Which herbs relieve hangovers and how to use them
The use of herbs to cope with hangovers rests on two mechanisms: the neutralization of free radicals (antioxidant action) and an increase in the level of enzymes involved in the breakdown of alcohol.
Author: Rositsa Tashkova, Master of Molecular Biology and Microbiology
What is a party without a glass, or two... or three, of something special? Toast after toast, the degree of mood rises, and we have forgotten that the next morning an uninvited guest will visit us - the hangover.
Here, besides the fermented cabbage and tripe soup, some herbs come to the rescue. It may sound unconventional, but science has also dealt with this issue. As the main source of information, we used the 2016 article "Natural Products for the Prevention and Treatment of Hangover and Alcohol Use Disorder" [ref.1].
The use of herbs to cope with hangovers rests on two mechanisms: the neutralization of free radicals (antioxidant action of medicinal plants) and an increase in the level of enzymes involved in the breakdown of alcohol (alcohol dehydrogenase, ADH and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, ALDH).
Fenugreek seed extract (Trigonela foenum-graecum)
It has been found that the aqueous extract of fenugreek seeds has a strong hepatoprotective effect - protects the liver from the toxic effects of alcohol. This seems to be due to its strong antioxidant properties - fenugreen seeds are rich in polyphenols, which are biologically active substances that neutralise free radicals - which can also help relieve hangovers. [ref.2]
Thyme infusion and oil (Thymus vulgaris)
Aqueous extract and thyme essential oil have a strong antioxidant and detoxifying effect. It has the property to lower the levels of certain indicators of oxidative stress in the brain and liver, in particular nitric oxide and malondialdehyde. [ref.3] What more pleasant remedy than a cup of aromatic thyme tea?
Mango fruit (Mangifera Indica)
The fruit of mango can help us with hangovers through both mechanisms - it is rich in polyphenols with antioxidant action and also increases the activity of enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism, lowering its levels in the blood. [ref.4]
Kudzu or Chinese arrowroot (Pueraria lobata)
It is also called Japanese arrowroot. The root and colors of the herb are used. The active substances in them have the property to accelerate the removal of alcohol from the body, as well as to reduce its toxicity. [ref.5]
Extract from the root of the plant is used in Traditional Chinese medicine and for the treatment of alcoholism, as well as to improve the condition of the liver in chronic alcohol abuse.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
With its strong antioxidant properties, ginger neutralizes free radicals and the aqueous extract from its root can be used to eliminate hangovers. In Traditional Chinese medicine, a decoction of ginger, tangerine and brown sugar, called Kami-shoyo-san (KSS), is used for this purpose. [ref.6]
Persimmons increase alcohol metabolism (Diospyros kaki)
Persimmons fruits and leaves contain substances that accelerate the action of alcohol-degrading enzymes and also have antioxidant properties. Therefore, it is assumed that this fruit would alleviate the suffering of the hangover. [ref.7]
Asian ginseng protects sperm from alcohol (Panax ginseng)
Asian ginseng also known as Chinese or Korean ginseng, relieves hangovers through both mechanisms - as an antioxidant and by stimulating alcohol processing. The medicinal plant also reduces the toxic effects on various organs and systems in the body and specifically on the reproductive system in men - it is known that alcohol has a negative impact on sperm quality and can be the cause of reduced reproductive abilities. [ref.8]
Sauerkraut or fermented cabbage
It is no joke that sauerkraut and fermented cabbage brine are an effective and traditionally very affordable way to deal with hangovers. There are various theories as to why this old traditional practice helps. It is believed that vitamin B and C are at play, as well as lactic acid, which sauerkraut is rich in. So if you don't have any of the herbs or don't want tea after a hard night, a cup of fermented cabbage brine is the perfect solution.
- Natural Products for the Prevention and Treatment of Hangover and Alcohol Use Disorder, 2016, Molecules
- Protective action of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum) seed polyphenols against alcohol-induced protein and lipid damage in rat liver, 2008, Cell Biology and Toxicology
- Effects of water extracts of thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) on alcohol abuse, 2009, Food Chem Toxicol
- Ameliorating effects of Mango (Mangifera indica L.) fruit on plasma ethanol level in a mouse model assessed with H-NMR based metabolic profiling, 2011, J Clin Biochem Nutr
- Pharmacological studies on Puerariae Flos. IV: Effects of Pueraria thomsonii dried flower extracts on blood ethanol and acetaldehyde levels in humans, 2003, International journal of clinical pharmacology research
- Clinical effectiveness of KSS formula, a traditional folk remedy for alcohol hangover symptoms, 2011, Journal of Natural Medicines
- Protective effects of persimmon leaf and fruit extracts against acute alcohol-induced hepatotoxicity, 2007, Prev. Nutr. Food Sci
- Effects of red ginseng extract on the epididymal sperm motility of mice exposed to ethanol, 2011, Int J Toxicol
👩 🔬 Rositsa Tashkova-Kacharova has a Bachelor degree in Molecular Biology and a Master's degree in Microbiology and Microbiological Control. She completed her Master's thesis at the University of Nantes, France. At that time she painted a Christmas tree of bacteria and inspired the announcement of the first competition for drawing with microorganisms Agar Art. For 3 years she was the editor of the journal Bulgarian Science and continues to write about science and medicine.