These plant extracts may reduce hangover symptoms

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In a new study, researchers found that a plant extract combination of fruits, leaves, and roots may help to relieve hangover symptoms.

And received wisdom that it’s the dehydrating effects of alcohol and the associated loss of electrolytes which are largely responsible for some of the most common hangover symptoms, may be wrong.

The research was conducted by a team at Johannes Gutenberg-University in Germany.

Various natural remedies have been recommended to ease hangover symptoms, but there is as yet no strong scientific evidence for their use.

In the study, the researchers tested the potential of specific plant extracts, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidant compounds to ease a range of recognized physical and psychological symptoms associated with drinking alcohol.

The plant extracts included Barbados cherry (Acerola), prickly pear, ginkgo biloba, willow, and ginger root. The vitamins and minerals included magnesium, potassium, sodium bicarbonate, zinc, riboflavin, thiamin, and folic acid.

The team examined 214 healthy 18-65-year-olds people who were randomly split into three groups and given a 7.5 g flavored, water-soluble supplement 45 minutes before, and immediately after they stopped drinking any of beer, white wine, or a white wine spritzer.

The first group (69) were given a supplement containing the plant extracts, vitamins and minerals, and additional antioxidant compounds—steviol glycosides and inulin. The second group (76) were given a supplement minus the plant extracts, while the third group (69) were given glucose alone (placebo).

The average amount of alcohol consumed was virtually the same in all three groups: 0.62 ml/minute.

The team found that symptom intensity varied widely among the participants.

But compared with the glucose only supplement, those taking the full supplement of plant extracts, minerals/vitamins, and antioxidants reported less severe symptoms.

Average headache intensity was 34% less, nausea 42% less, while feelings of indifference fell by an average of 27% and restlessness by 41%. No significant differences or reductions were reported for any of the other symptoms.

Polyphenol and flavonoid compounds in each of the five plant extracts have been associated with curbing the physiological impact of alcohol in previously published experimental studies, explain the researchers. But it’s not clear how.

And the absence of any observed impact for vitamins and minerals on their own suggests that alcohol might not affect electrolyte and mineral balance, as is commonly thought.

Their analysis also showed levels of water content in the body weren’t strongly linked to the amount of alcohol drunk.

The authors of the study are Bernhard Lieb and Patrick Schmitt.

The study is published in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.

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