How to Treat Hangover with Herbal Medicine

△ There are herbal formulas for treating acute hangover symptoms, and the same formula can be used to decrease alcohol dependency. imageⓒshutterstock_fotohunter.

By Winston Lee L. Ac, Ph.D, KMD


One of my favorite movies is ‘Hangover’ in 2009. It’s a hilarious comedy movie and covers hilarious happenings and accidents during blackout time after heavy drinking with a drug in Las Vegas.


In America, the traditional hangover foods to recover from fatigue, nausea, and headache are pizza, hamburgers, and eggs. I’m not sure if it works. In comparison, Koreans love to take bean sprouts soup and dried pollock soup. Korean people have invented many hangover foods and have been enjoying those whenever they have hangovers. Upon these long term experiences and scientific evidence, many food manufacturers have launched numerous hangover drinks on the market. Now anybody can easily find these healthy functional drinks in the fridges in any convenience store in Korea.


I researched the most popular and prominent hangover drinks in Korea. The first one is ‘Dawn 808’. It’s the most famous hangover drink in Korea. The formula is made with Chi Yang, Da Zao, Sheng Jiang, Hua Qiu, Gan Cao, Ge Hua, Ge Gen, Sha Ren, Feng Mi. Gen Hua and Ge Gen are the essential ingredients. Ge Hua is the flower of Kudzuvine. When the liver processes alcohol, it inevitably produces acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde, produced by the breakdown of alcohol, is one of the critical chemical substances that cause acute hangover symptoms. Ge Hua can eliminate acetaldehyde efficiently in the human body. Ge Gen is Kudzuvine itself, and it can chill the congested heat at the upper body and neck from alcohol, which has lots of calories and is easily converted to heat. Also, Ge Gen helps cooling down the accumulated heat in the spleen and stomach.


Another mega-hit hangover drink is ‘Condition.’ Its primary ingredient is Hovenia Dulcis. Not all parts of the herbs are working. Not the stem and trunk, but the seed of it – Zhi Ju Zi – is an active ingredient. The seed of Zhi Ju Zi can treat the thirst and heat at the heart and spleen. So when somebody has drunk a lot of alcoholic beverages in a short period, then the heat has been accumulated in the body. The seed will neutralize the heat, and the body can restore the balance quickly. Hovenia Dulcis become famous in Korea, and many manufacturers have produced light concentrated drinks for everyday life like an ice tea or green tea drink.


Some people want to take herbal medicine to keep drinking alcohol even though they know it’s not good for their health. They need to drink anyway for business reasons mostly. Following their need, OMD prescribes the herbal medicine for them to overcome the hangover and fatigue after drinking. Here is the recommendable formula for this. The name is Galhwahaesung-tang (葛花解醒湯) which is listed on Dongui Bogam(by Jun Heo in 1613).


Bai Dou Kou, Sha Ren, Ge Hua 20g
Qing Pi 12g Shen Qu Ze Xie Gan Jiang Bai Zhu 8g

Chen Pi Ren Shen Zhu Ling Fu Ling 6g
Mu Xiang 2g

On the contrary, some patients want to stop drinking due to concern about their health. This formula is able to help them to stop drinking. Many OMDs have utilized this formula in Korea, and they report that patients’ taste of alcohol has been changed to be bad, and the desire of drinking has been decreased significantly. This is also derived and modified from Daekumeumja (對金飮子) in Dongui Bogam.

He Shou Wu, Qing Pi 20g
Chen Pi, Ge Gen 12g
Hou Po, Cang Zhu, Gan Cao, Fu Ling, Sha Ren, Shen Qu 4g