The other day, a friend told me of a rather painful morning he spent recovering from an in illness he inflicted upon himself the night before. To be blunt, he had a hangover due to excessive alcohol consumption. He told me of the pain relievers he took, the water he drank, and Pepto Bismol he consumed, all to relieve the misery in which he was suffering. Now, this is a friend who knows about and has received acupuncture many times. I asked him why he didn’t call me for some quick acupuncture to help with the symptoms. He looked at me surprised and said, “I didn’t know you could treat a hangover!” That’s when I hit him on the back of the head. Even the well-informed need some reminding that acupuncture can treat any symptom, whether chronic (constant back pain) or acute (a hangover). So this topic seemed as good as any for me to talk about with you.




(The following paragraph regarding hangovers and its cure have no basis in fact. I’m just being jocular.)


I’m sure that hangovers were first discovered the morning after alcohol was first discovered (Makes sense, doesn’t it?). It’s the most common self-inflicted injury in the history of self-inflicted injuries. It’s the #1 reason for sick-days on March 17th & May 6th (look up those dates, if you have to). The people of ancient Mesopotamia no doubt began chewing on willow bark (the precursor to aspirin) the day after drinking one too many vats of beer. Chemical analysis of pottery found in Northern China reveals that alcohol existed 9000 years ago (This statement is actually true.). So, acupuncture itself may very well have started “merely” as a way to treat the Emperor’s throbbing headache and sour belly. Wouldn’t that be wild!


Ah, the dreaded hangover. In acupuncture terms, a hangover most often is either Liver Qi Stagnation or Liver Yang Rising, both of which can lead to Rebellious Stomach Qi. The meaning of that last diagnostic term is probably self-evident. The definition of the first two terms goes like this:


Alcohol is considered a heat source (makes sense, when you think of whiskey). When too much of this heat goes into the body, it disrupts the natural flow of energy, specifically in the Liver, basically causing the Liver to shut down. This heat in the body also rises, as all heat does. This creates an unnatural accumulation of energy rising into the head (causing headache, tinnitus, sensitivity to light, and tension in neck and shoulders), as well as a disruption of the stomachs natural downward flow (causing nausea and worse). Acupuncture deals with the symptoms of a hangover by treating all of those underlining causes.


There are a whole litany of points that can treat the stagnation, as well as righting the energetic flow of the Liver and Stomach. Points on the feet, legs, arms, hands, abdomen, back, and head are all designed to subdue rebellious Qi, regulate the ascending and descending of Qi, nourish the Liver and Stomach, and move, release, and regulate Liver Qi. There’s actually a point on your fourth toe that is affectionately known as “The Hangover Point”. I’ll include on my blog a quick article I wrote about it.


Now, having said all that, you can help your hangover by drinking water (since the heat evaporated the liquid in your body), move around as much as you can (to free the stagnation), and rest (simply to recover). The discomfort will ease, and you’ll be back on your feet soon enough.


So remember, there are acupuncture points for EVERYTHING! Even for those times when we wonder, “What was I thinking last night?……”


Be well!