I bet you’d never consider asking a Health Coach for a hangover solution. Lucky for you, I’m not your ordinary Health Coach. Sure, I like kale and all of that, but truly, I also LOVE a good night out with friends. I’ve tried the occasional mocktail, and some are nice (Kin Euphorics being my favorite), but for me, there’s no substitute for the real deal. Now, as a Health Coach and a human being with a working brain, I know that alcohol isn’t the best for my health. It ages you, shrinks your brain, wreaks havoc on your gut lining, blah blah blah. But! On the other hand, some of the longest-lived people in the world enjoy booze on a daily basis with friends and frankly, that’s good enough evidence for me. My grandmother will be 94 and the woman loves herself a G&T. So, rather than abstain entirely like some martyr, I choose to enjoy (mostly) responsibly by trying not to overdo it.and like a good girl – I always take my “vitamins” when I drink.
In my mid-thirties, I started to notice a few things about my alcohol consumption. First and foremost, it was nearly impossible for me to have more than a few drinks without paying for it the next day. With two very young, close-in-age children, one day of having to solo parent hungover was almost enough for me to call it quits. But I’m not a fucking quitter. So. After I threw an adult tantrum about how HIGHLY UNFAIR it was to be punished for such a thing, I got to work experimenting with some of the supposed hangover “cures” on the market. I won’t mention any by name, but I did notice a difference the next morning with most of them. So naturally, I wanted to figure out WHY they worked. To further my quest, I took to the great and powerful Google. I came across a study looking at the amino acid L-Cysteine and its effect on hangovers. Though this study is hardly proof (it is mostly correlational), when I looked at the pills and potions in my pantry, I notice the hangover “cures” that worked well DID contain L-Cysteine! I picked up some from my favorite supplement brand and got to the tough work of testing out my new theory.
After a few mom’s nights out and Taco Tuesdays, I started to feel pretty confident in my newfound concoction. I even started expanding my test to close friends who also liked to imbibe. All reported similar positive effects.
Here’s some more great news. L-cysteine is GOOD for way more than just hangovers! It’s an amino acid made in small amounts in the body (a semi-essential amino acid), but it’s needed to make glutathione – an antioxidant that’s crucial to your health. L-cysteine can assist in scavenging free radicals in the body, promotes detoxification (your liver thanks you), helps break down mucus in your body, can promote hair and nail growth (me and a few friends have experienced this personally), and has potential to treat certain psychiatric disorders like addiction and depression. All of this to say – taking l-cysteine is beneficial beyond hangover prevention!
So, how to use these? Take one pill (500 mg) before you start drinking. I sometimes take a second at the end of my night (if it’s been a particularly “fun” day/evening). If you miss that first dose, you can always take 1-2 pills at the end of the night with PLENTY OF WATER. Hear me on the water. We all “know” we need to drink water while drinking alcohol, but it is crucial to the effectiveness of the pills (read: hangover prevention) to drink enough water with these. Easy enough, right?
And because I love a pill and a potion, I’m going to tell you about my full regimen for drinking/hangovers. This protocol is largely inspired by the amazing book “Evening Primrose Oil (1000 mg 2 times per day)
Here’s some good news: none of these supplements are solely for hangover prevention/treatment only – they all have many additional benefits. Evening primrose can improve circulation and reduce inflammation (and is claimed to lessen cravings for alcohol). Vitamin C is a big “duh” for immunity. Magnesium has so many benefits I literally need an entire post just on magnesium and why we’re probably ALL deficient. The brand that I love and personally use has seven different kinds of magnesium – most brands only have one or two. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard that MSM is great for your joints and cartilage. Milk thistle and schisandra help the liver detoxify and promote the regeneration of new liver cells. Finally, glutathione is one of the most (if not THE most) important antioxidant in the body and sadly, is depleted when you drink alcohol so I like to make sure I’m always topped off!
So, while I just spent an entire blog post touting the benefits and wonders of supplements, I have a word of caution. First of all, supplements are not regulated by anyone and while we all may have beef with our FDA and governmental agencies for this reason or that – the reality is that regulation does assure some sort of standard. Without regulation, you honestly don’t know what you’re getting unless you’re a secret scientist with a lab in your house and have the ability to test what’s in your pills. When I am picking supplements for my personal use (anything I recommend is always something I’ve guinea-pigged on myself), I try to research the company’s third-party testing. They should have some sort of testing done by a reputable agency stating that whatever they claim is in their supplements is actually there. Shockingly, there’s been cases of all kinds of weird shit showing up in supplements (and not what’s advertised on the bottle) – so I highly encourage you to do your own research.
Finally – and most importantly – I am not a doctor or pharmacist, nor do I claim to know even a quarter of what they know. Whenever I post about supplements or anything else, it shouldn’t be construed as giving medical advice. If you’re interested in trying some of the supplements I suggest, ASK YOUR DOCTOR. This is incredibly important if you have any sort of medical condition and/or are taking prescription medication. Supplements may interact with certain medications. This is more than a CYA (CMA?). My purpose in sharing supplement suggestions or advice is to enrich your life – I want to help everyone live a happy, healthy life, age gracefully, and have fun in the process. I hope my suggestions further those aims, but occasionally they may not. So, take what work for you and leave the rest!