Hangovers are an all-too-familiar consequence of a night out, often leaving us feeling groggy, nauseous, and regretful. With the quest for an effective hangover remedy being an ongoing pursuit, a natural compound called DHM (Dihydromyricetin) has emerged as a potential solution. Found in plants like the Japanese raisin tree and Ampelopsis grossedentata, DHM has been traditionally used in herbal medicine for centuries.
- What Are Hangovers?
- What Is DHM (Dihydromyricetin)?
- How DHM Reduces Hangover Symptoms
- How DHM Protects the Liver
- Potential Role of DHM in Reducing Alcohol Dependence
- Safety Considerations and Limitations of DHM
What Are Hangovers?
Hangovers are a collection of unpleasant physical and mental symptoms that occur after excessive alcohol consumption. They typically start several hours after drinking when blood alcohol concentration (BAC) begins to decrease and can last up to 24 hours or more. While the severity and duration of hangovers can vary among individuals, they generally cause discomfort and can interfere with daily activities.
The exact mechanisms behind hangovers are not fully understood, but several factors are believed to contribute to their development:
- Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, causing increased urination and leading to dehydration. Dehydration can contribute to symptoms such as thirst, dizziness, and lightheadedness.
- Acetaldehyde buildup: When alcohol is metabolized in the liver, it is broken down into acetaldehyde, a toxic substance. Acetaldehyde is further metabolized into non-toxic acetate, but excessive alcohol consumption can lead to acetaldehyde accumulation, which is believed to cause headaches, nausea, and other hangover symptoms.
- Electrolyte imbalance: Alcohol consumption can lead to imbalances in electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which play essential roles in maintaining the body’s normal functioning. Electrolyte imbalances can contribute to fatigue, weakness, and muscle aches.
- Inflammation: Alcohol consumption triggers an inflammatory response in the body, releasing cytokines and other inflammatory molecules that can lead to symptoms like headache, muscle aches, and fatigue.
- Gastrointestinal irritation: Alcohol can irritate the stomach lining, causing inflammation and increased production of stomach acid. This can lead to nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
- Sleep disturbances: Although alcohol may initially cause drowsiness, it can disrupt sleep patterns and decrease overall sleep quality, leading to fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
- Congeners: These are byproducts of alcohol fermentation found in varying amounts in different types of alcoholic beverages. Some congeners, like methanol, can exacerbate hangover symptoms when they are metabolized into toxic substances like formaldehyde.
- Alcohol withdrawal: In heavy drinkers, a hangover can be a mild form of alcohol withdrawal, as the body and brain have become accustomed to alcohol’s presence and need to readjust to its absence.
- Individual factors: Genetics, age, sex, body weight, and overall health can influence how an individual metabolizes alcohol and experiences hangover symptoms.
What Is DHM (Dihydromyricetin)?
Dihydromyricetin (DHM) is a natural compound belonging to the class of flavonoids, which are found in certain plants such as the Japanese raisin tree (Hovenia dulcis) and Ampelopsis grossedentata. These flavonoids are known for their wide range of biological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.
DHM has been used in traditional East Asian medicine for centuries, particularly the fruit and seeds of the Japanese raisin tree, which contain high concentrations of the compound. Ampelopsis grossedentata, a vine native to East Asia, is another source of DHM and has been employed in traditional medicine to address various health concerns.
The chemical structure of DHM, like other flavonoids, consists of two phenolic rings and a heterocyclic ring. This configuration is responsible for its antioxidant properties and allows DHM to interact with multiple cellular signaling pathways.
DHM’s antioxidant activity enables it to neutralize free radicals and protect cells from oxidative damage. This characteristic may contribute to its hepatoprotective effects and its potential to alleviate hangover symptoms. Additionally, DHM possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which can help mitigate inflammation in the body. This may be especially beneficial in the context of alcohol-induced inflammation, leading to hangover relief and liver protection.
How DHM Reduces Hangover Symptoms
Dihydromyricetin (DHM) has shown potential in reducing hangover symptoms through several mechanisms that target the physiological processes that occur after alcohol consumption. A DHM dose between 200-1000 mg may be effective.
DHM Enhances Alcohol Metabolism
Enhancing alcohol metabolism: Alcohol is primarily metabolized in the liver by enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). These enzymes break down alcohol into acetaldehyde, a toxic substance, and subsequently into acetate, a less harmful compound that is further metabolized and eliminated from the body.
DHM is thought to enhance the activity of ADH and ALDH, thereby accelerating the breakdown and elimination of alcohol and its toxic metabolites. By boosting alcohol metabolism, DHM can help reduce the negative effects associated with alcohol consumption, such as hangover symptoms.
DHM Reducing Acetaldehyde Accumulation
Reducing acetaldehyde accumulation: Acetaldehyde is a highly toxic substance that is believed to contribute significantly to hangover symptoms like headaches, nausea, and fatigue. As DHM enhances the activity of ALDH, it helps in breaking down acetaldehyde more efficiently, preventing its accumulation in the body. This reduction in acetaldehyde levels can alleviate some of the common hangover symptoms.
DHM Provides Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Anti-inflammatory effects: Alcohol consumption triggers an inflammatory response in the body, leading to the release of cytokines and other inflammatory molecules. Inflammation is thought to play a role in causing hangover symptoms like headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. DHM has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce alcohol-induced inflammation and, in turn, alleviate hangover symptoms.
DHM Has Antioxidant Properties
Oxidative stress, caused by an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body, has been linked to hangovers. Alcohol consumption generates free radicals, which can cause cellular damage and contribute to hangover symptoms. DHM, as a flavonoid, exhibits antioxidant activity, neutralizing free radicals, and protecting cells from oxidative damage. By reducing oxidative stress, DHM may help alleviate hangover symptoms.
