We’ve had long discussions about this over durian desserts before. Is it the truth or is it a myth that you can’t have durians with alcohol? Too many stories floating around about some guy who had a durian feast with whiskey and proceeded to keel over, turn blue and expire from this world. My doctor friends volunteered that they had never come across it personally but they thought that it was probably due to serious protein overload combined with some sort of poor digestive process caused by the durian consumed.
Well, imagine my delight when I finally found a scientific publication to back this up. Trust that it would be Japanese and Philippino scientists too. John Maninang and Hiroshi Gemma from the University of Tsukuba in Japan linked durian‘s high sulphur content with the impairment of alcohol breakdown. The durian extract they tested inhibited aldehyde dehydrogenase activity by up to 70%. So, it is conceivable that if you haven’t got much in the way of alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes in the first place and consumed both durian and whiskey (which has a high alcohol content) simultaneously, that the durians could be inhibiting your enzymes which are supposed to break down the alcohol before it gets to levels of toxicity that your body can’t tolerate*.
How did the researchers get inspired to look into these experiments? They thought that it possible that the link would be the same as a condition known as Disulfiram-Ethanol Reaction (DER). This is where the Sulphur interferes with your liver alcohol metabolism, and the researchers thought that Durian probably contained a high enough sulphur content to cause the same symptoms.
Certainly something to bear in mind, but its not often that durian is served with any alcohol at all. The worst combination would probably be a fermented Durian Alcohol or durian flavored cocktail… eeugh..
*Note: Some asians lack this enzyme and so experience alcohol toxicity at lower doses.