Holiday Health Fixes
Natural Remedies to Cure What Ails You
We get it: There are just some days when you’re not at the top of your game. Luckily, Mother Nature has a bagful of tricks to help get you get back on track. Here are a few natural cures for the most common complaints, especially during the holidays when some of us tend to overindulge.
When Your Hangover Hangs On
If you’re promoting the urban myth that a night of too much drinking should be followed by a day of greasy food, please stop. Greasy food doesn’t help. It may even make you feel worse. However, eating fatty foods the night of a binge does have a protective effect, as they naturally slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. So, before you go out, have a slice of pizza, a burger, or both. For the purists, try some milk thistle, an herb that contains silymarin, which has been shown to be effective in protecting the liver.
If you’re in a morning-after hangover crisis, remember to replenish all those nutrients that were depleted when alcohol first knocked on your liver’s door. Bananas or strawberries offer much-needed electrolytes like potassium, and eggs contain large amounts of the amino acid cysteine, which can mop up acetaldehyde, the toxin that caused the hangover. Finally, fresh-squeezed fruit juices will help raise energy levels while increasing the rate at which the body gets rid of toxins. Remember to finish up with lots of water for hydration.
When You’re Fighting Fatigue (and Losing)
When your energy is subpar and you’ve got a holiday event to attend, consider spices, which have a natural ability to increase alertness. Cardamom, the spice in chai tea and curry dishes, has been used in Asia for its ability to increase circulation and improve vitality. Cinnamon is a natural energy booster, so keep some cinnamon sticks at your desk for a 3 pm inhale, instead of inhaling another cookie. And if your olfactory senses are already on overload, try color therapy for a pick-me-up. Add warm colors like orange and red as accents to your workspace. Finally, to wake yourself up at the cellular level, try supplements like carnitine and co-enzyme Q10, which are essential nutrients for the mitochondria, the energy-making part of cells.
When the Sheep Don’t Want to be Counted
Besides basic advice on good sleep hygiene—like no screens or energy drinks at night—there are plenty of other tricks you can try. Exercise every day. Lavender-scented spray on a pillow works for many, as does time-release melatonin. “Calm” is the name of an anti-stress drink that is loaded with magnesium, known for its naturally calming effects. Andrew Weil, a celebrity doctor well-known for his integrative therapies, also suggests practicing “Mantram,” which is a type of meditation that you can do to help get you back into a sleepy state of mind. Simply pick a phrase or word and repeat it over and over. If your mind wanders, focus back on the phrase or word. Dull repetition like that this is bound to knock you out.
When Your Food Baby Is Cranky
As we age we lose some of the digestive acid in our stomachs that helps us break down proteins and fats after a big meal, and which also causes heartburn and indigestion. But there’s a new hero in town: apple cider vinegar, which acts just like natural digestive enzymes. If you’ve been dependent on one of the over-the-counter heartburn remedies, try this instead. Twenty minutes before lunch and dinner, add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to two ounces of water and add ice. In limited studies it’s been shown to improve acid reflux in people who are not taking medications. Plus, one study of 175 people showed that apple cider vinegar helped reduce belly fat. Take that, food baby.
When the Bags Under Your Eyes are Taking Over Your Face
Puffy eyes and bags can be caused by lack of sleep, fluid retention, alcohol consumption, and even hormones. Luckily, the fridge may already contain an arsenal of remedies like cucumber or potato slices (place on eyes for five minutes) and egg whites (beat two egg whites until stiff, then brush the mixture on your lids and under eyes). Cooled tea bags also work, as do cold spoons (place the curved side against skin). Most importantly: sleep eight hours a night and drink plenty of water. Don’t try the spoon trick at a restaurant. It’ll distract friends from the eye bags but will most likely cause relationship issues.