The Chemistry of Alcohol and Hangovers

Anyone who needs a reason not to overindulge on St. Patrick’s Day –– or on any other day of the year –– can view a new American Chemical Society (ACS) video on alcohol’s effects on the body.
Part One:

The Chemistry of Alcohol and Hangovers: Part One from ACS Pressroom on Vimeo.

Part Two:

Chemistry of Alcohol & Hangovers: Part Two from ACS Pressroom on Vimeo.

The Chemistry of Alcohol and Hangovers illustrates in brilliant high-definition detail the unpleasant after-effects that excessive drinking can have on the body. The video, released today, showcases a lecture on the topic by Diane Bunce, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at the Catholic University of America (CUA).  A recipient of the ACS Helen Free Award for Public Outreach and associate, Bunce is editor for Chemical Education research for ACS’ Journal of Chemical Education.

Bunce delivered the lecture as part of a chemistry course for nonscience majors course at CUA.  “The students include majors in politics, education, English, history, philosophy, and other fields,” Bunce noted.  “It’s an excellent group to educate about the chemistry behind real-world issues.”

The video was produced by the ACS Office of Public Affairs and illustrates the chemistry behind these and other side effects of hangovers:

•    Headaches, caused by low blood sugar and allergic reactions to certain ingredients in liquor.
•    Nausea and upset stomach, resulting from alcohol’s irritant effect, which stimulates the secretion of acid in the stomach.
•    Thirst, the result of alcohol’s dehydrating effects on the body.
•    Blood sugar levels, which increase for about an hour, and then drop to low levels that contribute to hangover symptoms.

The American Chemical Society's Office of Public Affairs' new pressroom blog highlights prominent research from ACS' 41 journals. It includes daily commentary on the latest news from ACS' weekly PressPac, including video and audio segments from researchers on topics covering chemistry and related sciences. The blog also covers updates on ACS' awards, the national meetings and other general news from the world's largest scientific society.