The group at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou studied the chemical process of hangovers and how 57 potential remedies affect them, Medical Daily reported Monday.
In "Effects of Herbal Infusion, Tea and Carbonated Beverage on Alcohol Dehydrogenase and Aldehyde Dehydrogenase Activities," published in the journal Food & Function, the researchers said that Sprite appears to work better than many other beverages.
The researchers said in the first chemical reaction an enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase or ADH, converts ethanol into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde appears to be responsible for the pounding head, nausea and other unpleasant after-effects of drinking too much liquor.
Fortunately, another enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase or ALDH, converts the acetaldehyde into acetate.
Sprite speeds up the action of ALDH, getting rid of acetaldehyde more quickly, the team said. Another substance tested, an herbal infusion of hemp seeds, has the opposite effect, making for longer hangovers.
"These results are a reminder that herbal and other supplements can have pharmacological activities that both harm and benefit our health," Edzard Ernst of the University of Exeter in Britain told Chemistry World.
The research team plans to take the project to the next step with studies of the effects of Sprite on living subjects instead of on chemical reactions in the lab. Ernst said that could determine if Sprite lives up to its promise.
Sprite, a lemon-lime flavored carbonated drink, was introduced by the Coca Cola Co. in 1961.