Here at Tailgating Ideas, we have tested a few hangover cures and remedies. Some have been rather effective. Others have not and we chose to not publish the results of those hangover tests here. More importantly because we did not want to give said hangover cure a bad reputation but also because we were probably too hungover to get ourselves to the keyboard to blog about it.
We were approached a while back by the folks at dhmdepot.com to try their version of a hangover cure. We are always up for new things so we told them to send us a sample. (It’s a tough job getting drunk all in the name of working for you, the tailgating public, but someone has to do it.)
While the bottle of DHM capsules were on their way, we decided to do a little research on what exactly is Dihydromyricetin (DHM) and how will it work on a hangover. Of course my research consisted of searching the internet for more information on DHM to see if this was something that was legit or was some Medicine Show Snake Oil. After some research it appeared that DHM had some validity to the claims it could knock out a hangover by testing it out on lab rats.
Dihydromyricetin (DHM) is a natural extract of the Oriental Raisin Tree. (Hovenia Dulcis) Apparently DHM has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as a hangover cure and intoxication blocker. Initial studies concluded that DHM supplements greatly reduces hangover symptoms and negates many of the negative side effects commonly associated with intoxication such as slurred speech, loss of coordination and lowered reaction time without any adverse side effects. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Boozing – A science lesson
Your liver processes alcohol at a constant rate. When you consumer more alcohol than your liver can process, the alcohol is released into the bloodstream until your liver can get to it later. When alcohol reaches your brain, it affects two different neurotransmitters. Simply put, neurotransmitters are chemicals your brain cells use to control emotions, movement, behavior and thought processes. Two categories of neurotransmitters are inhibitory and exhibitory. Inhibitory neurotransmitters have a calming effect and “slow” things down. Exhibitory neurotransmitters increase energy levels and brain activity.
One neurotransmitter affected by alcohol is GABA. Alcohol binds to GABA receptors in your brain and amplifies its effect. As the brain receives a stronger message from GABA, you begin to feel calm, and your heart rate slows down. When you continue to drink, GABA signals are amplified further and further. Eventually, you experience loss of motor control, inhibitions are lowered and your speech begins to slur. You now have that feeling of being buzzed or even more, you feel drunk.
How DHM works – More science
Simply stated, Dihydromyricetin blocks alcohol from affecting GABA Receptors. Dihydromyricetin binds to GABA receptors in the brain and blocks the effect alcohol has on GABA receptors. Theoretically, this should reduce certain feelings related to intoxication as alcohol is only amplifying the exhibitory neurotransmitter Glutamate (another neurotransmitter affected by alcohol).
When Dihydromyricetin is taken before drinking, alcohol can’t amplify GABA and you don’t feel as intoxicated. When DHM is taken after drinking, it can accelerate the rate at which one sobers up. DHM also helps to speed up the liver’s ability to process alcohol.
Drunk rats can’t be wrong
Pharmacologist Jing Liang of UCLA did a research project on DHM to test the effectiveness on rats. Liang first tested whether DHM blocks the clumsiness and loss of coordination caused by drinking too much. To do this, she measured how long it took for treated rats to right themselves after being laid on their backs in a V-shaped cradle.
After she injected rats’ abdomens with a dose of alcohol proportionate to the amount a human would get from downing 15 to 20 beers in two hours by a human, they took about 70 minutes, on average, to right themselves. However, when an injection of the same amount of booze included a milligram of DHM per kilogram of rat body weight, the animals recovered their composure within just five minutes.
Liang also discovered that DHM stopped rats in a maze from behaving in ways resembling anxiety and hangovers. Rats given heavy doses of alcohol cowered away in corners of the maze, whereas those given the extract with their alcohol behaved normally and were as inquisitive as rats given no alcohol at all, exploring the more open corridors of the maze.
Drunken rats can’t be wrong, can they? Based on my online research I decided to be my own lab rat and test out DHM for myself. I guess I was going to have to get really drunk and see what happened.
Test 1 – Operation Tailgating HAMMERED
The first time I tested DHM was back on April 26th. Cal State Fullerton’s baseball team was playing the University of Hawaii and it was a night game. That translated into the beauty and the glory of the three meal tailgate; breakfast, lunch and dinner all consumed in Lot G outside Goodwin Field. Being a Saturday night game this also meant no work the next day so I could really test drive the DHM to see if it really works.
Cut to the chase. I got REALLY hammered. I was doing a 92 proof spice rum mixed with cola and by the end of the tailgate I had consumed roughly 25 ounces of spiced rum during the course of the day. Needless to say I was ready to see if the DHM had any sobering affects on me as I went into the game. I took two capsules as directed on the bottle and headed into the game (with some assistance…). After 15 minutes, I didn’t feel any sobering effects. By the time the game was over, I was still quite drunk. Of course I had a sober driver to take me home but she did find it amusing when we got home my expression of intense love for my Yeti Cooler. Of course she snapped a photo and shared it on Instagram.
Suffice to say, the DHM had no affect on me. In order to combat the hangover I was assured was to come, I drank a Mercy Hangover Remedy drink and went to bed. I contacted the folks at DHMDepot and asked them what happened. I told them my height and weight and how much alcohol I consumed. This was their response:
Wow you can really put em back! 24 oz of 92 proof rum is equivalent to roughly 18 standard drinks of alcohol. Based on what we’ve found an effective dose for that amount would be 6 capsules, so that’s most likely why the results were so underwhelming.
If you decide to try it out again, I’d definitely recommend upping the dose.
Uh-oh! Challenge accepted.
Test 2 – Operation Memorial Day Weekend Outdoor Boozing
Next opportunity for me to really road test these capsules was over Memorial Day Weekend. We targeted the Vista Strawberry Festival as our location to really get after it. Knowing there would be plenty of opportunity for some outdoor boozing, we packed some Sunscreen Flasks in order to get past the rent-a-cop security bag checkers and set out for a day of boozing in the sunshine. Over the course of the day I consumed 24 ounces of the same 92 proof spiced rum (three Sunscreen Flasks all to myself) and as you might imagine, was pretty hammered. We were smart and reserved a hotel room weeks before the festival and before going to bed, I popped six or eight of the DHM capsules. To be honest I don’t remember exactly but I do remember it was more than just two.
The next morning I woke up to no hangover. Let me repeat, NO Hangover. I was truly amazed too. The aches and pains, the sensitivity to light, the upset stomach, the throbbing headache… all non-existent. I was astounded after the first test of only taking two capsules had failed. I was fine for the rest of the day and felt like I had not had any alcohol nor any trace of being really drunk the previous day.
After thoroughly testing out Dihydromyricetin, and using the proper dosage for my height, weight and amount of alcohol consumed, I am going to give DHM the Tailgating Ideas “Tailgate Approved” stamp of approval.
If you hate hangovers and you know that 4th of July weekend is approaching, you may want to look into DHM. You might be the only one on July 5th that is feeling normal.