Got a headache? Or just general aches and pains? Instead heading straight for your medicine cupboard, why not head to the pub? It’s not as absurd a statement as you might think. In certain doses, alcohol could indeed target pain more effectively than conventional medication such as paracetamol.
The results in figures
Scientists from both the University of Cambridge and the University of Greenwich analysed the results of 18 experiments, carried out on over 400 participants. These experiments consisted of evaluating the effect of different alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on pain, based on their pain or intensity thresholds. Their analysis concluded that a blood alcohol concentration of about 0.8 grams per litre produced a ‘slight increase in the pain threshold’ of the participants. They also noted a ‘significant to moderate reduction in the intensity of pain’. That alcohol level is the equivalent to about three or four glasses of spirit/mixer or two pints of beer.
These findings do ‘suggest that alcohol is an effective painkiller that provides a clinically significant reduction in pain intensity’ the researchers write. Nevertheless, the study does not determine how alcohol reduces pain. Dr Trevor Thompson who led the team summarised ‘we have found strong evidence that alcohol is an effective painkiller and its effect is stronger than that of paracetamol’. Some scientists however remain sceptical. Obviously the study is not to say, leg it to the pub every time you get a headache. Equally it remains that alcohol is indeed damaging for your health.
‘Drinking too much will give you more problems in the long run’ says Rosanne O’Connor from the UK Department of Public Health. Its recommended that both men and women should not drink more than 4 standard measures of alcohol on one occasion and abstain from alcohol at least one day a week. However, by taking these risks into account the study could pave the way into development sin pain management. Moreover, this discovery ‘could explain the excessive consumption of alcohol in patients suffering from persistent pain, despite the long term effects on your health’ concluded the researchers.