Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles have identified how a component of an ancient Chinese herbal medicine called dihydromyricetin counteracts acute alcohol abuse and symptoms of withdrawal.
The researchers found that dihydromyricetin blocks the action of alcohol on the brain and neurons. It reduces voluntary alcohol consumption with no major side effects. Dihydromyricetin stopped alcohol’s effect on the brain’s GABAA receptors. Alcohol normally enhances the GABAA receptors’ influence in slowing brain cell activity, thus reducing the ability to communicate and increasing sleepiness, both symptoms of alcohol consumption.
The study was conducted with laboratory rates, but researchers will next study how the component affects people.