Some of us tend to celebrate the season overzealously, and any time you overindulge there is a consequence. So if you’re not looking forward to that post-New Year’s Eve hangover, you’ll be pleased to know there is a sweet, simple, quick hangover cure tucked away in your cupboard—honey. Honey is acclaimed by scientists for its ability to aid the body in quickly breaking down all the alcohol you consumed (and are most likely regretting when your head is pounding the following morning).
So what is a hangover anyway?
A hangover is your body's reaction to toxicity. When alcohol breaks down in your liver it produces acetaldehyde. This byproduct of alcohol metabolism is more toxic than alcohol itself. Fortunately, its effects on the body are short lived—that is if you only have a few drinks every now and then. Excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time produces enough acetaldehyde to cause serious liver damage, so drink wisely. Women tend to have longer-lasting hangovers than men as they produce less of the enzyme that breaks down the alcohol. (So ladies, don’t try to match your man drink for drink. He’ll be eating lunch while you're still hiding in the bathroom.)
Other contributors to the dreaded hangover include lack of deep sleep caused by glutamine rebound. Because it’s a depressant, alcohol inhibits the natural stimulant glutamine, causing the body to increase production of glutamine and causing the brain to remain active even after you have already passed out—hence the fatigue you feel the following day. As for the vomiting, that’s your body's way of telling you that your stomach is producing too much hydrochloric acid and it’s time to rid the body of some of that alcohol gunking up the works.
How can honey help my hangover?
Because of its antioxidant properties, honey neutralizes the toxins created by consuming alcohol. Dr. John Emsley, UK Popular Science writer and chemistry academic, claims the natural fructose in honey helps the body rapidly metabolize alcohol. According to Dr. Emsley, “the fructose in honey is an essential compound that helps the body break down alcohol into harmless by-products.” The body uses the fructose found in honey to convert the acetaldehyde made during alcohol metabolism into acetic acid, a substance that is “burned up naturally by the body.”
According to a statement made to Reuters Health by the headache expert Dr. Merle Diamond, president and managing director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, eating honey could help you avoid the hangover headache altogether: “Honey on a cracker or piece of toast, before or after drinking, may prevent a hangover. Honey, as opposed to some other sugar stores, has fructose, which competes for the metabolism of alcohol. This competition prevents the rapid change in alcohol levels that causes the 'bang' headache in the morning. Tomato juice, another good source of fructose, also helps to burn alcohol faster, but honey works best.”
Basically honey provides a buffer by giving the body a little sugar to metabolize and preventing the sudden change in blood sugar levels, as well as increasing the alcohol metabolism processes in the body.
How to use honey for a hangover
You’ve finished off that last bottle of champagne and brought in the New Year with a bang. Before you turn in, stir a couple of spoonfuls of honey into a glass of hot water and drink it down. In the morning, spread some honey on a piece of toast. Toast can provide you with little potassium and sodium, both of which aid in the task of digesting all that alcohol. Remember, according to Dr. Emsley, that hair of the dog cure only works if you drink so much alcohol regularly that you suffer from withdrawals. So don’t make things worse. Have a glass of water with some honey instead.
Kate Hunter enjoys organic gardening, whole food cooking, crafting, making natural products, and following up on politics and the latest health food news. After changing her major from art to biology to English, she finally obtained a B.A. in English with an emphasis on writing from Southern Oregon University and has been writing about nutrition, healthy living, cooking, and gardening for over nine years. Kate is a published author both online and in print and has owned, operated, and published a literary journal. She is a mother of three, speaks sarcasm, some Spanish, but mostly English and spends her time baking, taking pictures, canning, growing and drying herbs, reading, selling natural products and homemade crafts in her Etsy store HomemadeByKate, and checking food labels of course.