HANGOVERS 101: AN INTRODUCTION


What happens when I drink alcohol?

When alcohol is consumed, it enters your blood stream though the gut.  Your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) increases as more alcohol enters the blood stream, leading to the altered state of senses known as intoxication.  Alcohol is able to alter our senses because it crosses what is known as the blood brain barrier, meaning that alcohol from the blood stream is able to affect functions in our brain.  The chemicals which control these brain functions are known as neurotransmitters.  

GABA is one of the major inhibitory neurotransmitters in our body - meaning that it relaxes us.  Alcohol increases the effectiveness of GABA - making us more relaxed.  

Glutamate is one of the major excitatory neurotransmitters in our body - meaning that it excites us.  Alcohol decreases the effectiveness of Glutamate - again, making us more relaxed.

How is alcohol processed?

As alcohol circulates through the blood stream, your liver metabolizes it at a fixed rate.  You may be familiar with the rule of thumb that your body is generally able to process one drink per hour.  While your liver metabolizes alcohol it creates a byproduct known as acetaldehyde, which is up to 30x's as toxic as alcohol.

What is a hangover?

The alcohol hangover begins once your BAC has returned to zero.  There isn't a true definition of what a hangover is.  A hangover may be best described as a collection of miserable symptoms caused by drinking alcohol.  To define what a hangover is then, it's best simply to look at a collection of the major symptoms.

Why does drinking alcohol cause hangovers?

The mechanisms of an alcohol hangover are as varied as the symptoms themselves.  Let's walk through the typical night of drinking, and see what happens in your body.  

Early... As you begin drinking, as we mentioned above, your GABA levels increase, and your Glutamate levels decrease, leaving you in a relaxed state.

Later on... Alcohol is a diuretic, causing your kidneys to absorb less water, which allows more liquid to pass through leading to more frequent urination.  This frequent urination flushes out essential nutrients and electrolytes.  Contrary to popular belief, drinking water will not alleviate this, as this may simply lead to further electrolyte and nutrient imbalance.  As the night goes on, you flush out more and more nutrients.

Your body was able to process some of the alcohol and acetaldehyde for a while, but now it can't keep up.  Acetaldehyde begins to accumulate in your body at an increasing rate.

Finally... You go home and fall asleep.  But while you're sleeping, your BAC returns to zero, and your body begins the process of returning to its normal state.  It does this by slamming glutamate into your system - putting you in a highly excitable state.  Your body is not able to reach a full state of rest, and you sleep poorly.  While you sleep, the accumulated acetaldehyde begins to poison you, beginning the onset of nausea and headache.

The next day... The glutamate pumping through your system makes you shaky, anxious and irritable.  You may wake up early, in a jolt.  You're tired because your sleep wasn't restful.  The electrolyte imbalance and acetaldehyde give you a terrible headache, and maybe even nausea or vomiting.  Sound familiar?

What are the major hangover symptoms?

  1. Fatigue - caused by poor sleep, depletion of essential vitamins and low blood sugar
  2. Dehydration - brought on by depletion of vitamins and electrolytes due to excessive urination
  3. Headache and muscle ache - due to dehydration, liver stress and inflammation 
  4. Rapid Heartbeat - caused by glutamate rebound
  5. Anxiety - caused by glutamate rebound
  6. Irritability - largely due to glutamate rebound and poor sleep
  7. Nausea - caused acetaldehyde poisoning and dehydration
  8. Vomiting - caused acetaldehyde poisoning and inflammation
  9. Stomach Pain - largely due to inflammation and extra gastric acid

How can these symptoms be alleviated?

  1. Fatigue - improve sleep
  2. Dehydration - provide vitamins lost to excessive urination
  3. Headache and muscle ache - provide vitamins lost, aid liver in alcohol metabolization, decrease inflammation
  4. Rapid Heartbeat - decrease glutamate rebound
  5. Anxiety - decrease glutamate rebound
  6. Irritability - Improve sleep and decrease glutamate rebound
  7. Nausea - aid liver in acetaldehyde breakdown and provide vitamins lost to excessive urination
  8. Vomiting - aid liver in acetaldehyde breakdown
  9. Stomach Pain - decrease inflammation

How do Rally Capsules help?

  • Dihydromyricetin - decreases glutamate rebound, which improves sleep, and aids liver in alcohol metabolism and acetaldehyde metabolism
  • Milk Thistle - decreases glutamate rebound, which improves sleep, and aids liver in alcohol metabolism and acetaldehyde metabolism
  • Electrolytes - replenish essential minerals lost
  • B and C Vitamins - replenish the vitamins and minerals lost