Scientists Discover Drug That Prevents Drunkenness And Combats Hangovers

The Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 06/01/2012 11:38 GMT Updated: 06/01/2012 11:39 GMT

Scientists have discovered an ancient herb that could spell the end of embarrassing drunken moments and debilitating hangovers as well as offering new hope for the treatment of alcohol dependency.

When tested on rats, the drug launched a three-pronged attack. As well as slowing down the effects of alcohol consumption, it helped to combat hangover symptoms and reduced further alcohol dependency.

The team of researchers from the University of California looked at a variety of herbs that are believed to have ‘anti-alcohol’ properties. They discovered writings dating back to 659 on the anti-alcohol properties of the Asian tree Hovenia dulcis, suggesting its use as a hangover remedy.

The study, published in the Journal Of Neuroscience tested the effects of the herbal remedy's main ingredient, dihydromyricetin (DHM), on rats as they are known to react to alcohol in a similar way to humans.

The rats were given the human equivalent of 15 – 20 beers in the space of two hours. Most of them passed out drunk and lost the ability to flip themselves over when placed on their back.

Within an hour, the effects of the alcohol started to wear off and they were able to control their bodies again.

When given a shot of DHM along with the alcohol, they still lost the ability to flip over but it took longer to reach this stage. They were also able to recover from the effects four times as quickly.

The herb also had a significant impact on the after-effects of the alcohol. Two days later the rats that were given the DHM demonstrated fewer hangover symptoms such as anxiety and seizures.

It was also noted that the herb reduced addiction. When the rats were given the opportunity to drink again, those that hadn’t been given the DHM gradually started to consume more while those that had received the chemical shot did not increase consumption.

The research team plan to begin testing the effects of DHM on humans and hope the results could offer hope for the treatment of alcohol addiction.

Already fallen off the detox wagon? Read our round-up of the best hangover cures.

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  • Before You Start: Bowl Of Pasta

    The idea of "lining your stomach" before a night on the booze is not just an old wives' tale. Drinking on an empty stomach can cause a build-up of acid and damage the stomach lining. Eating a substantial carb-based meal will help reduce excess acid as well as preventing blood sugar levels dipping during the evening.

  • Before You Start: Milk Thistle Supplement

    A hangover is a your body's way of telling you that your liver can't cope with the toxins you've inflicted upon it. <a href=" - Milk Thistle - Generic - MTE-_-%5bmilk thistle%5d&gclid=CMOzur3Kpa0CFYEhtAod7lDzGw" target="_hplink">Milk Thistle</a> is a herbal supplement that boosts liver function and helps it to process alcohol faster. Take it in liquid or tablet form before you go out and again the next morning.

  • On The Night: Carbonated Water

    It's long been understood that drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic drink will help stave off dehydration and prevent hangover headaches the following morning. But the NHS suggests optimising the effect by <a href="" target="_hplink">drinking carbonated water - whether it's soda or sparkling mineral water - to help speed up the absorption of alcohol into your system</a>.

  • On The Night: Avoid Dark Drinks

    Researchers at Brown University, New England, found <a href="" target="_hplink">the severity of a hangover is affected by the colour of the alcohol being drunk</a>, with darker drinks the worst offenders thanks to the high number of chemicals they contain. If in doubt, opt for white wine or vodka over red wine or bourbon.

  • Before Bed: Large Glass Of Water

    We all know we're supposed to drink a huge glass of water before we hit the sack but when there's a half-empty bottle of wine sitting in the fridge it can be all too easy to get distracted. Water is essential to prevent that morning-after dehydration migraine so put a bottle of water by your bed (or on your pillow if that's what it takes) to avoid that morning-after regret.

  • Before Bed: Crackers

    When your body starts pulling you towards the nearest kebab shop at 2am, it probably has a point. Going to bed with a stomach full of nothing but alcohol is not going to do you any favours when you wake up in the morning. But a greasy kebab or burger will only exacerbate nausea. Eat something plain such as cream crackers or toast to soak up any excess stomach acid.

  • The Morning After: Bacon Sandwich

    Good news - that juicy bacon sandwich you've been dreaming about all morning is scientifically proven to alleviate your hangover. A study at Newcastle University's Centre for Life found that <a href="" target="_hplink">bacon contains aminos, which help to top up the neurotransmitters that are depleted by alcohol consumption</a>.

  • The Morning After: Hangover Pill

    The <a href="" target="_hplink">'blowfish' hangover pill promises to eradicate all the symptoms of a hangover</a> in just 15 minutes. The brainchild of ex-financier Brendna Haysom, the £1.90 pill claims to "restore mental alertness or wakefulness when experiencing fatigue or drowsiness associated with a hangover".