May 01, 2018
How Your Body Processes Alcohol and the #1 Hangover Cure
Hi All! Alyssa here. As someone who enjoys drinking socially but is at an age where experiencing a hangover is just about the worst thing EVER, I thought it might be fun (and useful!) to explore just what makes a body drunk, how can I avoid those symptoms, and what old-wives tales for hangover cures ACTUALLY WORK. So join me on a magical journey through the human body as we talk about how your body processes alcohol, and how to get rid over hangovers. We’ll even crown one Hangover Cure the winner. What fun!
Let’s start at the beginning. Alcohol, unlike food and other drinks, doesn’t require digestion. So, when you drink an alcoholic beverage, it passes straight on through to your stomach, where only about 20% of it is absorbed, and then it goes right on its merry way. The other 80% is absorbed in your small intestine and processed in the liver. Then, the alcohol passes directly through your body’s membranes to your blood stream. From there, the sky’s the limit! Once in your blood stream, the alcohol travels throughout your body, making its presence known 1 .
Your liver has a heck of a job to do. This is the organ responsible for processing alcohol and (if it’s doing its job) preventing your body from becoming toxic. Because let’s face it: drinking is actually a low key, enjoyable poisoning session.
On average, a healthy and fully functional human liver can process about one ounce of alcohol per hour. “One drink per hour” is a good rule to follow if you want to avoid a hangover but continue to drink, since this is the rate at which your liver can keep up with you. Binge drinking or consuming several alcoholic beverages in short order is a surefire way to overload your liver and suffer for it later.
Other Areas of the Body
The alcohol in your bloodstream travels throughout all of your major organs, including your lungs, your brain, and even your skin. That’s why a breathalyzer test can detect alcohol on your breath, and a severely intoxicated person smells of alcohol- you sweat it out, too.
The affects vary from person to person, but in general, your blood vessels will dilate. Your blood pressure will drop temporarily, and your skin will feel warm. Because alcohol is a sedative, it slows your brains impulses, affecting reaction time, thoughts, and decision-making capabilities. This is why so many of you worst decisions are made when you are under the influence 2 !
Like beautiful snowflakes on a crisp winter morning, every drunk person is different. Many factors affect how you might respond to alcohol.
The need to digest something causes your stomach to empty more slowly, thus thwarting the alcohol’s travels to your intestines.
Not the act, but whether you are male or female. While it’s sometimes contested, science shows that women tend to retain alcohol in their systems for longer. Sorry ladies.
In particular, people of Asian decent tend to have a more difficult time processing alcohol and report more severe side effects such as flushing, nausea, dizziness, and impaired vision.
If there is an alcoholic in your immediate family, you are seven times more likely to develop alcoholism yourself!
Like all medicines, how your body absorbs and processes alcohol is affected by how large or small you are. A smaller person needs less alcohol to get drunk and could find themselves over the legal limit in just a drink or two.
The older you are, the slower your liver is. Sad but true.
Many prescription and over-the-counter medications alter the effects of alcohol and vice versa. It’s usually not a good thing- so maybe talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure of any interactions.
Time Between Drinks
As I mentioned above, the One Per Hour rule works wonders if you want your body to keep up with your drinking. And if you want to avoid a hangover, it’s a good idea to spaces things out a little 3 .
The Dreaded Hangover
If you haven’t heeded my advice about one drink per hour, then this section is especially for you. Chances are good that if you’ve overtaxed your liver and drank to excess, you will experience a “hangover.” This is a period of time that usually begins 8-12 hours after your drinking session ends and is characterized by very unpleasant physical symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, and intense regret.
The formal term for a hangover is “veisalgia.” This term comes from the Norwegian word “kveis” (meaning uneasiness after debauchery) and the Greek word “algia” (meaning pain) 4. I don’t know about you, but I think “pain and uneasiness after debauchery” describes just about every hangover I have ever experienced. I propose that we should start using this term immediately. I’ll start.
Veisalgia occurs when your blood alcohol content (BAC) returns to normal, and your body responds to essentially being mildly poisoned. Depending on a lot of factors, you could experience veisalgia for anywhere from a few hours to the entire day.
Thankfully, people have been getting blitzed since alcohol was invented, so there are about as many ways to nurse a hangover as there are drinks to get drunk on.
Let’s Try Them Out!
Starting in May, we are going to begin an experiment to determine what hangover cure reigns supreme. First, I’m going to get my husband drunk once a week for the next four weeks. He’s a good guy, so I’m sure he’ll do this for me, in the name of science. Then, we’ll choose a so-called hangover cure to try out the following morning
and see how well it works. This should be extra fun because we have two small children who enjoy playing the recorder and tambourines in the mornings. At the end of the month, we’ll declare a winner.
Hope you’ll join us for this exciting adventure! Check back throught the month of May at pristinevodka.com to see our progress.