By Dr. Keith Kantor
When a hydroxide ion (OH-) is introduced to the body it seeks out a hydrogen proton (ETHANOL) to combine with it and become water. The formula is simple: H+ + OH– = H2O.
What is Alcohol?
Alcohol consumption by various cultures predates written history. Although it was once used for therapeutic purposes, it is no longer recommended as a therapeutic because of its ability to produce intoxication. The ability of ingested alcohol to get from the gut into the bloodstream and up to the brain where it produces the intoxicating effects is due to its chemical structure and solubility in water.
Chemical structure of alcohol
Alcohols are organic molecules assembled from carbon (C), oxygen (O), and hydrogen (H) atoms. When 2 carbons are present, the alcohol is called ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol). Ethanol is the form of alcohol contained in beverages including beer, wine, and liquor.
The chemical composition of ethanol can be represented either as a 1) molecular formula or as a 2) structural formula. The molecular formula of ethanol is C2H6O, indicating that ethanol contains two carbons and an oxygen. However, the structural formula of ethanol, C2H5OH, provides a little more detail, and indicates that there is a hydroxyl group (-OH) at the end of the 2-carbon chain (Figure 1.1). The -OH group is characteristic of all alcohols.
Figure 1.1 Two common ways to represent the structure of ethanol are shown. On the left is the atomic stick representation of the structural formula and on the right is the ball and stick model.
The alcohol in alcoholic beverages is ethanol. Ethanol is a two-carbon alcohol with a terminal hydroxyl group (-OH).
Ethanol is soluble in water
Ethanol is an interesting molecule. It is polar or hydrophilic (water-loving) due to the presence of the terminal hydroxyl group, so it dissolves in water. Yet because of the 2-carbon chain, it has a bit of non-polar character. There is no separation of electrical charges between the carbon atoms, thereby minimizing intermolecular interactions in aqueous solutions. Generally, carbon chains (saturated with hydrogens) give a molecule hydrophobic (water-fearing) character, making it less soluble in water. However, in the case of ethanol, the carbon chain is short enough so that the more polar -OH group dominates, giving the ethanol its polar character. In alcohols with relatively long carbon chains (4 or more), the polar effects of the -OH group are not sufficient to overcome the hydrophobic nature of the carbon chain, resulting in alcohols that are progressively less water-soluble.
The solubility characteristics of ethanol become important in terms of its ability to move across biological membranes and around the body. Because it is a small molecule (molecular weight = 46 g/mole), it fits through pores (holes) in the biological membrane. In fact, it distributes in any area within the body in which water is found. However, the 2-carbon chain in ethanol makes it slightly lipophilic (lipid-loving) so it can also penetrate the lipid bilayers of biological membranes.
Figure 1.2 The solubility of an alcohol depends on the presence of a terminal hydroxyl (OH) group, and the length of its carbon chain.
Ethanol’s ability to be distributed throughout the body is due to its small size and polar hydroxyl (OH) group.
Where Does Alcohol Go in the Body?
Alcohol leaves the capillaries to enter tissues, including the brain
As ethanol circulates throughout the bloodstream, the concentration gradient is in the direction that favors movement of ethanol from the capillaries through interstitial spaces and into cells of different organs. The loosely packed endothelial cells and the fenestrae allow ethanol to move easily out of the capillaries.
There is an exception to the “leaky” capillaries—in the brain, the capillaries do not have fenestrae and the endothelial cells are tightly packed together. This construction helps to form a barrier (the “blood-brain-barrier”) to drugs and other molecules that are charged or polar, preventing them from entering the brain itself. Because alcohol is slightly lipophilic, it can still diffuse across the brain endothelial cell membrane, with the concentration gradient to get into (or out of) the brain. In the brain, alcohol interferes with the brain cell function to cause intoxication.
Figure 1.8 Capillaries in the brain are an exception; the endothelial cells are tightly packed and do not contain fenestrae or holes. Because ethanol is slightly lipophilic, it can still diffuse through the lipid bilayer of these endothelial cells.
Alcohol distributes into water spaces, not fat
Because ethanol is soluble in water it moves into water spaces throughout the body. The water spaces include the bloodstream, extracellular spaces, and intracellular spaces. However, ethanol does not accumulate in adipose tissue (fat) because it has little non-polar character and it prefers to reside in water. So it is restricted to a finite “water” volume within the body. This water volume, called “total body water” differs between females and males. In general, females have a higher percentage of their body mass as fat, and a lower percentage as water compared to males (Figure 1.9).
Figure 1.9 Females have a lower percentage of water (and higher percentage of fat) in the body. This means females will have a higher BAC compared to males if they drink the same amount of alcohol.
