The Russians have century-long traditions of drinking spirits, and effective recipes for dealing with the pain the next morning. In this Definite How-to Guide:
Click any of the links above to jump straight to the right section. If you already have a hangover, it might be too late to speak about prevention, and you might just not get curious enough to read about the cause and metabolism of hangover.
You get a hangover the next morning when you drink too much. The term refers to a range of unpleasant and painful symptoms you can feel in your body. Your head aches, your mouth is dry, and you feel extremely thirsty. If you try to move, you feel dizzy and nauseated. Those are the typical symptoms of a hangover.
The symptoms are caused by two major factors: the dehydration effect caused by alcohol, and the poisoning of your body caused by the toxic effects of alcohol. If you’re really interested in what exact chemistry develops in your body as it tries to dissolve the spirit, read one of the more scientific guides (there are plenty around). For effectively curing the consequences of a wild party, you just need to know two words: poisoning and dehydration.
- Drink reasonably
- Eat some butter before you leave
- Drink a glass of milk and a multi-vitamin before partying
- Drink a glass of milk before going to bed
- Eat up! Eat a pickle (some herring, a slice of meat or at least some bread) every time you have a drink
- No chocolate, no sugar and no sweet things when you drink
- No pop or other carbonated drinks
- If you feel bad, throw up
The best way to avoid hangover is not drinking at all. That’s right. Another word of wisdom: not having sex is the best way to avoid getting pregnant. OK, let’s move on.
Drinking reasonably and drinking just enough will definitely help you feel better the next morning. Unlike sex, having just a little alcohol will not leave you with a big belly or a cracking head. Drink reasonable if you can, and you’ll be much better off than any pill can do.
If you’re up to a wild party, it’s better to get yourself prepared by taking a few preliminary measures that will help your body better resist to the toxic effects caused by alcohol.
Eat a slice of butter before leaving for the party. This will protect your stomach and slow down the absorption of alcohol in your stomach. Take a multi-vitamin, this will help your body prepare for the depletion of nutrients. You can have a glass of milk and a vitamin pill, that won’t hurt either.
After a party, just before going to bed, drink a glass of milk. Milk will help hydrate the body without making you pee throughout the night.
Eat up! Make sure you eat something every time you have a drink. Zakuska is the best thing the Russians came up with that helps your body take hard drinks better. Eating when you drink will cause your stomach to slow the movement of food and liquid through your body so the digestive process can occur. But make sure that something you eat is not made of sugar. No Mars bars, no doughnuts, no chocolate cookies and no sweets; all of these will have an opposite effect to what you want to achieve. Bite a piece of plain bread, a pickle, some herring or salmon, or just a piece of meat (the fattier, the better), and you’ll be better off than your buddies by the end of the party – and miles ahead the next morning.
No carbonated drinks and no pop. Carbonated drinks, even mineral water with gas, aggravate the effects of alcohol, and cause detrimental effects to your health the next morning.
And the last thing: if you feel like throwing up at any time during the party, go out and do throw up. It helps a lot with the poisoning.
So you found this page too late, and drank too much already while not being prepared. No big deal; some Russians wake up like that every other day. There are easy and reliable cures to help your body heal.
A Word on Hangover Pills
Not Recommended. Your body is already poisoned enough, and adding more chemicals to the mix will add more unnecessary stress to your liver. Granted, hangover pills will relieve or at least alleviate many symptoms of a hangover, but the general cause, dehydration and poisoning, will continue hurting your body, causing detrimental effect to your health in the long term.
Remember what we said in the first chapter? A hangover is caused by dehydration and poisoning of your body. A substantial dehydration and a strong poisoning, as anything less than that won’t make you feel that bad. In fact, your body needs about 1.5 liters (about 0.4 gallons) to restore the balance. Give it some liquid! Drink a lot of liquid, just not all at once. Slowly drinking about 1.5 liters (0.4 gallons) of liquid in about an hour is the best thing you can do to help your body restore its water balance and help it start taking toxins out of the body. Water is also a perfect transport for the toxins, carrying bad stuff away and out of your body. Drinking lots of liquid helps your body detox itself.
Restoring a water balance is good, but what about electrolyte balance? Your body needs many elements to function properly. If you simply drink a lot of pure water, you’ll inevitably ruin that balance, making things worse compared to other drinks.
The best thing you can drink after a hangover is pickle juice. Yep, just that salty juice that comes in a jar with your homemade pickles. Extremely popular with Russian drinkers, this liquid contains the necessary amount of salt and elements your body needs to restore its electrolytic balance. Homemade pickles work best, while anything commercially preserved or marinated (pickled with vinegar) does not work quite as well.
Don’t have homemade pickles? Your next best choice will be mineralized water containing salts of potassium, magnesium, sodium, and phosphorus. These are the salts your body needs to replenish the most.
Many folks prefer kefir. Fresh from the fridge, kefir will help you feel better soon.
Now, give it some time. It takes up to 24 hours to fully get over a hangover. Eventually, you’ll be fine and want to do it all over again!
