To understand how HD works, it is important to understand how ethanol-based alcohol affects the human body. In the liver, alcohol undergoes a two-step process in its metabolism. First, the liver enzyme ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase) converts ethanol molecules into an intermediate metabolite called acetaldehyde through oxidation. Then a second liver enzyme ALDH (aldehyde-dehydrogenase) converts acetaldehyde to acetic acid, a benign substance also known as vinegar. Acetaldehyde is the dehydrogenated by-product of alcohol metabolism and even more toxic than ethanol molecules. It is a chemically reactive substance that binds to proteins and other biologically important compounds causing cellular inflammation. At high concentrations, it causes toxic effects such as a rapid pulse, sweating, skin flushing, nausea, and vomiting (sound familiar?). Therefore the key to reducing alcohol-related damage comes with minimizing the presence of acetaldehyde in the body. (See DHM)
A tremendous amount of research in the last decade has been focused on the human brain. It is now widely accepted that alcohol decreases the brain’s electrical activity by increasing the effect of the inhibitory neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric-acid (GABA-a) in the brain and decreasing the effect of glutamate, the excitatory neurotransmitter. Increasing GABA and suppressing glutamate causes slower reaction time, slurred speech and poor muscle coordination. At the same time, alcohol increases dopamine, regulating the brain's pleasure center. In other words, alcohol will negatively affect motor coordination, reaction time and speech while increasing feelings of euphoria.
The medical term for an alcohol induced hangover is "veisalgia" but we all know it as characterized by headache, tremulousness, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue combined with decreased occupational, cognitive, or visual-spatial skill performance. In the United States, related absenteeism and poor job performance cost $148 billion annually. Although hangovers are associated with alcoholism, most of its cost is incurred by the light-to-moderate drinker. People with hangovers may pose substantial risk to themselves and others despite having a normal blood alcohol level. Hangovers may also be an independent risk factor for cardiac death. Symptoms of hangover seem to be related to dehydration, hormonal alterations, and dysregulated cytokine pathways. All are the results of elevated toxicity caused by the metabolism of alcohol in the body. In a word, hangovers SUCK!
Reference: The Alcohol Hangover: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=713513
Hovenia dulcis - Nature's Pharmacy
Hovenia dulcis, known as the Oriental raisin tree, belongs to a small genus of Rhamnaceae that is indigenous to East Asia. It has a long history as a food supplement and has been greatly valued for centuries for its medicinal properties in many parts of Asia, including Eastern China, Korea and Japan.This ornamental tree produces a sweet edible fruit which is edible raw or cooked. When dried the fruit is similar to raisins, hence the name “Oriental Raisin Tree”. The leaves & bark from this tree have been brewed as a tea for centuries and in 2008 was approved by the Korean FDA for use as a treatment for alcoholism. Hovenia dulcis has been used for centuries for its hepatoprotective (liver protection) properties and relief from the adverse side effects of alcohol consumption. Extracts derived from the tree have been shown to have other health benefits in addition to its effect in reducing hangover symptoms and alcohol intoxication. Published in the year 659, China’s first pharmacopoeia, the “Tang Materia Medica”, listed Hovenia dulcis as a sovereign remedy for hangovers.
Scientists have recently concluded that the Hoveia dulcis plant contains a variety of biologically active compounds called dihydroflavoids (aka flavonoids) that exhibit hepatoprotective, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidative, and anticarcinogenic effects. One of the primary molecules in the plant is Dihydromyricetin (DHM), a naturally occurring flavonoid extracted from the bark, leaves & seeds of many plants around the world. The most widely known source is the Oriental Raisin Tree.
Recent studies show DHM prevents alcohol from influencing GABA-a receptors in the brain. By halting the strain of alcohol on these receptors the DHM molecule is effective in preventing and/or reducing loss of coordination and slurred speech. However, it does not prevent the increase of dopamine in your brain so that the feeling of euphoria you experience during alcohol consumption is still present. By the time one wakes up their GABA-a receptors will be much closer to normal sensitivity than they would be if they didn’t take DHM.These studies also demonstrated that DHM significantly reduced the typical hangover symptoms associated with overindulgence of alcoholic beverages.
Dihydromyricetin As A Novel Anti-Alcohol Intoxication Medication:
Despite great pharmaceutical benefits and applications in Asia for a millennium, the Hovenia plant has not been typically used in Western cultures for medicinal treatment until now. Studies show a direct correlation between DHM and increased level of activity in the liver enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) suggesting this amazing flavonoid can effectively prevent hangover symptoms through increased catabolism of ethanol. DHM helps the liver metabolize alcohol more efficiently and rapidly, allowing it to quickly break the acetaldehyde down into harmless acetic acid (vinegar).
Hovenia Dulcis - An Asian Traditional Herb: