Q: Many years ago, when I was a young graduate student, I was faced with a dilemma. Saturday night had seen a great student party, at which many of us had way too much to drink. Sunday afternoon was to bring a faculty-student seminar with a visiting scholar — at our house!

After literally crawling out of bed Sunday morning with deep regrets, I wondered what to do. I can’t remember where the inspiration came from, but it came into my mind I needed some sort of shock treatment to clear the clouds of funk. I decided a dip in the swimming pool on this very cool April morning in Albuquerque, N.M., might be just the thing. (We had lucked out in renting the house of an emeritus professor; grad students didn’t usually have swimming pools at their homes.)

The initial plunge in the very cold water was indeed like an electric shock, but the desired effect came quickly and was little short of miraculous. Scrambling out of that pool with blue lips, I found I was ready for anything.

Since then, I’ve learned it’s far better to avoid hangovers in the first place, but short-term cold stress on the body mobilizes its defenses. I suppose what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

A: There is surprisingly little research on hangover remediation listed in the medical literature. We are intrigued that your method worked so well.

We imagine, though, that some people would rather try a solution that was recently subjected to a double-blind placebo-controlled trial in Germany (BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, April 30, 2020).

The researchers found that a solution containing plant extracts together with vitamins and minerals worked better than the vitamin-mineral solution or placebo alone.

The plants they used were ginger, ginkgo, willow, prickly pear and acerola (Barbados cherry).

Volunteers who took the treatment before and after drinking alcohol had less headache, nausea and restlessness the next day.

Another reader wrote of a favorite hangover remedy: “Vitamins B (complex), C and D along with ginger (nausea), water, coffee, DGL and rest seem to help, along with a breakfast of PB toast and chocolate milk. And time. That is the one sure cure.”

Q: I am high-strung and have had a lifelong struggle with insomnia. That is, until I added ashwagandha to my supplement regimen.

The change was slow and gradual, and took a few months, but I started noticing that I could easily fall asleep.

Then, I had the reverse problem. I’m a night person. I love to stay up late after work to watch stuff I’ve taped off the TV, and now I find that I simply can’t stay awake. Every night I fall asleep in my armchair, wake up hours later, amble off to bed and sleep some more.

I could probably sleep 10 hours a day if I wanted to, though I don’t. I know it’s the ashwagandha.

A: Ashwagandha is the common name for an Indian herb known officially as Withania somnifera.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial demonstrated this plant-based compound has stress-relieving activity (Medicine, September 2019).

Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, one of the country’s leading experts on the scientific basis of botanical medicine, has described ashwagandha as helpful when a person is “tired but wired.”

To learn more about this herb and other natural approaches to overcoming insomnia, you may wish to consult our eGuide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. This electronic resource is available in the Health eGuides section at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Questions for Joe and Teresa Graedon can be emailed through their website, www.peoplespharmacy.com.

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