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Cheers to that – Naples Florida Weekly

Those of us of a certain age stay up for the small pleasure of a drink before or with the evening meal. A tiny indiscretion. Nothing serious.

TRECKER

TRECKER

We comprehend it does little good. Previous claims of reducing heart disease or prolonging life have long been disproven. Unfortunately, booze provides no health advantages in any way. On the contrary, the World Health Organization says it contributes to over 200 diseases and is liable for some 3 million annual deaths worldwide.

But taken in small amounts, it’s probably okay. In response to federal guidelines, a drink or two a day, as much as 10 per week, although not really helpful, will cause little harm.

The recession has helped rein in consumption, tightening purse strings and discouraging purchase. Diageo, a British multinational alcoholic beverage company and maker of various spirits, reported flat sales for the 12 months ending June 2023. Young people have been drinking less, while older folks have been consuming more.

Meanwhile, every kind of changes are going down.

Diageo just opened the primary carbon-neutral distillery within the U.S., a Kentucky plant running entirely on solar and wind power. Consider it. Green booze! Although their aim is righteous, officials said they’d switch to natural gas in a heartbeat if there weren’t enough wind or sun to maintain things going.

And the Germans, wouldn’t you recognize, made a breakthrough on beer. Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle, shunning all traditions, is now offering a powdered brew. Just add water and “Prost!”

Researchers have also made strides in blunting a number of the bad effects of drinking. When the body metabolizes ethanol, step one is conversion to acetaldehyde, a nasty actor that over time could cause inflammation, cirrhosis of the liver and esophageal cancer. Shorter term, because it accumulates after an evening on the sauce, it triggers the dreaded hangover. The second metabolic step is conversion of acetaldehyde to acetates, secure metabolites that cause few problems.

If one could slow step one without affecting the second, that may reduce the hangover and sidestep other troublesome effects without lessening the desirable buzz.

Medicinal chemist Tony Czarnik got partway there. As described in Chemical & Engineering News, he discovered that replacing hydrogen with deuterium on the methylene group in ethanol slowed acetaldehyde formation and significantly reduced hangovers.

Researchers at Rockefeller University took a special approach. They found that injecting inebriated mice with a stress hormone sobered up the rodents in record time. The scientists were astonished. Trials are planned.

But the very best approach of all could also be to eliminate alcohol altogether. Getting down to do that, researchers at GABA Labs in London discovered that certain chemicals goal only the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) transmitters within the brain, allowing them to activate feel-good dopamine and serotonin without the necessity for alcohol itself.

Recounted within the Wall Street Journal, GABA managing director David Orren tells of the breakthrough — the day, while self-testing, the scientists knew they’d found the fitting mix. “It felt similar to a warm glow,” he said, “like what you’d get from a glass of wine.” GABA founder David Nutt added, “People will now have the ability to benefit from the same social experiences they get from alcohol but with many fewer risks.”

Once funding is obtained, GABA’s lead candidate, called Alcarelle, will undergo FDA testing to make sure safety and efficacy. Plans are to launch the product in 2026. The alcohol substitute can be formulated so it will possibly be added to juices and soft drinks.

Marketing slogans are already being crafted. “The thrill without the blame.”

“The drink without the dread.” “Happiness without the hangover.” Go ahead. Try your hand at it. ¦

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