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Friday, February 3rd 2012

Take A Pill, Stop Getting Drunk

Want to take the fun out of alochol? A paper in the Journal of Neuroscience reports the effects of dihydromyricetin on ethanol’s ability to get you drunk. The New Scientist write up describes the study,

[Dr. Jiang Ling, primary investigator,] injected rats’ abdomens with a dose of alcohol proportionate to the amount a human would get from downing 15 to 20 beers in 2 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 5 minutes.

DHM also 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.

Finally, DHM appeared to discourage rats from boozing when they had a free choice between drinking a sweetened solution of alcohol or sweetened water. Over a period of three months, rats will normally get addicted to increasing volumes of the hard stuff. Rats given DHM, though, drank no more than about a quarter of the amount that the “boozers” eventually built up to. Moreover, boozy rats that had worked up to the higher levels suddenly dropped down to a moderate intake when given DHM after seven weeks.

I don’t like the idea of an anti-intoxication pill. Drinking is what it is because of the way it makes you feel. And the ill effects of drinking are what they are to prevent your overconsumption. Taking a pill prophylactically to allow yourself to drink as much as you want without feeling the effects of the alcohol defeats the purpose. As does taking a pill, after the fact, to, with certainty, relieve your hangover and the consequences of drinking too much.

There’s some evidence in the study that dihydromyricetin may help prevent true, physiologic withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, anxiety, delirium and may even work to raise the seizure threshold. Such would be a legitimate use. Otherwise I think I may have a philosophical problem with the development of an anti-booze drug.