When it comes to a cure for hangover, scientists say a lemon and lime fizzy drink like Sprite will hit the spot.
Chinese scientists examined 57 beverages — ranging from herbal teas to fizzy pop — before concluding that the lemon and lime drink performed the best.
They also discovered that hangovers are not actually caused by alcohol but by the body’s process of getting rid of what it views as toxic.
When we drink, our livers release an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) which breaks down the ethanol in alcohol into a chemical called acetaldehyde which is responsible for the pounding headache that’s part of a traditional hangover. This is then broken down into another chemical called acetate by another enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).
While acetate is harmless, being exposed to the more potent acetaldehyde is what causes hangover symptoms, the researchers found.
Researchers at Sun Yat-Sen University, in Guangzhou, tested a range of beverages, from teas, hot herbal infusions and fizzy drinks — and measured their effects on ADH and ALDH.
They discovered some herbal teas actually slowed the process, thus prolonging a hangover but Sprite, or “Xue bi” as it’s called in China, as found to actually speed the enzyme’s work up, which meant that the beverage could ease a hangover as it shortened the body’s exposure to acetaldehyde.
The study’s findings have been published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Food and Function.
“These results are a reminder that herbal and other supplements can have pharmacological activities that both harm and benefit our health,” Edzard Ernst, Emeritus Professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, told Chemistry World.
The researchers say their next step is to try it out on real living organisms — but don’t say whether that means they will fund a night out on the tiles.