Can Hangovers Be Prevented?

Before we get started, let's agree upon the obvious: the best way to prevent a hangover (medically termed veisalgia) is not to drink alcohol to excess or at all.

Now that we've got that out of the way, is there any way to prevent the inevitable "morning after" that follows an evening of unhealthy indulgence?

It turns out that there just may be. And not only will it help the sufferer feel better but it may help lower some of alcohol's adverse effects on the brain and body.

What Alcohol Does to Your Body

Although the body makes a small amount of alcohol each day, alcohol consumed in the form of beer, wine, or liquor can easily become toxic. The body's detoxification process, which takes place in the liver or stomach, involves the processing of alcohol via the enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase or catalase to form a compound known as acetaldehyde.

If alcohol is rapidly consumed, it can overload the body's ability to detoxify acetaldehyde, resulting in a significant increase in acetaldehyde in the bloodstream. Acetaldehyde produces free radicals and damages the body's tissues. Additionally, long-term alcohol use can impair the enzymatic detoxification system.

A study of 13 men found that visual, memory, and intellectual process functions were decreased 13 hours after drinking a high dose of alcohol.1 The authors concluded that “alcohol hangovers have a negative effect on cognitive functions, particularly on the higher cortical and visual functions associated with the left hemisphere and right posterior hemisphere."

In 48 healthy volunteers who received alcohol or a placebo, impairment in delayed recall occurred in the group that received alcohol, adding evidence to a negative effect on memory.2

In mice given saline or ethyl alcohol, cerebellar mitochondrial function after six hours (determined to be the onset of the "hangover" phase) was impaired as evidenced by decreased mitochondrial membrane potential and permeability.3 (Mitochondria are the cells' energy-producing organelles.) The authors remark that the study revealed the long-lasting effects of acute alcohol exposure in the central nervous system.

Although moderate drinking, particularly of wine, has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, men who reported at least one hangover per month were found to have more than twice the risk of cardiovascular mortality over a 6.7 year average follow-up than men with fewer hangovers.4

Natural Remedies for Hangovers

A number of home remedies for hangover have their adherents but many of these remedies have not been clinically researched. However, based on our review of the research in this area, we have found that there are indeed natural ways to mitigate the effects that alcohol has on the body.

Ginseng berries, in addition to the more commonly consumed root, have also shown promise by reducing levels of alcohol, acetaldehyde, and free radicals in experimental research.5

It is of interest to note that mineral deficient conditions are associated with symptoms similar to those of hangover, and suggests the initiation of controlled trials of minerals that include selenium, zinc, magnesium, or other minerals.6 Zinc is a potent antioxidant that promotes healthy immune and cellular function.7

The research of Dr. Herbert Sprince who found that a combination of the antioxidants vitamins B1 (thiamin) and C and the amino acid L-cysteine prevented the death of rats given a dose of acetaldehyde that killed 90% of another group of rats that did not receive the protective nutrients.8,9 Alcohol consumption can actually deplete levels of vitamins B1 and C.10

Silymarin is a compound from milk thistle that supports healthy cellular proliferation by inhibiting the conversion of ethanol to toxic acetaldehyde and by supporting superoxide dismutaste (SOD) and glutathione.11 Glutathione is one of the body’s most important natural antioxidants that plays a key role in alcohol detoxification.

Clove extract has shown impressive results in human studies by boosting the detoxification of damaging alcohol by-products as well as regulating oxidative stress and easing inflammation.12 Clove may even mitigate discomfort following alcohol overindulgence.

Preventing a hangover can not only relieve morning-after misery but help avoid alcohol-induced damage to the body. The intake of specific nutrients shortly before, during and/or after ingesting alcohol can help make drinking safer.

It goes without saying that moderation is the key when consuming alcohol, and that women and people with liver diseases should consume lower amounts than men or healthy individuals. For those who choose to drink, be advised that the nutrients discussed in this article will not alleviate the immediate effects of alcohol that include impaired judgment and proneness to accidents.


  1. Kim DJ et al. Int J Neurosci. 2003 Apr;113(4):581-94.
  2. Verster JC et al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003 Apr;28(4):740-6.
  3. Karadayian AG et al. Neuroscience. 2015 Sep 24;304:47-59.
  4. Kauhanen J et al. Epidemiology. 1997 May;8(3):310-4.
  5. Lee do I et al. J Food Sci. 2014 Jul;79(7):C1323-30.
  6. Min JA et al. Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2010 Jun;3(2):110-5.
  8. Pearson D et al. Life Extension: A Practical, Scientific Approach. New York: Warner. 1982.
  9. Sprince H et al. Fed Proc. Mar;33(33) pt 1. 1974.


Anonymous said...

Мy husband has to read this! I hope he will take a lesson!

E. S.

Anonymous said...

Just some things to keep in mind before you drink:
Alcohol abuse is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcoholic liver disease is one of many conditions associated with alcohol misuse. It has a broad spectrum, ranging from mild fatty changes in the liver to frank cirrhosis of the liver. Nearly all individuals who consume a significant amount of alcohol (ie, >40 grams a day) will develop early fatty changes that can be seen on liver biopsy, and approximately 10% to 20% will eventually go on to develop cirrhosis.
In addition, there is another distinct form of alcoholic liver disease, acute alcoholic hepatitis, which is a lethal and feared complication of alcohol abuse. This condition occurs in approximately 30% to 45% of alcoholics at some point in their lives. This is a dangerous disease in which the 28-day mortality in severe cases can be as high as 50%.

The role of binge drinking pattern in modifying the effect of alcohol on the risk of liver cirrhosis has been emphasized in epidemiological and experimental studies. In a cohort study of the prevalence of chronic liver disease in the general population, Belentani et al. found that drinking alcohol outside meal increase the risk of developing alcohol induced liver damage. Additional results showed that women who drank primarily on weekend were at higher risk of liver damage than women who drink moderately throughout the week. Another study which evaluated the drinking patterns of patients with cirrhosis reported that 32% of them were binge drinkers. Emerging evidence indicate that binge drinking is more hepatotoxic than consumption of a lower volume of drinks per drinking occasion. Binge drinking has profound effects on biochemical, immunological, and bioenergetics processes in the liver and amplifies the risk of liver damage.

Jerick said...

Thank you for this blog! it`s helped me a lot to know more about all information of those rehabilitation centers that have near with us. You've a good point here! Once again thank you sharing this post.

Demz said...

Howdy excellent blog! every addict has their own unique and specific needs, we must also teach them to accept responsibility and not blame others for their anger. Cause being treated is the way to recover addiction.

Life Extension said...

Jerick and Demz - thank you for your feedback, glad you like this blog post!

Jaqulin Farnandez said...

If you do not want to get caught after you had drinks than you need to make sure that you do not get the symptoms of hangover.. Otherwise you will get caught. How to reduce hangover symptoms is easy. You can either have supplements or vitamin or even lime juice to remove the hangover.

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