A lot of people drink alcohol to drown out their pain and sorrows. The next morning, hangovers leave them with lurching stomachs and pounding heads. Although at this point, reaching for painkillers seems like a good idea, it turns out that hair of the dog can do hungover folks much better.
A new study published in The Journal of Pain found that drinking two beers is more effective at relieving pain than actual painkillers. Researchers from the University of Greenwich noted that consuming two pints of beer can cut a person's discomfort by about a quarter.
The study noted that by elevating blood alcohol content to 0.08 percent, the body can have "a small elevation of pain threshold." It therefore reduces pain intensity significantly. The researchers also explained that the findings showed alcohol to be an effective analgesic that can deliver clinically relevant reductions in pain ratings. This reasoning can also explain why people who experience persistent pain are more prone to alcohol misuse.
However, this does not explain whether alcohol reduces pain by affecting brain receptors or if it lowers anxiety, which makes people think the pain is not as bad. Dr. Trevor Thompson of London's Greenwhich University shared that alcohol can even be compared to opioid drugs like codeine. He also said that it is more powerful than paracetamol.
The Independent, however, noted that experts are speaking out regarding the results of the study. They emphasized that despite its implications, it still does not mean that alcohol is good for the body.
"Drinking too much will cause you more problems in the long run. It's better to see your GP," said Rosanna O'Connor, director of Alcohol and Drugs at Public Health England. At present, guidelines recommend no more than 14 units of alcohol per week for both men and women. This roughly translates to six pints of beer or six 175 mL glasses of wine.