In search of hangover remedies, I discovered that South Korea has a very high number of alcoholics compared to other places in the world. Hence it was not surprising when results showed that they also have the secret ingredient to deal with hangovers.
Long hours at work and the culture of “work hard party hard” has made drinking a part of their work life. Heavy drinking followed by the need to be up and about the next morning to be at work on time drives the working lot to use hangover remedies routinely. A novel extract from the raisin tree, also called Hovenia dulcis, is among the most widely used ingredients in hangover remedies in South Korea. As a matter of fact, it is sold extensively in and around the country.
Hovenia dulcis, also known as the oriental raisin tree, is mainly found in East Asia. It has long been used in traditional folk remedies for alcohol intoxication.
A study published in the journal of ethnopharmacology in 2017 examined the anti-hangover effects of Hovenia dulcis. Twenty-six male adults consumed 360 ml of Korean Soju (50 g alcohol) with Hovenia dulcis and matched placebos with subsequent crossover. Decline in hangover symptoms scores were significant in the Hovenia dulcis group compared to the placebo group.
Hovenia has been known by herbalists for ages as a natural liver detoxifier.
Recent research studies have demonstrated that it helps reduce blood alcohol level quickly and effectively by inducing the production of Alcohol Digestive Enzyme (ADH) and may break down acetaldehyde, the hangover-causing toxin.
Hovenia contains significant concentrations of hovenia-based antioxidants, flavonoids and saponins. These are known to promote liver detoxification.
Hovenia dulcis is listed among the premier anti-hangover herbal medicines in China’s first pharmacopoeia. According to researchers in China, Hovenia extracts ameliorate alcohol-induced liver injuries and relieves hangover. However, its true efficacy, active constituents, and mechanisms of action have not been fully examined.
Recent studies demonstrate that a flavonoid component from Hovenia is highly effective in counteracting acute intoxication symptoms, as well as reducing excessive consumption.
Alcoholism is a major problem globally and kills 2.5 million people every year. According to a WHO report in 2011 , nearly 4 per cent of all global deaths is related to alcohol abuse. A call to action to control alcohol abuse and preparations that help de-addict and deal with the negative impact of alcohol is needed. Research provides strong evidence that the extracts of Hovenia dulcis is a candidate for development as a novel therapeutic product. In addition, public awareness about dangers of drinking must be spread.
Author is a clinical nutritionist and founder of http://www.theweightmonitor.com and Whole Foods India