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Plant Extracts Combo May Ease Hangover

A new study suggests that a plant extract combination of Barbados cherry (Acerola), prickly pear, ginkgo biloba, willow and ginger root may help ease physical and psychological hangover symptoms.

The findings, published online in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health, also reveal that the common assumption that most hangover symptoms are caused by alcohol’s dehydrating effects and the loss of electrolytes may be wrong. (Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals in the body that help balance water content and acid levels.)

While a variety of natural remedies have long been recommended to relieve hangover symptoms, there has been no strong scientific evidence for their use.

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

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

A total of 214 healthy adults (ages 18-65) were randomly split into three groups and given a 7.5-gram flavored, water soluble supplement 45 minutes before, and immediately after they stopped drinking alcohol (beer, white wine, or white wine spritzer).

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

The number and type of drinks consumed was tracked, as was how many times the participants emptied their bladder between 1,700 and 2,100 hours.

Participants also underwent blood and urine samples and blood pressure measurements, which were taken before and after the start of this four-hour period, after which the participants were sent home to sober up.

Twelve hours later the same samples and blood pressure measurements were taken, and subjects completed a questionnaire about the type and intensity of perceived hangover symptoms, which were ranked on a scale from zero to 10.

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

Analysis of all the data showed that symptom intensity varied widely among the participants. However, 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, researchers said. But it’s not clear how.

“The underlying mechanisms remain to be unravelled and surely need further investigation,” they said.

No significant difference in any symptom was experienced by participants taking the supplement minus the plant extracts, suggesting that plant extracts were largely responsible for the observed changes, say the researchers.

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, researchers said.

The results also revealed that water levels in the body weren’t significantly linked to the amount of alcohol consumed. “Our results suggest that alcohol-induced increased fluid excretion does not necessarily lead to a significant dehydration process,” they write in the study.

“It seems to be clear that hangover symptoms are predominantly caused by alcohol and its metabolites,” they concluded.

Source: BMJ


Plant Extracts Combo May Ease Hangover

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2020). Plant Extracts Combo May Ease Hangover. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 3 May 2020 (Originally: 4 May 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 3 May 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.