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Home / Journal / Dihydromyricetin Explained - What To Know about DHM & Hangovers

Dihydromyricetin Explained - What To Know about DHM & Hangovers

Dihydromyricetin (or DHM) is an extract from the Japanese Raisin Tree that has been used for centuries as an anti-alcohol herb and hangover cure in Korean and Chinese traditional medicine. Recent studies suggest that DHM could lower your blood alcohol level and protect your liver from damage and disease.

DHM is a flavonoid most typically extracted from Vine Tea but it also can be extracted from the bark of the Holvenia Dulcis tree. And most importantly, Dihydromyricetin has a long history of being taken specifically for the purposes of treating headaches and hangovers.

Scientists in Los Angeles at the University of California have recently conducted tests by applying dihydromyricetin on inebriated rats who served as test subjects. Results showed promise and researchers interested in the applications of dihydromyricetin have been simultaneously testing its effects, as well as developing new products.

For instance, in addition to its anti-alcohol uses, Dihydromyricetin has also demonstrated to show antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anticancer and hepatoprotective properties. [1]

And the million-dollar question is: does DHM really work for hangovers? Studies and anecdotal accounts report that when consuming supplements containing Dihydromyricetin after they ingested alcohol, users experienced less incidents of headache, nausea, vomiting, and less anxiety that they would normally have after consuming the same amount of liquor.

Anyway, let’s put that in terms we can all understand, and look at how and why dihydromyricetin works.

Reducing alcohol intoxication levels

Although Dihydromyricetin is not recommended as a quick fix for dangerous levels of alcohol toxicity in the bloodstream, it has shown to be effective in treating impairment of motor coordination, slurred or disoriented speech and confusion brought on the result by consuming alcohol.

The key explanation of DHM being so effective on most alcohol-related symptoms is due to its effect on acetaldehyde. The majority of negative reactions to alcohol intake are sourced from the body’s accumulation of acetaldehyde, a toxic byproduct of alcohol. The body’s process of breaking down acetaldehyde is expedited by the influence of DHM.

A 1999 study [11], found that Dihydromyricetin lowers the blood alcohol level of mice. This suggests that DHM could help people metabolize alcohol more quickly and efficiently, which could relieve both drunkenness and hangovers.

“Dihydromyricetin or DHM appears to reduce circulating levels of alcohol in the blood when taken before drinking. This works somewhat when taken during or after alchohol consumption, but is most effective when taken 30 minutes prior to drinking.”

Another study [12] found that DHM prevents alcohol-induced muscle relaxation in rats. This suggests that it could be used to combat the lack of coordination commonly associated with drunkenness.

Dihydromyricetin as a hangover cure

Most people have hangovers after they drink to the point of intoxication. The unpleasant feelings from a hangover are generally attributed to a combination of toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism (acetaldehyde), dehydration, and toxic impurities found in some alcoholic beverages (congeners).

Typically, hangovers begin when the alcohol concentration in your blood begins to fall. Your hangover peaks when your blood alcohol level reaches zero. For many people, this hangover peak happens at right about the time they wake up in the morning.

Two enzymes — alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) — help your body break down alcohol. Studies suggest [3] that DHM increases the activity of these enzymes, which means it could help you metabolize alcohol faster. Theoretically, the sooner your blood alcohol level reaches zero, the more quickly your hangover can pass.

A recent study [13] found that people who ingested Dihydromyricetin experienced less headache, dizziness, nausea, and weakness in their hangover than did others who did not take the extract.

However, there are many factors that contribute to a hangover that wouldn’t be affected by DHM. This includes low blood sugar, dehydration, and gastrointestinal upset.

Wise tip: drink fluids, rest, and consider having a couple of glasses of water between drinks next time.

Preventing alcohol-related liver damage

In addition to DHM’s anti-intoxication and hangover effects, many studies have found that DHM also protects against (and helps repair) liver damage [5][6]. Dihydromyricetin has been used for hundreds of years in Chinese medicine to treat diseases of the liver.

Your liver metabolizes alcohol at a constant rate. Any excess alcohol which your liver is unable to metabolize right away circulates through your blood stream until your liver can process it. The process of breaking down alcohol is extremely demanding on your liver. Your liver identifies alcohol as a toxin and makes breaking down alcohol its top priority. This leads to the accumulation of fat deposits and tissue damage.

Because DHM helps the liver process alcohol faster, it allows the liver to resume its normal tasks quicker. In other words, DHM has hepatoprotective qualities.

One study [14] showed that dihydromyricetin significantly protects against alcohol-induced liver damage. Another study [6] showed that dihydromyricetin also has the ability to reduce injuries previously made to the liver.

In other words, DHM speeds up your liver’s ability to metabolize alcohol. This allows your liver to resume its normal function more quickly and lessens the damage alcohol consumption causes. Essentially, it’s a protective tool for your liver while drinking, but also useful for helping to repair the damage caused to your liver following excessive alcohol consumption.

Treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome

Scientists believe that hangovers are partially caused by a sort of mini-withdrawal from alcohol. For people with alcoholism, however, alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a serious, even life-threatening condition. There are currently no prescription medications without significant side effects that can be used to treat alcohol withdrawal.

Research [1] suggests that Dihydromyricetin (or DHM) has the potential to treat alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Research found a reduction in withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, tolerance, and seizures. The study also suggested that DHM may also reduce alcohol cravings.

Bottom Line

As indicated above, Dihydromyricetin has been proven to be effective in treating the main symptoms of a hangover. Many users also report stronger concentration, improved motivation and a lack of a headache in circumstances under which they would have normally experienced symptoms typical of a hangover.

Sources:

  1. Dihydromyricetin As A Novel Anti-Alcohol Intoxication Medication
  2. Is Dihydromyricetin Safe For Human Use?
  3. Influence of Hovenia dulcis on alcohol concentration in blood and activity of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) of animals after drinking.
  4. Effects of fruits of Hovenia dulcis (FND) on acute alcohol toxicity in mice
  5. Pharmacological potential of ampelopsin in Rattan tea
  6. Treatment of Chronic Liver Injuries in Mice by Oral Administration of Ethanolic Extract of the Fruit of Hovenia dulcis
  7. Dihydromyricetin Improves Physical Performance under Simulated High Altitude
  8. Dihydromyricetin induces apoptosis and inhibits proliferation in hepatocellular carcinoma cells
  9. Efficacy and Safety of White Willow Bark (Salix alba) Extracts
  10. Protective role of N-acetylcysteine against alcohol and paracetamol induced toxicity
  11. Comparison of Hepatic Detoxification activity and reducing Serum Alcohol concentration of Hovenia dulcis and Alnus japonica Steud.
  12. Hovenia dulcis: inhibitory effect on alcohol-induced muscular relaxation and hepatoprotective activity
  13. A standardized extract of the fruit of Hovenia dulcis alleviated alcohol-induced hangover in healthy subjects with heterozygous ALDH2: A randomized, controlled, crossover trial
  14. Effect of juice and fermented vinegar from Hovenia dulcis peduncles on chronically alcohol-induced liver damage in mice.

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