“Hangover cure” study questionable

A new study seeks the holy grail of a hangover cure, but falls flat on its face following TRU peer review

Mark Hendricks, Science & Tech Editor Ω

Some of these drinks will help your hangover, while others will make it last longer, according to a recent study. geishabot/Flickr Commons

Some of these drinks will help your hangover, while others will make it last longer, according to a recent study. geishabot/Flickr Commons

Unless you’re one of those lucky individuals that can drink all day and wake up bright-eyed and ready to go for a run the next morning, you’ve probably had a hangover at some point in your life.

They can be a painful and debilitating experience that can cost you the majority of the next day. A new study, published in the Royal Society of Chemistry on Sept. 25, seeks to alleviate the negative aspects of alcohol consumption by studying how different drinks affect the body’s ability to process ethanol.

The study explains how the body processes ethanol by first converting it into acetaldehyde and then into acetate. High levels of ethanol, which is toxic to the body, lead to being drunk. Ethanol is converted into acetaldehyde, which is even more toxic. This is what causes hangovers. The acetaldehyde is eventually converted into acetate, which is relatively harmless to the body. These processes are sped up by specific enzymes within the liver.

The study looked at the effects of 57 different drinks on the enzymes that process ethanol and acetaldehyde (ALD and ALDH respectively).

The study found that different beverages will either speed up or slow down these reactions, and discovered that the best thing you can drink for a hangover is Sprite, while the worst thing is any drink containing hemp seeds. Sprite increases the ALDH reaction while hemp seed drinks slow down the process.

Ever since people started drinking they've been looking for ways to alleviate hangovers. Annie Mole/Flickr Commons

Ever since people started drinking they’ve been looking for ways to alleviate hangovers. Annie Mole/Flickr Commons

As promising as this study appears to hopeful university students seeking hangover relief, there are serious flaws in the methodology according to Ron Smith, biological sciences professor at TRU.

“Our upper-level students could’ve conducted a better, less-flawed study,” Smith said in an email interview.

The tests were conducted in test tubes at higher concentrations and lower temperatures than what would appear in the human body, according to Smith. The liver also modifies compounds as they pass through it, therefore the compounds that were present in the drink and test tubes would very likely be modified before they have a chance to interact with the ALD or ALDH enzymes.

“The data provided in the report are very likely meaningless as far as directing our drinking habits,” Smith said.

The only surefire way to get avoid the negative effects of alcohol consumption, according to Smith, is to limit yourself to one to two drinks per day. This will give you the health benefits of limited alcohol consumption while avoiding all negative consequences.

“After several years of trial and error, this works for me,” Smith said.

One Response

  1. Allison Declercq-Matthas Oct. 15, 2013