For all the Asians who flush - I would be very careful about trying this at home. It seems like it'll have the opposite effect of what's intended.
The alcohol breakdown chain reaction in the body (I'm not a chemist) is ethanol -> acetaldehyde -> acetic acid. The ethanol causes your to be "drunk", but the acetaldehyde has some arguably worse effects (headache, tiredness, flush). Asians typically process ethanol -> acetaldehyde way faster than others, but the acetaldehyde -> acetic acid can be really slow. If the yeast is mimicking ADH and not ALDH, you're just going to suffer even more.
Again, I'm not a chemist or a doctor, but from my preliminary internet research and anecdotal testing (though I have quite a few different data points), Famotadine (OTC), and higher levels of APO-Ranitidine (can be prescription) seems to slow the rate of ethanol -> acetaldehyde, balancing out the drunkness effect more, and giving you more time to process the acetaldehyde -> acetic acid. I typically go from maxing out at 2 drinks / 3 hour period, to about 11 drinks / 3 hour period on Ranitidine, given favorable conditions. I've had lower levels of success with Famotadine.
I believe those products you mention are commercially available in the US as Pepcid AC and Zantac. I've personally seen the lessened effect of flush through the use of Pepcid, but there were other side effects. I'll give Zantac a try. Thanks for the info.
I would also recommend supplementing with N-Acetyl-Cysteine - try perhaps ~500mg for each two drinks you consume; experiment to find the right balance for you.
NAC is a precursor to the antioxidant glutathione, which the liver uses during step 2 of the alcohol metabolization process (acetaldehyde > acetic acid). It helps by ensuring the stores of glutathione in your liver are less likely to become depleted when you've had a few drinks or more, thus reducing the buildup of acetaldehyde in your system.
Incidentally, it may also have some efficacy in terms of hangover reduction, even among those unaffected by alcohol-related flushing, due to the same mechanism.
Are you sure it's the Cysteine? According to this paper where test rats received an LD50 dose of acetaldehyde, those that received cysteine had an 80% survival rate; while those that received both cysteine and thiamine had a 100% survival rate. Thiamine and Methylthiazolidine contain sulfur (thio-/thia- is greek for sulfur) where Cysteine does not. It follows that it would be responsible for some foul air.
It's likely that what you are taking may contain both, is this the case?
For all the bio-hackers looking to experiment tonight, it seems to make sense to:
1) take dry yeast to help the alcohol dehydrogenase break the alcohol down into acetaldehyde to stop you from feeling drunk
2) take both thiamine (optional) and cysteine to help the acetaldehyde dehydrogenase break acetaldehyde down into acetic acid to stop you from feeling hungover.
Assuming you just take a bunch of dry yeast, and that it has any effect at all you'll probably still have a bad hangover. Then again, chaining all these things together without a solid understanding about what's going on probably isn't too smart either.
Good points. It is worth mentioning that cysteine (non -acetyl varieties) isn't as stable/bioavailable as n-acetyl-cysteine; some people sell plain cysteine but it's not worth it- just stick with NAC if you're looking for a supplement.
I would note NAC does have a sulfhydryl group (as indicated by the -SH in the molecular diagram), so it does contain sulfur at some level.
And if hangover reduction is your goal, there are a number of other things that contribute to hangover symptoms that you also need to manage in order to reduce their effects:
- dehydration (drink a bunch of fluids before bed)
- depletion of electrolytes (generally speaking, make sure to eat/drink something salty)
- depletion of B vitamins (thiamine/B1 in particular tends to be depleted among alcoholics - supplement with a B complex high in thiamine; some studies show reduction of hangover symptoms with very high B6 intake(very high levels-1200mg) source: Khan MA, Jensen K, Krogh HJ. Alcohol-induced hangover. A double-blind comparison of pyritinol and placebo in preventing hangover symptoms)
I don't experience this at all. If I've had too much NAC (more than 2-3 grams), I can smell it in urine, but that's all.
Different people may metabolize it different ways, of course - and there may be variance in the available brands. I've had good experiences with GNC and 'NOW foods' NAC offerings (no personal preference between the two, and I'm sure there are other good quality brands out there).