Christmas spirits – hangover preventions and cures

By Avril O’Connor

It’s that time of year again when the world is full of Christmas spirit, but all that socialising can play havoc with our health.

The Government guidelines for safe alcohol consumption are 21 units per week for men and 14 for women, with no more than four in one day. This means, for example, that two glasses of wine would add up to three and a pint of beer two. So it is very easy to exceed the recommendations on a regular basis during the party season.

Although the liver is a very resilient organ, and can regenerate and detox, you will look and feel below par if you don’t take steps to minimise and repair the damage. The consumption of alcohol results in the formation of two very toxic compounds – acetaldehyde and malondialdehyde – these are poisons that can lead to massive free radical damage to cells, causing dehydration and depleting the body of vitamins and minerals. This is the reason people feel so sick the day after consuming too much alcohol.

But you can take steps to lessen the impact on your body. If a proper combination of antioxidants, in the form of dietary supplements, is taken at the time the alcohol is consumed or before we go to bed, the hangover and much of the cellular damage may be prevented.

Nutrients that neutralize alcohol by-products and protect cells against the damaging effects of alcohol include vitamin C, vitamin B1, the amino acids S-allyl-cysteine (also contained in garlic) and glutathione, vitamin E and selenium. One of the most beneficial and protective supplements for the liver is Milk Thistle. It is also advisable to hydrate as much as possible by taking a sports drink prior before partying and also before going to bed.

Alcohol also damages the liver by depressing an important enzyme needed to convert methionine, an antioxidant found in meat and diary food into S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), a substance necessary for liver health. SAMe can be taken as a supplement twice a day will help protect the liver from damaging oxidation that could lead to cirrhosis.

Alcohol is also a diuretic, which means it speeds the loss of water from the body – causing parched-mouth thirst, headaches and that feeling of continual dizziness. Nausea, vomiting and indigestion are caused by irritation to the stomach lining. A tiring night out – followed by a lack of refreshing dream sleep – means you’ll feel tired the following morning. This is made worse as the body’s organs try to rid themselves of the alcohol making you feel drained.
It can be tricky to monitor your alcohol consumption with other people filling up your glass but there is a handy little device called the Alcohol Sensor which measures the level of alcohol in your breath in just 5 seconds. Costs £24.99. Available at Selfridges and Menkind. Freefone 0800 731 6994 for stockists.

And if you do go over the top and literally loose your shirt or party all night, Eton Shirts is running an emergency service to deliver a brand new shirt of your choice anywhere in London within one hour. Alternatively you can reserve a shirt and pick it up from their London flagship store at 65 Kingsway, London WC2. The service is available Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm. Prices start at £80 plus courier. T: 020 7430 1433.

The effects of a hangover last about 24 hours, after which you will feel better and ready to party again.

Top tips to avoid a hangover

Before you go out:
– Hydrate with a sports drink and take a combination of antioxidant supplements
– Eat a good meal with protein such as eggs – this is digested slowly and helps protect the stomach
– Drink a glass of milk – it slows down the absorption of alcohol

While you’re partying:
– Alternate water or non-fizzy soft drinks with alcoholic ones
– Avoid fizzy drinks – these speed alcohol through your system
– Try to drink in moderation
Before going to bed
– Drink lots of water or a sports drink to help you rehydrate
– Take vitamin C – speeds up metabolism of alcohol
– Eat Toast – the carbohydrate will help your blood sugar levels
– Walk in the fresh air

Hangover Cures
– Antacid liquid or tablets and Ginger Tea – help you stop feeling queasy and settle your stomach
– Ibuprofen or paracetamol will relieve your headache. Anti-sickness tablets may come in handy.
– Vitamin C (fruit juice or tablets)
– Eat toast and eggs – eggs contain cysteine, which helps to eradicate the toxic chemicals caused by alcohol

Supplements, Rehydrators and headache cures

Pure Energy Istonic fluid replacement drink

Pure Energy is used by marathon runners and is an isotonic fluid replacement drink containing electrolytes, which are mineral salts that dissolve in the body’s fluid. They include sodium, chloride, potassium and magnesium, and help to regulate the fluid balance in the body. Pure Energy replaces fluid faster than water, and the extra sugars will also help maintain blood sugar levels. The best way to deal with hangovers is to drink 500ml of Pure Energy before you go to bed and again 500ml first thing in the morning. Pure Energy is available in Sunburst Orange and Lemon & Lime. Costs £8.99 and is available at John Bell & Croyden, Unichem and Alliance pharmacies, Tree of Life and independent health food stores. Pure Energy is also available on line at

