Ancient Herbal Extract May Treat Alcoholism

alcoholismResearchers from UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine have found that dihydromyricetin, a medicinal herb extract, may treat alcoholism.

The research tested the flavonoid extract of Ampelopsis grossedentata by giving it to rats that became addicted to alcohol intoxication. After treatment with dihydromyricetin, the rats reduced their consumption of alcohol with significantly fewer withdrawal symptoms. They exhibited less anxiety and fewer seizures. The treated group also exhibited significantly reduced levels of intoxication side effects when they did consume alcohol.

The researchers’ in vitro (cellular) research found that dihydromyricetin antagonized GABA receptors while affecting the receptors’ tolerance levels. This mechanism was assumed to give dihydromyricetin its ability to alter the physical and mental issues of substance abuse.

The researchers concluded that, “We demonstrated pharmacological properties of dihydromyricetin consistent with those expected to underlie successful medical treatment of alcohol use disorders.”

Though dihydromyricetin is considered to be a flavinoid constituent of a number of medicinal herbs such as Erica arborea, Glochidion sumatranum (Umbrella cheese tree) and others, it is most known as having been extracted from the Ampelopsis grossedentata plant, a vine shrub known to grow in Asia. Ironically, the herb has a common name of Snake wine vine and a Chinese Medicine name of Teng Cha. The preparation of Ampelopsis as a tea is sometimes referred to as Vine tea.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has utilized Ampelopsis as a medicinal herb for many centuries. It has been used to treat jaundice, colds, flus and for relieving coughs. It is thought to help restore the liver – seemingly confirming the research above showing that dihydromyricetin reduced the negative effects of alcohol consumption.

Drinking the tengcha vine tea has also been used as a weight loss tea, because its taste seems to reduce the desire to eat sweets.

More recent study in China has shown that Ampelopsis extracts reduce platelet aggregation, lower cholesterol and lower blood glucose levels. It has also been found to be a potent anti-inflammatory agent.

The Ampelopsis is a plant in the family of Vitaceae. The common grape vine also belongs in this family, and yes, dihydromyricetin has indeed been found among grapevine and elderberry extracts – another irony for its ability to potentially treat alcoholism.


Shen Y, Lindemeyer AK, Gonzalez C, Shao XM, Spigelman I, Olsen RW, Liang J. Dihydromyricetin as a novel anti-alcohol intoxication medication. J Neurosci. 2012 Jan 4;32(1):390-401.

Guangxi Institute of Traditional Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences. List of Medicinal Plants in Guangxi,Nanning: Guangxi People’s Press,1986, 300pp.

Lin Jianfeng ,Li Shuangguan, Zhu Hui. Study on anti-inflammation and analgesic action of from Ampelopsis grossedentata.FujianMed. 1995, 17(4):39.

Castro A, Cantrell CL, Hale AL, Duke SO. Phytotoxic activity of flavonoids from Dicranostyles ampla. Nat Prod Commun. 2010 Aug;5(8):1233-7.

Yin S, Sykes ML,DavisRA, Shelper T, Avery VM,CampD, Quinn RJ. New galloylated flavanonols from the Australian plant Glochidion sumatranum. Planta Med. 2010 Nov;76(16):1877-81.

Roschek B Jr, Fink RC, McMichael MD, Li D, Alberte RS. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry. 2009 Jul;70(10):1255-61.

Nazemiyeh H, Bahadori F, Delazar A, Ay M, Topçu G, Nahar L, Majinda RR, Sarker SD. Antioxidant phenolic compounds from the leaves of Erica Arborea (Ericaceae). Nat Prod Res. 2008;22(16):1385-92.


Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.

You may also like...