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Chinese Extract Stops Rats From Getting Wasted

An ancient hangover remedy may be a powerful new tool to treat alcoholism in humans.

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Chinese raisin tree extract may end the party
for some rats. Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda

01/10/12

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Would you take a drug that could keep you sober no matter how much you drink? Recently, an extract that's been used to treat hangovers for hundreds of years in China has shown some promise; drawn from hovenia dulcis, an oriental raisin tree, it proved after a series of trials to keep rats from getting intoxicated—even after they were injected with high amounts of alcohol. The active ingredient (dihydromyricetin or DHM) keeps your brain sober no matter how much alcohol is in your blood, which could remove the motivation to drink. David Nutt of Imperial College London, a former top UK government adviser, says:"This supports other data that GABA receptors are key in the actions of alcohol and that targeting this interaction is a viable approach to reducing alcohol intake. Let's hope it's safe to use in humans." But some experts fear that a “sober pill” could actually encourage more drinking, since people wouldn't fear the consequences of getting drunk. DHM will soon be tested on humans, and researchers hope to focus on problem drinkers in particular.

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