What is Japanese Raisin Extract?
What is it?
It’s not really Japanese and it’s not really a raisin. What it is then? The plant is a peduncle or stalk, which the extract contains, as well as small berries and seeds. It also goes by the name Hovenia dulcis and naturally contains something called DHM or dihydromyricetin. It’s been in the news a little, but not enough that anyone in America really understands it or how amazing it is. (More on that coming)
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Aside from all that, it’s the single best experiential supplement to use when drinking alcohol, based on the research and my experience. Experiential means that you actually feel it working. There are very few truly experiential dietary supplements. The best example I can give you is caffeine – you know it’s working because you can feel it. You drink that cup of coffee or swig from your energy drink, and you almost instantly feel it. You feel different. No one would deny that caffeine works. Alcohol is the exact same by the way! If you take an adequate dose of Japanese Raisin Extract you will feel different, not within moments – though some people report this – but definitely the next morning. This is extremely rare in the supplement world. For over 99% of products on the market, you just have to trust that it’s working. Stick with antioxidants or a decent multi vitamin for weeks and you might FEEL it working. Outside of caffeine and a few other exceptions, “feeling it” instantly is rare.
There’s more, it’s backed by clinical research. Medical types like to poo-poo our Japanese Raisin because it doesn’t have enough research behind it, especially the kinds of people who trust Big Pharma and just go on popping or prescribing pills like good little sheep. The reason why there’s not better research is because little guys like me can’t afford to fund it. I am allergic to conspiracy theories, but how much do you think companies like Bayer, Tylenol, Aleve and Advil want to see a real natural hangover remedy that really works and helps avoid the headache of the morning after some drinks? If you said, not at all, then you are accurate. And that’s a vast understatement.
What we do know from the human studies that have been done is this: It’s safe. It delivers multiple benefits for avoiding the negative aftereffects of alcohol, including liver detoxification and protection. Not to mention that it helps balance the body, recover from stress, improve physical performance and improves sleep. The stuff is just an all-around Super Food. It’s been known to Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Eastern world as a liver tonic and hangover remedy for centuries, and probably even millennia. So what does it actually DO and HOW?
Not all the mechanisms are completely understood, hence the need for more research. However, we do know that it somehow effects the way liver enzymes work. Yes, the same liver enzymes responsible for metabolizing alcohol in your liver. Without these special enzymes alcohol would be like heroine. Take a few drinks and randomly drop dead. What a sad world that would be! The reason we can tolerate moderate amounts of this ethanol poison is because we have a whole system for eliminating it. Over 14 years ago I stumbled upon this piece of information while having a drunk discussion with a biochemist friend. Right then and there I realized that if we could speed up these liver enzymes or upregulate them, we could speed up the detox process, therefore partially mitigating the negative aftereffects of alcohol consumption.
Holy Grail for the Liver
Japanese Raisin was the Holy Grail I was searching for, as it seems to do exactly that. Specifically, it either upregulates or increases the amount of ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase) and ALDH2 (aldehyde dehydrogenase). Those enzymes and a few minor cofactors represent the only things standing between drinking poisonous alcohol and peeing out or repurposing the harmless end byproduct of the 2-stage process, which is acetate or a substance similar to vinegar. It’s the step in the middle that is really magical though – the one where our liver breaks down Acetaldehyde, also known as the “Hangover Toxin”. Here’s a quick visual:
Alcohol Metabolism in 3 Steps
- Drink wine, beer, liquor, mead, cider or whatever you poison of choice. It’s all ethanol.
- Ethanol meets the ADH enzyme and becomes Acetaldehyde (up to 30X more toxic than ethanol)
- Acetaldehyde meets the ALDH2 enzyme (plus Glutathione) and becomes Acetate, which is excreted or recycled for energy purposes.
And that’s it. That’s how it all happens inside you when you drink.
Side effects of Acetaldehyde toxicity include headache, nausea, vomiting and in the extreme death. (It’s bloody hard to drink yourself to death. Have you seen “Leaving Las Vegas”? You might WISH you were dead if you drink that much, but I told you your liver is tough is hell!) All those terrible effects of Acetaldehyde sound a lot like a hangover to me. What about you?
The Curious Case of Antabuse
Also, consider the drug Antabuse, which is prescribed to alcoholics to help keep them on the straight on narrow path of sobriety. How does it work? It’s so brutal. It gives you an instant hangover. It’s basically barbaric aversion therapy. The drug blocks the ALDH2 liver enzymes, basically the opposite of what Jap. Raisin does. When your liver can’t break down Acetaldehyde from alcohol you almost instantly get violently ill. That’s how awful and toxic ALD really is. Even someone addicted to alcohol is instantly put off. That doesn’t mean they don’t try it again anyway, but it hurts if they do.
Or consider the unfortunate souls afflicted with Alcohol or Asian Flush. This is not a racist statement; it’s a genetic thing. And it just so happens that people with these genes are often Asian, but not always. Essentially, they have a deficient or mutated ALDH2 enzyme. When they have a drink or two, their faces turn bright red. It’s less extreme than using the Antabuse drug because they are still breaking down some of the poison. However, it’s similar because once the liver’s capability is exhausted, other detox systems get involved. The afflicted peoples’ bodies literally try to push the toxin out through the skin, which irritates skin cells, due to the highly toxic Acetaldehyde. The end result is that their skin blushes or turns bright red. It’s very embarrassing because after only one or two drinks, you might look visually like you are wasted. More severe cases simply cannot tolerate alcohol at all.
