Herbs and nutritional supplements can be your companions during December’s party season, delivering a multitude of benefits. You will be the envy of your peers, looking bright eyed-and bushy tailed when they look grey, puffy and exhausted! Here are a few easy strategies to implement that will help you look and feel GREAT!
Herbs and Foods for the Liver
The liver is a vital organ in the body, undertaking a multitude of vital functions. When we drink coffee and alcohol, the liver focuses on modifying these ‘toxic’ substances and getting them out of the body PRONTO! So, the other functions of the liver get de-prioritised, leading to:
- upset stomachs and poor digestion (protein synthesis and manufacture of digestive enzymes are low priority)
- sugar cravings and energy highs and lows (carbohydrate metabolism and insulin issues)
- increased PMS and painful periods (hormone clearance is a low priority)
- fatigue due to early waking (in Traditional Chinese Medicine 1-3am is “Liver Time”)
To protect the liver during the Christmas period, Milk thistle (botanical name “Silybum marianum”) is a great herb to take. It helps to protect the liver cells against alcohol damage and it also regenerates the liver. Milk thistle is also known for its anti-nausea effect, and nausea is common in hangovers. There are no special warnings and precautions as regards its use, and no known interactions with pharmaceutical drugs. Hence it is a safe herb for everyone.
Foods that can help the liver include bitter leaves such as rocket, chicory or radicchio. They can help stimulate bile production, and help with fat metabolism. The juice of ¼ of a fresh lemon in warm water first thing in the morning after a big night out will also benefit the liver. If you want a coffee, see if your local cafe offers dandelion coffee, as that will nurture your liver and improve your digestion the day after a big night out.
Herbs and Foods for Fatigue
Having interrupted sleep due to late nights and drinking can make you feel fatigued during the festive season. Your body will react to this stress by producing adrenaline. As you continue to party with consecutive nights out, your body continues to produce adrenaline to keep you going. This can disrupt cortisol levels in the body, leading to fat around the abdomen. By improving how your body copes with stress, you can reduce your visceral fat and increase your energy levels during the Christmas period.
Siberian ginseng (botanical name “Eleutherococcus senticosus”) can improve mental and physical performance when you are tired at work. It can also minimise environmental and occupational stress. Siberian ginseng can also strengthen your body’s immune system, preventing you from getting sick when you are off over the Xmas period. It is also a tonic for the body, helping with exhaustion and fatigue from consecutive late nights.
Siberian ginseng should not be used when you are suffering from a cold or flu (as it can make you feel worse), but there are no known interactions with pharmaceutical medications.
Herbs and Foods for Upset Stomachs
So, are there strategies for protecting the stomach during the Christmas Season? The herb Meadowsweet (Filependula ulmaria) was one of three herbs held sacred by the druids. It was a herb that played a role in the manufacture of asprin in the 19th century. Meadowsweet reduces stomach acidity and reduces indigestion and gastric reflux. It also protects and heals the mucosa in the upper gastrointestinal tract. It also benefits the urinary tract as it is an antiseptic, and it is anti-inflammatory.
Meadowsweet should be avoided by people who are allergic to asprin, or salycliates in general. Aside from this, it is a safe herb to use and should be taken before meals to balance stomach acid.
Herbal teas can also help with upset stomachs, and teas such as chamomile and peppermint are very calming and soothing to the stomach. Chamomile is also beneficial for the nerves which can feel frayed over the “Silly Season”.
Other general tips to ensure you can have fun and feel good the next morning include:
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach
- Drink lots of water to keep you hydrated during the evening
- Don’t accept every invitation you receive, try to rest in between parties
- Volunteer to be the designated driver so you are forced to have an alcohol free night
A few herbs, some beneficial foods and a few sensible nights amongst the chaos of Christmas can help you look good, and feel good, and be the envy of your peers!