People who have had a hangover often vow never to feel that way again – and why would anyone want to repeat that? Feeling thirsty, dizzy, tired, nauseous, possibly vomiting, and enduring a monstrous headache is enough of a litany of symptoms to make anyone vow the world to be rid of. When drinking, knowing your limits helps, but there are moments when you just can’t expect to be hungover but you get hungover, nonetheless. In this article, I will discuss how TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and acupuncture in Louisville can assist you in your distress, and even cure you of your hangover mess.
The nature of alcohol in TCM, is Hot and Damp. Our bodies are profoundly affected by Damp-Heat: they tend to slow down because of Dampness and make parts of it feel congested and heavy; on the other hand, Heat eats up our fluids and energy. Both interfere with Qi’s natural flow and cause the development of painful blockages in the body. Our body can tolerate alcohol when taken in small amounts as it has the ability to withstand and overcome its toxic characteristics; in larger amounts, however, alcohol can wreak devastating effects on the body.
When alcohol is drunk, it goes to your Stomach and digested by your Stomach and Spleen organ systems. Therefore, the nutrients it carries are processed by the body while the rest of the elements are discarded as waste. When you drink too much alcohol, because of its volatile Damp-Hot nature, your body’s ability to process the volatility,malfunctions. The Damp-Heat dominates when this occurs, and other unwanted consequences can arise:
1. Because Dampness tends to sink and Heat tends to rise, one can force the other to go in the direction it likes to go. Heat, for example, can force Dampness to rise, causing a throbbing dull headache in the process. The opposite can also happen. If dampness dominates, it can force Heat to move downwards, resulting in unpleasant stool that generates a nasty burning sensation, or worse, you end up with diarrhea.
2. Obstructions can develop in your Stomach, interfering with the circulation of Qi which naturally tends to move downwards in the front of your body. The obstruction may force Qi to move upwards instead, leaving you with hiccups, a nauseous feeling or even a vomiting sensation.
3. Your body fluids dry up because of Heat resulting in extreme thirst.
4. Your Spleen, the organ that in TCM, converts nutrients into body fluids and energy becomes damaged. This can leave you feeling seriously fatigued since your body lacks the ability to produce adequate energy.
5. You become cranky, irritable, and dizzy when Dampness rises with the Heat.
How Can TCM and Acupuncture Help?
Anything in Chinese medicine deals with finding the right herbs and the right combination of acupuncture points on your body which is determined by an appropriate pulse diagnosis in order to come up with the best plan of treatment for your specific problem. Hence, being treated by a licensed and qualified practitioner of TCM is the best guarantee you’ll receive the proper form of treatment; having said that, your practitioner will select the right herbs and acupoints that will specifically address your alcohol hangover problem. After treatment, you probably might want to take a nap since, as with all holistic therapies, TCM gives your body the power to heal itself.
Often used together for hangover are the acupoints SP 4 and PC 6, to aid with the removal of blockages in your stomach. SP4 is an acupoint associated with the Spleen system that can help remove Dampness in your body and boost the ability of the Spleen to perform its basic functions. PC6 is used to calm the body and help promote a smooth movement of Qi. PC6 is located on the palm side of your forearm two thumb-widths from the crease formation of your wrist. SP4 is found on your foot’s inner arch down below the first metatarsal bone’s proximal end.
The combo of LR 3 and LI 4 are commonly used pair of acupoints that can also help overcome hangovers. LR3, found on the top of your foot can open up the energy meridians in your body (the combination of LR 3 and LI 4 are known in TCM as “The Four Gates”). LR 3 is a Liver acupoint that aids in the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body. It can also help remove Damp-Heat.Large Intestine 4 point or LI4 is found on your hand between your index finger and thumb. The Large Intestine meridian travels the index finger’s tip where it meets with the Stomach meridian. This point is extremely effective in opening up the meridians in your body. It can potentially alleviate any digestive pains and discomforts and can relieve headaches.
The herbal formulas commonly used for hangovers include Lian Po Yin and Ge HwaJie Cheng San. Lian Po Yin directly removes Damp-Heat from your system. This formula consists of herbs that include acorus, magnolia bark, and coptis rhizome. The other formula is made up of herbs such as tangerine peel, ginseng, and kudzu, which when combined boosts energy, relieves headaches, and removes blockages from the digestive system.
I reemphasize the need to seek the proper diagnosis of a TCM practitioner, as using the wrong acupoints for your own unique constitution and pattern and taking the wrong herbs can make you end up feeling even worse. And that’s not an option when you’re hungover!