Science
DHM, Rats, & Alcohol Use Disorders
Why the Dihydromyricetin (DHM) in Cheers is potentially part of the solution, and at the very least, not unhelpful to the problem.

Dalia Steichen

January 10, 2020

In a different article, we dismantled the idea that getting rid of hangovers creates more binge drinking. However, it’s also worth understanding how DHM works as its own subject. This is important because doing so shows how DHM could be part of the solution in itself — or at the very least, is not unhelpful towards the problem.

Where does DHM come from?

In Asian countries there is often a “tea” or “herb” for every ailment imaginable. Sore throat? Use X plant. Have gout? Use Y herb. Altitude sickness? Drink Z tea. And… as would be expected, when it comes to hangovers, there’s prescribed plant for that as well.

A map of the ancient Chinese Empire and Japan. ¹

Allegedly, when the leaves of the Oriental Raisin Tree were consumed as a tea following alcohol consumption (either the night before or the morning after), users reported reductions in hangover symptoms.² In fact, the first official Chinese pharmacopeia ever written (dated to 659AD) called the Tang Materia Medica, prescribed Oriental Raisin Tree leaves steeped into a tea as a hangover cure for the ancient imperial family.³


As modern times rolled around, it was hypothesized that DHM was the primary constituent within the Oriental Raisin Tree plant that made it have its effects on people — just like caffeine is to coffee, or THC is to marijuana.

Bringing the Oriental Raisin Tree to the Occident

Many people swear by lots of ridiculous remedies (teas, supplements, plants, etc.) — usually of an eastern decent — that don’t end up working when looked at under the lens of western medicine. However, some do in fact end up being true.


For example, in the mid-eighteenth century, willow bark extract was used for its alleged effects on fever, pain and inflammation.⁴ In the nineteenth century it was discovered that Salicin was the active component of willow bark extract, and so doctors started using a purified form of it instead.⁵ By the late nineteenth century, Bayer began investigating acetylsalicylic acid as a less-irritating replacement for standard common salicylate medicines. And after finding a commercially viable way to synthesize it, in 1897 Aspirin was born and began selling worldwide.⁶
In a similar way, researchers began exploring the if there was any scientific validity for the chemical extract of Oriental Raisin Tree called DHM.


In 2012 a team of researchers at UCLA took 98%+ DHM and tested it on rats to see the results.⁷ Through the research that they presented in The Journal of Neuroscience titled “Dihydromyricetin as a Novel Anti-Intoxication Medication”, they found that DHM could:

Figure 3 of “Dihydromyricetin as a Novel Anti-Intoxication Medication.” ⁸

1) Instantly sober up rats when injected following a large dose of alcohol.⁹
2) Prevent rats from becoming alcoholic when given daily.¹⁰
3) Reduce the level of alcohol consumption in alcoholic rats when given daily.¹¹
4) Reduce liver damage in rats in relation to alcohol and other toxicants. (Seen in other studies.)
5) Reduce alcohol hangover symptoms in rats. (When given daily or after consuming alcohol.)¹²


Many other studies have corroborated these findings along with other potential uses for DHM. For example, one study showed that DHM could mitigate Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAE) in the offspring of alcoholic rats given DHM while pregnant.


Putting it all together

We would never claim or imply that our product could induce sobriety, prevent or cure alcoholism… or make any other claims for that matter (moreover, it’s also against FDA rules for our regulatory class to make drug claims). However, when reading through this original study, it’s worth noting that the authors of the article ended with the following conclusion:

In summary, we determined DHM anti-alcoholic effects on animal models and determined a major molecular target and cellular mechanism of DHM for counteracting alcohol intoxication and dependence. We demonstrated pharmacological properties of DHM consistent with those expected to underlie successful medical treatment of AUDs (Alcohol Use Disorders); therefore DHM is a therapeutic candidate.¹³


To give more context to the above statement, the authors are stating that they discovered DHM worked primarily by binding the the same brain receptor that alcohol binds to (the GABAa receptor), and that by doing so, reduced GABAa rebound — i.e., the main reason someone doesn’t feel good the morning following alcohol consumption.


Which, for the record, reducing this GABAa rebound is why many people turn to the “Hair of the Dog” or a Bloody Mary in an attempt to feel better the next day. Unfortunately, this strategy only puts off the inevitable, as eventually the user will have to rebound from that alcohol as well. Employed enough, this strategy could lead to an AUD. Therefore preventatively drinking less and/or finding a better way to prevent/cure a hangover is a way safer and more sustainable route to go.


Furthermore, the authors also state that the “pharmacological properties of DHM [are] consistent with those expected to underlie successful medical treatment of AUDs” and that “DHM is a therapeutic candidate [for AUDs]”.¹⁴

The molecular structure of DHM.

What is so interesting about this study is that it shows it is the same mechanism by which the DHM works to make a rats feel better the day after consuming alcohol that also mitigated increased alcohol consumption in rats. I.e., reducing GABAa rebound through the use of DHM both 1) decreased hangovers in rats and 2) mitigated increased levels of alcohol consumption through the same mechanism of action.¹⁵

While we would never go so far as to make the claim or imply that our products could prevent or cure alcoholism, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that based on the current animal research available (we have yet to see DHM studies in relation to humans and AUDs), the cornerstone ingredient of our products — DHM — is at the very least seen by the research community as having very positive potentials in the context of alcohol.


To summarize, the usage of DHM has a chance to be part of the solution, and at the very least, is not unhelpful to the problem.

References

¹“CHINESE EMPIRE & JAPAN. Tibet Turkistan Mongolia. Inset Hong Kong 1898 Old Map.” EBay, www.ebay.com/itm/CHINESE-EMPIRE-JAPAN-Tibet-Turkistan-Mongolia-Inset-Hong-Kong-1898-old-map-/401298879579.
²“The Evolution of Chinese Medicine: Song Dynasty, 960–1200.” The Evolution of Chinese Medicine: Song Dynasty, 960–1200, by Asaf Goldschmidt, Routledge, 2011, pp. 107–109.
³ Ibid.
⁴ Mehta, Aalok. “Aspirin.” Chemical & Engineering News: Top Pharmaceuticals: Aspirin, pubsapp.acs.org/cen/coverstory/83/8325/8325aspirin.html.
⁵ Jeffreys, Diarmuid. Aspirin: the Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug. Bloomsbury, 2005.
⁶ Ibid.
⁷ Shen, Yi, et al. “Dihydromyricetin as a Novel Anti-Alcohol Intoxication Medication.” The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience, 4 Jan. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3292407/.
⁸ Ibid.
⁹ Ibid.
¹⁰ Ibid.
¹¹ Ibid.
¹² Ibid.
¹³ Ibid.
¹⁴ Ibid.
¹⁵ Ibid.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.