The patent-pending natural product is based on a molecule called dihydromyricetin (DHM), isolated and researched by a team led by Jing Liang PhD, at the UCLA School of Medicine. The molecule, isolated from the Hovenia dulcis tree species (oriental raisin tree), targets the GABA (A) receptors in the brain.
Unlike other hangover remedies cures that either attempt to address headache symptoms or dehydration, DHM works to counteract the sleep disturbance that many alcohol users encounter when they overindulge, said Ruo Huang, vice president of SunDita, the Blue California subsidiary that is currently marketing the product.
Keeping the GABA receptors humming
A hangover hurts in several ways; alcohol leads to dehydration and its metabolites help create the headaches with which every overimbiber is familiar. But lack of sleep helps contribute to that feeling of general malaise, and this is where the BluCetin DHM product is helpful, Huang said.
“It doesn’t deal with dehydration; it doesn’t deal with the byproducts of the metabolites with alcohol. But there is a study out there that shows that people who drink a lot don’t have good sleep because the alcohol is impacting the GABA receptor and it trickles down to affect the sleep patterns,” Huang told NutraIngredients-USA.
“Having DHM modulating the effect of alcohol on the GABA receptors helps to maintain the normal sleep pattern,” she said.
Mice recovered quicker
Dr. Liang’s team at the at David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology & Neurobiology has been researching the molecule for more than five years , Huang said. UCLA has filed for a patent and has granted an exclusive license to market the technology to Blue California.
Dr. Liang used the molecule in an animal study that achieved what the company calls “striking and significant” results. Lab mice were given excessive alcohol and then cradled in a V-shaped hammock in an intoxicated state. After consumption of alcohol, the mice who ingested the BluCetin product rose and were active 10 times faster than their intoxicated peers. And, the company said, the withdrawal symptoms were fewer.
More studies on the product are planned. DHM’s ability to modulate to cross the blood-brain barrier to modulate alcohol’s effect on the GABA receptors has led to investigating other properties, Huang said.
“One of the key function of the product is help people to reduce the craving for alcohol, but that needs a lot more study,” she said.
Also on the horizon is investigating the molecule’s possible role in the suppression of Alzheimer’s. Very preliminary evidence shows that DHM may help clear the amyloid plaques that clog the brain tissues of Alzheimer’s sufferers, Huang said. But at the moment, the research and marketing is focused on DHM’s use in dietary supplements, she said.
Coming out of TCM
DHM is yet another substance to come out of Traditional Chinese Medicine to be studied in Western scientific protocols, Huang said. It is part of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia and has been used for centuries to treat hangovers by TCM practitioners, she said.
For the moment, BluCetin is being sold online by SunDita, Huang said. But the company is in negotiation with distribution partners in an effort to get the product on stores shelves, she said.
Sellers of alcoholic products have disclaimers in their ads, and SunDita has one of its own: use your hangover cure responsibly.
“This product should not be considered a license to drink; caution and responsibility are highly recommended for use of BluCetin,” Huang said.
Source: The Journal of Neuroscience
4 January 2012, Volume 32, Issue 1, Pages 390-401, doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4639-11.2012
“Dihydromyricetin As a Novel Anti-Alcohol Intoxication Medication”
Authors: Y. Shen, A.K. Lindemeyer, C. Gonzalez, X.M. Shao, I. Spigelman, R.W. Olsen, J. Liang