When your customers overindulge in the holiday spirit—be it alcohol, food or late-night parties—chances are they'll look to your supplements and personal care aisles to help them overcome everything from headaches to under-eye circles. Fortunately, there are many herbs, vitamins, creams and serums that can repair, and even help prevent, the consequences of one too many holiday parties. Here are some suggestions to pass along to customers who might have been a bit overly generous with themselves the night before.
One martini, two martini, three martini, floor
We all know how to prevent a hangover, but we can't always take our mother out partying with us. So try the next best thing—pre-emptive planning. The day before a big party, take four to six artichoke leaf capsules, says herbalist Bev Maya of Maya Natural Health in North Vancouver, B.C., Canada. "Artichoke leaf protects liver cells against damage and stabilizes insulin so you won't get so many peaks and valleys from the carbohydrates in alcohol," she says. "It really makes a big difference in how awful you feel after drinking."
Milk thistle also works as a preventive liver tonic, Maya says. Wash it or artichoke leaf down with plenty of spring water, which contains minerals that will replace the ones you'll lose while drinking. "Alcohol is a really strong diuretic, so it flushes minerals from your body, plus the sugar in alcohol changes your pH, making it more acidic. Minerals can't thrive as well in an acidic environment," she says.
Other preventive options include prickly pear cactus and gingko biloba. A 2004 Tulane University study found that medical students who took a prickly-pear extract five hours before drinking to excess had less dry mouth, nausea and loss of appetite, and half as many severe hangovers as those who didn't take the supplement. Researchers theorize that prickly pear fights hangover-causing inflammation. Japanese folklore has long held that ginkgo seeds prevent drunkenness and hangovers, and studies back it up. Asian researchers have discovered that ginkgo contains an enzyme that speeds up the body's metabolism of alcohol.
The day after drinking, continue taking artichoke leaf to flush toxic bile cells out of the body and help prevent nausea, Maya says. "A lot of times, nausea means the liver is just tired out." She also recommends nettle tea to excrete toxins, or dandelion root and leaf taken together. "The root aids in liver function, and the leaf helps kidney function," she says.
Because alcohol ravages the body's vitamin B supply, load up on Bs before and after drinking, Maya says. Or try Rescue Beverage Co.s' The Cure, a new natural hangover powder developed by University of Colorado students. It contains all the B vitamins, along with milk thistle; potassium and sodium to replace electrolytes lost while drinking; and vitamin C to neutralize acid, boost the immune system and calm the stomach.
To relax the nervous system and promote sleep after a bout of drinking, Maya recommends passionflower and skullcap. And a good adrenal-support herb such as ashwagandha or Siberian or American ginseng can give you energy, "feed your body, and help get your system back to normal," she says.
Maya recommends taking hangover supplements as teas or tinctures because they're not as irritating to the digestive tract as pills. The only exception is artichoke leaf. "It's best in a concentrated capsule," she says.
There are also a variety of homeopathic remedies for hangovers. Naturopathic doctor Lisa Amerine, who practices at Pure Homeopathy in Lafayette, Colo., lists her top remedies for holiday overindulgence: arsenicum album for restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea and chills; nux vomica for headache, sensitivity, irritability and bloat; veratrum album for sweats, vomiting and diarrhea; and ipecac for violent vomiting. Or you can try homeopathic blends such as Chaser Plus from Living Essentials, which contains cinchona officinalis, nux vomica and ranunculus bulb for headache, spiritus quercus glandium for dry mouth, and zincum metallicum and lobelia inflata for nausea.
Loosening your belt
Overindulgence in food is a holiday hallmark, along with the accompanying indigestion. Maya says slippery elm can help irritated digestive tracts, and deglycyrrhizinated licorice, known as DGL, has been found in numerous studies to increase the mucus that protects the gastrointestinal tract. Amerine recommends the homeopathic remedy carbo vegetabilis for flatulence. And a 2003 study found that artichoke-leaf extract provides significant relief from heartburn and other symptoms of indigestion.
Gee, your face looks awful
You might be able to hide your nausea or headache after a night of partying, but your puffy, gray skin is a different matter. Alcohol sucks water out of the skin, making lines and wrinkles more prominent, and causes inflammation, which can give you rosy cheeks—and not in a sun-kissed way. The best way to prevent that red skin is to make sure you wash your face before you stumble into bed. "It's easy to say, ?Oh, I've been drinking' and just hit the sack, but that's what's really going to do the damage," says Ashley Scroggins, an aesthetician with Boulder, Colo.-based integrative pharmacy Pharmaca. Sleeping in makeup or a day's worth of grit can clog your pores so badly that it can take a week of toner applications to get them pristine again, Scroggins says. But if you do forget your nightly cleansing ritual, a morning-after exfoliant like Emerita's Microdermabrasion Face Scrub can unclog pores and give "instant results," she says.
Scroggins also likes another Emerita product—Skin Brightener—to perk up tired skin. It contains antioxidant vitamins A and C along with aloe vera. "Aloe tightens if you're feeling kind of saggy or droopy. I use it on the days when I feel like I'm not ready to take off my sunglasses yet," she says. Spray mists also hydrate skin and make it look refreshed. And don't forget the moisturizer—Scroggins likes products that contain sodium PCA for hydration, or you can apply jojoba oil directly to the skin without fear of clogging pores.
For under-eye circles, Scroggins recommends creams and serums with vitamin K, which makes the dark blood vessels under the skin less visible. Or look for products that contain arbutin, which comes from bearberry, a natural skin lightener. Joyce Carboni, an aesthetician and founder of Skinsational Skin and Body Spa in San Diego, says products containing rosemary extract reduce under-eye puffiness and dark circles. She also recommends cold, steeped chamomile tea bags or sliced cucumbers or avocados placed directly on the eyes to combat puffiness.
For red, inflamed skin, Scroggins suggests products containing peptides, which hydrate the skin and help with collagen production. She likes derma e's Peptides Plus moisturizer, and Sanitas' Peptiderm serum.
Finally, take care of Scrooge-like skin from the inside out by drinking lots of water and supplementing with fish oil. "It softens skin, fights inflammation and lubricates the mucus membranes around the mouth and nose, plumping up the skin," Scroggins says.
Vicky Uhland is a Lafayette, Colo.-based freelance writer.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 11/p. 34,36