From hot coffee to cold showers, humans have anxiously sought the mystical remedy that is the perfect hangover cure. However, thanks to a Chinese food study that was published in the September 2013 issue of Food and Function, that painful, drunken search has finally come to an end… in the form of a 12-pack of Sprite from the nearest store.
While excess alcohol consumption notoriously leads straight to the land of headache and nausea, the chemical breakdown is more responsible for the pain than all that beer and whiskey last night.
The researchers narrowed down the specific chemical byproduct that’s causing hangovers: acetaldehyde, which eventually becomes acetate when it’s digested by the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). Acetaldehyde is formed when ethanol is metabolized by alcohol dedhydrogenase (ADH).
The study’s objective involved finding a method to quickly purge acetaldehyde from the body, and the research team tried 57 different beverages, teas, and carbonated drinks to see their effect on ADH and ALDH metabolism rates. Herbal teas tended to slow down the process, which would probably leave one feeling hungover for a longer period, while carbonated drinks like Sprite and soda water sped up the ALDH activity. In theory, increased ALDH would speed up the conversion process, shortening the length of a hangover.
An expert in medical science from the University of Exeter in the UK, Edzard Ernst, commented to ChemistryWorld that, while interesting, “These results are a reminder that herbal and other supplements can have pharmacological activities that can both harm and benefit our health.”
The Daily Mail was told by consultant hepatologist Dr. Rajiv Jalan of University College Hospital in London that young people produce more ADH than their elders, leaving them feeling more chipper after a weekend bender. However, as we age, our brains shrink into the hollow chasm of our skulls, allowing more room for the alcohol-induced swelling that causes hangover-related headaches.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]