On average, the total body water in females is 55% of their body mass compared with that in males, which is 68%. Of course, there are some exceptions—a lean female athlete would be expected to have a higher percent of total body water than an obese male.
As the percentage of body fat increases, the BAC increases—this is because the total body water is lower, and that means that the alcohol is confined to this smaller volume. This relationship is familiar—concentration can be expressed as mass per unit volume (C = M/V). Concentration is indirectly proportional to volume—the smaller the water volume in the body, the higher the concentration of alcohol in the water spaces.
The higher BAC in females puts them at greater risk of intoxication compared to males, since more alcohol reaches the brain.
For the same drink, females will have a higher BAC than males because they have a higher percentage of body fat relative to males.
Description of the intoxication process
What is intoxication? How does alcohol intoxicate a person? There are several principles of biology and chemistry that underlie the expression of the symptoms of intoxication.
1) alcohol acts in different brain regions to produce symptoms of intoxication, 2) alcohol acts at specific targets in neurons to alter neurotransmission, and 3) there are several factors (e.g., genetics, repeated alcohol use) that can influence the degree to which one becomes intoxicated. The biology and chemistry concepts covered include:
1. membrane transport mechanisms
2. chemical structures of alcohols
3. structure of capillary membranes
4. basic anatomy of the brain
5. cell structure and function (neurons)
6. cell: cell communication (neuronal transmission)
7. genetic polymorphisms (for alcohol metabolism)
8. gene expression
Water is the medium the body uses to flush out toxins (ie Ethanol). With additional hydration
You will eliminate more of the ETHANOL that lead to the “dreaded hangover”!!
Improved Cardiovascular & Lymph Flow –-The circulatory pathways of the body are all improved with the regular consumption of purified water with no additional additives. You wouldn’t attempt to clean the outside of your body with sodas, coffee, teas, or even juices. So don’t expect your “internal environment” to be “clean” if you don’t use water . . . the same medium you use to bathe.
Hydroxide would prefer to become water before it returns to calcium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. It bonds to metals only in the absence of available hydrogen.
When a hydroxide ion is introduced to the body it seeks out a hydrogen proton (ETHANOL) to combine with it and become water. The formula is simple: H+ + OH– = H2O.
Alcohol consumption causes a euphoric feeling in most individuals. Since the alcohol we consume is a small molecule it is able to pass through the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) and stimulate the opiate receptors (specific protein clusters found in the brain, gut and spinal cord). When the opiate receptors are stimulated, they release chemicals the cause the dopamine (feel good neural transmitter) to be released. The dopamine then goes to the middle brain (pleasure center) causing the euphoric feeling.
While this is being done the small alcohol molecule replaces water in our cells. This is why most people urinate a lot while drinking. This causes dehydration. The alcohol which usually contains sugar, is acidic, this causes acidosis which causes inflammation. Inflammation and loss of water (also cabin pressure etc. in airplanes) causes the oxygen pathways and sites to be partially blocked, causing a lack of oxygen in our cells. Most people also have stress while drinking, this causes Cortisol to be released, this release stops many bodily functions like digestion. The combination of dehydration, inflammation and lack of oxygen is what causes the hangover. The digestion issue causes stomach pain which often accompanies a hangover.
Note: Obviously I am not advocating drinking or implying it is healthy, it is not healthy. It is best for your health to avoid alcohol. For those who do drink alcohol on occasion, “The Cur” will help with a hangover.
To eliminate or prevent the hangover we have to replace (or prevent) the water loss, allow the cells to increase their oxygen content and reduce or eliminate the inflammation. Also relieving the stress will help the digestion problem.
The best way to eliminate or prevent these problems (the hangover) is drinking alkaline hydroxide water. The best one I found in my research is https://www.feelthecur.com/.
It is all natural (made from limestone), has absolutely no taste and is the least expensive on the market. It also contains some vitamin B-12 and over 74 ionic trace minerals which will help with the hangover and give you a little energy boost.
The hydroxide in the water (OH-) combines with the hydrogen ions (H+) found on the alcohol molecules and other acids forming water (H+ OH- =H2O). This will help clear the oxygen sites and eliminate the remaining alcohol molecules, allowing the water you drink and being produced to get back in the cells.
The hydroxide ions will also reduce the stomach acid which will help reduce the stress and stomach ache. If you drink the Hydroxide Alkaline water while drinking (like a chaser) you should be able to avoid the hangover. You can also drink the Hydroxide Alkaline water before going to bed to lessen hangover effects in the AM and consume more as a hydration booster first thing upon rising. Drinking the Hydroxide Alkaline water once you have the hangover, will relieve it but I think it is better to avoid it all together focusing on keeping the water in the body.