It's better than the morning-after pill.

It's better the morning after with The Dr

What happens after I drink?

Alcohol (known by chemists as ethanol) is a small molecule, which means it can easily be absorbed from the digestive system into the bloodstream. The concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream peaks about 30-60 minutes after having an alcoholic beverage, but this also depends on whether you had a meal beforehand, the amount and concentration of alcohol you drink, and your physical size. After being absorbed, some alcohol can be excreted through the lungs (breathing) and kidneys (urine).  However, more than 90% of alcohol needs to be metabolised (broken down) to make it more water-soluble for excretion, a process in which the liver is a key player.

How is alcohol metabolised?

breakdown the alcohol, yo'!
The reactions that take place to metabolise alcohol are mediated by enzymes, which are proteins manufactured by the liver. These enzymes are assisted by various cofactors, and together they speed up reactions that would otherwise take a long time to occur independently. The major pathway by which alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde is through alcohol dehydrogenase, an enzyme produced by the liver. Alcohol dehydrogenase removes a hydrogen ion from alcohol and binds it to a cofactor, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), to become NADH, in a process known as oxidation. Only a limited amount of NAD+ is available, so once it is all in use, the concentration of alcohol in the blood increases, causing intoxication. In short,

you become drunk as your alcohol intake is faster than your liver can metabolise.

Once alcohol is oxidised to acetaldehyde, another enzyme, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, assists in the conversion of acetaldehyde into acetic acid. Important cofactors in this reaction include glutathione and coenzyme A.

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Where does that hangover feeling come from?


The symptoms of a hangover (e.g. fatigue, thirst, headache, bad moods, nausea and vomiting) are primarily the result of acetaldehyde build-up from alcohol metabolism. Acetaldehyde is also a very unstable compound and quickly forms free radicals, which are toxic and react with cells in the body. Prolonged exposure of the kidney and liver to these compounds can lead to severe damage to these organs. Acetaldehyde also affects DNA, and has been linked to cancer.


The feeling of a hangover is also linked to dehydration – alcohol causes increased urine formation, which we will explain in more detail later.  The symptoms of dehydration (dry mouth, headaches and lethargy) are all feelings we are familiar with after a big night out.

NAD+/NADH balance

As both alcohol dehydrogenase and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase use NAD+ as a cofactor, the eventual result is a depletion of NAD+, and an excess of NADH. High levels of NADH can also result in the formation of free radicals. To convert NADH back to NAD+ requires another molecule, pyruvate, however pyruvate is also required to balance blood glucose levels. As pyruvate becomes consumed to convert NADH to NAD+, the body lacks the pyruvate required to release sugar (gluconeogenesis) in times of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). This corresponds with the symptoms of hypoglycaemia experienced during a hangover (fatigue, low energy, tiredness, mood disturbances).

Hanging up on the hangover

Each step of alcohol metabolism needs to take place at a steady rate to ensure the toxic by-products (i.e. acetaldehyde) do not accumulate in the body. This limits the rate of alcohol metabolism to how rapidly acetaldehyde can be eliminated from the body. The availability of cofactors is the major rate-limiting factor in alcohol metabolism.

Get the facts


The anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) is secreted from the pituitary gland and acts to reabsorb water from the kidneys, reducing urine output. This prevents wide fluctuations in water balance, and helps the body to avoid dehydration and water overload. When ADH is secreted, water channels (aquaporins) in the kidney allow water to move from urine back into the bloodstream.  Alcohol inhibits ADH, thereby causing increased urine output and dehydration.

Electrolytes bite

It is common belief to drink a solution high in electrolytes to rehydrate. But have a think about this: when two volumes of water with different concentrations of particles (solutes) are separated by a semi-permeable membrane (e.g. the tubular wall that separates the kidney filtrate from the bloodstream), water moves through the membrane from the area of low concentration to the area of high concentration of solutes. However alcohol inhibition of ADH results in an inability to reabsorb water, voiding the aim of electrolytic solutions.

The facts on cofactors

It makes sense that we should supplement our diet with cofactors (such as B vitamins, vitamin C and GSH) to assist in alcohol metabolism. Several of these cofactors also perform a dual role as antioxidants, neutralising the free radicals formed by acetaldehyde. With increasing awareness of their health benefits, many are being sold as dietary supplements, in particular GSH. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy – some are poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, broken down during digestion or metabolised by the liver before they have much chance to work.


The Dr Hangover Difference

Dr Hangover is a scientifically developed beverage which contains a proprietary blend of cofactors and precursors that can be absorbed from digestion, supplying your body with the building blocks it needs to enhance alcohol metabolism.  These precursors have been validated through clinical studies to increase GSH levels, to maintain a healthy detoxification system.

To achieve an optimum effect, it is best to drink Dr Hangover 2 hours prior to alcohol consumption, arming your enzymes with sufficient cofactors to keep metabolization of alcohol at a steady state. A Dr Hangover can also be consumed during or after alcohol consumption to replenish these cofactors. But if you missed your Dr Hangover, or are just having a hard time getting through your day, water and electrolyte supplementation in the mid to late afternoon may not go amiss, as your ADH pathway may still be inhibited by alcohol in the early hours of the morning. Remember, taking electrolytes when your ADH pathway is inhibited by alcohol results in more water lose and great hangover symptoms.

If your detoxification pathways are functioning at full steam, then you should be well on your way to a better day!

  Can we offer you another drink?  




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