The summer months bring many opportunities to share a glass of wine with family and friends. But if alcohol abuse is known to be harmful to health, it is particularly so in summer. Alcohol does not quench the thirst, hence a href="./sujet.pl?id=1419 target="_blank">the importance of adequate hydration during very hot spells. Excessive alcohol intake also increases the risk of disease; in fact, according to World Health Organization estimates, drinking to excess is a factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions1
. Preventing the damaging effects of alcohol has become a major public health issue, particularly so during the summer. Alongside campaigns to raise awareness, research studies have been looking at ways of countering these effects. These studies have identified a natural molecule which offers significant potential against alcohol-induced damage: dihydromyricetin.
Potential of dihydromyricetin to counter alcohol-related problems
Also known as ampelopsin, dihydromyricetin is naturally present in several plants of the Ampelopsis genus, such as Ampelopsis grossedentata
. It has also been identified in an Asian medicinal plant called Hovenia dulcis
. Used therapeutically for hundreds of years, this medicinal herb is particularly recommended for protecting and detoxifying the liver. Indeed, it is dihydromyricetin’s hepatoprotective activity which has led scientists to investigate its potential to combat alcohol-related problems.
Dihydromyricetin’s multiple benefits against the harmful effects of alcohol
Positive results against alcohol dependency
In examining this molecule’s potential to counter the harmful effects of alcohol, scientists gave dihydromyricetin supplements to rats with acute alcohol intoxication, and showing several signs of dependency. Published in the Journal of Neuroscience2
, the results revealed positive effects against alcohol addiction. The dihydromyricetin supplements were shown to reduce dependency and thus voluntary alcohol consumption. As a result of these encouraging preliminary findings, the scientists expanded their research to explore further dihydromyricetin’s mechanisms of action.
Protective effects in the brain
In their article published in 2012², the researchers explained that this flavonoid has a neuroprotective effect in the brain. It appears to combat the harmful effects of alcohol on GABA(A) receptors which contribute to the healthy functioning of the nervous system. GABA is the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. It primarily regulates neuron activity in situations of stress or anxiety.
Antioxidant activity against damage from alcohol
In addition to its protective effect in the brain, dihydromyricetin reduces other alcohol-induced damage. It is part of the large family of flavonoids, natural molecules known for their antioxidant effects. This antioxidant potency fights certain damage to the body, including that caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
Dihydromyricetin thus offers numerous benefits for countering alcohol-related damage.
> Sources :
1. Organisation Mondiale de la Santé (OMS), Consommation d’alcool, Aide-mémoire N°349, Janvier 2015.
2. Shen Y, et al., Dihydromyricetin as a novel anti-alcohol intoxication medication, J Neurosci. 2012 Jan 4;32(1):390-401.