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Jeff Wiese, M.D., of Tulane University, New Orleans, and colleagues randomly assigned 55 young adult volunteers (aged 21 to 35 years) to receive either an extract of the prickly pear plant Opuntia ficus indica (OFI) or placebo five hours before alcohol consumption. The study participants were given dinner four hours before alcohol consumption started, and were able to choose a single type of alcohol to drink for the study: vodka, gin, rum, bourbon, scotch, or tequila.
Over four hours of drinking, volunteers consumed up to 1.75 grams of alcohol per kilogram of body weight, a quantity that has produced hangovers in previous studies. One hour after alcohol consumption ended, the researchers measured blood alcohol levels, and the volunteers were driven home.
The next morning, volunteers returned to the study site and had their vital signs measured, and blood and urine samples were taken. Hangover severity (based on nine symptoms) and overall well-being were assessed on a scale (zero to six points, with six points indicating the worst well-being). Two weeks later, the study was repeated with the same volunteers except those that were previously given OFI were given placebo and vice versa.
The researchers found that three of the nine symptoms of hangover – nausea, dry mouth, and loss of appetite – were significantly reduced after taking OFI. The average score for well-being the next morning was 2.75 for volunteers who took OFI and 3.10 for volunteers who took placebo. The researchers also found that levels of C-reactive protein – a protein that is thought to be involved in inflammation and alcohol hangovers - were strongly associated with hangover severity, and C-reactive protein levels were 40 percent higher in volunteers who took placebo compared with OFI.
MEDICA.de; Source: American Medical Association (AMA)