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Park Slope acupuncturist and herbalist Karen Vaughan isn’t immune to holiday excess. She loves to make her own eggnog and her calendar is chock-a-block with holiday parties, but Vaughan, who has a Masters of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine, knows better than most how to navigate through this season of alcoholic merriment without a long-running hangover.

Do women need to think about drinking differently than men?
Yes, women get intoxicated more easily than men. Not only because of their body size, but because their fat proportion is different and alcohol simply goes to our heads faster than men’s. Be especially careful about Champagne and sparking wines. The carbon dioxide in these drinks carries alcohol to the blood stream much faster.

The women’s magazines are telling us how to stay away from the canapes. What’s your advice?
Actually fattening holiday foods are the perfect appetizer to alcohol. Eat some cheese, or even have a glass of whole milk an hour before you’re going to have a drink. The fat coats the stomach and interferes with the absorption of alcohol. Timing is important. If you have that cheese more than an hour before, it may be too digested to help and if you have it at the same time it won’t have enough time to coat the stomach.

What if you’re trying to avoid high fat holiday foods?
Then have a seaweed salad before a party. Seaweed is high in fiber, and it will slow down the absorption of alcohol. Imagine pouring your drink into a sponge and you get the idea.

And, what if, despite your best efforts to drink sensibly, you overdo it. Any herbal hangover remedies?
There’s a really effective Chinese remedy. So effective, in fact, that one of my teachers didn’t like to tell his students about it for fear they’d abuse it! It’s called Bao He Wan and it’s easy to find in Chinatown. Hawthorn is one of the main ingredients. Generally it’s used for food stagnation in the system, but it’s also very good if you’ve overindulged in alcohol. But my best advice is to avoid needing the Bao He Wan by alternating alcoholic beverages with virgin ones.  And if you’re going to have a gin or vodka tonic, by all means order it “light” on the alcohol. There’s nothing wrong with a holiday buzz, but you don’t want to get drunk.

For appointments and rates, contact Acupuncture and Herbs by Karen Vaughan,
253 Garfield Place, 1R, Brooklyn, NY 11215, (718) 622-6755,
www.acupuncturebrooklyn.com

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