How DHM Protects the Liver
Dihydromyricetin (DHM) has demonstrated potential in protecting the liver from alcohol-induced damage through various mechanisms that target the physiological processes impacted by alcohol consumption. The liver is the primary organ responsible for metabolizing alcohol, and excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage, inflammation, and even chronic liver diseases like cirrhosis. There are several ways in which DHM might protect the liver.
DHM Has Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Alcohol consumption can stimulate an inflammatory response in the body, including the liver. This inflammation can damage liver cells and contribute to the development of liver diseases. DHM has shown anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce alcohol-induced inflammation in the liver. By mitigating inflammation, DHM can help protect liver cells from damage and support overall liver function.
DHM Has Antioxidant Properties
Oxidative stress, which results from an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body, is another factor implicated in alcohol-induced liver damage. Alcohol metabolism generates free radicals that can cause oxidative damage to liver cells, leading to liver injury and dysfunction.
As a flavonoid, DHM exhibits antioxidant activity that can neutralize free radicals and protect liver cells from oxidative damage. By reducing oxidative stress, DHM may help preserve liver function and protect against alcohol-related liver injury.
DHM Enhances Alcohol Metabolism and Reduces Acetaldehyde Accumulation
As mentioned earlier, DHM can enhance the activity of alcohol-degrading enzymes like alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). By promoting the breakdown and elimination of alcohol and its toxic metabolite acetaldehyde, DHM can help reduce the burden on the liver. Lower levels of acetaldehyde can decrease liver toxicity and protect liver cells from damage.
DHM Modulates Signaling Pathways
Some studies have suggested that DHM may modulate various signaling pathways involved in liver cell survival, apoptosis (cell death), and inflammation. For example, DHM may influence pathways like the Nuclear Factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) and Nrf2/HO-1, which play a role in regulating inflammation, oxidative stress, and cell survival. By modulating these pathways, DHM could help protect liver cells and maintain liver function.
Potential Role of DHM in Reducing Alcohol Dependence
Dihydromyricetin (DHM) has shown potential in reducing alcohol dependence through its effects on certain neurotransmission systems in the brain. Alcohol dependence is a complex issue involving various neurobiological and environmental factors. There are a few potential roles DHM may play in reducing alcohol dependence.
DHM Modulates GABAergic Neurotransmission
The primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Alcohol enhances the inhibitory effects of GABA by binding to GABA_A receptors, leading to increased sedation, relaxation, and other central nervous system depressant effects.
Some research suggests that DHM may modulate the GABAergic neurotransmission system by acting as an antagonist at the GABA_A receptors. By blocking the effects of alcohol on GABA_A receptors, DHM could potentially reduce the rewarding and reinforcing properties of alcohol, thereby reducing the risk of developing alcohol dependence.
DHM Reduces Alcohol Consumption
In animal studies, DHM has been shown to reduce voluntary alcohol consumption and suppress alcohol-seeking behaviors. These findings suggest that DHM might have a potential role in reducing alcohol dependence by decreasing the motivation to consume alcohol. However, it is important to note that more research, particularly in humans, is needed to establish this effect conclusively.
DHM Alleviates Withdrawal Symptoms
In heavy drinkers, withdrawal symptoms can be a significant barrier to reducing alcohol consumption or achieving abstinence. These symptoms can include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and even seizures.
Some studies have suggested that DHM might help alleviate alcohol withdrawal symptoms due to its modulation of the GABAergic neurotransmission system. By reducing withdrawal symptoms, DHM could potentially aid in reducing alcohol dependence by making it easier for individuals to cut back on their alcohol consumption or achieve sobriety.
DHM Has Neuroprotective Effects
Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to neuroadaptations and neurotoxicity, which can contribute to alcohol dependence. DHM has demonstrated neuroprotective properties in some studies, potentially due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. By protecting brain cells from alcohol-induced damage, DHM might play a role in reducing the risk of developing alcohol dependence.
Safety Considerations and Limitations of DHM
While dihydromyricetin (DHM) has demonstrated potential benefits in reducing hangover symptoms, protecting the liver, and possibly reducing alcohol dependence, it is crucial to consider its safety and limitations. More research is needed to fully understand the effectiveness and safety of DHM, particularly in the long term. And there are some safety considerations and limitations of DHM.
There are Limited Human Studies with DHM
Most of the research on DHM’s effects has been conducted in cell culture and animal studies. Although these studies have provided valuable insights into the potential benefits of DHM, more human studies are needed to establish its effectiveness, optimal dosages, and potential side effects in humans.
DHM Has Potential Side Effects and Interactions
Currently, there is limited information on the side effects and drug interactions associated with DHM. Some studies have reported mild side effects such as dizziness, headache, and gastrointestinal discomfort, but these side effects have generally been mild and infrequent. However, given the limited data, it is essential to exercise caution and consult a healthcare professional before using DHM, particularly if you are taking other medications, have pre-existing medical conditions, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
DHM Is Not a Substitute for Responsible Drinking
While DHM may help alleviate hangover symptoms and protect the liver, it should not be used as an excuse to overconsume alcohol or as a replacement for responsible drinking habits. Excessive alcohol consumption carries significant health risks, including liver disease, heart disease, and increased risk of accidents and injuries. The best way to avoid hangovers and protect your liver is to consume alcohol in moderation or abstain from it altogether.
There Is Incomplete Understanding of DHM Mechanisms
Although research has provided some insights into the mechanisms by which DHM may exert its effects, our understanding of these processes is still incomplete. More research is needed to fully elucidate the molecular pathways and mechanisms through which DHM may provide its benefits.