Extract Shown to Ease Hangover; Speeds Body's Stress Response

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 29, 2004 | Go to article overview

Extract Shown to Ease Hangover; Speeds Body's Stress Response


Byline: Deb McCown, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A prickly pear cactus extract might reduce the symptoms of a hangover, researchers said in a study released yesterday.

"We wouldn't say that it prevents it totally, but it certainly lessens the severity of the hangover symptoms," said Gerald Stefanko, a spokesman for PerfectEquation, the company that is marketing a dietary supplement made from the extract.

The extract, known as Tex-OE, is removed by a patented process from the skin of the prickly pear cactus fruit. It works by speeding up the start of the body's existing response to stress.

Mr. Stefanko explained that the human body produces a protective and restorative mechanism called heat shock proteins, which "maintain the integrity of cells and tissues in the body."

The level of these proteins typically takes three to four hours to elevate to a point where it can protect the cells from the damaging stress of alcohol, after much of the damage already has been done, Mr. Stefanko said. His company's supplement, marketed as Hangover Prevention Formula, accelerates the synthesis of these proteins so that they are ready to work in 10 to 15 minutes.

The study on the extract, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, was conducted at Tulane University.

Researchers hosted a barbecue with free drinks for 55 graduate students. About half the students were given the supplement, and the rest received a placebo five hours before imbibing five to 10 drinks of gin, vodka, scotch, rum, bourbon or tequila. Researchers monitored their alcohol consumption and the severity of their hangovers the next morning.

"It was all very, very scientific," Mr. Stefanko said.

Participants who had been given the supplement experienced less severe instances of nausea, dry mouth, appetite loss and other hangover symptoms. …

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