October 10, 2013
The Cure For Hangovers? Scientists Say It’s Sprite
[ Watch the Video: Hangover? Drink Sprite ]
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
"Various alcoholic beverages containing different concentrations of ethanol are widely consumed, and excessive alcohol consumption may result in serious health problem," the researchers wrote in the journal. "The aim of this study was to supply new information on effects of these beverages on alcohol metabolism for nutritionists and the general public to reduce harm of excessive alcohol consumption."
Sun Yat-Sen University researchers studied 57 different beverages, ranging from sodas to herbal teas. They looked into what causes a hangover and found that rather than the alcohol itself, it could be the process of the body breaking down the alcohol that causes symptoms like nausea and headaches.
When alcohol is consumed, the liver releases an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) that breaks down the ethanol in alcohol into a chemical called acetaldehyde. This chemical is then broken down into another chemical called acetate by an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).
Although acetate has been linked to some of the healthier benefits of alcohol, the researchers found that exposure to the more potent acetaldehyde is what causes hangovers. After discovering this, the team decided to test a range of drinks to see how they affected ADH and ALDH levels in hangover victims.
"The results suggested that some beverages should not be drunk after excessive alcohol consumption, and several beverages may be potential dietary supplement for the prevention and treatment of harm from excessive alcohol consumption," the authors wrote in the journal.
Scientists found that an herbal drink made with hemp seeds actually increased the length of the ADH process and inhibited the ALDH process, effectively making the hangover last longer. However, Sprite actually sped up the ALDH process by causing the alcohol to be broken down more quickly.
"These results are a reminder that herbal and other supplements can have pharmacological activities that both harm and benefit our health," Edzard Ernst, Emeritus Prodessor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, told Chemistry World.
Ernst did stress that additional independent studies should be performed before making Sprite the official hangover cure.