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KNOW YOUR INGREDIENTS: ORIENTAL RAISIN TREE

KNOW YOUR INGREDIENTS: ORIENTAL RAISIN TREE

The most trending ingredients have been around for centuries, used in eastern and holistic medicine. It's only now that more brands are focused on tapping natural nootropics for drinks that do more than just 'taste good.' One of the latest hot ingredients making its way into consumer beverages is hovenia dulcis, also known as oriental raisin tree.

The key herbal compound companies are using from oriental raisin tree is DHM (dihydromyricetin). This flavonoid could transform our ability to detox and feel better after a night of drinking.

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New 'hangover cure' beverages and morning wellness shots are banking on oriental raisin tree to boost the efficiency of the liver to naturally breakdown alcohol and flush toxins. And there's already a significant backing of scientific research to support these claims. 

Before you try it, here is everything you need to know about oriental raisin tree, aka hovenia dulcis, aka DHM.

What does oriental raisin tree look like?

The trees themselves grow tall and hardy with large glossy leaves, thriving in sunny locations with moist soil. Bulbous cream-colored knobs grow from the branches and bear blueberry-sized fruit. When dried, the fruit resembles raisins.

oriental raisin tree

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Is the flavor sweet or sour?

Sweet! Oriental raisin tree has been likened to pear in flavor, and the fruit can be eaten fresh, dried, turned into an extract, powder, or tea.

Which part of the tree is DHM?

DHM is not one specific limb or flower of the oriental raisin tree, but an internal component. Extracted, DHM is a fruit powder that is later added to supplements and functional beverages.

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What does the research say?

To summarize, DHM is suggested to prevent liver damage that results from alcohol-related exposure. It helps metabolize alcohol quicker so next-day effects and the stress of overdrinking aren't as extreme. DHM can also increase antioxidant enzymes, putting the body in hyper-heal mode. 

Taken while intoxicated, DHM could help coordination. Extreme alcohol withdrawal symptoms that include anxiety, tolerance, and seizures may also be reduced with DHM. It's recorded that alcohol cravings can drop as welll.

Was this research done on humans?

Nope.

The four leading studies done on the efficacy of oriental raisin tree in combatting alcohol-related stress and side effects were all conducted on rats. In one study, intoxicated rats were injected with DHM and compared to a control group who did not receive the nootropic. All rats were flipped on their backs and the DHM rats were able to turn over with greater ease and control. DHM rats began showing fewer signs of intoxication and were less antisocial and defensive that other control subjects. 

Is oriental raisin tree toxic?

So far, no toxic symptoms have been recorded.

How exactly does DHM function in the body?

Our bodies are naturally really smart. Two enzymes are produced when we consume alcohol, both of which spring into action to metabolize and process the toxins. Those are alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). DHM increases ADH and ALDH in the liver.

uc berkeley anatomy GIF by University of California

What other ingredients are commonly mixed with DHM?

Herbal plants and flowers like honeysuckle, dandelion, and chrysanthemum can work together to speed the breakdown of alcohol and elimination of toxins. Also green tea extract, milk thistle, Korean red ginseng, vitamin C, and other electrolytes. The side effects of too much alcohol consumption - basically a result of the body not being able to metabolize all the toxins- can include nausea, headache, anxiety, light sensitivity, brain fog, and a bunch of other stuff we just don't want. Depending on the product's purpose, DHM can be mixed with a slew of functional natural ingredients to lessen the impact of these symptoms.

The takeaway?

Today's consumer looks to their food and beverages to work harder. That comes down to the ingredients. Simply 'tasting good' doesn't hack it, and we couldn't be more jazzed about that. The hunt to rediscover and test natural ingredients with long histories of application in other areas of the world is gaining ground and, as a result, we can rely on our beverages in new and wonderful ways.

Of course, you can avoid the negative side effects of alcohol by swapping boozy drinks for probiotic kombucha or botanical relaxation tea, eliminating the need to try a "hangover remedy" in the first place. There's a point where nootropics can't outweigh simple negative habits. But for those rare occasions where your body needs a boost, try grazing the beverage aisle for natural remedies.

Stay up-to-date on the newest popular ingredients being used in functional beverages by following the Health Scoop.