Have you ever woken up from a night of drinking to mysterious injuries and wondered, “...When did I stub the actual life out of my toe?” Well, science doesn’t have an answer for that. However, a new study suggests that beer can be more effective than some painkillers, which may explain why you wake up to an injury you don’t remember hurting the night before.
Researchers at the University of Greenwich looked into the painkilling effects of alcohol in their new study. They conducted 18 studies with 404 subjects, measuring the relationship between alcohol and feelings of physical pain. Their findings? Consuming two pints of beer can reduce feelings of pain by 25 percent, making beer more effective than paracetamols.
Before you start stocking your medicine cabinet with six-packs, though, the study’s authors want to make clear that they aren’t recommending you start subbing alcohol for acetaminophen. As stated in the study, “Findings suggest that alcohol is an effective analgesic that delivers clinically-relevant reductions in ratings of pain intensity, which could explain alcohol misuse in those with persistent pain, despite its potential consequences for long-term health.” Basically, using alcohol as a pain reliever, while initially effective, is not worth the long-term health consequences.
So, if this doesn’t mean we can start taking swigs of whiskey when we get a paper cut, why does it matter? Like Dr. Trevor Thompson, one of the researchers who led the study, tells The Sun, “If we can make a drug without the harmful side effects, then we could have something that is potentially better than what is out there at the moment.” Researchers now know that by elevating blood alcohol content to about 0.08 percent, you elevate your pain threshold a small amount, in turn moderately to largely reducing the intensity of pain. Creating a pill that mimics that could would make for a better painkiller on the market.
Beer joins the ranks of other non-conventional ways to reduce pain like chocolate for period cramps and sex for headaches. The natural chemicals released during orgasm, like dopamine and serotonin, both enhance pleasure while reducing pain. As for dark chocolate, the magnesium it contains has been linked to increased energy and has endorphins that alleviate pain. Unlike beer and sex, you probably won’t end up with some mysterious aches from chocolate. Remember, though, everything in moderation.