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Can this drink stop hangovers?

Bartenders are pouring out bottles of Ukon No Chikara for clubbers who believe the Japanese product will prevent a hangover. (ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN)

Publication Date : 29-06-2012


A Japanese beverage that touts itself as a surefire remedy for hangovers is now being sold at popular nightclubs here.

Called Ukon No Chikara or Ukon Power, the 100ml bottled drink is said to enhance liver function and prevent the symptoms of a hangover, which include dehydration, lethargy, headache, vomiting, difficulty in concentrating and impaired balance.

The key ingredient in Ukon is curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric, which is cited by health journals and doctors as having anti-oxidant and anti- inflammatory properties. Ukon has to be taken just before you start drinking or while you are drinking in order for it to be effective.

The drink, which sells for S$9 a bottle, has become a bar staple at nightclubs such as Butter Factory, Zouk, Tab, Loof, The Merry Men, Mink and Filter, among others.

Joe Lin, 31, one of three partners behind Ukonomy, which has been distributing the product in Singapore since last December, said: "Kids now have more money and they can be heavy drinkers. It's just for clubbers who want to have a bit of fun, or people who entertain for a living and need to take clients out for drinks."

Nightclub Zouk started stocking Ukon at its bars last month but its head of marketing, Timothy Chia, says it is too early to say if the drink is popular among its clubbers.

On why Zouk decided to serve it, he said: "We are constantly on the lookout for products which can enhance the clubbers' experience and a remedy for hangovers is definitely one of them."

Clubbers say the drink tastes similar to the sweet energy drink Red Bull.

Civil servant Jonathan Fong, 32, said he heard about it about a year ago from friends who used to buy it in Japan to bring home.

Fong, who has tried it while drinking three pints of beer, said: "It's good, I guess you don't feel as dehydrated and crappy the next day. Sometimes, you get lethargic but you will feel okay even though you were hammered the night before."

However, the effectiveness of curcumin has not been proven in the medical world, notes Dr Vincent Lai, a gastroenterologist at the Asian Centre for Liver Diseases and Transplantation.

He says: "There have been no clinical studies on the use of turmeric to alleviate the hangover effect. The claims of effectiveness from such supplements may lead to a false sense of security and the individual consuming such supplements may drink even more, and binge drinking is not advisable."

Indeed, Lin cautions that consuming Ukon does not enhance your ability to knock back more drinks at the bar.

He says: "How drunk you get is exactly the same. It's not a health or energy drink either, it's purely a drink that lessens the effects of drinking and is good for your liver."

Life! found a product similar to Ukon being sold here - Shugo Dendetsu, a small sachet of tablets that you consume half an hour before drinking to prevent a hangover.

The product, which also contains curcumin, sells for S$33.70 for a pack of six sachets at Nishino pharmacy at Isetan Scotts. Popular among Japanese customers, it has been sold here since last year.

A spokesman for the Health Sciences Authority said treatments for hangovers are 'symptomatic' and 'there is currently no medicinal product approved specifically for managing hangover in Singapore'.

The spokesman added: "Consumers should exercise caution when they encounter health products that promise quick cures. Consumers should also exercise discretion in the purchase and use of health products for their individual needs and safety.

"When in doubt, consumers should consult their healthcare professionals for advice on specific health products for their individual conditions."


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