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January 4th, 2010
Researchers Look to Chinese Folk Medicines to Battle Alcoholism

Researchers from the University of California have released a study that claims a simulated form of a material found in the kudzu vine can minimize alcoholic drinking and help relapses.

Chinese folk medicine has been using Daidzin, the material found in kudzu, to treat alcoholism for some time. It suppresses human aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH-2), which metabolizes alcohol into acetaldehyde. This then produces a buildup of acetaldehyde, creating disagreeable effects, such as, flushing and feeling ill.

During research on rodents, scientists found that a simulated ALDH-2 inhibitor CVT-10216, lessened drinking and restrained relapse. While the rodents were drinking alcohol CVT-10216 intensified their acetaldehyde followed by lessening dopamine in their brain regions that manages relapse during abstinence.

Ivan Diamond, one of the study’s authors proclaimed that they “had several key findings … [one being that] CVT-10216 is a highly selective reversible inhibitor of ALDH2 without apparent toxicity … Two, treatments with our ALDH-2 inhibitor increases acetaldehyde in the test tube and in living animals. And three, we found that ALDH-2 inhibitor suppressed drinking in a variety of rodent drinking models.”

Interestingly, the study also found that “CVT-10216 prevents the usual increase in [binge] drinking that occurs after five days of abstinence, and also prevents relapse to drink, even when alcohol is not present.” Diamond goes on to state that they believe “This means there is something else besides acetaldehyde helps to suppress craving for, and prevent relapse to, drinking alcohol. And we believe that ‘something else’ is dopamine.”

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