These 6 tips from a TCM expert will help you deal with indigestion and hangovers this holiday season

Posed photo by The Straits Times

It’s that time of the year again, when we get to stuff our faces with the richest, fattiest and creamiest foods we can lay our hands on.

And although many of us feel guilty for over-indulging, we realise everyone else is doing the same so why try to be different, right?

But festive gluttony, despite getting us in high spirits, has its drawbacks too. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year when indigestion and hangovers usually pay us a visit.

Business Insider reached out to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) group Eu Yan Sang and found that staving off the negative effects of overeating and drinking is actually surprisingly simple.

We survived another year, so let the revelry begin!


1. Eat in a way that prevents tummy troubles

According to Eu Yan Sang’s expert, indigestion can be prevented simply by eating right.

This includes eating in moderation, avoid having too much aggravating food such as fried and spicy food, limiting fluid intake during meals, and consuming warm food instead of raw and cold food.

“Too much raw and cold food or cold drinks consumed during mealtime will upset the temperature balance and slow down the digestive process,” the expert says.

In addition, having a little salt in your diet can help to clear internal body “heat” and toxins as it it facilitates bowel movements. But beware of adding too much salt as it could also increase risk of cardiovascular and kidney diseases.

Similarly, pungent foods such as garlic, chilli, pepper, onion and ginger can help facilitate gastrointestinal movements, dispel gas and promote appetite. However, overeating these may also cause abdominal pain due to over-stimulation of the gastrointestinal tract.

Posed photo by The Straits Times

2. Herbal teas can help your tummy feel better

In TCM, different stomach troubles can be treated with different herbal concoctions.

Before consuming any tea to help your digestive system, remember to check with a certified practitioner if the ingredients are suitable for you. Some herbs should be avoided if you are pregnant or taking other medications.

Generally speaking, hawthorn oolong tea can be used to help you feel better if you are feeling uncomfortable from eating too much oily food and meat. But pregnant women and people with gastric problems should avoid taking this tea.

Other teas such as malt tea can soothe a bloated stomach caused by a carbohydrate-rich diet, while warm ginger and orange peel tea and radish soup can ease the symptoms of overeating-related vomiting and constipation respectively.

Another way to prevent bloatedness is to add garlic to carbohydrate-rich food as it can help to prevent and ease a bloated stomach, Eu Yan Sang Clinic’s physician says.

Recipes for the teas mentioned above can be found at the end of the article.

3. Tea can also provide hangover relief

Posed photo by The Straits Times

In TCM, hangovers are attributed to an excess of heat in the body and can damage certain organs, a representative from Eu Yan Sang says.

As a result TCM remedies for hangovers “generally act to reduce and clear the excess heat in the body,” Eu Yan Sang’s representative added.

One remedy is the pueraria flower tea, which the physician recommends.

Called “gegen hua” in Mandarin, pueraria flower is said to be able to lower the amount of alcohol circulating in one’s blood.

The expert also recommends adding 15g of pueraria flower in a pot with 200ml of hot water, and allowing it to simmer for five to 10 minutes before consuming it warm.

4. Cool down with green bean soup

In an email to Business Insider, Eu Yan Sang said that cooking mung bean, otherwise known as green bean, with licorice root can help remove heat and toxins from one’s body.

It helps that green bean is also known for its diuretic properties so you can get rid of toxins faster.

5. Sober up with vinegar

If you’re finding it hard to sober up before starting work on Jan 2, try taking some vinegar.

According to Eu Yan Sang, drinking vinegar cooked with white sugar and water can help neutralise alcohol in the body.

This means you will sober up faster and won’t need to call in sick on the first working day of the new year.

6. Detox with fruits and vegetables

There are several ways that fruit and vegetables can help you get over a hangover quickly.

Fruits and vegetables classified as detoxifying in TCM include lotus, white radish, sugarcane, watermelon and pear. Drinking the juice of any of these fruits and vegetables after consuming alcohol can help you get rid of toxins faster.

The TCM company also recommends adding honey and lemon juice to hot green tea for a quick hangover remedy.

But if you prefer something a little less sweet, you can also make your own remedy by adding water and a pinch of salt to some ground dried orange peel.

Another option is to make your own olive and plum concoction by boiling 60g of fresh olives and 10g of dark plums in 250ml of water. You can also add sugar to taste.


Recipes for teas to aid with indigestion and overeating

Provided by Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic

1) Hawthorn oolong tea for over-indulgence in oily food and meat:

Brew 15g for oolong tea in 200ml of water. Boil 3-5g of hawthorn in sufficient amount of water for 15mins. Mix both and consume warm.

*Not suitable for pregnant women. Individuals with gastric problems, please consume with caution.

2) Malt tea for a bloated stomach caused by too much carbohydrate-rich food:

Brew a pot of malt tea with 1-2 malt tea teabags. *Do not add additional sugar or sweetener. Consume warm.

3) Ginger and orange peel to ease vomiting due to overeating:

Put 2-3 slices of fresh ginger with 10g of orange peel in 200ml of hot water. Consume warm.

4) Radish soup for those suffering from constipation after overeating:

Boil a quarter of white carrot (Radish) with 150g of pork ribs with adequate amount of water. Simmer the soup till the white carrot softens.

Add soy sauce or salt to taste. Consume the soup with the white carrots.