How to Avoid Next-Day Misery After Drinking
The feeling after one too many drinks the night before is unmistakable: a splitting headache, nausea and overall fatigue. Less often discussed – but also common – are irritability, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating during the days after. Suffering through these symptoms might be manageable with a recovery day, food, liquids, painkillers and extra rest, but nobody wants to sacrifice their next day plans or productivity at work because of the night before.
Fortunately, there has been a growing scientific interest in identifying the root causes of our suffering, and recent findings mean that we can prevent next day symptoms altogether.
What Science Tells Us About Alcohol in the Body
For many, even moderate amounts of alcohol can be taxing on the body and mind the next day. Our ability to recover the next day can depend on a multitude of factors, including:
- The amount and type of alcohol consumed
- Electrolyte balances in the body and bloodstream
- Adequate sleep after consuming alcohol
- Quality of sleep after consuming alcohol
- Hydration levels before, during and after alcohol consumption
- Meals eaten before and after alcohol was consumed
- Genetic predispositions unique to each individual’s body
But a pre- and post- drinking ritual is still no guarantee that we’ll feel good the next day. This is because the negative after-effects of alcohol are a result of how the liver processes alcohol, and how alcohol’s byproducts interact with the body and brain.
So how does the liver process alcohol?
The breakdown of alcohol in the body happens in three steps:
1. First, the liver breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde – one of the major toxins responsible for headaches and nausea after drinking
2. ADH, a liver enzyme, then breaks down acetaldehyde into acetic acid
3. ALDH, a second liver enzyme, further breaks down acetic acid into water that is flushed out of the body
The problem arises when acetaldehyde builds up faster in your system than the body can process it. The more acetaldehyde that builds up, and the longer it is present, the worse you feel the next day. So flushing it out of the body as quickly as possible is in our best interest, and we count on ADH and ALDH to speed up that process.
How does alcohol affect the brain and our mood?
Gamma-aminobutyric acid, commonly referred to as GABA, is a key neurotransmitter in the brain that interacts with 90% of the brain’s neurons. Alcohol tends to increase GABA production in the brain, which gives us the relaxation we feel when drinking, but in excess causes sedation and slurred speech.
The problem is that while alcohol initially promotes relaxation and sedation, once it is no longer present the brain attempts to fix the imbalance, resulting in a “rebound effect”.
This means that while a glass of wine may help you relax and fall asleep, once the alcohol has been processed the brain actually wakes up and becomes more excited, leading to poor sleep quality and restlessness. This contributes to the fatigue, agitation and anxiety we experience the next day.
How Science is Solving this Centuries-Old Problem
Based on this understanding of alcohol and acetaldehyde’s effects on the liver, body and brain, scientific research has identified several naturally-derived supplements that can help prevent next-day suffering by supporting the body’s natural systems for processing alcohol.
Dihydromyricetin is a naturally-occurring compound found in the Japanese Raisin Tree (hovenia dulcis), and has been used to ease post-drinking symptoms in Asia for centuries. Despite its history, recent scientific research is just now validating its effectiveness in protecting the body and brain from alcohol.
Studies have shown that DHM helps the body recover from alcohol in two ways:
1. DHM supports the liver by increasing the activity of ADH and ALDH, the enzymes in the liver responsible for the breakdown of alcohol. This means the liver can process alcohol faster, reducing exposure to acetaldehyde, which is responsible for headaches and nausea the next day.
2. DHM also reduces the effects of alcohol on the brain’s GABA receptors, meaning it can mitigate the rebound effect in the brain that causes poor sleep quality, irritability and anxiety.
The active ingredient in milk thistle, Silymarin, is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that has been used in the treatment of liver disease. Its applications to fight severe conditions like liver cirrhosis and liver cancer suggest it is a powerful supplement to overall liver health, and offers protective benefits for our liver when we drink alcohol.
Korean Red Ginseng
A well known antioxidant, studies suggest that Red Ginseng can help remove liver-harming oxidative substances caused by alcohol consumption, and stimulate ADH and ALDH, the key liver enzymes responsible for processing alcohol in the liver. This increases the efficiency of your liver in processing alcohol, while also reducing exposure to its byproducts.
Used for the treatment of hypertension, asthma, burns and indigestion, Prickly Pear flavinoids have also been demonstrated to protect liver cells from the effects of oxidative stress caused by alcohol. This helps protect your liver from damage caused by alcohol exposure.
How You Can Take Advantage of the Latest Science When You Drink
Many of the supplements above can be found individually in stores and online. Their effectiveness, however, comes down to two factors: purity and bioavailability.
Purity is a measure of how much active ingredient is available in each serving, and is based on the quality of the source and the extraction method used to derive an ingredient.
Bioavailability is a measure of how well an ingredient can be absorbed and put to use by the body. It is determined by both the delivery method (powder, pill, liquid, etc.) and chemical form of an active ingredient.
Maximizing both purity and bioavailability was the inspiration behind Morning Recovery, a ready-to-drink formula created to prevent the negative after-effects of alcohol. In addition to Milk Thistle, Korean Red Ginseng and Prickly Pear, it contains DHM in a uniquely soluble liquid form that is more readily absorbed by the body than other DHM products found on the market.
You can read reviews, learn more about the science, and put it to the test yourself at morelabs.com.