Have a light breakfast, even if it’s lunchtime already. Soups (solyanka, borscht, rassolnik, or sour stchi) are traditional Russian food used to cure a hangover. Heavy food such as roasted meat, fried eggs, hamburgers with fries etc. is a no-no. Things like these will put extra load to your stomach, heart, and the rest of the body. Eat light! A yogurt with fruits, a fruit salad, a savory soup or something like that usually works best after a wild party. Bananas and apricots contain lots of potassium – exactly what your body needs!
If your head aches, don’t take a pill of aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen (paracetamol) whatever the trade name. The side effects of these painkillers will be magnified when your body is poisoned by alcohol, so it is best to avoid them altogether – although they might be the first thing you reach for.
What can go wrong if you take one of those? Aspirin is a blood thinner, and can intensify the effects of alcohol. Acetaminophen (paracetamol) will put more stress to your liver, an organ that already took damage from your irresponsible drinking. Ibuprofen can cause internal stomach bleeding. Going for a quick relief? Be warned.
What can you use to relieve headache? Try using a cold pack on your head. If you don’t have one, you can make it yourself by wrapping some ice from the fridge into a towel. No ice? Simply wet the towel with cold water.
A morning shower is more than just a hygienic procedure when you have a hangover. Your body is actively detoxing itself, releasing toxins with sweat. You need to get these toxins off your skin by taking a shower with soap, gel or, preferably, a wisp. Take a mild, warm shower; too hot or too cold a shower will put unnecessary stress on your heart, causing your blood pressure to jump. Using a wisp will give your skin an extra massage, helping it restore its condition. Some guides will recommend a contrast shower; take this with a grain of salt, especially if you’re over 30.
You can help yourself relieve some of the symptoms by massaging several points on your head. (If you can successfully read this, you probably don’t feel that bad!)
- Massaging the point in the center of a pit under the occipital protuberance will help you normalize blood pressure.
- Put some strong pressure on the point between the eyebrows above the bridge of the nose.
- Gently massage your temples.
- Then, squeeze your earlobes with thumb and index fingers.
- Push the point directly under the nose, above the center of the upper lip, with your index finger.
- Massage the point in the hole on the chin with vibrating movements.
- Massage a point in the center of your palm on both hands.
- Finally, massage cushions of your little fingers: first on your left hand, then on your right hand.
Your lungs need some fresh air. Don’t try this in a smoke-filled room, as you’ll only make things worse.
Go outside and have a sit. Breathe deeply and slowly. Inhale slowly, hold your breath for some 6 seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat for some 5 minutes.
If you become dizzy, stop and try again in some 10 minutes.
Finally, if you have a hammock, you can simply lay down and nap for 1-2 hours, weather permitting. You can do this inside, too, with an open window. This helps your body get some oxygen it needs to recover.
Some mornings, you’ll be headed straight to work – even if you have a hangover. There are several things you can do to get a better look without spending much time.
Men can do a simple thing to look better by simply shaving. Menthol shaving gel or foam will help you feel fresh. Shaving will not only make your skin look better; by massaging your skin during shaving, you’ll lift your skin, making it look fresher and smoother.
Ladies can use apple or cucumber slices for a facial massage.
Use your toothbrush! Clean your teeth and your tongue (top and bottom), as well the inside of your cheeks. You can do it twice: before and after breakfast.
During the day, you can use menthol candies or gum.
There are things you must not or should not do in a hangover, or you’ll be risking your health.
Naturally, it’s very tempting to take a painkiller when your head aches. Don’t. Aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen (paracetamol) are the most common over-the-counter drugs that may temporarily relieve the symptoms, causing a great deal of damage in the long run.
The side effects of these painkillers will be magnified severely when your body is poisoned by alcohol. Aspirin is a blood thinner, and alcohol is, too. Aspirin can therefore intensify the effects of alcohol poisoning. Acetaminophen (paracetamol) will put more stress to your liver, an organ that already took a good exercise dealing with the poisoning. Ibuprofen can cause internal stomach bleeding. Use a cold-pack instead.
Don’t smoke, and don’t expose yourself to second-hand smoking. Adding more poison to your body won’t do any good.
No hair of the dog
By drinking more alcohol in a hangover, you are only dumbing your body’s feelings down. If you drink in a hangover, your physical problems will not disappear, they’ll be simply dumbed down. There’s also the risk of alcoholism.
No physical activities and no hard work
Let your body deal with the poisoning first before putting more stress to its systems.
No coffee or tea
These drinks contain caffeine, putting more stress on your heart system and raising blood pressure. At this time, your body does not need the extra load.
Eating heavy food (roasted meat, fried eggs, hamburgers etc.) will put extra load to your stomach, heart, and the rest of the body. It’s too late to eat up now; you should’ve eaten at the party, and not after it.
No sauna or hot bath
The hot water and steam will put too much load on your heart system; unfortunately, taking a hot bath or going to a sauna can even cause a stroke. Avoid.
Don’t suppress vomiting
If you feel like throwing up, do it. Your body is trying to detoxify itself. Help it. If you feel like throwing up, you can drink a lot of water and induce vomiting with a finger.
Thank you for reading this guide. I hope you learned something new and useful that will help you get better sooner.