Best Drinks to Avoid a Hangover

Revée Barbour poured herself another drink from the vat with floating ice, mint and lime. “I don’t feel drunk,” the naturopathic physician based in Sacramento, California, told the party host, who was a mixologist. “I feel very relaxed.”

That was the point: The concoction’s base wasn’t gin or vodka; it was hawthorn tea, which dilates blood vessels to the brain, heart and other parts of the body and “makes you feel a little loopy,” Barbour says.

Hawthorn tea is widely available at organic stores, big box stores and online. The amount you’d need to drink to get a light buzz varies from person to person, depending on an individual’s size and how long they’ve been drinking the beverage. Typically one to three cups can achieve the effect.

Some herbal and fermented beverages are gaining mainstream attention as alternatives to alcohol. These beverages can provide good options to people who want to cut down on their alcohol consumption, as well as those who are in recovery from alcohol misuse. “People are trying to find a way they can enjoy their food and drinks… without causing those long-term effects,” Barbour says.

Before saying “cheers,” remember that even non-alcoholic and minimally alcoholic drinks need to be purchased and consumed responsibly. Companies that sell herbs and herbal supplements, for example, aren’t regulated, so it’s important to do your research and look to established manufacturers before buying (often potent) products.

Talk to your doctor too, to make sure these herbs won’t interact with your medications.

And, as with alcohol, know your limits. “People think more is better,” says Summer Ashley Singletary, an herbalist based in the Bay Area of San Francisco and associate communications manager at Traditional Medicinals, “and that’s not always the case.”

When it comes to the best drinks to avoid a hangover, try these eight beverages:

[See: Ways Alcohol Affects the Aging Process.]

Beet Root Juice

When people order a warm drink made with beetroot from Alchemy, a juice bar and café in Columbus, Ohio, its pink hue can make them feel better before even taking a sip. The beverage contains no alcohol.

“The self-care movement really (promotes) looking at food as more of an experience, as opposed to fuel or energy or fiber,” says Alexis Joseph, a registered dietitian and the cafe’s co-founder.

Once they slurp, customers can feel more relaxed too, thanks, in part, to beet root’s blood vessel-opening effects. Warm drinks of many varieties can warm your body, Joseph adds.

To make one serving of basic beet root juice, start by gathering these ingredients:

— 2 large beets or 4 small beets.

— 1/4 cup of water (optional).

Trim the ends of the beets with a sharp knife and thoroughly rinse the beets. Cut the beets into quarters, and place the chunks (and if you choose to, the 1/4 cup of water) into a juicer. Turn on the juicer and allow it to process the beet chunks into a beverage. Beets are hard, so be patient. It may take a few minutes. You can drink the beverage immediately, or let it chill in the fridge for half hour.

There are also many options for purchasing beet root juice.

Beetroot juice has become increasingly popular among athletes seeking to improve their athletic performances, according to research published in 2021 in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Researchers wrote that “the consumption of (beet root juice) also has an impact on oxygen delivery to skeletal muscles, muscle efficiency, tolerance and endurance and may thus have a positive impact on sports performances.”

Researchers warned that consuming beet root juice may have health risks. Drinking beet root juice “may easily increase nitrate intake above the acceptable daily intake,” which is known to stimulate a class of compounds known to be carcinogenic, researchers wrote. “Compared to studies on the beneficial effects, the amount of data and literature on the negative effects of (beet root juice) is rather limited, and should be increased in order to perform a balanced risk assessment.”

Check with your health care provider or a registered dietitian about whether beet root juice, and in what amount, is a good option for you.

[See: Drinks to Boost the Immune System.]

Cratageus or Hawthorn

Crataegus is another name for hawthorn, the same herb in Barbour’s mixologist friend’s mocktail. It is sometimes used to treat heart conditions since it helps open up blood vessels. For example, research suggests that cratageus exerts a range of beneficial cardiovascular effects, such as anti-inflammatory properties and a decrease in arterial blood pressure.

Try infusing 1 tablespoon of a hawthorn mixture that contains both the hawthorn plant’s berries and flowers into 1 cup of water, and then dressing it up with an orange slice or honey. “It’s a nice refreshing drink that chills you out,” Barbour says. Don’t throw back more than two.

[SEE: 8 Ways to Stay Hydrated Besides Drinking Water.]

Kanna Tea

Know that feeling of lightness after a deep meditation or massage? That’s similar to the feeling Singletary gets after sipping a drink made with Cup of Sunshine, her company’s tea that includes kanna, a strong, earthy South African herb. The herb contains an alkaloid that may act as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor; medical professionals use such medications to treat depression.

“That to me, out of the herbs we sell in tea form, feels the most akin to the buzz-like feeling,” Singletary says. Try pairing it with milk and a sweetener. “It tastes reminiscent to the earthy notes of a chai tea; you could even add in some powdered cinnamon and cardamom for extra flavor.”

