A year or two back I came across an interesting study. Researchers had isolated a compound called dihydromyricetin from the oriental raisin tree, a chinese herbal tea that had been taken for centuries as a hangover remedy. Researchers then took rats and injected them with the rat equivalent of 20 drinks in an hour.
These rats were in bad shape. They were seriously drunk. The researchers flipped them on their backs and watched them (kind of like the guy in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2XeVs4wqdE) as they tried to right themselves. The researchers timed the rats and it took, on average, 70 minutes for them to right themselves.
Then they tried again, except this time administering the extract (called dihydromyricetin). The rats sobered up quickly, regaining their feet in about 5 minutes. This was statistically significant. This was impressive. More research was done, on the amount of liver damage for instance, and it turned out that dihydromyricetin is actually hepatoprotective.
Then they did behavioral tests for the rats to see if they were hung over. They looked for specific body languages that hung over rats exhibited (hiding, staying in one spot, anxious pawing, crossing arms), and checked hung over rats against rats who had been administered dihydromyricetin (DHM from now on). The rats who had taken DHM with alcohol moved about mazes, spent time sniffing about, and generally exhibited normal rat behavior. The rats who had taken only alcohol typically stayed in one spot, slunk to a corner, and sat with legs crossed in a protective stance, and suffered their hangovers.
At the time, I had looked around to see if anyone was selling DHM. Nobody was, which seemed odd to me, since the compound could easily fall under the Dietary Health and Supplements Education Act, which allows any naturally occurring compound which isn’t otherwise regulated, to be sold as a supplement. I filed it away as interesting trivia, and forgot about it… that is, until I received an email last month from DHMDepot.com, asking me if I was interested in reviewing their product.
The capsules that DHMDepot sells contain 300mg of dihydromyricetin. (I have not sent these off for a 3rd party COA). I asked the owner of the company about whether or not he had tried the DHM, and he replied that “It doesn’t prevent the release of dopamine caused by alcohol, just its effects on the GABA-A receptors so drinking is still pleasurable, but much more alcohol is required before some of the classic signs of drunkenness such as slurred speech and impaired motor skills are noticed. I use it more often for hangover prevention, for which it is extremely effective.” Which is an excellent sign. I like it when people use their own products.
I looked into the mechanism of action for Dihydromyricetin and the studies deeper. I also worked with another of our writers to produce this page on Dihydromyricetin. Dihydromyricetin works as an antagonist of GABA(A) receptors in the brain, essentially blocking alcohol from binding with these receptor sites, and decreasing the amount of interaction between alcohol and GABA. I looked into the claims about dopamine, but I was unable to find any evidence that alcohol works on the dopaminergic system at all. Alcohol is actually quite poorly understood in mechanism of action beyond the GABAergic system. Dihydromyricetin also does not have an enormous amount of research.
In terms of dosage, there aren’t many trials in humans that I could find. 1-8mg/kg is recommended by some sites. The original study states: “Clinically, the Hovenia dosage range used for hangover is 100 – 650mg/kg (Li, 1590). Total flavonoids purified from Hovenia are 4.53% of the extract, of which DHM accounts for 40%, suggesting a 1–15 mg/kg dose for behavioral assays.” (http://www.jneurosci.org/content/32/1/390.full.pdf) DHMDepot suggests 300-600mg alongside 4-6 drinks in order to obtain sobriety (http://www.dhmdepot.com/benefits/).
I received a sample bottle and gave it to a few friends to try it after a night of heavy drinking. They reported feeling fairly sobered up. One stated that “It probably subjectively reduced my drunkenness 80%, and I did not have a hangover in the morning”. Another stated “I felt like I could keep drinking, although I knew that I shouldn’t, because I had work in the morning”. Although this isn’t a huge sample size, it’s definitely intriguing and seems to show some progress in terms of being an anti-alcohol and anti-hangover pill.
Please note that this product should not be used in order to “sober up” before driving. Despite the subjective feeling of sobriety, it does not decrease your blood alcohol content, and you will still be violating the law. Also, it does not appear to sober an individual up 100%, so it is very likely you will still be driving impaired to some degree.
If this article interests you and you’d like to try Dihydromyricetin, the guys over at DHMDepot have been trustworthy and reputable in all of my dealings with them. They’ve also gone out of their way to help support Smarter Nootropics, and I highly recommend shopping with them. We do not receive commissions on sales of DHM, but are appreciative of their support and think they’re good guys with a very interesting and promising product.