Sunday, January 08, 2012

New drug lets you enjoy a drink without getting drunk, and wake up without a hangover

If you are a rat

A chemical from an ancient herbal remedy makes rats almost immune to the effects of alcohol. Rats who've consumed the drug can consume vast quantities of alcohol without passing out, show few signs of a hangover - and don't become alcoholics, even after weeks of solid drinking, say researchers.

The chemical is extracted from an ancient Asian remedy - a seed first used as a hangover cure in the year 659. Rats respond to alcohol in a very similar way to humans.

The Asian seeds - from the tree Hovenia Dulcis - was first used as a hangover cure in the year 659, according to ScienceDaily.

The researchers began their study by looking at herbal compounds that supposedly had 'anti alcohol' effects. They rapidly homed in on the Asian seed. They tested one ingredient - called DHM or dihydromyricetin in the rats.

The rats were given the equivalent of 15 to 20 bottled beers in two hours. Most animals passed out, and remained motionless when flipped over.

When given DHM, the rats could 'handle' their drink better. They took longer to get drunk, and seemed to sober up in about 15 minutes. The compound seemed to help rats dealing with hangover anxiety, too.

Rats recovering from a binge seemed to perk up when given the compound. Perhaps most importantly for medical professionals, the chemical seems to stop rats wanting to drink. Although rats on DHM can drink more, they don't.

'When you drink alcohol with DHM, you never become addicted,' says the lead researcher, Jing Liang in research published in Journal of Neuroscience.

The drug appears to work by blocking a brain receptor. Other promising anti-alcohol drugs have targeted the same receptor - but also caused seizures.


Not so healthy

They are widely regarded as ‘healthy’ options, guilt-free alternatives to snacks such as crisps and chocolate. But most of us are unaware that many of the dips and spreads, such as hummus, that we believe are better for us are in fact very high in calories, a survey has shown.

The World Cancer Research Fund study revealed a ‘troubling’ lack of knowledge regarding the calorie content of foods. A survey conducted for the charity found two thirds of Britons underestimate the number of calories in hummus.

The dip, made from chickpeas, contains on average 332 calories per 100g – more than 10 per cent of the recommended daily intake for women. But, despite exceeding the ‘high’ level of ‘energy density’ as defined by the WCRF, which applies to food containing more than about 225 calories per 100g, it is widely considered to be ‘healthy’.

The YouGov poll of 2,000 people also found that only 29 per cent knew that even reduced-fat mayonnaise was high in calories. It has an average of 259 per 100g. And while many underestimated the energy content of less healthy snacks, a fifth of those polled overestimated the calorie count in bananas. They described the fruit as high in calories, when it in fact contains only 95 per 100g.

The WCRF said the lack of calorie awareness was a concern because of the many diseases associated with being overweight or obese, which include cancer.

A spokesman said: ‘It seems a lot of people are still confused about the calorie content of everyday foods. ‘This troubling lack of understanding is perhaps not helped by labels such as 'light' and 'reduced fat' when these are applied to foods which still have a high calorie content.

‘At this time of year many people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight but to do this it is important that they understand how to determine whether a food is high in calories.'


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