Probiotic drink might just prevent hangovers

If you want to avoid a hangover on Father's Day, this might be the drink for you.

A scientist from Silicon Valley claims to have genetically engineered the world’s first probiotic drink to prevent hangovers.

Zack Abbott working in the lab for ZBiotics.

Zack Abbott working in the lab for ZBiotics.

In what sounds like the plot line to an HBO series, Zack Abbott, 35, spent a year in a San Francisco laboratory making a prototype of a hangover cure he has called ZBiotics.

"I’ve had my fair share of hangovers and it seemed crazy to me that there wasn’t a scientific solution," Dr Abbott said.

"Drinking alcohol produces the toxin acetaldehyde, which causes hangovers. We modified the bacteria found in the Japanese superfood natto to engineer a new strain of probiotics to break down the toxin in the gut," he said.

Dr Abbott and his business partner Stephen Lamb, who has a doctorate in law, say they have taken the prototype dozens of times without experiencing hangovers, and more than 1000 drinkers in San Francisco have given the probiotic good feedback.

"We designed it to be really simple to use. You only need to take a single five-millilitre dose of ZBiotics before a night of drinking, irrespective of the amount you drink," Dr Abbott said.

Zack Abbott (left) and Stephen Lamb from ZBiotics.

Zack Abbott (left) and Stephen Lamb from ZBiotics.

"Alcohol is toxic, this doesn’t change that, but part of our vision is that you can continue to drink alcohol in a potentially more health conscious way," Dr Lamb said.

A crowdfunding campaign is under way to raise money for the start-up probiotic business, and there are plans to sell ZBiotics in Australia, subject to clinical trials.

ZBiotics is touted as a cure for hangovers.

ZBiotics is touted as a cure for hangovers.

CSIRO nutrition scientist Malcolm Riley said he liked the idea of the science behind ZBiotics and could not see any reason why the CSIRO would not run trials on it.

"To my knowledge there’s nothing like this on the market; a probiotic which claims to cure a hangover. If the science can be proved it would be pretty marketable. But one substance is unlikely to address all of the symptoms of hangovers: headaches, sleep deprivation and dehydration," Dr Riley said.

Sydney-based nutritionist, naturopath and herbalist Brad McEwen has prescribed probiotics for 20 years and believes this new strain of bacteria has merit as a supplement.

"The people behind it have PhDs themselves. Sure, sobriety is the absolute cure for a hangover, but where’s the fun in that?

"Their marketing is slick and, for some reason, products with the letter 'Z' seem to sell well. Zantac, Zoloft, Prozac. Now ZBiotics," Dr McEwen said.

"We want to market this supplement responsibly, to encourage mindful drinking among the work-hard play-hard 20-somethings, soccer mums and dads, in fact anyone who drinks," Dr Abbott said.

There is investor interest in the product in Australia with one businessman, who wished to remain anonymous, indicating he would consider contributing to the crowdfunding campaign and might look into securing the licence for ZBiotics in Australia if the TGA approves it for sale here.

"It sounds good, and there’s a huge unmet need for something like this. I’m sure consumers would be prepared to pay a fraction of their bar tab in order to feel better in the morning," he said.

"If Harry Potter, Hermione and Ron had been at university this is the kind of potion they would have taken," Mr Lamb said.

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