Fushi Hangover Herbal Tonic

A 100% herbal tonic, containing fruit juice extracts and a fusion of Western and Asian herbs – hangover therapy in a bottle – that can be added to lemonade or Indian tonic water to create a delicious drink. Hangover Cure, which contains, white willow bark, milk thistle seed, lemon, Angelica root and Siberian Ginseng should be taken before and after a night of over-indulgence. Costs £12.95. Flagship store at 55 Duke of York Square, Chelsea SW3; Harvey Nichols (London), and selected products at Fresh & Wild stores across the UK. Online orders at

quarma EPO – Virgin Organic Evening Primrose Oil

quarma EPO contains essential fatty acids and natural vitamin E which help the body repair the damage caused by too much alcohol. By taking 4-6 qarma virgin organic evening primrose oil capsules before going to bed after a night’s heavy drinking you help the body repair the damage and wake up feeling better that you would otherwise.
Costs £7.99. qarma EPO is available from, Tesco and selected pharmacies. On line orders 0870 241 5621 or visit

Cynara Milk Thistle and Arichoke supplements

Renowned for its liver-boosting properties, milk thistle has been found to promote regeneration of healthy new liver cells to replace old and damaged ones. A powerful antioxidant, it aids the body’s ability to destroy toxins such as alcohol and helps quell feelings of nausea and indigestion. Aritchoke helps improve function of both the liver and the gall bladder, helping to digest fat and break down alcohol, ideal for those who indulge in rich and fatty diets. Cynara Artichoke is £9.95 for 30 capsules, Cynara Milk Thistle is £7.99 for 30 tablets and Cynara Turmeric is £7.99 for 30 tablets. Available from pharmacies nationwide. Readers can call 0800 652 7150 for advice or their nearest stockist, or log on to

Chaser for Wine

Chaser for Wine is a natural food supplement developed specifically to prevent wine headaches, because you take it before you drink. It contains natural ingredients that attract and absorb congeners, the by-products of the fermentation process that are the primary cause of wine headaches. It doesn’t stop you getting drunk. The active ingredients include calcium carbonate, vegetable carbon and vitamin B2. . Two caplets last for three hours or up to five glasses of wine.
There is also Original Chaser, for use with Beer and Spirits available. Both are priced at £2.99 for a 4 caplet card or £19.95 for a 40 caplet bottle and available from most Superdrug stores. Alternatively you can call 08450 066 077 or visit for more information.

4head natural headache cure

4head is a natural product, containing levomethol, which relaxes blood vessels and comes in a handy pop up stick that you apply to your forehead for the topical relief of headaches including hangover headaches. It is cooling and soothing and takes seconds to apply. Costs £5.95 from Boots.

Silicol Gel

Silicol Gel is made from the essential trace element silicon, found naturally in foods such as oats, barley and millet. The therapeutic action neutralises excess acidity in the stomach, absorbs toxins, irritants and carries them safety out of the body. It is good for nausea, acid indigestion, diarrhoea and an upset stomach. Silicol Gel can also be taken as a precautionary measure before a night out to line and protect the stomach wall. Costs £7.99 for 200ml and £16.99 for 500ml. Available from Holland and Barrett and independent health food stores. For further information, please visit

Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice is well-known for its cleansing properties and a hangover cure (without the vodka!) Ocean Spray Cranberry Classic, available in stores across the UK. Expect to pay 94p for a 1 litre carton at supermarkets.

Patch-It Detox

A plaster-style patch that stimulates the body’s reflexology points, promoting improved circulation, and supporting the body’s natural detoxification processes. Simply apply to the soles of the feet before going to bed. Contains purified powdered mandarin wood vinegar that emits far infra-red energy (heat) through the skin, which in turn stimulates the body’s reflexology points. Costs £12.95 for 6 patches and £29.99 for 20 patches. For stockist details contact 01628 898366 or visit

HealthAid Livercare and Monthly Detox Plan

A range of supplements designed to protect the body from toxic damage. HealthAid Livercare™™ which includes Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Turmeric and Artichoke has been formulated to help maintain a strong healthy liver and to help process toxins effectively. The Monthly Detox Plan lasts for 25-30 days and includes herbal tea, a tincture targeting the liver and trialpha with psyllium capsules for the colon. The HealthAid Weekend Detox Plan is aimed at people who want and quicker and easier option. Costs: Livercare: £7.99 for 60 tablets; Monthly Detox Plan: £19.99; Weekend Detox Plan: £7.99Available from all good independent Chemists and selected Health Food stores.For stockists and mail order call HealthAid Ltd on 020 8426 3400

Nucell Active

A supplement that you take to build up your body before you go out for the evening. It contains concentrated nucleotides, a substance found in high concentrations in human milk and RNA building blocks, which speed up the process of creating new cells, essential for recovery after a night of drinkingNucell Active costs £14.99 and is available by calling Natra Health on 08452 705070 or visit


Delanta Ethiopian Massage

One hour of bliss by Yerous Sissaye-Raya, who brings massage techniques from Ethiopia to the stressed of Clerkenwell. A qualified massage therapist she specialises in deep tissue massage using invigorating strokes that stimulate and relax. She also offers stress and relaxation treatments including back, neck and shoulder massage and Indian Head Massage in a calming and quiet atmosphere. Cost: Delanta Deep Tissue Massage £50, Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage, £30 and Indian Head Massage £30. Deltanta Holistic Therapy at Anita Cox Hair and Beauty Salon, 62 Britton Street, EC1. T: 020 7251 8220.

