There are many hangover cures we seem to live by: electrolyte-loaded Gatorade or Pedialyte, a good ol’ Bloody Mary or perhaps a trip to the gym to sweat out all that booze and regret (lots of regret). And though one professor at Penn Medicine told Time in December that there’s no magic remedy to treat all side effects of one too many cocktails, scientists have found success with a hangover pill they’ve been testing on mice.
UCLA chemical engineering professor (and self-proclaimed “wine enthusiast”) Yunfeng Lu and his team — Keck School of Medicine professor Cheng Ji and a UCLA grad student — have created a way to significantly reduce the negative effects of alcohol. Their answer? Capsules filled with natural enzymes found in liver cells that help you process booze faster.
Not only would this “help people enjoy wine or cocktails or beer without a hangover,” it would also “create a lifesaving therapy to treat intoxication and overdose victims in the ER,” Lu wrote in an essay published on The Conversation. Unlike pills on the market with a list of ingredients (numerous vitamins, minerals and liver enzymes), or tablets targeting pain relief, Lu’s antidote, in its entirety, contains three of these natural enzymes: alcohol oxidase (AOx), catalase (CAT) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).
Lu went on to write that they wrapped these enzymes in a shell approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and tested the effects on intoxicated mice: “We then injected these nanocapsules into the veins of drunk mice where they hurtled through the circulatory system, eventually arriving in the liver where they entered the cells and served as mini–reactors to digest alcohol.”
The results were promising: Mice who received the hangover pill experienced a 45 percent decrease in their blood alcohol level in just four hours compared to mice who didn’t get the pill.
Lu also noted that blood concentration of acetaldehyde, “a highly toxic compound that is carcinogenic, causes headaches and vomiting, makes people blush after drinking, and is produced during the normal alcohol metabolism,” stayed very low. The mice given these enzymes woke from “alcohol-induced slumber” faster than the poor mice who hadn’t received them.
This team is undergoing tests to make sure the hangover pill doesn’t trigger side effects, and if they’re deemed safe for humans, clinical trials will start as early as next year.
The pills, which have the “ability to efficiently break down alcohol quickly, should help patients wake up earlier and prevent alcohol poisoning,” Lu concluded. “It should also protect their liver from alcohol-associated stress and damage.” He may have answered our prayers — and maybe you’ll be able to say bye-bye to Bloody Mary mornings after all.