06/01/2012 06:38 GMT | Updated 06/01/2012 06:39 GMT

Scientists Discover Drug That Prevents Drunkenness And Combats Hangovers

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.

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