Alcohol hangovers could be a thing of the past? No more liver damage for those who enjoy wine, beer and spirits? It sounds too good to be true. However, according to a new study, this new reality is much closer than you might think.
Since the dawn of civilization, humans and our ancestors have been brewing various forms of alcoholic beverages, making alcohol an integral part of human life. Each location and ethnic group developed their own unique drink recipes using local farm products, nuts, and fruits.
People have used alcohol recreationally and for numerous medical purposes. People have considered it a necessary medication in human life.
However, excessive alcohol consumption has its drawbacks, leading to painful alcohol hangovers, headaches, fatigue, and nausea. Doctors have linked drinking to a plethora of health problems. These include heart disease, cirrhosis, and immune deficiency.
While one solution to avoid these consequences is to drink less, researchers in China have introduced a stunning innovation. Their invention can mitigate hangovers and other adverse outcomes by using a genetically-engineered probiotic.
In a groundbreaking study published this week in Microbiology Spectrum, the Chinese researchers described their approach and reported promising results from experiments on mice. The treatment reduced alcohol absorption, prolonged alcohol tolerance, and shortened the animals’ recovery time after exposure to alcohol.
The probiotic has not yet been tested on humans for alcohol hangovers. However, the authors believe that it could provide similar benefits. This would offer a new way to reduce alcohol-induced health problems and liver problems in general.
Meng Dong, Ph.D., at the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Zoology, who contributed to the study, stated that clinical applications might extend beyond alcohol-related conditions. “We believe that genetically engineered probiotics will provide new ideas for the treatment of liver diseases,” she said.
To metabolize alcohol, the human body primarily uses forms of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). However, some variants are more effective than others.
Some studies have found that a form called ADH1B, found primarily in East Asian and Polynesian populations, is 100 times more active than other variants. Previous studies on mice have shown that viral vectors genetically engineered to express ADH1B can accelerate alcohol breakdown. However, researchers have not proven this approach to be safe in humans.
Motivated by these findings, Dong and her colleagues looked for a safer delivery method. They focused on the probiotic Lactococcus lactis, a bacterium often used in fermentation. They used molecular cloning to introduce the gene for human ADH1B into a bacterial plasmid, which was then introduced into a strain of L. lactis. Lab tests confirmed that the probiotic secreted the enzyme.
To ensure the probiotic would survive against stomach acid, the researchers encapsulated it. They then tested it on three groups of five mice, each exposed to different levels of alcohol. Untreated mice showed signs of drunkenness 20 minutes after alcohol exposure.
However, in the group that received the probiotic expressing human ADH1B, half the mice were still able to turn themselves over an hour after alcohol exposure. A quarter of them never lost their ability to do so.
Further tests revealed that blood alcohol levels in the control group continued to rise two hours after exposure. In comparison, those in the probiotic-treated mice began to fall. Moreover, the researchers found that treated mice showed lower levels of lipids and triglycerides in their livers. This suggests that the probiotic could alleviate alcohol-related damage to that organ, along with preventing alcohol hangovers.
The next step, according to Dong, is to investigate whether the modified probiotic’s potential therapeutic effect extends to humans.
“We are excited about the improvement of recombinant probiotics in acute alcohol-induced liver and intestinal damage,” Dong said.
As this research progresses, it could open up new avenues for addressing alcohol-related health issues and liver disease, offering hope to millions who suffer from these conditions.
Alcohol has been an integral part of human culture and civilization for thousands of years. From its origins as a byproduct of fermentation to its widespread consumption in modern society, alcohol has played a significant role in shaping the course of human history. This section delves into the fascinating journey of alcohol consumption. We explore its origins, development, alcohol hangovers, and influence on societies throughout the ages.
Historians have traced alcohol consumption traced back to the Neolithic period (circa 10,000 BCE). During that period, the advent of agriculture led to the cultivation of grains and fruits. These food sources would often ferment naturally, creating an alcoholic byproduct. Scientists believe that early humans discovered the first alcoholic beverages by accident. Early humans stumbled upon the intoxicating effects of fermented fruits, grains, or honey.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the production of alcoholic beverages was widespread across ancient civilizations. The earliest known alcoholic drink was a mixture of fermented rice, honey, and fruit. The Chinese produced it around the year 7000 BCE. Meanwhile, the Sumerians and Egyptians were brewing beer as early as 4000 BCE. The art of winemaking was well-established in the Middle East by 3000 BCE.
Throughout history, alcohol has held significant cultural and religious importance. Ancient Egyptians drank beer as a staple beverage and offered it to the gods. Similarly, wine played a crucial role in Greek and Roman culture. Dionysus and Bacchus were the respective gods of wine and revelry.
Many religious traditions have incorporated alcohol into their rituals and ceremonies. For example, in Christianity, wine is used in the sacrament of the Eucharist, symbolizing the blood of Christ. In Judaism, wine is consumed during the Kiddush ceremony on the Sabbath and during other religious celebrations.
The production and trade of alcoholic beverages have greatly influenced the development of human societies. As the demand for alcohol increased, people established trade routes to transport these beverages across vast distances. Wine and beer production became specialized industries in ancient Greece and Rome, leading to the establishment of vineyards and breweries.
In the Middle Ages, the production of beer and spirits became important in Europe. Monasteries played a crucial role in brewing and distilling. The production and trade of alcohol helped to boost local economies and even contributed to the Age of Exploration, as European powers sought new routes to secure valuable commodities, including wine and spirits.
Throughout history, alcohol has played a complex role in social interactions. People have used it to facilitate bonding, mark celebrations, and provide comfort in times of distress. However, excessive alcohol consumption, and the resulting alcohol hangovers, have also been recognized as a source of social problems, leading to the implementation of various regulations.
Ancient Romans regulated alcohol consumption by enacting sumptuary laws. These laws limited the amount of alcohol consumed based on social status. The Middle Ages saw the establishment of laws governing the production and sale of alcohol, and in the early modern period, governments began to regulate and tax alcohol more heavily.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, concerns about the social and health effects of alcohol consumption led to the rise of the temperance movement. This movement advocated for moderation or abstinence from alcohol and culminated in the implementation of Prohibition in the United States from 1920 to 1933. While Prohibition ultimately failed, it left a lasting impact on the regulation of alcohol in the United States and other countries.
The history of alcohol consumption is a fascinating journey through the evolution of human culture and civilization. From its accidental discovery in the Neolithic period to its widespread production
and trade in ancient and modern societies, alcohol has played a significant and complex role in shaping human history. It has held cultural, religious, and social importance in various civilizations, serving as a means of celebration, ritual, and bonding. However, the negative consequences of excessive alcohol consumption have also led to numerous regulations and attempts to control its use.
The history of alcohol consumption and alcohol hangovers serves as a testament to the adaptability and innovation of human societies. It demonstrates how the production, trade, and consumption of alcoholic beverages have contributed to the development of economies, the exchange of cultural ideas, and the growth of global connections.
As we continue to navigate the challenges and benefits of alcohol consumption, the lessons from history can offer valuable insights into striking a balance between enjoyment, cultural significance, and responsible use.