Withme FS, a convenience store chain from South Korea has launched a hangover-curing ice cream. The ice cream, aptly named Gyeondyo-bar literally means ‘hang in there’.

According to the company, it is the first ice cream bar that has the ability to deal with alcohol-related after effects. The grape- flavored ice cream bar contains 0.7% oriental raisin tree juice, which is famous for being a traditional hangover remedy. It will be released all over South Korea this Friday.

Oriental raisin tree fruit juice is a traditional hangover remedy cited in a Korean medicine book from the 17th century and is a key ingredient in many popular hangover potions. Not only is oriental raisin tree good for curing hangovers, it is also good for liver and bowel diseases thus promoting good liver health.

A 2012 article in the Journal of Neuroscience found that oriental raisin tree extracts reduced symptoms of intoxication in rats. So it looks as though the ice-cream bar will be a success at curing hangovers and will not just be a conversation gimmick.

South Korea — A Land Of Heavy Drinkers

South Korea is Asia’s largest alcohol consuming country per capita (South Koreans drink 12.3 liters of alcohol per year, the most in Asia-Pacific, according to a 2014 World Health Organization report). South Korea roughly spends $125 million annually on hangover cures such as cosmetic products, pills, surgical procedures to hide the effects of hangovers and the infamous hangover soup.

According to the company’s press release, the ice cream expresses the hardships of employees who have to suffer a working day after a night out filled with heavy drinking and to provide solace to drinkers who have to wake up early for work.

South Korea’s most popular hangover drink, Hut-gae Condition, made by the CJ Group, has been exported to Japan, Vietnam and China since 2014. So South Korea has a lot of expertise in the export of hangover curing aids. Currently the ice-cream bar is only limited to South Korea, but might be made available in other countries in the future.

The Science Of Hangovers

Hangovers, scientifically known as veisalgias, are side effects of excessive alcohol intake. The symptoms of hangovers can last up to 72 hours but are usually shorter, typically 6-8 hours, mainly depending on how much alcohol was consumed. Symptoms include nausea, dehydration, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, excessive sweating and drowsiness.

The first effect a person feels after being hung over is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it makes you urinate excessively and most people who are drinking heavily are unlikely to drink water during that time. The headaches we feel are results of our body trying desperately to extract water from the brain, causing the tissues to shrink.

Meanwhile, all essential vitamins and minerals such as sodium, potassium and magnesium are released from the body without being absorbed properly. These minerals are essential for proper cell functions.

In the next step there is an acetaldehyde overload. Our bodies break ethanol, the main component of alcohol beverages, and release a toxic product known as acetaldehyde. When this byproduct is excessively produced in our bodies, enzymes and a peptide called glutathione, attack the acetaldehyde and convert into the harmless acetate.

These enzymes are produced by the liver, and when we drink excessively, our liver cannot keep up with the high levels of acetaldehyde, worsening the symptoms.

The last step that leads to hangovers is known as the congener connection. Apart from the alcohol, most hard drinks contain congeners which are impurities that arise from the fermentation process.  These impurities include esters, and acetone in addition to acetaldehyde, which is found in paint thinners, solvents, glues, cigarettes and other harmful chemical substances. This messes up the neural system in our nerves and muscles causing cramps, sores and headaches.

Hangovers also imbalance our immune systems by releasing excess amounts of cytokines, the cells responsible for establishing communication between immune cells during an infection.

According to a study, there is a strong link between hangover symptoms and high levels of cytokines. The link could be because high levels of cytokines can cause many hangover symptoms such as headaches, muscle cramps and fatigue.

Alternatives To Hangover-Curing Ice Cream

The best hangover cure is to avoid alcohol altogether. But since this is easier said than done there are plenty of other ways to minimize the effects of hangovers. Caffeine is known to cure headaches, boost metabolism, but should be avoided since it further dehydrates the body. Energy drinks contain electrolytes and essential vitamins and mineral but also contain excessive sugars such as fructose which can damage the liver.

Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen or aspirin can take some of the edge off headaches and muscle cramps. Stomach relief medicines such as Pepto-Bismol can ease stomach pain and dizziness. Tylenol should be avoided at all costs since, when the liver is processing alcohol, Tylenol can release toxic byproducts that can harm the liver.

Finally, you can eat food, drink water, and rest. It’s boring, I know, but at the moment, time is the only cure. So minimize alcohol consumption and drink responsibly.