UCLA researchers have found a compound that can counteract the effects of alcohol, but don't call it revolutionary: some people have known about it for over 1300 years.
The team, led by molecular pharmacologist Jing Liang, looked to ancient herbal remedies for inspiration in their study, published this month in the Journal of Neuroscience, and then used modern science to test them. They found, according to MedicalXpress, "descriptions of anti-alcohol properties of the Asian tree Hovenia dulcis that dated back to 659."
In the experiment (which used rats, since their reaction to alcohol are similar to that of humans), all the subjects were given a strong dose of alcohol. Some were also given the key compound, Dihydromyricetin (DHM), from the ancient Hovenia Dulcis tree, and these subjects sobered up faster and showed a higher tolerance for alcohol in general. In addition, DHM fought hangovers; these extra-resistant rats were tested later for signs of anxiety and seizure, associated with hangovers, and showed fewer of those side effects.
Hangover resistance, as it turns out, was a bonus; the research was intended to develop treatments for alcohol use disorders. ScienceNews writes:
The standout result, says Steven Paul of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, is that DHM also curbed alcohol consumption. Rats allowed to drink alcohol gradually start consuming more of it. But rats that drank DHM-laced alcohol didn’t increase their consumption, the team found.
The key point, Liang told ScienceNews, is that “When you drink alcohol with DHM, you never become addicted.”
Researchers hope that their work will inspire human trials of DHM soon.
Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Hovenia Dulcis as an ancient homeopathic treatment. It is an herbal treatment.