Confession: I am the last person to experience the woes of a holiday hangover. Why? Because I don’t consume alcohol. I like to indulge in every other aspect of the holiday season, including trimming the tree, family photos with Santa, baking & cooking, and exchanging gifts. Until the drinks are served, I’m all in.
As a registered pharmacist, my friends and family look to me as a health consultant. I have been asked by friends who can’t resist a few too many holiday cocktails about how to better relieve hangovers. The most sensible answer would be to simply cutt back! However, during the holidays, it’s common that we over-indulge so let's stick with the here and now. For most health issues, I can offer my loved ones an evidence-based and precise answer, but for hangover remedies, it's taken me a bit more digging and research.
For the purpose of getting a reliable and science-based answer, I normally start with Google scholar.com and will share with you some of my findings.
The first article I spotted is about “Treatment and Prevention of Alcohol Hangovers”, which goes onto say that “the scientific community lacks interest in examining hangover cures”. My friends won’t be very happy hearing that! However, further reading reveals that managing a hangover is related to “inhibitors of prostaglandin synthesis or accelerators of alcohol metabolism.” So this is a good place to start. (1).
I dig deeper and find a piece on “Living with Alcohol.” The article explains that hangover symptoms are caused by “alcohol toxicity” and that the major contributor for toxicity is the metabolic byproduct acetaldehyde, which is a bi-product of the liver's attempt to filter out alcohol from the body. Unfortunately, acetaldehyde is 30 times more toxic than alcohol and is responsible for most hangover symptoms(2).
The liver continually eliminates acetaldehyde from the body using cysteine and glutathione. By this mechanism, acetaldehyde is converted into a harmless conjugate. So, if acetaldehyde is converted then how can it possibly cause harmful effects to the body? I think we still need further explanation.
In simple terms, our body's detoxifying mechanisms are easily overwhelmed by larger amount of acetaldehyde being produced after the intake multiple drinks. Symptoms like headaches, dehydration, irritability, sleep disturbances, liver toxicity, as well as nerve and tissue hypersensitivity are just some of the adverse effects that we feel after drinking too much. The good news, however, is that taking an effective antioxidant can help to support the liver in its battle against acetaldehyde.
Great news! We’re getting closer to uncovering an effective cure for hangovers. My friends will be pleased.
I keep searching for answers about how to supercharge the liver with more soldiers to fight acetaldehyde, the enemy when it comes to hangover symptoms.
To be certain, I look for a reliable scientific trial that shows the positive effects of supplementing with glutathione or cysteine in order to manage hangover symptoms. The “Effects of a Preparation of Combined Glutathione-Enriched Yeast and Rice Embryo-Soybean Extracts on Ethanol Hangover” provides a reliable source.
Here’s what I learned: “After pre-treatment with this preparation, there was a reduction in both alcohol and acetaldehyde concentration after exposure to an alcohol challenge and this is a very desirable result as the increased elimination of acetaldehyde reduced remarkably the hangover effect”.
So, it turns out that supplementing with Glutathione offers an effective hangover remedy for my booze-loving friends during the holidays:)
The most common hangover hacks are probably things you've already tried or heard of: taking Ibuprofen, drinking plenty of water to overcome dehydration that further exaggerates the toxic state of acetaldehyde toxicity, and eating a breakfast high in fats to decrease the extent of alcohol absorption and reducing alcohol’s irritable effects on the stomach and resulting stomach pain.
The effectiveness of these methods varies person-to-person and are mostly learned through personal experiments rather than any hard scientific backing. So you can be the judge!
Glutathione is a tripeptide made from the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. Supplementing with a conventional glutathione supplement that goes through the digestive system will eventually end up as a free amino in the blood due to hydrolysis of glutathione by intestinal and hepatic gamma-glutamyltransferase. In other words, absorbency levels are very low. The most effective way of obtaining a daily dose of glutathione (the body's master antioxidant) is to use a liposomal formula (4).
Liposomal encapsulation technology (LET) uses nano-sized vesicles in spherical shapes that are produced from natural or synthetic phospholipids. This encapsulation technology works to protect the entrapped glutathione molecule in the core of liposomes from lysis by stomach or liver enzymes so that glutathione can more easily reach the cells that need it most and remain intact. In short, liposomal delivery ensures that glutathione is more available to do its job of detoxification.
Glutathione plays an important role in the maintenance of numerous immune functions, including lymphocyte proliferation and NK cell activity. A pilot study revealed that oral supplementation with liposomal glutathione resulted in increases in both of these activities. It has also become evident that liposomal GSH has positive effects on biomarkers of oxidative stress.
In conclusion, while little is known about hangover remedies, liposomal glutathione is one of the few approved cures for managing the unwanted side-effects of too many holiday drinks.
So if you find yourself over-indulging in mulled wine and cocktails this season, make sure you balance it out by taking a daily dose of Liposomal Glutathione. By my research, your head, body, and your liver will thank you for it.