Dr Denese’s First Aid Kit for Lifeless Skin

A complete three-step skin care system, scientifically developed to jumpstart tired skin, stimulating cellular turnover and re-hydrating dry and tired, damaged skin. Effects are almost instant. The eight-week course cleanses, rejuvenates and illuminates the skin. It includes a cleanser, exfoliator, firming pads, HydroSeal Recovery Serium that hydrates the skin by a massive 184% softening lines and wrinkles, a Night Recovery Cream with vitamins and antioxidants and Vitamin C Radiance Cream with a highly concentrated blend of vitamins A, C and E, ceramides and crushed pearl, fills lines and wrinkles and deflects light away from imperfections. Results are immediate but for optimum benefit complete the provided course of 10-12 home treatments. Costs £69.95 and is available from Dr Denese on 0870 1900 003 or online at

Crystal Clear Eye Contour Life for hangover eyes

Lifts and firms the delicate area around the eye and reduces dark circles and puffiness. A unique activator solution is used to impregnate special pads containing Chitosan, a substance made from shells and a concentrate of firming, lifting, and anti-wrinkle agents. A box containing enough pads and solution for four treatments costs £32.95. Crystal Clear Skin Care is available from salons nationwide. Contact the Crystal Clear National Helpline on 08705 934 934 for a list of participating salons or for details on mail order visit:


Dress2Kill is London’s first all in one male grooming studio where you can buy that suit and get a facial. The seasonal hangover buster facial lasts 45 minutes and you will feel better afterwards. Costs £45 and includes a cooling eye treatment, toxin relief massage, cleanse and scrub. Dress2Kill at The Cut, SE1. T: Tel 0870 7802066

Oscar + Dehn’s Hangover from Hell Eye Mask

Revives tired eyes and eases a pounding head. A cooling eye mask for use at home that helps get you through the day. Costs £7 and buy on-line from

TIGI Bed Head’s Wipe-Out Biggie Fixx-It Stick.

This chunky pencil concealer covers blemishes, dark circles and skin imperfections in a flash. It contains salicylic acid which helps heal spots. Available in two shades, the TIGI Bed Head Wipe-Out Biggie Fix-It Stick costs £9.30.Available nationwide from selected hairdressing salons. For your nearest stockist call 0870 330 0955 or visit

Medik8 Dark Circles

Dark circle busters – Professional strength under-eye dark circle fading formula. Helps fades dark circles; promotes bright even tone & relieve puffiness. Dramatically reduces dark circles and unsightly puffiness around the eyes. Strengthens the connective tissue and improves microcirculation. Also reduces the breakdown of the collagen and elastin matrix. Free Radical presence is also reduced. Costs £22. For further information on the Medik8® range, stockists or mail order please contact Medik8 on 0845 673 2222 or visit www.medik8 to order online.

Moor At Home Spa Range Face Mask

This mask that is made from 331 different nourishing nutrients found in the moorlands of Europe. It is ideal for all skins, both men and women and the beauty of it is you only have to leave it on for three minutes. Ideal for a hangover is it re-invigiorates the skin, gets rid of any blotchiness or uneven skin tones and leaves skin refreshed and re-nourished. Costs £12 for 50ml; £65 for 500ml and £110 for 1 litre. Body wrap £55 for 1 litre. Product Stockists and mail order telephone 01622 844944.
Avotone Instant Non-Surgical ‘Facelift’
InstantEffects is a 60-second firming treatment that fades away lines and wrinkles right before your very eyes. Dubbed the pre-party face-lift in the States. Costs £29.99 and available on online at

Orange & Vitamin C 5-minute Miracle Face Tonic Facial

The 5-Minute Miracle Tonic with Orange and Vitamin C from Montagne Jeunesse will leave your skin bright, refreshed and rejuvenated in minutes, clearing your head and leaving you ready for the day ahead. The 5-Minute Miracle Tonics are salon-style fabric facials for everyday beauty solutions. For the ultimate post party pick me up choose the Orange and Vitamin C mask, which brightens the skin and cools a cloudy head. Costs 99p and available from Boots, Superdrug and major supermarket chains nationwide priced 99p or less.


Life Works Addiction Clinic, W1

If you think you you’re drinking too much and are unsure if it’s getting out of hand, help is available. Life Works, a central London addiction clinic offers a free phone number for people seeking advice – 0800 081 0700″.

FRANK, the drugs misuse helpline.
For friendly, confidential advice on drugs talk to FRANK on 0800 77 66 00 or

Next: Cosmetic Beauty Trends for 2006

Avril O’Connor is editor of and independent news source on anti-ageing health. Contact: