Had a little too much to drink last night? Or maybe planning to have a little too much to drink one of these nights? Well my friend, I do believe I have the solution for you. And yes, it actually works. Or at least it did for me- like a freaking miracle- the one time I tried it (two nights ago). Obviously further testing is required, but I have enough experience with alcohol- with too much alcohol- to know quite well how it affects me. And it affects me pretty easily. I'm pushing 40 and have found that even just a couple beers within an hour of going to bed, even if I don't feel even a little intoxicated, and I'm at least looking at a headache in the morning. The ravages of age... However, through past experience, research, and just asking other drinking friends, I've found that one thing that seems to help alleviate a hangover pretty well and pretty consistently, is electrolytes. The stuff you get in Gatorade and other sports drinks that you're supposed to replenish after a strenuous workout (or strenuous night of drinking). Recently, coconut water has been making the rounds as a good hangover relief- supposedly it's got a higher concentration of key electrolytes in it than other electrolyte-laden beverages. And that may be true, but I can tell you that it's also a lot more expensive than those other beverages, and it's definitely an acquired taste. To me it tastes exactly like the milk that's left over in the bowl of a sugary cereal (like frosted flakes, or something). Exactly like that. But, small price to pay if it works, right? Well that got me thinking- if electrolytes are key (and my past experiences drinking Powerade the next day, as well as similar stories I've heard from other people tell me that this is in fact true), then what exactly are electrolytes, and how can I get more of them in me, short of drinking more Gatorade or coconut water? So I started looking around online and found that electrolytes include: sodium, magnesium, potassium, bicarbonate (from baking soda) and calcium. I don't know if sugar is considered an electrolyte exactly, but I know that you need a certain amount of it during intense workouts to keep your blood sugar level up and maintain performance levels. So anyway, I decided to try and come up with my own electrolyte drink using some of those ingredients I'd read about and loosely based on this recipe for a homemade sports drink. Here's what I came up with, followed by how well it worked for me:
1 can of 100% fruit juice concentrate + 4 cans of water
1T Epsom salt
1/4t kosher salt
1 Potassium Gluconate tablet (550 mg, 90 mg Potassium, i.e. 3% DV. Found in the vitamin aisle.)
First off, I probably don't need to mention this, but I'd stay away from o.j, or other high-acid juices. And you definitely want 100% juice, no added sugar. I used grape juice; nice and neutral. The Epsom salt is where you get the Magnesium. You could also take a Magnesium tablet instead, and I'll probably do that in the future, but I used the Epsom salt this time around because I just happened to have some on hand, so figured I'd save a few bucks by not buying the magnesium tablets. In any case, Potassium and Magnesium tablets are fairly inexpensive- around $5/100-150 tablets, so definitely way cheaper in the end than drinks like Gatorade/Powerade/coconut water. Also, I think the key here is in prevention- don't wait until the next day when you're already super dehydrated and hung over to drink this up- drink it after you're all done drinking for the night (or even during. Just try to get some in you before you pass out/fall asleep). As far as the taste goes, it tastes somewhat similar to, but still better than, Gatorade/Powerade. I'm guessing it's the Magnesium that does that, so if you went with the Magnesium tablet instead of the Epsom salt, you could probably eliminate that altogether.
So here's my experience: two nights ago, I ended up getting a little drunk. Actually, a lot drunk. Like really, really drunk. Started off with beer, then switched to vodka later on. And mixing alcohols like that is pretty much guaranteed to leave me feeling some regret in the morning. Plus, I stayed up until between 4 and 5 in the morning. A pretty heavy night overall. On the rare occasion when I do drink that much, I always try to drink plenty of water in between, and especially before I head off to bed, to try and stay at least a little hydrated. But I got sidetracked and had little to none that night. I also try to take a couple Ibuprofen before heading to bed to help mitigate the pounding headache I know I'll have in the morning. But that night I forgot that as well. I did, however, remember to take a few large swigs of this homemade electrolyte drink and take 1 Potassium tablet before I crawled into bed. I woke up approximately 8 hours later- no trace of a headache, no trace of nausea. Nothing. I was a little groggy still (probably partly because I'm not used to staying up till past 4 a.m.) but fairly clear-headed and I remember thinking that it just hasn't kicked in yet, but it surely will. Except that it never did. Not the pounding headache or awful retching the contents of my stomach out, anyway. The only real hangover effect I felt was that I was very, very tired, almost fatigued, and had to lay back down for a nap a few hours after getting up. That always happens to me anyway after a night of drinking like I had, but not having an extreme headache and nausea to go along with it definitely made it much more bearable. Though I would almost expect to be that tired (even after 8 hours' sleep) if I'd stayed up that late and hadn't had anything to drink. So that was my experience with this hangover relief recipe. While it could, possibly, have been just a coincidence that I woke up feeling relatively fine after all that drinking (I've heard of it happening sometimes with other people), my past experience tells me that that's highly unlikely. So while I don't very often get quite that loaded, I think I'm going to stick with what worked next time I have a night of drinks planned. (I may also add some calcium to the mix too, since that was also listed as a key electrolyte.) I'd be interested in hearing in the comments how well this recipe works for you if you try it out, or any other methods you've tried that work really well. (Just remember- drink it the night before! And also, get drink/get drunk responsibly! Don't be like the guy we had at work the other day who got too tanked and tried to go someplace he wasn't supposed to and ended up falling down a steep flight of stairs, punching a hole in the wall at the bottom with his head.