Miracle new hangover cure could be a PROBIOTIC: Pill full of ‘good’ gut bacteria may avert nasty side effects from night on the booze
- Mice treated with the modified probiotic recovered faster than untreated mice
- Half were still able to turn themselves over an hour after alcohol exposure
- The genetically engineered probiotic contained the gene ADH1B
Taking a probiotic pill before a night out could prevent a hangover and stave off alcohol’s lasting ill effects, academics say.
Tests on mice suggested a specially-created supplement might also stop humans getting as drunk.
It is packed full of ‘good’ gut bacteria, similar to a Yakult yoghurt.
But the genetically-engineered pill, yet to be trialed on humans, also contains an enzyme proven to breakdown alcohol in the body.
Experiments on mice revealed rodents given the probiotic absorbed less alcohol.
US scientists discovered that mice treated with the probiotic had reduced alcohol absorption, prolonged alcohol tolerance, and shortened the animals’ recovery time after exposure to alcohol
They also recovered quicker from the effects of booze.
The results have left the researchers, from the Chinese Academy of Science, hopeful that it will lead to a new miracle hangover cure for humans.
They also believe probiotics could, in the future, be used to reduce alcohol-related damage to the liver and intestines.
Writing in the journal Microbiology Spectrum, researchers told how they genetically engineered a probiotic to express the enzyme dehydrogenase in mice.
So, how much is TOO much?
NHS recommendations state adults shouldn’t drink more than 14 units each week — that’s 14 single shots of spirit or six pints of beer or a bottle and a half of wine.
They should also spread their drinking over three or more days to avoid bingeing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises Americans do not drink more than 14 standard alcohol drinks per week for men and seven for women.
A standard alcoholic drink includes 12oz of 5 per cent beer, 8oz of 7 per cent malt liqour, 5oz of 12 per cent wine or 1.5oz of spirits including rum, gin, vodka or whiskey.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over many years is already linked to a plethora of health issues such as high blood pressure, stroke risk, and range of cancers.
It regulates how the body converts alcohol into a substance called acetaldehyde, a byproduct released when we drink alcohol.
Acetaldehyde causes the feelings of a hangover by accumulating in the liver, causing the associated headaches and nausea as a result.
Previous studies on mice have shown that a specific type of the enzyme, called ADH1B, can speed up the breakdown of alcohol internally.
But that approach hasn’t yet been shown to be safe in humans.
Seeking a safer method, the researchers used the probiotic lactococcus lactis — a bacteria often used in fermentation — and cloned ADH1B into it.
Testing it on three groups of five mice, each were exposed to different levels of alcohol.
Mice without the probiotic – the control group – showed signs of drunkenness just 20 minutes after exposure to alcohol.
When the mice were also placed on their backs, they were unable to get back on their feet.
But of the mice who received a probiotic that expressed human ADH1B, half were still able to turn themselves over an hour after alcohol exposure.
A quarter never lost their ability to turn themselves over.
Further tests showed that two hours after exposure, blood alcohol levels in the control group continued to rise, while those in the probiotic-treated mice had begun to fall.
Researchers also found that treated mice showed lower levels of lipids and triglycerides – types of fat – in their livers, suggesting that the probiotic could alleviate alcohol-related damage to the organ.
While the probiotic hasn’t yet been tested on humans, the scientists predict that if offering the same benefit, it could present a new way to reduce alcohol-induced health problems, and liver problems.
Leading experts have rowed about the harms of moderate drinking for decades.
Studies have suggested that a glass of wine or pint of beer a day can stave off a host of illnesses.
Read more: Why taking PROBIOTICS could ease your hay fever symptoms after bacteria in nose is linked to condition
While others have argued that even light drinking is dangerous.
The WHO estimates that excessive alcohol consumption kills 3million people around the world each year.
In February, The Canada Centre on Substance Use and Addiction also recommended the nation’s 38million residents should scale back their alcohol intake to just two bottles of beer a week – a major drop from ten drinks a week for women and 15 for men.
Britons are urged not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis — the equivalent of six pints of lager or 10 small glasses of wine.
The NHS also advises spreading drinking over three or more days to avoid bingeing.
Meng Dong, a post doctoral researcher at the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, who worked on the study, said: ‘We believe that genetically engineered probiotics will provide new ideas for the treatment of liver diseases.’
The researchers behind the peer-reviewed study will now investigate whether the effects of modified probiotics seen on mice, do extend to humans, she added.
‘We are excited about the improvement of recombinant probiotics in acute alcohol-induced liver and intestinal damage,’ she said.
It comes as the Swedish company Myrkl launched its own ‘hangover cure pill’ in the UK last year.
The company claims the supplement is scientifically proven to prevent a hangover.
Users are instructed to take two pills 30 minutes before drinking.
According to Myrkl, the pill contains bacteria capable of breaking down the majority of alcohol in the body before it reaches the liver.
Research shows that when the liver breaks down alcohol, it releases toxins into the body which trigger an immune response in the body.
DO YOU DRINK TOO MUCH ALCOHOL? THE 10 QUESTIONS THAT REVEAL YOUR RISK
One screening tool used widely by medical professionals is the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tests). Developed in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, the 10-question test is considered to be the gold standard in helping to determine if someone has alcohol abuse problems.
The test has been reproduced here with permission from the WHO.
To complete it, answer each question and note down the corresponding score.
0-7: You are within the sensible drinking range and have a low risk of alcohol-related problems.
Over 8: Indicate harmful or hazardous drinking.
8-15: Medium level of risk. Drinking at your current level puts you at risk of developing problems with your health and life in general, such as work and relationships. Consider cutting down (see below for tips).
16-19: Higher risk of complications from alcohol. Cutting back on your own may be difficult at this level, as you may be dependent, so you may need professional help from your GP and/or a counsellor.
20 and over: Possible dependence. Your drinking is already causing you problems, and you could very well be dependent. You should definitely consider stopping gradually or at least reduce your drinking. You should seek professional help to ascertain the level of your dependence and the safest way to withdraw from alcohol.
Severe dependence may need medically assisted withdrawal, or detox, in a hospital or a specialist clinic. This is due to the likelihood of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms in the first 48 hours needing specialist treatment.
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