Healthy living

Asparagus - a new hangover cure?

can asparagus cure hangovers? Study shows it can help protect your liver

Asparagus is a common vegetable that is widely consumed worldwide and has long been used as an herbal medicine due to its supposed anticancer effects.

It has also been popularly used in some cultures as a hangover cure, but until now there had been no scientific proof of this.

So researchers in Korea decided to investigate further. The scientists at the Institute of Medical Science and Jeju National University analyzed the components of young asparagus shoots and leaves to compare their biochemical effects on human and rat liver cells. "The amino acid and mineral contents were found to be much higher in the leaves than the shoots," says lead researcher B.Y. Kim.

Overindulging in alcohol consumption produces short term negative effects commonly referred to as a hangover, but continual alcohol use can lead to liver and other organ damage.

The amino acids and minerals found in asparagus extract may alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells against toxins, according to the study reported in the Journal of Food Science.

In addition, two key enzymes that metabolize ethanol – alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase – were more than twice as effective in the presence of the asparagus leaf and shoot extracts.

“These results provide evidence of how the biological functions of asparagus can help alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells,” Dr Kim said.

It should be noted that the leaves of the asparagus were the most potent part - but these are typically discarded rather than eaten.

There is no suggestion that eating asparagus allows you to drink more frequently or to exceed recommended daily maximums, or that it will prevent headaches and other symptoms of excessive alcohol consumption.

This article was published on Thu 3 September 2009

Image © Doug Gingerich -

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