There’s little to no research regarding whether consuming kanna puts one at risk of side effects. There’s no known severe adverse herb-drug reactions, but there’s also insufficient information available on possible adverse effects of consuming kanna, according to the Botanical Institute. The Institute says kanna is not recommended for people who are taking anti-depressants or other medications for psychiatric disorders.

Kava Tea

Kava tea, which comes from an herb harvested in the Pacific Islands, is an herbal beverage with nervine properties, which means it’s a botanical beverage, tonic or relaxant that has a positive therapeutic effect on the nervous system, Barbour says. “Kava acts as a muscle relaxer and can help ease nervous tension or induce sleep,” she says. “Some cities even have kava bars which offer a great alternative to alcohol and happy hours.”

Research suggests kava tea contains compounds, known as kava lactones, that provide local anesthetic, analgesic, anticonvulsant and neuroprotective properties.

However, some research suggests using kava may also be associated with liver injury, but the potential link and its extent is not known. Several countries, including Canada, Great Britain, France and Germany have banned or restricted the use of kava because of concerns about liver injury, according to research in the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Several groups have disputed the evidence for hepatoxicity (liver damage), “suggesting that responsibility for liver injury lies with adulterants or concomitant drugs or herbals,” researchers wrote. “Furthermore, the literature on liver injury from kava has included several incomplete or overlapping reports, and causality was rarely well shown. Nevertheless, there are a small number of cases of severe hepatic injury arising during therapy that are convincing.”

“The frequency of adverse reactions to kava, particularly liver injury, is not known,” researchers wrote. “Based upon reported cases, the estimated frequency of clinically apparent liver injury due to kava is less than (1 in 1 million) daily doses.”

Patients typically display symptoms including:

— Fatigue.

— Jaundice.

— Nausea.

Kombucha

If you crave the refreshing fizziness of beer, you’ll feel satisfied sipping on kombucha, an easily accessible, fermented drink typically made from black tea, sugar and “SCOBY” — an acronym for the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

“The byproduct is this awesome probiotic-rich drink” that contains B vitamins, glucosamine and other nutrients that support liver and immune health, Barbour says. And because kombucha can contain a small amount of alcohol and caffeine, you may notice a slight — albeit fleeting — buzz.

The amount of alcohol in commercial kombucha drinks varies, with many varieties between 0.1 and 0.5% alcohol by volume; by contrast, regular alcoholic beer typically has 5% alcohol by volume. The legal limit is 0.5% alcohol by volume for manufacturers to be able to call their product “non-alcoholic,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Cap your intake at two cups daily. “It’s not about numbing yourself, it’s about drawing attention to the areas that need the most support,” Barbour says. “That’s where these beverages shine.”

Kvass

Ever brush some stale rye bread crumbs into the trash can? Next time, hold on to them — those seemingly worthless scraps form the basis of kvass, another fermented beverage, this one with roots in Russia.

Beet kvass is a probiotic made from beets by fermenting wheat or rye bread with water and using that as a starter culture to ferment beet roots. Consuming beet kvass could cause health risks for some individuals. Beet kvass can have high amounts of iron, depending upon the fermentation process. If your body has a problem metabolizing iron, then check with your health care provider before drinking beet kvass.

Linden Tea

Are you stressed out about a work assignment or can’t shake the tension from an argument with your spouse? Linden — an herb a bit more bitter and savory than hawthorn, which is sweeter since it comes from the rose family — might help. Linden is a nervine, a plant-based remedy that, proponents say, has positive effects on the nervous system.

Research published in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition in 2019 suggests herbal teas — like linden — can provide some health benefits. Researchers reviewed 21 previously published studies: “Observational studies suggest there may be associations between herbal tea consumption and a reduced risk of liver and thyroid disease, indicating further research is warranted to understand both the clinical treatment and preventative health potential of herbal teas.”

“I usually prescribe this for folks that have nervous tension,” says Barbour, who recommends using 1 to 2 teaspoons in one cup of water and limiting yourself to 1 to 2 cups a day.

Mead

If you’re familiar with the paleo diet, you’ve probably heard that some compare the eating regimen to eating like a caveman. But what about drinking like one?

“Mead … is one of the most ancient beverages humans have been consuming,” Barbour says of the sweet, carbonated drink that can go down like cider. Made from fermented honey, mead has antifungal, antibacterial, immune system-supporting and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as varying levels of alcohol, though it’s typically about half the alcohol content of wine.

To keep things light, try mixing a low-alcohol variety with club soda, mint and rosemary for a refreshing — and health-promoting — summer beverage, Barbour suggests.

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Best Drinks to Avoid a Hangover originally appeared on usnews.com

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