There's a seemingly endless variety of traditional hangover cures, but researchers at Australia's CSIRO now claim to have uncovered one that actually works. Thankfully it's not dried bull penis or even a raw egg, but something far more palatable – the juice of the humble Korean (or Asian) pear.
While working with Horticulture Innovation Australia to reveal some hidden benefits of the fruit, a CSIRO research team led by Professor Manny Noakes found that pears can lower cholesterol, relieve constipation and have anti-inflammatory effects.
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But likely the most interesting discovery for those with a tendency to overindulge was the discovery that Korean pear juice can prevent hangovers as well as lower blood alcohol levels. Further research is needed to determine whether the hangover-preventing capabilities extend to other pear varieties as the studies have so far only involved the Korean pear, which is known to have a number of compositional differences to Western pear varieties.
With study subjects measuring hangover severity using a 14-item hangover symptom scale, those given 220 ml (7.4 oz) of Korean pear juice reported reduced overall hangover symptoms compared to those in the placebo group, with the most pronounced improvement reported in the area of "trouble concentrating."
Importantly, the hangover was only avoided if the pear juice was consumed before the alcohol, so downing the juice after a big night out won't help. And although the study involved pear juice, the researchers believe consuming whole pears would produce similar effects.
While the mechanism responsible isn't completely understood, the researchers say that factors in Korean pears have an effect on key enzymes, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which accelerate the metabolism of alcohol and inhibit its absorption in the body. Specifically, blood acetaldehyde levels, which is the toxic metabolic thought to be responsible for hangover symptoms, were reduced after consuming pear juice.
Prof. Noakes admits the results are yet to be finalized as this was only a preliminary scoping study. However, she says the team plans to deliver a comprehensive review of the scientific literature regarding pears, pear components and relevant health measures in the future.
Of course, it goes without saying that the best way to avoid a hangover is to not overindulge in the first place.