink one ?

Unlike most of the articles I write which address ailments or diseases I had to do a little soul searching before I wrote this. Rightly or wrongly I consider consuming excess alcohol to be self-administered misery. However I’m in no position to adopt such a pious attitude as I’m no different from anyone else and have been stupid enough to overdo it in the past. Of course there are those who are too young or inexperienced to know better and those to which alcohol is an addiction.

Before we start we should understand a few things. Alcohol in its pure form is a serious toxin and will compromise the liver as it works overtime to rid the body of the poison. Once in the blood stream it affects the motor function, eye sight, cardiovascular system, digestive system and the brain.

There are many forms of alcohol and many ways in which it can enter the body. The obvious one is recreationally by ingestion, but it can also enter the bloodstream through the skin and by inhalation. The last two is where you can be at risk from your occupation or environment and should pay heed to protective clothing and your surroundings.

The form of alcohol that we drink is technically known as ethyl alcohol (ethanol) which is produced by distillation from various base substances and has most impurities removed but in its pure form, it is much too strong for the body to cope with. Predominantly what we drink is a max 38-42% but, for instance, commercial Vodka is imported at abt. 90-95% and is then cut back with pure water.

You cannot safely drink other forms of alcohol – there is methyl alcohol (methanol) derived from wood and is highly toxic. Terpene alcohols (terpineol, pine oil) which are distilled from turpentine. Not forgetting the winos favourite methylated spirit which is a denatured alcohol blend of ethyl, methyl and others with additives to make it taste awful and colour it purple. In addition, people have been known to make their own alcohol from potatoes, turnips and other vegetables. Do not do this or drink it as the result can be serious poisoning, liver failure, blindness and death. What I am about to suggest is not suitable for anyone who drinks this kind of alcohol – they require immediate medical attention to avoid liver destruction or death.

The human body and liver, in particular, has the ability to process approximately one unit of alcohol per hour. On a night of heavy drinking, your liver cannot cope and you will suffer the start of alcohol poisoning which can quickly escalate to the point where your system is severely compromised and 5 times the drink-drive limit can result in death. The level of alcohol in a person’s blood can continue to rise for up to 30-40 minutes following their last drink. This can result in the person’s symptoms to suddenly worsening and for that reason do not leave someone to “sleep it off”. In England alone in 2010/11, more than 20,000 people were admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning and from that 188 people died.

Let’s try to plan ahead and take steps to reduce your hangover before you start drinking. There is a Chinese natural remedy called Kudzu (500mg capsules) which contains two phytochemicals (daidzin and daidzen) which will eliminate the worst symptoms of nausea, headache and sickness. Kudzu root is available from Amazon. Another excellent preventative is Artichoke which increases bile production into the duodenum. Available from:

OK –now let’s assume you have had an enjoyable party but have rather overdone the drinking – what can we do to stop the spinning room, blinding headache and sickness – you need to understand these are all classic symptoms of alcohol poisoning.

If your hangover is mild but you are feeling rather sorry for yourself try the following first:

Alcohol is a diuretic which forces fluids from the body – when this happens you lose large amounts of potassium which is needed to keep the fluids in balance. Look no further than bananas – high in potassium and magnesium and used to control blood sugar levels and vitamin C to make you feel better. The fruit sugar replaces that lost by your excess drinking so eat one or two ripe bananas.

Traditional Chinese medicine involves boiling bananas in their skins to make a tea. You may remember from my hub on warts that banana skins contain a powerful enzyme.

Despite all the films or TV never give them coffee. Alcohol dehydrates the body. Coffee will make someone who is already dehydrated even more so and severe dehydration can result in permanent brain damage

If you have really overdone things you need a somewhat more drastic solution. I think we have all heard of “Prairie Oyster” but do you know how to make one and how it will work ?

This is a traditional recipe:

Olive oil (three tablespoons)

Tomato ketchup (one or two tablespoons)

Raw Egg yolk (intact do not break)

Pinch salt and pepper

Tabasco sauce

Worcestershire sauce

Wine vinegar or Lemon juice

Vodka (splash if you must)

Now to explain the action of the contents – Olive oil acts as a liver and gallbladder flush. Raw Egg yolk contains an amino acid N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) this forms part of a natural building block called glutathione which clears toxins from alcohol and tobacco. Tomato ketchup contains bioflavonoids (vitamin P) which boosts the immune system and also clears toxins.

