The holiday season is upon us. Although things might look a little different from normal this year, many of us are still planning to celebrate. Just in a responsible, socially distanced manner, of course. And when we celebrate, especially after a difficult year, it can be easy to over-indulge – whether that is with eating more than our stomachs can easily handle, or with drinking a few too many glasses of our favourite alcoholic beverage.
There’s nothing wrong with eating more than you usually would at this time of year. And the occasional night with a few more drinks than normal is fine too, as long as you don’t make a regular habit of it. There is no need to curtail the festivities or feel guilty for enjoying yourself.
But if the celebrations have left you feeling the consequences the next day, you might be on the hunt for natural ways to speed up your recovery. While the only sure way to avoid a hangover is to not drink alcohol, there are some natural remedies that can help you recover when you have had a bit too much to eat or drink.
This article will look at some easily available natural remedies that can help to settle your stomach, soothe your head, and support your liver during this holiday season. You may already have some of these at home – if not, you might want to stock up in preparation for the festivities.
We are starting with the basics – drinking enough water is an easy way to help your body recover if you’ve had a bit too much to eat or drink.
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that a night of drinking can leave you dehydrated the next day. Dehydration can lead to many of the symptoms of a hangover, including the headache and dizziness. So, making sure you re-hydrate is vital.
When you’ve eaten more than you meant to, you may not want to add more to your stomach straight away. But once the initial over-full feeling passes, drinking water can help your digestive system process the extra food. It can also prevent indigestion and acid reflux – studies have shown that drinking water can raise the pH in our stomachs.
Plain water might be the best option if your stomach is feeling sensitive. But if you are up to it, you might want to add an electrolyte to your glass too. Alcohol also deprives us of electrolytes, which our bodies need to function properly, so it is a good idea to replenish these quickly.
2. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is a plant that is native to the Mediterranean region. It has been used as a herbal remedy for hundreds of years and is best known for supporting the function of our livers.
This is because Milk Thistle contains a group of compounds collectively known as silymarin, which have shown promise for the treatment of liver disease. Since it is our livers which are mainly involved in filtering toxins, including alcohol, from our bloodstreams, Milk Thistle is worth keeping on hand when you are expecting a heavy night.
Ginger is good for more than just adding to a delicious stir-fry. Ginger has been used for years to treat nausea and unsettled stomachs – it is often recommended as a treatment for morning sickness in pregnancy for this reason. It also assists in good digestion, which is helpful when we’ve eaten more than normal. And it is a natural painkiller, which may help to ease headaches or sore muscles from a night out.
If you have fresh ginger to hand, you can make a simple tea by chopping the root and steeping it for a few minutes in hot water. Add honey if you prefer it a little sweeter. You can also buy ready-made ginger teas or supplements. At a pinch, a ginger beer may do the job too.
Turmeric has gained a lot of attention in recent years for its anti-inflammatory benefits. This is because it contains curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant.
Inflammation can be caused by drinking too much alcohol or eating the wrong foods, so turmeric might help in reducing the after-effects of celebrating. There’s also promising research into the effect of curcumin on the function of our livers – a 2018 review of current evidence concluded that curcumin is able to protect against liver diseases, including those caused by drinking too much alcohol.
You may not want a spicy curry after a big festive meal, but you can use turmeric to make soothing golden milk – stir 1 to 2 teaspoons of turmeric into a cup of milk (or your favourite plant milk) and warm it gently. Add some honey or maple syrup if you prefer it sweeter. You can also find turmeric as an ingredient in teas or as a supplement. Combining it with a sprinkle of black pepper is thought to help your body absorb the curcumin.
Chlorella is a freshwater algae that can be taken as a supplement. It is nutrient-dense and contains many vitamins and antioxidants, which can help to support your body’s recovery. It has also been found to increase liver function in people suffering from liver disease.
Although there’s not yet any clinical evidence to support this, chlorella is also thought to assist our digestion. So, it might be worth having on hand to support your recovery after a big meal.
The thick cell walls of this algae mean it has to be broken down before our bodies can process it, but you can find chlorella as a powder or in tablet form.
Refreshing peppermint is a great choice after a large meal – it is used in traditional herbal medicine to aid digestion and settle the stomach. Peppermint oil has been found to be effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, and nausea.
It isn’t recommended to consume essential oils unless you’ve been working with a specialist who has advised you to do so – they can be extremely potent. But peppermint tea is a readily available alternative that may help to calm your tummy and aid digestion after a big meal.
Fennel has a pleasantly aniseed flavour and is a favourite in French restaurants. It isn’t just a delicious side dish though, but a traditional remedy for nausea and indigestion. It is also an effective laxative, which can be useful if your digestive system is struggling with a richer than usual diet – just make sure you drink plenty of water too.
Fennel has also been found to be effective in treating digestive issues such as irritable bowel disease and is used as a remedy for gas issues in babies. So, if your celebratory meal has left you feeling bloated and a little sick, fennel might be a good option. You can find it in herbal teas or as a supplement.
Chamomile is a popular ingredient in herbal teas and is known for its calming effects – which might be useful if you are finding enforced proximity to your relatives a little trying.
As well as stress-reduction, chamomile is traditionally used to settle an upset stomach and can be used to alleviate the symptoms of gas, diarrhoea, and stomach pains. A cup of chamomile tea is a good choice after a big meal to help your digestive system and avoid gas and bloating.
9. Beetroot Juice
Beetroot juice is a popular choice for anyone looking to detox after an indulgent week. That is because beetroots are rich in nitrates, which help to increase blood flow. Why is this helpful? Good blood flow helps oxygen and vital nutrients get to the cells where it is needed. The headaches from drinking too much may also be caused partly by dehydration, which causes the blood vessels in your body to narrow and reduces blood flow to your brain. So, beetroot juice may help to combat this effect.
Beetroot is extremely high in antioxidants, which might help to reduce any inflammation as a result of overdoing the celebrating. Animal studies have also shown that beetroot juice can help to reduce liver damage in rats – whether the same is true in humans is not yet clear, but it might be worth stocking up on beetroot juice just in case. Or, if beetroot juice doesn’t sound like your thing, you can also find it as a powder to add to smoothies or protein mixes.
Fear of the possible consequences the next day shouldn’t prevent you from celebrating this festive season. After such a tough year, we all deserve the chance to relax and enjoy ourselves. But it is much easier to throw ourselves into every part of the holiday season when we are not feeling weighed down by too much food or fuzzy from a glass too many with our festive dinner.
Having a few of these common natural remedies to hand gives you an easy source of relief to aid your recovery if you’ve overindulged – which means you can spend more time with your friends or family over the holidays.