Pre-pear yourself: have we ended the fruitless search for hangover prevention?

Pears: the low hanging fruit of hangover prevention?

Pears: the low hanging fruit of hangover prevention?

A tall glass of milk to line the stomach. Bouts of water between drinks. Pre-loading with carbs. Everyone, it seems, has their own tried and true method for preventing hangovers (how often they actually work is a different story altogether). But sure-fire ways of sidestepping the dreaded headaches, nausea and general discombobulation that can follow drinking sessions are rarely scientifically studied, instead living in the realms of onions-in-your-socks-to-prevent-colds-type remedies.

Yes, the search for a miracle prevention of hangovers has been fruitless – until now.

The pears have it

We’ve been researching pears with Horticulture Innovation Australia to discover the hidden benefits of the humble backyard fruit – beyond being cheaper than apples.

As well as finding that pears can lower cholesterol, relieve constipation and have anti-inflammatory effects, it also appears they can ward off hangovers AND lower blood alcohol levels.

In what could be one of the greatest ‘stumbled upon’ scientific findings since we discovered fast WiFi, this secret pear power has the potential to stimulate Friday afternoon pear purchases world-wide.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves…

hangover cat

We spoke to Professor Manny Noakes, our lead researcher on the project, to get the full slice on pears.

Are there any types of pears that work better than other? And what’s the best way to consume them?
At present, studies have only investigated the Korean (or Asian) pear, which has long been used as a traditional remedy for alcohol hangover.  A number of compositional differences have been noted between the Korean pear and Western pear varieties, so further studies are needed to confirm these findings to determine whether these results could be replicated using other pear varieties.  So far the effect has been seen from consuming 220ml Korean pear juice, although consumption of whole pears may produce a similar effect.

How exactly do the pears prevent hangovers – how did we find this out?
There may be several ways by which pears could prevent hangovers. Our review has uncovered both animal and human studies trying to answer this question. It appears that the factors in Korean pears act on the key enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) to speed up alcohol metabolism and elimination or inhibition of alcohol absorption. In particular, reductions were seen in blood acetaldehyde levels, the toxic metabolic thought to be responsible for the hangover symptoms, with pear juice consumption.  

Headshot of Manny Noakes

Our health guru, Professor Manny Noakes.

What hangover symptoms can pears prevent?
Overall hangover severity, as measured by a 14 item hangover symptom scale, was significantly reduced in the Korean pear group compared to those having a placebo drink, with the most pronounced effect seen on the specific symptom of ‘trouble concentrating’.

Can I pear-binge after drinking to cure my hangover?
NO. The effect was only demonstrated if pears were consumed before alcohol consumption. There is no evidence that you can consume pears after drinking and avoid a hangover.
And remember, the very best way to not get a hangover is to not drink in the first place.

Manny also warns this is only a preliminary scoping study, with the results yet to be finalised. Ultimately, her team hope to deliver a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on pears, pear components and relevant health measures. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Still thirsty for more? Here’s some other ways we’re helping Australians with their diet and health.

7 Comments on “Pre-pear yourself: have we ended the fruitless search for hangover prevention?”

  1. Frank Aquino says:

    Very interesting. Does it have to be whole fruit (including the fibre)? I hope so, otherwise people will be gulping huge quantities of fibreless concentrated fructose, which we now know is a great way to get fat and play Type 2 diabetes-roulette with your pancreas.

    Actually it is so long since I had a hangover I’ve forgotten what they feel like. These days I find that a pre-drink Panadol works wonders.

    As an entrepreneurial study you should time how long it takes for the perry (pear cider) industry to stamp “CSIRO Recommended” on its bottles.

    Love your work.

  2. mike says:

    See the date of this research….
    Epub 2013 Apr 13.
    two years before manny (just) discovered it in 2015
    Effect of Korean pear (Pyruspyrifolia cv. Shingo) juice on hangover severity following alcohol consumption.
    Lee HS1, Isse T, Kawamoto T, Baik HW, Park JY, Yang M.
    Author information
    Korean pear has been used as a traditional prophylactic agent for alcohol hangover. However, its mechanism was not investigated in human yet. Therefore, we performed a randomized single blind crossover trial with 14 healthy young men to examine effects of Korean pear juice on alcohol hangover. All subjects consumed 540 ml of spirits (alcohol conc. 20.1 v/v%) after 30 min from the intervention, i.e. placebo or Korean pear juice treatment. Blood and urine specimens were collected in time-courses (9 time-points for 15 h after alcohol consumption). The total and average of hangover severity were alleviated to 16% and 21% by Korean pear juice at 15 h after the alcohol consumption, respectively (ps<0.05). Particularly, 'trouble concentrating' was significantly improved by the pear juice treatment (p<0.05). Impaired memory, and sensitivity to light and sound were significantly improved by Korean pear juice among the subjects with ALDH2*1/*1 or ALDH2*1/*2 genotypes (ps<0.05) but not in the subjects with ALDH2*2/*2 genotype. In addition, the pear juice treatment lowered levels of blood alcohol (p<0.01). Therefore, Korean pear juice may alleviate alcohol-hangover and its detoxification of alcohol seems to be modified by the genetic variation of ALDH2

    • Nicholas Kachel says:

      Hi Tony

      The published study that you refer to is one of the papers that we have looked at as part of our literature review, another paper that we have explored is Lee, Ho‐Sun, et al. “Effects and action mechanisms of Korean pear (Pyrus pyrifolia cv. Shingo) on alcohol detoxification.” Phytotherapy Research 26.11 (2012): 1753-1758.

      Thanks, Nick

  3. Tony Murphy says:

    There is a published study on this work: ‘Effect of Korean pear (Pyruspyrifolia cv. Shingo) juice on hangover severity following alcohol consumption’, by Ho-Sun Lee from Sookmyoung Women’s University, Seoul, Republic of Korea and co-authors, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 58, August 2013, Pages 101–106.

  4. Kelly O'Halloran says:

    I find that at two shots of tequila during the binge significantly reduces the impact of 12 of the 14 items on the hangover symptom scale

  5. It is understandable, given the drinking culture in Australia, that your blog concentrated on the hangover cure and lowering of blood alcohol, but can you explain more about the anti-inflammatory effects, and how it lowers cholesterol?

  6. Spellcheck says:

    Youve spelt pears as pairs towards the end. I hope the research was better proofread than this post.

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