If you can’t face the idea of a Prairie Oyster then there is a supplement available called Intox RX which contains the liver protecting herb Milk Thistle which will regenerate damaged liver cells. Obtainable from Vitamin Research Products

There are various simple remedies which do not have any documented trial evidence but have anecdotal claims:

Suck on a sugar cube soaked in one drop of clove oil (not essential oil) which works as a painkiller and numbs the mind.

Lavender honey – teaspoon each half hour during the night. The honey helps blood sugar levels; lavender is a good all-rounder helping headaches, nausea and indigestion while countering depression caused by alcohol.

Dandelion leaves or tincture – rich in minerals, particularly potassium to regulate fluids.

Parsley – a fresh sprig will freshen breath and soothe your digestion.

If you are in a hurry to sober up then make a tea from the fresh or dried peel of grapefruit. It is full of vitamin C and contains phenolics which will stimulate the body to make its own detoxifying compounds.

Finally, a little history – the Romans who were infamous for their excesses would eat and drink themselves into a stupor. Not being satisfied they would then retire to “vomitories” where a slave would induce an “upward purge”. A few glasses of warm water later they would return to their party. This is not to be recommended as it does little for the alcohol in the bloodstream, but vomiting seems to be an occupational hazard of excess drinking so you should be aware of the following:

Following vomiting, you should soothe your stomach with a cup of peppermint tea which is also antispasmodic. Follow with a few drops of Goldenseal herb dissolved in water or juice which will destroy the mucus and fermentation remaining in the stomach otherwise you will quickly feel nauseous again. This should allow you to return to the party or sleep without holding onto the bed or door frame.

Do you drink alcohol to excess and suffer later

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© 2012 Peter Geekie


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    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      6 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Thank you MargaritaEden, for your kind comments.

      I have to admit, in my youth, I always though Prairie Oysters were made that way just to be as horrible as possible !

      kind regards Peter

    • MargaritaEden profile image


      6 years ago from Oregon

      Wow very interesting hub, I love that you explain why each ingredient in the recipe for hangover is used, useful hub!

    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      6 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Thank you Kate

      I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading more of your articles as soon as time permits.

      Kind regards Peter

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 

      6 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      This is a great hub Peter-the information is so sound and well put together.I am looking forward to reading more from you.All the best in the meantime.Kate

    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      6 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Be gentle with her Ruchira, no sudden noises

      kind regards Peter

    • Ruchira profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Great tips for hangover, peter.

      I am fwding it to a friend who drinks in excess and next day is difficult.

    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      6 years ago from Sittingbourne

      I do thank you tillsontitian - I also don't drink these days for two reasons 1. I am allergic

      2. I have never enjoyed the feeling of being drunk

      I know some people's idea of a good night out is becoming blotto. I can only assume they have never seen a diseased liver otherwise apart from a social glass of wine (which is quite beneficial ) they would never touch another drop. However my chosen career was to help people not judge them - so, hey ho here is the way to survive it.

      Kind regards Peter

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I found this very interesting but I have to say not useful for me. As we age we realize drinking until you're drunk is a waste of time and energy though I am sure there are plenty of people out there still doing it. I actually don't drink at all anymore. I voted this up and interesting and I have a feeling there will be some trying your remedies Peter!

    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      6 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Thank you Nell,

      I am actually allergic to alcohol (hence I was a cheap drunk !) and you are quite right ethyl alcohol would cause me a significant problem. I think they produce an alcohol free version (Probably more for religious reasons) Worcestershire sauce is very similar to marmite, you either love or hate it - nothing in between.

      Kind regards Peter

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi, I remember a hangover very well, but luckily I haven't had one for ages! the one thing that does get me is that I use salbutamol for my asthma and they changed the accelerant to ethanol! what happens if I am alergic to alcohol? it tastes like gone off vodka! I think that's why I don't drink anymore! I noticed you put worcestershire sauce, I can definitely verify that does definitely work! I remember drinking it the day after as a cure for the hair of the dog! lol! interesting stuff, thanks nell


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