In 2013, Chinese researchers announced a breakthrough in the treatment of hangovers, those head-pounding, nausea-inducing consequences of drinking too much. Scientists at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou were studying how the body metabolizes alcohol, looking for an antidote to symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, and headache. Analyzing 57 different drinks, from herbal teas to carbonated beverages, they found that the lemon-lime soft drink Sprite shortens the body’s exposure to acetaldehyde, an intermediate byproduct of the the metabolic process that breaks down alcohol. Exposure to acetaldehyde is what brings on that unpleasant morning-after discomfort.
A toast to Sprite:
- After too much drinking, the body springs into action to break down the ethanol you’ve consumed. Herbal teas actually prolong the hangover’s effect, the researchers found, but Sprite speeds up the process.
- The pain and discomfort of a hangover comes not from the alcohol, but from the body’s attempt to break it down. Those who employ the “hair of the dog” theory, meaning morning-after alcohol, only prolong the process.
- The results were published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Food & Function.