What’s odd and somewhat magical about Japanese Raisin is that it actually helps those who flush when they drink. But wait, didn’t I say it was a genetic issue? Yes, it is. My theory is that the herb in questions is upregulating their enzymes or making the little effective amount they have work much better. As toxic as Acetaldehyde is based on the Antabuse drug example, even a small boost to enzyme activity could make a huge difference. Acetaldehyde is no joke.
Complex Yet Simple
I’m not trying to reduce the thousands of physiological effects of drinking alcohol down to one specific poison. Not at all. Acetaldehyde just plays a huge role in the way we FEEL after drinking. Most of us non-masochists would rather not be puking and nursing headaches all day long. Some of the other suggest supplements will help with the other factors. All of them are synergistic to achieve the best possible result. Notice how I slipped in the parenthesis about Glutathione? We’ll get to that next.
There are many other benefits of Japanese Raisin. Most importantly, the protective effects on our livers. There are many theories as to why this is the case. One of which is simply that toxins eliminated more rapidly have less time to damage our bodies. Another may be that the plant itself contains powerful antioxidants that specifically fight free radicals throughout the body and acutely at the liver level. Either way, these are huge benefits to anyone who drinks.
Japanese Raisin also seems to combat a phenomenon called Glutamine Rebound. Put simply, it’s an effect in the brain that is stimulating, keeping you from reaching deep REM sleep after alcohol consumption. This is why you pass out so hard after drinking, yet sleep until noon the next day and still wake up exhausted. You aren’t really getting restful and recuperative sleep. This also jives with the known effects of Jap. Raisin to help the body recover from physical stress
What About DHM?
A word about DHM, that magical little active compound at work here. It’s a naturally occurring substance in Japanese Raisin (JR). In FDA terms, old JR is considered ODI or Old Dietary Ingredient, meaning it’s legal to be sold in the US because it’s proven safe and grandfathered by its long usage by the public (even if only by the Asians who have been keeping it a secret from us all these years!) Some companies have started using a cheaper source of DHM that is super-purified. This is not harmful per se, but it is considered to be NDI or New Dietary Ingredient by the FDA. This just means that it is not supposed to be sold without filing a whole bunch of paperwork. To our knowledge no one has done this leg work yet, so these companies are actually selling it illegally. It seems safe, but these guys are not really playing by the rules here. Looking at you Thrive, who was recently on Shark Tank.
The biggest problem with 98% DHM is that it’s missing some of the natural components of the Japanese Raisin plant. All foods have hundreds, if not thousands of natural cofactors that help the nutrients work. For example, eating an orange is way different than taking a vitamin C pill. Which one do you think is absorbed better? In some cases extracting a single active from a plant can be dangerous or bad for your health. Think of sugar. You can chew sugar cane all day long, as the workers who harvest it traditionally do for energy, and you will never rot your teeth out. Extract the pure glucose/sucrose from the plant to produce the white powder we all love so much, and swish that around in your mouth all day. See what happens to your teeth, and your waistline! Last example, only because it’s such a good one – natives also chew coca leaves for energy with no harmful effects. Coca is processed into cocaine, which can easily produce an overdose and kill you in its more purified form.
Before I give you the marching orders on JR, just remember: Of course we want you to buy Intox-Detox. We pride ourselves on integrity because we deliver the right high-quality proven ingredients and in the right amount. However, there are literally hundreds of companies rushing into the market every day. That’s how great this ingredient is. Don’t worry about us! There’s plenty of money to be made, since it’s a $200 Billion dollar a year alcohol retail industry. No one wants that hangover and a lot of them are getting it. We would be honored to have you as a customer, but no hard sales pitch here. We like to give value first. Point of all this is to just make sure you know what you are buying, that’s it’s Japanese Raisin Extract and not just cheap DHM and lastly that you are getting the correct dosage for best results.
Recommendation: Take 500 to 1000 milligrams of Japanese Raisin Extract for every 1 drink. While it is safe to take in amounts as high as 9 grams per day, based on human studies, using any more than that is no more effective and implies a massive amount of drinks, equal to about 20. That’s too many drinks for me personally, and I’m no slouch when it comes to putting it away!
PS: Read more random facts about good ol' JR below. AKA your liver's best friend.
Japanese Raisin at a Glance
Things you didn't know about the #1 magical ingredient in Intox-Detox - Japanese Raisin Extract, also known as Hovenia dulcis...
- Not a raisin, not Japanese
- Most popular "hangover cure" in South Korea
- Ancient liver tonic and hangover remedy from the Eastern world, recognized in Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Natural source of DHM - Dihydromyricetin is a flavanol found in numerous plants, similar to quercetin
- Safe, natural and FDA-compliant - ODI (old dietary ingredient)
- Products on the market using pure DHM (and not Japanese Raisin) are NOT FDA-compliant. Not because they are dangerous, but because the substance is NDI (new dietary ingredients). They also do NOT contain all the other benefits of the Japanese Raisin plant (see below)
- Korean FDA compliant claims - liver protection from alcohol damage, improvement of exercise capacity and relief of fatigue caused by stress
- Super food that tastes lightly sweet, cinnamon-like and is actually quite delicious
- HD-1 Extract contains a synergistic variety of biologically active compounds (antioxidants, flavonoids) including saponin derivatives, dammarane-type triterpene saponins, hodulosides I - V and flavonoids hovenodulinol ,hovenitin I, dihydromyricetin, -catechin, (+)-afzelechin and quercetin