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September 1, 2009

Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: The asparagus drip

asparagus drip

Even if this is true, I don't think I'm going to be wringing asparagus stalks into my mouth the morning after a bender. Owl Meat, however, sounds quite pumped:

News flash – asparagus may cure your hangover. Really. According to new research, minerals and amino acids in asparagus leaves and shoots may actually ease the symptoms of a hangover and protect your liver from the toxins associated with alcohol and its metabolism.
“Cellular toxicities were significantly alleviated in response to treatment with the extracts of asparagus leaves and shoots,” said lead researcher B.Y. Kim, in a news release from the Institute of Food Technologists. “These results provide evidence of how the biological functions of asparagus can help alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells.”
This could be huge. I'm not aware of any scientific studies that have shown anything to be effective at curing a hangover. Most focus on prevention. Plus every Dr. Obvious says, "Well, you knoooooow, the best cure is to not drink too much in the first place." ...

I wanted to know what amino acids and minerals they were crediting, but I can't access the article online. There are only so many amino acids, the building blocks of protein. I assume that the main amino acid here is asparagine, which was the first amino acid isolated in 1806 from asparagus juice.
Asparagine is what gives your urine that distinctive asparagus smell. I love the scene in the movie Election where the two high school girls use their asparagine whiff time as a love-bonding experience.
I searched high and low but could find no asparagus wine, liquor, or liqueur. I was not surprised. Ever hear of drink involving asparagus? Me neither, but maybe some day given the new research.
Oh sweet asparagatini! How about a spear of the 'gus in a Bloody Mary?  I could do that. Pickled baby asparagus in your martini? Perhaps some day. I smell a future trend. Ewwwww.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:47 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays


Abstract from the paper:

Asparagus officinalis is a vegetable that is widely consumed worldwide and has also long been used as a herbal medicine for the treatment of several diseases. Although A. officinalis is generally regarded as a supplement for the alleviation of alcohol hangover, little is known about its effects on cell metabolism. Therefore, this study was conducted to analyze the constituents of the young shoots and the leaves of asparagus and to compare their biochemical properties. The amino acid and inorganic mineral contents were found to be much higher in the leaves than the shoots. In addition, treatment of HepG2 human hepatoma cells with the leaf extract suppressed more than 70% of the intensity of hydrogen peroxide (1 mM)-stimulated DCF fluorescence, a marker of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Cellular toxicities induced by treatment with hydrogen peroxide, ethanol, or tetrachloride carbon (CCl4) were also significantly alleviated in response to treatment with the extracts of A. officinalis leaves and shoots. Additionally, the activities of 2 key enzymes that metabolize ethanol, alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase, were upregulated by more than 2-fold in response to treatment with the leaf- and shoot extracts. Taken together, these results provide biochemical evidence of the method by which A. officinalis exerts its biological functions, including the alleviation of alcohol hangover and the protection of liver cells against toxic insults. Moreover, the results of this study indicate that portions of asparagus that are typically discarded, such as the leaves, have therapeutic use.

B.-Y. Kim, Z.-G. Cui, S.-R. Lee, S.-J. Kim, H.-K. Kang, Y.-K. Lee, and D.-B. Park

Moreover, the results of this study indicate that portions of asparagus that are typically discarded, such as the leaves, have therapeutic use.

asparagus shoots have leaves? that's a new one on me. even if it did, they are not "discarded" it seems to me that that is the part you eat...

Thank you very much Science Nerd. I hate to use secondary sources for anything.

I've never heard of asparagus as a hangover cure, but apparently the belief and practice is wide enough in Korea to support funding this research.

Yes, SS2, me too. I'm a city kid so the idea that there are asparagus leaves was a little surprising.

but how many of the vile weeds, would one have to eat?

Sounds like powerful juju. Can we expect asparagus infused vodka some day soon? Blech.

Red Bull – now with asapagus extract! Damn!

Is there a way to reap the benefits of this asparagus juice without having to eat it?

I seem to be one of the few who don't like it.

Although I had an asparagus wrap last week that was pretty good. Asparagus was wrapped up in a tiny wrap with cream cheese, chives, and baked.

Maybe someone can invent a liqueur that they could market as hangover-proof or at least self-cleansing, like blueberry-asparagus antioxidant Smirnoff Ice, but who would drink it? Isn't there some kind of drink called Cynar? It seems to have an artichoke on the label. That's not an obvious flavor, but then again I don't know any living souls who have drunk it.

Finally, a practical use for science.

I think I get it. You eat asparagus. Then you pee and smell the aftereffects. Then you want to wiz again because it is awesome how a veggie can affect your body so quickly... so you drink more water. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Now you are hydrated and not hungover.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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