UCLA Health System researchers have discovered that a component of the Hovenia plant counteracts the effects of alcohol intoxication and withdrawal symptoms caused by alcohol addiction.
The most common type of Hovenia plant is called the Japanese Raisin Tree, from Japan, China and the Himalayas. It is named so because of the small fruits it produces that have the appearance of raisins. It has been used for around 500 years for medicinal purposes as a herbal remedy. Now researchers are looking to take this ancient remedy and turn it into a modern medicine.
The component dihydromyricetin, part of the Japanese Raisin Tree, has been found to block the effect of alcohol on the brains of rats. Rats given the herbal medicine had their intoxication counteracted. It also stopped their alcohol tolerance and signs of withdrawal, such as anxiety and seizures.
Although dihydromyricetin’s anti-alcohol activity was demonstrated in animals, it would have to be tested on humans to further confirm the results. Researchers are confident, however, that it may lead to a new treatment for alcohol addiction.
They have turned to herbal remedies in their efforts to find one because all the existing treatments have major side-effects. In part due to the horrible side-effects, only around 13 percent of the 76 million people with alcohol addiction ever receive medicinal treatment for the condition.
Over 50 percent of American’s are regular drinkers. In 2007 there were 23,199 alcohol-related deaths. More than half of these were due to alcohol-induced liver disease so a treatment that helps reduce dependency without a high risk of harm would be a helpful tool against this life-changing addiction.
Symptoms of alcohol addiction are:
• Building a greater and greater tolerance for alcohol (i.e. needing to drink more to feel lightheaded or drunk)
• Not being able to stop drinking once you have started
• Feeling sick or sweating after you have stopped drinking (and starting to drink again to relieve symptoms)
• Having strong cravings or urges to drink alcohol