Support Your Liver to Minimize Hangovers

by Jodi Cohen

Your liver breaks down, metabolizes and detoxifies alcohol.

When you drink, your liver metabolizes alcohol by first converting it into a highly toxic substance called acetaldehyde, which is then converted into non-toxic acetate.

If the liver is congested or overworked and is unable to process and eliminate the toxic acetaldehyde quickly and efficiently.  As a result, the acetaldehyde accumulates and enters the bloodstream, and presents as a combination of unpleasant signs and symptoms known as a hangover (nausea and pounding headaches).

Supporting the vitality and healthy function of your liver helps you process alcohol more quickly and alleviate or minimize hangover symptoms.

What is A Hangover?

A hangover is characterized by the constellation of unpleasant physical and mental symptoms that occur after drinking alcohol.

Hangovers typically start several hours after the cessation of drinking, when blood alcohol concentration starts to decline. Symptoms usually peak about the time when blood alcohol concentration drops significantly and is at or near zero. They’re usually in full effect the morning after a night of heavy drinking and may continue for up to 24 hours thereafter.

Research finds that hangovers are common, with approximately 75 percent of those who drink alcohol to intoxication will experience a hangover.

Women historically have a lower tolerance to alcohol and suffer worse hangovers than men because it takes longer for their livers to break down the alcohol.


Hangover Symptoms

When you have a hangover, you’re likely to experience:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Excessive thirst and dry mouth
  • Headaches and muscle aches
  • Nausea, vomiting or stomach pain
  • Poor or decreased sleep
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • Dizziness or a sense of the room spinning (vertigo)
  • Decreased ability to concentrate

Hangovers can also be accompanied by an increased sympathetic nervous system activity (known as sympathetic dominance), including increased systolic blood pressure, rapid heartbeat (i.e., tachycardia), tremor, and sweating.


Why Do Hangovers Occur?

As mentioned above, your liver metabolizes alcohol in a 2 step process, first converting the alcohol in acetaldehyde, which is even more toxic and damaging to your cells.

The acetaldehyde is then broken down by another enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and the antioxidant glutathione. Acting synergistically, the acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and the glutathione, turn the toxic acetaldehyde into non-toxic acetate (a substance found in vinegar).

If this second step conversion into acetate is slow to occur – due to low liver vitality –  acetaldehyde begins to enter the bloodstream and cause damage.

If your liver is vital and healthy, this process works efficiently, giving the acetaldehyde only a short amount of time to damage cells if only safe amounts of alcohol are consumed.

Poor liver function can allow the toxic acetaldehyde to sit too long in your bloodstream. Alcohol cannot be stored in our body, so your body makes getting rid of it the top priority so that it doesn’t accumulate and destroy your cells, tissues and organs.  This may be one reason that you vomit when hungover to expel the alcohol from your system.

It’s interesting to note that women have lower tolerance to alcohol because they have less acetaldehyde detoxifying constituents, like glutathione in their liver. Thus, they can get worse hangovers than men because it takes longer for their liver to break down the alcohol.

Along with the role of acetaldehyde in producing hangover symptoms, changes in the blood levels of other hormones may also contribute to some of the hangover symptoms.

For example, alcohol inhibits antidiuretic hormone, which leads to excessive urination and dehydration — often indicated by thirst, dizziness and lightheadedness. Dehydration accentuates the symptoms of a hangover.

Alcohol also disrupts the liver’s store of glycogen and blood sugar (glucose) levels become more unstable which can contribute to mental fogginess, headaches, cravings for sugar and light headedness.


Essential Oils to Support Your Liver to Minimize Hangovers

Essential Oils can be powerful tools to support your liver and minimize hangovers, especially when nausea or vomiting might prevent you from digesting, absorbing and assimilating remedies.

Liver™ blend was designed to strengthen, balance and energize the liver so it can perform its numerous functions with optimal vitality to help support healthy detoxification of alcohol to minimize hangovers.  If too many toxins accumulate in the liver, function is compromised.

Liver™ contains oils such as Peppermint which is noted for soothing nausea. Caraway Seed is known to  help reduce the accumulation of toxins. Research has found that thymoquinone, a constituent of caraway essential oil can increase the production of glutathione, an antioxidant that plays a key role in helping your body eliminate toxins.

Apply 2- 3 drops directly over the liver (right side of body, under breast) before sleep to help process and eliminate alcohol during the night.

The accupuncture point Liver 3 (LV 3) – located in the end of the valley between the big toe and the second toe – is a helpful application point for Liver™. You can topically apply Liver™ on the pointto help break down the acetaldehyde.

You can also combine the Liver™ blend with castor oil – just add 3 drops of Liver™ to 1 tsp of castor oil and rub it over the liver before bed. Castor oil is notoriously messy, so you can either: (1) cover it with a piece of flannel and plastic wrap and apply heat from a hot water bottle (avoid the electricity of heating pads) for 20-30 minutes, (2) wear a ratty t-shirt and let your body eat work it’s magic (3) climb into an Epsom salt bath with the castor oil and Liver™ oil and benefit from layering 3 healing strategies at the same time.


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About The Author

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.

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Subscribe to Vibrant Blue Oils and receive weekly information on oils and how to use them. As a bonus, we’ll send out Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils to your inbox immediately!