7 Ways to Avoid that St. Patrick's Day Hangover

St Patricks Day green beer

Veisalgia is a word recognized by few, but familiar to many. It's the medical term for "hangover". It comes from the Greek, "pain and uneasiness following debauchery". Though, more than 75% of drinkers report experiencing a hangover, there is actually very little science as to the reasons why people experience a hangover. Namely, because hangovers eventually go away on their own. Still, since we don't know what causes a hangover, we subsequently don't know what will treat or prevent it.

What to Try...

Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus is one of the few products that has been studied. Researchers found that taking 1,500 units of the extract five hours before drinking, in a "party-like atmosphere", won't prevent a hangover, but will cut the symptoms of a severe hangover in half. The extract may be found in many over-the-counter herbal remedies.

Tomato Juice with Cayenne Pepper, Sugar and Lime
Most believe the dehydrating effect of alcohol is at least a partial culprit of the cause of a hangover. As such, fluids such as water, Gatorade or juice should be a staple hangover prevention regimen. And, while water is great, tomato juice with cayenne pepper, sugar, and lime could also be added to help replenish electrolytes and get blood sugar back on track. No tomato juice in the house? Try a glass of water with a dash of salt and sugar both before bed and immediately upon waking up.

Tiger Balm
Tiger Balm is a popular Asian multi-purpose remedy. It's blended from camphor, menthol, cajuput oil and clove oil and known for its analgesic and blood flow promoting properties. It's not meant for hangovers, per se, but used topically for centuries to cure headaches. Dab the potent, eye-stinging salve on the back of your neck and temples, massage it in, and wait a few minutes until your headache seemingly melts away.

What to Avoid...

Hair of the Dog
Drinking more alcohol the following morning is not a cure. Alcohol is toxic, which is why you get a hangover. Drinking more only extends the duration and the body needs time to cleanse.

Greasy Breakfast
Food is key, but a heavy, greasy breakfast may actually cause an upset stomach which in turn makes you more nauseous. Light, bland food is the best.

"Sweating if Off"
Exercise or jumping into a sauna should be avoided. Your body is already dehydrated. These activities will only make it worse.

Aspirin and Other Pain Relievers
In the movies, everyone grabs for an aspirin to treat a hangover. But, aspirin and pain relievers such as Aleve or ibuprofen should be used cautiously since they can harm kidneys and the liver. Especially since you are already dehydrated. Avoid aspirin. If you need to take an ibuprofen, make sure you are drinking as much water or fluid as possible.

Tom Carey, Pharm D, is the director of pharmacy services at SwedishAmerican.