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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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Something doesn't add up
By Boston Card on 3/2/2010 10:42:36 PM , Rating: 2
Alcohol (ethanol) is metabolized to acetaldehyde by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. The reaction reduces NAD+ into NADH, which must then be oxidized back to NAD+ with oxygen. So far, so good. Here's what makes no sense, though. The solubility of oxygen in water is very low; on the order of 9 mL of oxygen per liter of water at low temperatures. Even allowing for a supersaturated solution, which is how you get a bubbly beverage, and greater solubility of oxygen in ethanol, we are still talking about very small amounts of oxygen. As a contrast, because of the presence of hemoglobin, blood can carry about 15 times as much oxygen (about 16 mL oxygen/deciliter, or about 160 mL O2/mL of blood). Since the heart pumps out 5 Liters of blood per minute (800 mL of oxygen every minute) and about 10 - 20% of it goes through the liver, every minute the liver is getting 80 - 160 mL of oxygen. It is hard to see how 10 additional mL of oxygen dissolved in your booze is going to make one iota of a difference.

Sounds like a good article for a month from yesterday.

RE: Something doesn't add up
By mindless1 on 3/3/2010 4:43:55 AM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind, sobering 27 minutes sooner isn't necessarily all that large a difference.

RE: Something doesn't add up
By Kurz on 3/3/2010 4:59:57 AM , Rating: 2
They mention a ppm of 20 and 25 in the main article.
You can make a liquid take up more oxygen by using pressure.

When you open a bottle of soda the dissolved CO2 starts to release. Thats why its important to close the lid so as more CO2 is released it creates a new high pressure zone inside the bottle. So your soda tends to remain just as fizzy if you just get a small cup from the soda.

If you were to say pour out more than half of the soda and close the lid. If you give it enough time the soda will taste flat. Since most of the gas left to form a new atmosphere in the now more empty bottle.

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