Hangover Chemistry Consumption Excessive Alcoholic Beverages Lead To Hangover

Hangover chemistry

10:08 AM, 18th June 2013
Hangover Chemistry
Hangover chemistry. (C) elite

SINGAPORE: In this present globalization and very tight business schedules people doing hard working to reach their goals by the same time they are getting tired both physically and mentally. In these situations peoples thinking like

Work hard, Party Harder!

As a result, most of the people will end up with drinking on weekends. On following next day morning people wake up with that awful feelings in their body and heads.

 Did anybody thought what this feeling called?

What is the Chemicals/chemistry involved to get this type of feelings?

 This type of feeling is termed as ‘Hangover’.


A hangover is the experience of various unpleasant physiological effects following heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages. Hangovers are caused by several factors. First, the body has to metabolize the active ingredient called ‘Ethanol’. Alcohol causes the body to increase urinary output (i.e., it is a diuretic).

The consumption of 50 g of alcohol in 250 milliliters (mL) of water (i.e. approximately 4 drinks) causes the elimination of 600 to 1,000 mL (or up to 1 quart) of water over several hours. W­hen alcohol is consumed, it enters the bloodstream and causes the pituitary gland in the brain to block the creation of vasopressin (also known as the antidiuretic hormone).

In addition, researchers postulate that effects related to alcohol’s absence after a drinking bout (i.e., withdrawal), alcohol metabolism, and other factors also may contribute to the hangover condition.

But ….

How can a tiny molecule like ethanol be at the root of so much human misery?

 Chemistry of Hangover

Acetaldehyde is the product of alcohol metabolism and it is created when the alcohol in the liver is broken down by an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). The acetaldehyde is then attacked by another enzyme, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), and another substance called glutathione, which contains high quantities of cysteine. Together, the acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and the glutathione form the nontoxic acetate and acetic acid is ultimately broken down to carbon dioxide and water in the citric acid cycle.

 CH3CH2OH + NAD+ à       CH3CHO + NADH + H+


CH3CHO + NAD+ + H2O       à      CH3COOH + NADH + H+



Acetaldehyde has a powerful vasodilating effect, causing the face to become red, or “flush”.

Biochemistry of hangover

The following are the common symptoms occurred during hangover

•           Headache - Headaches result from dehydration because the body's organs try to make up for their own water loss by stealing water from the brain, causing the brain to decrease in size and pull on the membranes that connect the brain to the skull, resulting in pain.

•           Nausea - The frequent urination also expels salts and potassium that are necessary for proper nerve and muscle function; when sodium and potassium levels get too low, headaches, fatigue and nausea can result.

           Sensitivity to light and noise

•           Lethargy

•           Dysphoria

•           Diarrhea and thirst

How to rid of hangover?

Following are the remedies for hangover

Tolfenamic acid

Vitamin B6

Chlormethiazole treatment

Pedialyte - To replace electrolytes


Acetyl-leucine [Brand name: Tanganil]

Consumption of

Black coffee




Fruit juices

Corn - According to recent studies by Guo-Cai Yu, Huazhong Agricultural University, China, corn contains peptides that can be used to stimulate ADH activity and, therefore, facilitate alcohol metabolism.

© WOC Media

Reference - http://www.chemistryviews.org/view/0/searchResults.html?term=hangover








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