Do you experience hangovers? Then boy do we need to talk!
Last week, I sent an email to some of my followers giving them an insider tip on how to cure a hangover. Much to my delight, I received several responses from people who had tried it and had it work to either ease or entirely relieve their hangovers.
Although I love my email list to bits, and try to give them first dibs at the best information possible for becoming health machines, the thought of the rest of my followers lying in bed with pounding headaches was too much for me to bear, and I decided I needed to share this tip with everyone.
Alcohol Doesn’t Cause Hangovers
I’m sure most of you have experienced a hangover so bad that it makes you question why you even drank in the first place.
Yes, we’ve all been there: cursing tequila while simultaneously not wanting to think about it due to persistent nausea.
But I’m going to let you in on a fascinating little secret: we’re blaming the wrong culprit because alcohol doesn’t cause hangovers.
Why do we get Hangovers?
Alcohol in its own form is not actually toxic to our bodies, nor does it cause hangovers. The actual cause of a hangover is a toxic compound called acetaldehyde, which alcohol is converted into during detoxification.
Let me explain:
There are two phases of detoxification. The first phase converts alcohol into the intermediary metabolite, acetaldehyde. The second phase tags this metabolite so that it can be excreted from the body as a water soluble molecule, acetic acid.
Unfortunately, this second phase is slower than the first, and acetaldehyde actually gets backed up in a line-up, waiting to be excreted from our bodies. When we wake up, this build-up is what causes us to feel like garbage.
The Biological Key to Preventing Hangovers
During my studies, I had a Newton moment during a Master’s lecture discussing detoxification processes. My hand shot up in the air and I asked “So can’t we just speed up phase II detox in order to prevent hangovers!?” As you can imagine, my nutrition lecturer was not impressed with this question, however reluctantly admitted “Theoretically, yes.”
Later that week, I conducted a highly scientific experiment. I drank as many vodka shots as my heart desired and at the end of the night consumed specific food supplements known for promoting phase II detoxification. To my surprise and delight, it worked like a charm and I triumphantly hit the gym the next morning. I felt like I had discovered the 8th wonder of the world.
The Magic Ingredients for Preventing Hangovers
Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering how you can implement this strategy in your own home, and never have to experience the dreaded hangover ever again!
Like I said, the key lies in speeding up the processes of phase II detoxification.
There are a few compounds known to do this, but two of the most effective and readily available ones are turmeric1,2,3,4 and chlorella5,6
Both of these compounds are able to speed up excretion of toxic metabolites from your body, and at the same time, curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is nearly identical in its molecular structure to aspirin, making it doubly effective at removing both the cause and symptoms of a hangover.
How to Prevent Hangovers in Your Own Home!
In order to implement this hangover-be-gone routine, there are a few very specific instructions that you must adhere to.
First off, curcumin has very poor bioavailability. This means that after ingesting turmeric, it’s very difficult for the active compound to be used in your body. In order to really experience results, you must increase the bioavailability of the active compound, thus allowing it to go to work in your body. Luckily, this can also be done with some common household items – black pepper and fat.
For best results, mix one teaspoon of finely chopped or minced turmeric with butter or coconut oil, and top with black pepper. At the end of your wild night out, pop it in your mouth, chew it up, and (try to) enjoy.
If however you have a strong gag reflex or the thought of taking down a spoon of this concoction doesn’t appeal to you, life can be made a lot simpler and more effective by taking these in capsule form. Be wary however, as concentrated curcumin capsules have the same bioavailability problem, so purchasing a phytosome capsule that has fat incorporated into it is essential for increasing efficacy.
My personal recommendation for a high-quality, highly bioavailable curcumin supplement to reduce your hangover woes can be found here.
As for chlorella, it is typically available at local health shops in various forms, however for easiest consumption and best results I recommend taking an organic supplement in capsule form such as this one.
You can also take them both together with this Curcumin & Chlorella Hangover Kit.
My recommendation for a hangover-be-gone supplement schedule is the following:
- 1000-1500mg curcumin phytosome capsule taken at the end of your night, or 1 heaped tsp turmeric mixed with 1tsp butter/coconut oil and black pepper
- 3000mg chlorella taken at the end of your night
This entire process can be repeated the next day if there are any lingering hangover symptoms.
So, with this information in mind, I propose we conduct an experiment. Go out, drink as you usually would, and try implementing this hangover cure. Let me know about your morning after in the comments below!
MSc, Personalized Nutrition; BSc, Genetic & Molecular Biology
Personal Training Specialist, Canadian Register of Exercise & Fitness Professionals
1. Dinkova-Kostova A. Relation of structure of curcumin analogs to their potencies as inducers of Phase 2 detoxification enzymes. Carcinogenesis. 1999;20(5):911-914.
2. Percival M. Phytonutrients & Detoxification. Clinical Nutrition Insights. 1997;5(2):1-4.
3. Iqbal M, Sharma S, Okazaki Y, Fujisawa M, Okada S. Dietary Supplementation of Curcumin Enhances Antioxidant and Phase II Metabolizing Enzymes in ddY Male Mice: Possible Role in Protection against Chemical Carcinogenesis and Toxicity. Pharmacol Toxicol. 2003;92(1):33-38.
4. Piper J. Mechanisms of anticarcinogenic properties of curcumin: the effect of curcumin on glutathione linked detoxification enzymes in rat liver. The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology. 1998;30(4):445-456.
5. Avidan OPick U. Acetyl-CoA synthetase is activated as part of the PDH-bypass in the oleaginous green algaChlorella desiccata. EXBOTJ. 2015;66(22):7287-7298.
6. Nick G. Addressing human exposure to environmental toxins with Chlorella pyrenoidosa. (Medicinal Properties in Whole Foods). Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. 2003;28.