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  (Source: Warner Bros. Pictures)
Forget carbonation, oxygenation could make your liquid sin a little less harmful

There are numerous dangers of being under the influence of alcohol -- from damage to your body, to loss of coordination, and inhibitions (which each can lead to countless dangers) -- nonetheless, the sensation of inebriation is undeniably pleasant for most.  So what if you could have your liquid sin in a safer form?  

That's a goal that Korean doctors Kwang-il Kwon and Hye Gwang Jeong researching at the Chungnam National University in South Korea feel they have achieved.  Unlike other research groups that have focused on creating "alcohol substitutes" -- typically liquid pharmaceuticals – the researchers examined oxygenated alcohol, a popular form of alcohol in Korea. Oxygenated alcohol has the same bubbly appearance as carbonated alcohols like American beers, but instead of carbon dioxide, the main gas is diatomic oxygen.

To test the health benefits of oxygenation, the researchers gave subjects 19.5 percent alcohol uncarbonated drinks and 19.5 percent alcohol oxygenated drinks at doses of 240 ml and 360 ml (about as much alcohol as would be in 2.5 and 4 80-proof shots, respectively).  

Intriguingly, the patients indulging in the oxygenated beverages sobered up 20 to 30 minutes faster.  The more oxygen, the faster the return to sobriety; patients drinking 360 ml of 20 ppm oxygen spirits returned to sobriety 23.3 minutes faster than those drinking non-oxygenated spirits, and when the oxygen levels were bumped to 25 ppm, the participants sobered 27 minutes faster.

The study also found that those drinking the oxygenated liquors had a lower incidence of hangovers than those consuming standard alcohol.  Those who did experience hangovers found them to be less severe.

The results indicate that oxygenation minimizes some of alcohol's negative effects on the body.  Sobriety is determined by how fast the body can break down alcohol, and the quicker return to sobriety could indicate that oxygenated alcohol is processed faster, leading to less stress on the liver and other organs.  Likewise, less hangovers could indicate less changes to brain blood flow and a reduced risk of brain damage.  

The reason behind the faster breakdown of alcohol appears to be that hepatic enzymes require oxygen to function.  When the oxygenated alcohol is pumped to the liver, some of the oxygen sticks with the ethanol, allowing the liver enzymes to operate more efficiently.

Describes Dr. Kwon, "The oxygen-enriched alcohol beverage reduces plasma alcohol concentrations faster than a normal dissolved-oxygen alcohol beverage does. This could provide both clinical and real-life significance. The oxygen-enriched alcohol beverage would allow individuals to become sober faster, and reduce the side effects of acetaldehyde without a significant difference in alcohol's effects. Furthermore, the reduced time to a lower BAC may reduce alcohol-related accidents. It seems that these drinks can maintain a high dissolved-oxygen concentration for about 10 to 20 days before the stopper is removed, and for 70 minutes after removing the stopper, respectively, at room temperature."

Among the major manufacturers of oxygenated liquor in South Korea is Sunyang Co., which makes the popular O2 Lin spirit.  The company claims that the oxygenated alcoholic beverage, "helps clarify your brain, energizes your body cells, and maintains healthy and resilient skin."

While that might not hold true, the new study indicates that the oxygenated alcohol may well be significantly better for you than its non-oxygenated counterpart and be a more pleasant experience.  

Perhaps the only question that remains is whether the oxygenated drinks can equal their non-oxygenated counterparts in taste and mouth-feel.  If they can, the study may indicate a significant leap towards Star Trek-like "synthehol".



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RE: I'm confused...
By amanojaku on 3/2/2010 5:38:17 PM , Rating: 3
Come on, guys, seriously... Mick was pretty clear, but I'll try explaining this.

Drunkenness is due to ethanol in the blood stream. Alcohol substitutes don't have ethanol; this does, therefore it still gets you drunk. The difference is that the increased oxygen content helps you recover faster, or at least that's what the researchers say. So you still get as drunk as before, it just doesn't last as long. You could still die from drinking too much of this, too.

They mentioned beer because of the carbonation. That implies that this is not a substitute for hard liquor as that is not carbonated. I suppose it's possible to make hard liquor with oxygen in it so that you can get the same effects, but then it would taste different, like flat soda vs. fizzy soda.


RE: I'm confused...
By JediJeb on 3/3/2010 10:10:23 AM , Rating: 2
I think the carbonation this would be substituted for would be more like champagne not beer. Oxygenated beer would not last very long at all, the oxygen would ruin the beer if it was used to replace the carbon dioxide. I believe what they are producing is a bubbly hard liquor which would be something rather new.


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