All About Dihydromyricetin (DHM)


Where Does Dihydromyricetin Come From?

Dihydromyricetin (DHM) is a naturally occurring flavonoid found in the Japanese Raisin Tree (Hovenia Dulcis), the Himilayan Cedar Tree (Cedrus Deodara), Snake Wine Vine (Ampelopsis Grossedentata), or the African Blackwood (Erythrophleum Africanum).  Cedrus Deodara is native to the deciduous regions of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Tibet and Nepal.

Hovenia Dulcis can be found naturally in the areas surrounding China, Japan, Korea, and the Himalayas.  Hovenia Dulcis has a long history of medical use in Asia.  In fact, Hovenia Dulcis is one of the earliest documented plants used in traditional Chinese medicine; the fruits and stems of Hovenia Dulcis have been medicinally for centuries.    Hovenia Dulcis has a long history of medical use in Asia.  In fact, Hovenia Dulcis is one of the earliest documented plants used in traditional Chinese medicine; the fruits and stems of Hovenia Dulcis have been medicinally for centuries. 

 
     Hovenia Dulcis Tree

     Hovenia Dulcis Tree

Snake Wine Vine grows in the warm climates of China.  Similar in use to Hovenia Dulcis, the stems and leaves of the vine have traditionally been used in treating the common cold, fever, swelling of the pharynx and larynx, cough relief, and improving liver health.

Dihydromyricetin in Medical History

Uses of Hovenia Dulcis can be found documented in ancient medical texts, such as the Compendium of Materia Medica and Materia Medica of Tang, winding all the way back to the Ming Dynasty.  These texts document the use of Hovenia Dulcis for detoxification and recovery from alcohol poisoning and treatment and recovery from liver damage.

While it has been known for centuries that all of these plants provide health benefits, the mechanism of those benefits has only recently been discovered.  Recent research has shown that the health benefits of these plants can largely be attributed to their high concentrations of Dihydromyricetin. 

How Dihydromyricetin Works

There are two mechanisms of DHM which aid your body in dealing with the harmful effects of alcohol.  The first mechanism requires a brief explanation of how your body processes and metabolizes alcohol.  When you drink alcohol, it enters your bloodstream through your gut.  Your blood is then filtered through the liver, where the alcohol is broken down (metabolized) and removed from your system - however, this removal process creates a *very* toxic byproduct known as acetaldehyde.  Acetaldehyde is up to 30x's more toxic than alcohol. 

        Dihydromyricetin Molecular Structure

Your body is able to break down both alcohol and acetaldehyde at a finite rate.  Consuming alcohol beyond the rate at which your body can remove it causes an increase in your Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC, which causes feelings of intoxication.

Acetaldehyde Breakdown

However, drinking beyond this rate also means that your body is unable to process the acetaldehyde created by alcohol metabolism.  This accumulation of acetaldehyde causes acetaldehyde poisoning, which is responsible for a host of hangover symptoms, including flushing and increased heart and respiration rates, severe abdominal and urinary tract cramping, hot and cold flashes, profuse sweating, and depression.  Dihydromyricetin aids your body in breaking down acetaldehyde, so that less acetaldehyde accumulates in your system.

Alcohol, GABA and Glutamate

The second beneficial mechanism of DHM as related to alcohol consumption is a bit more complex. Understanding this second mechanism requires an explanation of how alcohol interacts with the chemical communication system of our brains - neurotransmitters.  Alcohol crosses what is know as the blood-brain barrier, meaning it interacts with our neurotransmitters.  This interplay of alcohol and neurotransmitters create the collection of feelings that we know as intoxication.

When you drink alcohol, it affects two of your neurotransmitters: GABA and Glutamate.  GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter - meaning it lower mental excitement and muscle tension.  As GABA increases you feel more relaxed.  Alcohol binds to your GABA receptors, increasing their effectiveness.  This is why alcohol lower your inhibitions and relaxes you.

Glutamate is the opposite of GABA - it's an excitatory neurotransmitter.  As Glutamate increases, you become more excited.  But unlike GABA, alcohol decreases the effectiveness of Glutamate receptors.  This again leads you feel more relaxed.

Glutamate Rebound

As the alcohol in your bloodstream is metabolized, your brain seeks to return to its normal state.  It floods your system with glutamate in a process known as glutamate rebound.  Glutamate rebound causes a surge in excitatory feeling, sometimes leading to tremors, anxiety, restlessness, and even increased blood pressure.  If you've been drinking at night, this rebound will occur while you sleep, which compounds the damage by making your sleep less restful.  Even though drinking may make you tired, the sleep that you get is not restful, and is often punctuated with a sudden and premature wake in the morning.

Dihydromyricetin has been shown to inhibit alcohol's effect on the GABA receptors, thus naturally leveling out your system, and decreasing the amount of glutamate rebound.  This means that taking Dihydromyricetin before bed allows your sleep to be more restful, in addition to  decreasing feelings of anxiety and restlessness the next day.