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Genius Canadians find hyperventilating can help you metabolize alcohol faster

Hungover woman lies in bed glaring at glass of wine
Have no fear, madame! The Canadians are on the case
Photo: Peter Dazeley (Getty Images)

It’s New Year’s Eve, and you’re lying in bed vomiting maraschino-hued bile into a small Mason jar. The room is spinning, your partner is shaking their damn head, and you are zonked out of your mind and longing for death. This is a strictly hypothetical situation, because I am a skilled wordsmith with a penchant for devising such boozy scenarios. But if I had personally lived this experience—which I haven’t—I’d probably be interested in a way to quickly clear excess booze from my body. Fortunately, the Canadians are on the case: according to The Guardian, researchers in Canada have discovered that hyperventilation can significantly increase the body’s alcohol metabolization rate.

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God bless Canada.

The Toronto team described the process in a proof-of-concept paper published in Scientific Reports. During the study, the team had five adults each drink half a glass of vodka on two separate occasions. After the first drink, participants needed between two and three hours to clear half of the ethanol from their body. After the second drink, subjects were instructed to hyperventilate into a device which regulates carbon dioxide levels in the blood. According to lead researcher Joseph Fisher, each breath helped subjects release evaporated alcohol, leading to the body to metabolize the ethanol in the booze three times faster.

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The treatment may sound like a glorious hangover cure. Unfortunately, researchers found that the process worked best for “high levels of intoxication,” like those seen in alcohol poisoning. New Year’s Eve revelers will just have to stick to tried-and-true methods like rapid pho consumption. Once again, I do not know from experience. I’ve never even seen a beer.

Staff writer @ The Takeout. Pork shoulder princess @ Chicago.

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DISCUSSION

szielins
Stephan Zielinski

. . . metabolize. . . metabolization  . . . metabolize . . .

Exhaling alcohol is not metabolizing it. That’s kinda the point of doing this; the human liver has a limited ability to cope with ethanol. Getting it out of the system entirely means it doesn’t have to try.

Note too that if you try to do this on your own, you’ll blow off too much carbon dioxide and pass out. To hyperventilate long enough to do any good requires inhaling gas enriched with CO2, and doing that without going too far the other way requires a sequential gas delivery system. They used a Thornhill Medical ClearMate, more typically used for carbon monoxide poisoning.