Hair of the Dog

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By: Carlos M Viana, OMD, CCN

The Holidays are upon us and for many of us that means parties with lots of alcohol. Drinking alcohol in moderation can be fun and sociable, but, is alcohol healthy?

A Danish study found that “Wine drinkers had significantly lower mortality from both coronary heart disease and cancer than did non-wine drinkers.” Beer and other alcohol drinkers enjoyed a smaller benefit.

This is good news for some; drinking with the doctor’s permission! But wait; if you are not a drinker or suffer from liver disease, gastritis, or high blood pressure, it’s not a good idea to start drinking alcohol for the health benefits. However, if you enjoy an occasional drink and are otherwise healthy, go back and read the first paragraph. Drinking “in moderation” is the key. The benefits are only effective when keeping to the recommended levels. To work the right way, alcohol intake should be spread over the whole week and binge sessions, like at a party should be avoided.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), moderate is defined as 2 drinks a day if you’re a male 65 and younger, or 1 drink a day if you’re a female or a male 66 and older. 1 drink means 12 oz of beer, 4 oz of wine, 1.5 oz of 80-proof hard liquor, or 1 oz of 100-proof liquor.

Unfortunately, for many having a good time means doing everything to excess which includes overindulgence in alcohol consumption and the ensuing effect of a hangover. A hangover is the result of a combination of alcohol toxicity, dehydration, and Vitamin A, B and C depletion all caused by alcohol metabolism on your system. The symptoms are usually a dry mouth, nausea, fatigue; dizziness and headache.

Over the years there have been many folk remedies for hangovers. Some of these “cures” come with the toast “The hair of the dog that bit me”! The homeopathic principle of “like cures like” advice given literally in ancient times, “If a dog bites you, put a hair of the dog into the wound” this was distorted to imply that drinking more alcohol would help your hangover.

Apart from the obvious effects, during a hangover you are suffering the effects of a mild overdose of a depressant drug, your nerves are reacting and you have also flushed vitamins and nutrients from your system causing a shock that your body is struggling to fix. This is why hangover symptoms often include disorientation and “the jitters”.

Alcohol enters cells and is broken down into a toxin. Your liver converts this toxin into ammonia and acetic acid, which is non-toxic and can be used by your body for energy. By the way, the other name for acetic acid is vinegar! In a hangover ammonia is metabolized in the brain which has only a limited capacity to remove the excess ammonia coming in.

For those of you really partying to overload who include cocaine the news gets worse. Alcohol and cocaine form a product in your body called cocaethylene. Abusers know that higher alcohol concentrations lead to higher blood cocaine levels. However, high levels of alcohol slow down cocaine metabolism. This slow down may explain why users feel an enhanced euphoria when using the drugs in combination. Regrettably, the risk a sudden death from a heart attack is greatly increased.

So what is a partygoer to do? The best advice is to drink alcohol IN MODERATION avoiding binge drinking, and take red wine in preference to other alcoholic drinks. It’s not necessary to have an alcoholic beverage in hand during an entire party. We enjoy sparkling water with a lime between glasses of red wine when socializing. Always eat something either before or while you are drinking. If you have drunk large quantities of alcohol, drink plenty of water afterwards. This will counteract dehydration. Rather than drink coffee the morning after a drinking session, a breakfast consisting of complex carbohydrates, a whole grain cereal right for your metabolic type, a glass of fresh fruit juice and a cup of green tea should bring your blood sugar level up to an acceptable level and help to rehydrate your body.

What not to do! Do not drink alcohol to try to neutralize your hangover. Bloody Mary’s only make you progressively more useless as you drink more of them and slow down the healing process of your body. Do not waste your time with aspirin that will destroy your liver if combined with alcohol. Aspirin can cause sudden death at any time. So prevalent is death by aspirin that in the US that many aspirin induced deaths are listed on “cause” as “natural”. Alcohol damages the liver; and aspirin damages the liver; but if you mix the two, the damage is much worse.

The most important natural supplement for a hangover is mineral water that helps rehydrate your body. Natural supplements that help neutralize alcohol byproducts and protect cells against the damaging effects of alcohol include vitamin C, B Complex, folic Acid, the amino acids SAMe and glutathione, vitamin E, and selenium. We like to take extra vitamin C & B complex with a liter/qt of water before an evening of festivities. If more help is needed, we provide colon-hydro therapy in our clinic which can help flush out toxins and re-hydrate the body quickly.

Get The Point! The Holidays should be spent reconnecting with family and friends in a festive exchange. In ancient times, putting “the hair of the dog that bit you into the wound” did not help prevent infection. Nothing is said about the dog biting you twice as you try to get some of its hair; which is what will happen if you try to cure your hangover with more alcohol. If the festivities have come back to bite you, or you are just looking for healthy ways to celebrate, we are open throughout the season to help you. Salud, Santé, Cheers, To Your Health!q

CARLOS VIANA, Ph. D. is an Oriental Medical Doctor (O.M.D.) having studied in Shanghai, China; a Board Cert. Clinical Nutritionist (C.C.N.), a fellow member of the Board Certified Association of Addiction Professionals (C.Ad.), the Chairperson of the Latin American Committee of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), a Rejuvenating Cell Therapist and specializes in Anti-Aging Medicine, has a weekly radio program, writes and lectures extensively. For information: VIANA NATURAL HEALING CENTER NV, Kibaima 7, Aruba, TEL: 585-1270 FAX: 585-4789, Web Sight:

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