Skip to content



What Is Acetaldehyde

What Is Acetaldehyde?

Acetaldehyde is a byproduct that’s created as your body breaks down ethanol, the form of alcohol that is found in alcoholic drinks. It is highly toxic, and is even a likely human carcinogen, which means that being exposed to acetaldehyde most likely increases your risk of developing cancer in the future.

Acetaldehyde is also responsible for many of the symptoms of hangovers, along with other common factors such as dehydration, low blood sugar, and exposure to methanol (another toxic byproduct of ethanol’s chemical breakdown).

What Kinds of Alcohol Are High in Acetaldehyde?

Although acetaldehyde is a byproduct of alcohol metabolism, some types of alcoholic beverages contain higher levels of the chemical as a result of their production processes:

  • Whiskey: As whiskey is aged in wooden barrels, oxidation reactions may lead to the formation of acetaldehyde at higher levels.
  • Wine: Acetaldehyde is especially likely to form in styles such as sherry and Madeira, which are intentionally exposed to oxygen while aging.
  • Sake: Depending on factors like yeast strain and fermentation temperature, acetaldehyde levels in sake can often be quite high.

Keep in mind that, while some kinds of alcohol have higher levels of acetaldehyde than others, the main source of acetaldehyde exposure comes from the metabolism of alcohol in the body.

What Are the Symptoms of Too Much Acetaldehyde?

Having too much acetaldehyde in your bloodstream may trigger your body to produce epinephrine (more commonly known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine (AKA noradrenaline). This, effectively, puts your body into “fight-or-flight” mode and may cause uncomfortable symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, and anxiety. Acetaldehyde also increases levels of histamine and bradykinin, often leading to vasodilation (widened blood vessels throughout the body), the feeling of increased skin temperature, warmth, facial flushing, and more.

Does Acetaldehyde Damage the Liver?

Yes, acetaldehyde may cause liver damage. When you drink alcohol, more than 90 percent of it goes to the liver, to be broken down into acetaldehyde by an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). Since the liver can process approximately one standard drink per hour, if you drink more than this amount, there will be more toxic acetaldehyde in your body to cause harm to your cells. Overall, the results of this damage to liver cells may include fatty liver disease, hepatitis (inflammation), cirrhosis (scarring), and even liver cancer.

How to Remove Acetaldehyde from the Body Naturally

If you are wondering how to break down acetaldehyde as quickly as possible to minimize its harmful impacts on your liver and on your body as a whole, here are some of the best all-natural ways to do so:

Drink Water and Tea

According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking water during a night of drinking alcohol, is thought to cause you to drink alcoholic beverages more slowly—or to consume fewer drinks altogether. In addition, drinking carbonated water may also help your body to break down acetaldehyde.

Both black and green tea may also have benefits when it comes to reducing acetaldehyde levels. A study in mice found that black tea stimulated the enzyme that breaks down acetaldehyde and that green tea may also help to break down alcohol.

Eat a Balanced Meal

Eating before and/or during alcohol consumption is always a wise choice, as having food in your stomach may slow alcohol absorption and gives your body time to process it.

Supplements to Take Before Drinking Alcohol

Scientific studies have revealed the following supplements to be some of the most effective at reducing the symptoms of a hangover:

NAC and Glutathione

NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) is a form of cysteine, an amino acid, which is often consumed when taking NAC supplements. Cysteine can be found in most foods that are high in protein, such as meat, dairy products, nuts, beans, and more.

Taking NAC supplements may have benefits, including raising levels of glutathione in the body by providing one of the key amino acids (cysteine, glutamine, and glycine) required for endogenous glutathione production. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant - one of the most important advantages of glutathione is neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise cause oxidative stress-related cell and tissue damage over time. Glutathione benefits may extend to being helpful for hangovers, as the antioxidant can help to neutralize the effects of acetaldehyde and other toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism.

More studies are currently in the works to demonstrate the efficacy of NAC supplements in preventing hangovers, but the research that has been done on this topic so far is encouraging. In a 2021 study of NAC supplements and hangover severity, female participants reported reduced hangover symptoms (less weakness and nausea) after taking NAC, but oddly, the male participants noticed no significant reduction in hangover symptoms. More studies are needed on this topic, especially with larger groups of participants.


Dihydromyricetin (or DHM) is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and it may even improve cognitive function while reducing stress levels. You may want to consider taking a DHM supplement to support your body and brain as they recover from a night of drinking.


Clovinol® is made from clove buds and is another substance with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can make it an excellent remedy for hangovers. This study shows that Clovinol® supplementation reduced blood levels of acetaldehyde and reduced hangover severity by a whopping 55 percent.


Siliphos® is made from milk thistle and is another natural way to fight hangovers. Studies have shown that compounds derived from milk thistle can increase life expectancy in those with alcoholic liver disease-related cirrhosis, protect the liver from toxins like amatoxin, and protect against liver disorders.

The Best Supplement for Hangovers

So – when wondering if there is a supplement that contains all the powerful ingredients listed above? The answer is yes, absolutely: it is Capsulyte.

Created by internal medicine physician and management consultant Dr. Dan Nguyen, MD, MBA, Capsulyte’s PREGAME supplement is designed to be taken before you drink alcohol. It contains a blend of powerful ingredients that target the root causes of feeling awful after drinking alcohol.

  • NAC
  • DHM (at the highest dose per serving available on the market)
  • Siliphos®
  • Clovinol®

For more information on how taking Capsulyte supplements may make drinking less physically and mentally draining, visit the Capsulyte blog.