This New Drug May Prevent Hangovers After A Night Of Binge Drinking, But Is It A Good Idea?
'Tis the season for killer hangovers — is this the year you'll learn from holiday parties past and slow your roll before you end up majorly hungover again? It's not going to hit the market in time for this year, but perhaps by next year we'll be casually stopping by the store (on the way to the bar) for a new drug that may prevent hangovers from binge drinking.
Researchers from the University of Huddersfield in England claim to have developed a substance "ethane-beta-sultam" (let's call it EBS) which protects the brain against drinking-related damage. EBS contains a particularly potent form of taurine, an amino acid which supports neurological development. After drinking too much or sustaining other kinds of damage, your brain generates glial cells to regain function quickly. Unfortunately, in the long run, those glial cells don't regenerate your brain all the way, and they may actually compromise your brain's performance, especially as related to navigation and orientation skills.
When rats were given EBS and put on a binge-drinking regimen, their brains produced fewer of these ultimately-harmful glial cells in response to the alcohol. EBS rats also showed signs of decreased drinking-related inflammation in their brains, which could mitigate the physical pain of their hangovers and any resulting memory impairment.
It seems like EBS presents a promising alternative to conventional hangover prevention and cure ideas. The right foods may boost your ability to bounce back, but even that seemingly perfect late-night or late-morning greasy meal can't literally prevent a hangover. In theory, fish oil also fights the brain inflammation caused by binge drinking, but the effect is somewhat untested. Other explicit hangover cures, like Berocca, are essentially just mild energy drinks sadly lacking in magical hangover-banishing powers.
That being said, don't expect EBS to become part of our conventional, socially acceptable, over-the-counter drug arsenal without controversy. EBS would help people who accidentally drank too much, but at the same time, I can see how it could also possibly encourage more drinking. People who take EBS to ward off hangovers could see its protective effects as an excuse to have "just one more drink."
If EBS makes binge drinking less painful and more healthy, it is likely to make it more common. And no pill can protect you from some of the other consequences of drinking too much, like regrettable hookups, driving under the influence, and disrupting your career or relationships. So still think before you drink, people!
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