Using lab rats, scientists have discovered a “sobering drug.” Interestingly, the chemical that helps us get sober is made by our bodies naturally, but it requires a special procedure to kick-start the production.
Sydney University researchers have successfully proven that indeed there is a chemical that helps us humans to stop feeling drunk and sober-up. In a joint research with the University of Regensburg in Germany, the researchers found that in drunken rats, ‘Oxytocin’ ameliorated alcohol’s effect on the drunken rodents’ coordination.
In simpler terms, Oxytocin, the chemical fondly referred to as the ‘cuddle hormone’, effectively hinders the physiological ill-effects of alcohol; much in the same way it helps us humans to “feel good.” The decisive role of Oxytocin in social and sexual behavior apart from bonding has been strongly established in the past. However, its effectiveness in helping us get sober is something new. Explaining the process, the University of Sydney release stated.
“It [the effectiveness of Oxytocin] centers around a particular receptor in the brain that responds to booze. Oxytocin prevents alcohol from accessing specific sites in the brain that cause alcohol’s intoxicating effects, sites known as delta-subunit GABA-A receptors.”
The researchers managed to prove the correlation by infusing oxytocin into the brains of rats that were then given alcohol. Speaking about the breakthrough, Sydney University psychologist Dr. Michael Bowen said.
“Alcohol impairs your coordination by inhibiting the activity of brain regions that provide fine motor control. Oxytocin prevents this effect to the point where we can’t tell from their behavior that the rats are actually drunk.
“In the rat equivalent of a sobriety test, the rats given alcohol and Oxytocin passed with flying colors, while those given alcohol without Oxytocin were seriously impaired.”
Oxytocin it turns out, binds to the GABA receptors, which means the alcohol can’t, reported the New Scientist. In other words, Oxytocin stands in the way of you getting drunk, since alcohol can’t touch critical areas of the brain.
How does one produce Oxytocin? Scientists explain the formation of the chemical peaks during cuddling or intercourse. However, it might be a bit difficult to find a willing and sober partner to help you get the Oxytocin released into your body, admit the scientists.
Interestingly, the mere discovery of the process is only part of the entire research, assure the researchers. Scientists are actually working on ways to reduce alcohol abuse. Parallel research has showed a lot of promise. Oxytocin has proven to reduce both consumption and cravings of alcohol – not only in rats, but also in humans. Essentially, Oxytocin not only helps you get sober, it may also stop you from binge drinking.
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