How does acetaldehyde causes hangover?

When a person drinks an alcoholic beverage, their body breaks it down like any other type of food or drink. One of the by-products is acetaldehyde, which is produced through the action of alcohol dehydrogenase, a liver enzyme. Acetaldehyde irritates mucous membranes, including the cells that make up the lining of the stomach. The stomach is especially sensitive to acetaldehyde because alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and not the small intestine. The irritation causes the gastric cells to secrete hydrochloric acid, which tells the brain that there’s something in the stomach that needs to be gotten rid of; hence, the vomiting. The good thing about this is that the drinker may feel a bit better after throwing up, as the alcohol and its toxic byproducts have been purged from the system.

The body secretes a chemical called glutathione and another enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase to break down acetaldehyde and turn it into benign acetic acid, a main ingredient in vinegar. The problem comes when the person has drunk too much alcohol for the glutathione and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase to handle. When this happens, the acetaldehyde, which is even more poisonous to the system than alcohol itself, starts to accumulate.

In the meantime, the body struggles to produce a chemical called glutamine, whose production was repressed as long as the person continued to drink. Because glutamine is a stimulant, it keeps the person from enjoying the deep, restful sleep needed to avoid the worst aspects of hangover.

Over-the-counter remedies, like, Over EZ Hangover Vitamins protects the liver and supports the body by increasing the levels of the enzyme ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase) and ALDH (acetaldehyde dehydrogenase) in the liver.