There’s a new pill in development that may lower blood alcohol levels, help a hangover and prevent alcohol-overdose deaths. Pretty cool, right?
For as long as alcohol has been around (about 10 million years, in case you were wondering), people have been dealing with the dreaded hangover. Despite so many advances in science and technology, nobody has been able to figure out a way to eradicate alcohol-induced headaches, vomiting and nausea altogether — until now.
Yunfeng Lu, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, joined forces with one of his graduate students as well as professor Cheng Ji, an expert in liver diseases from Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. The trio developed an antidote that they believe can alleviate hangovers as well as save lives by treating intoxication and overdose victims.
When you drink alcohol, it takes time for your body to metabolize it and dispose of it. Alcohol poisoning occurs when an individual consumes too much alcohol in too short a period of time. Current treatments for it depend on the body’s own enzymes to break down the drug. In an essay published on The Conversation, Lu explains that he “chose to create capsules filled with natural enzymes usually found in liver cells to help the body process the alcohol faster.”
He and his colleagues tested the antidote on mice, wrapping three natural enzymes “that convert alcohol into harmless molecules that are then excreted” in a shell. Then into the veins of alcohol-intoxicated mice they injected nanocapsules that traveled to their livers and entered into their cells and served as “mini-reactors” to digest alcohol.
The treatment worked wonders with the drunk mice, decreasing their blood alcohol level by 45 percent in just four hours as compared to the mice who didn’t receive the antidote. Another bonus? The blood level of acetaldehyde — the seriously toxic carcinogenic compound that causes headaches and vomiting, makes people blush and is produced during the normal alcohol metabolism — remained low. The drunk mice that received the antidote woke up from their alcohol-induced sleep faster than the untreated drunk mice. Basically, their hangovers were more mild.
Researchers believe their antidote will have a similar impact on humans: It will help people wake up from an alcohol-induced slumber earlier and prevent alcohol poisoning because of its ability to break down alcohol quickly. It should also help in protecting their livers from any alcohol-related stress and damage. And that’s great news.
Keep in mind that tests are still being conducted on the capsules to make sure they are safe and don’t trigger unexpected or dangerous side effects. It will still be at least another year before the hangover pills are tested on actual humans.
And before you get too excited and celebrate with a night of excessive drinking, remember that binge drinking still isn’t good for your health. According to experts (the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture), moderate drinking is defined as up to one drink a day for women and two a day for men, and anything more than that isn’t really healthy.
So, yeah, even if this miracle hangover pill comes to fruition, remember that alcohol is always best in moderation for the sake of your health.