What’s magic pain-killing ingredient in alcohol?
By W. GIFFORD-JONES M.D.
February 17, 2020
Hollywood’s usual version of a death scene differs greatly from reality. But not when, in the old western movie, a cowboy is hit by an Indian arrow. He’s immediately handed a bottle of whisky, takes a few swigs of it, and the arrow is pulled out.
The use of alcohol to decrease the effects of pain is as old as the fermentation process. But what’s the magic ingredient in alcohol that works so well? I decided to try and find out from scientific sources. Read on, too, for my latest experience with medical marijuana (cannabis).
Trevor Thompson, professor at London, England’s Greenwich University, reports 18 different studies tested the reactions of over 400 people to evaluate the painkilling aspects of alcohol. They were exposed to cold, heat, and pressure, both with and without the influence of alcohol.
Thompson concluded that two beers relieved pain by 25%. He added that this provided more relief than opioid drugs such as codeine, and even more than that obtained from paracetamol (Tylenol). So the study concluded, “that there is robust evidence that alcohol is an effective painkiller.” Moreover, as one might suspect, the higher the level of alcohol in the blood, the greater is the relief of pain.
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland studied the effects of alcohol on 2,200 people who suffered from fibromyalgia and other painful chronic conditions. This study showed that the heaviest drinkers, those who consumed three to five drinks daily, were 67 percent less likely to experience pain than non-drinkers.
Another study carried out in Sweden and published in the British Medical Journal showed an interesting finding. Women who had three drinks a week had half the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than teetotalers.
These scientific results match every day commonsense. After all, we’ve all seen drunks who, while drinking to excess, get injured in the process. Yet they’re completely unaware of their injuries until they sober up.
It is disheartening to hear from readers who suffer from chronic pain. One wrote to me, “It’s suicide or drinking. But frankly, I prefer death.” Another, half in jest, said, “All my blessings come from God and good bourbon.” Yet we know that drinking away your pain is not the answer.
So is there truly an ingredient in alcohol that can relieve soul searching pain? It’s not easy to find out. Trevor Thompson concluded, “I hope that in the future drug producers are able to isolate specific compounds found in alcohol that provide the analgesic effects without the harmful effects of alcohol.”
I’d say “Amen” to the discovery of a pain-relieving molecule in alcohol. It would be a great bonanza to relief of human suffering, and the discovery should be awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
Today, patients have access to an abundance of painkillers. Unfortunately they all come with side-effects. Each year thousands of people are killed from an overdose of opioid drugs.
These painkillers are also associated with disabling constipation. Sadly, it remains the best kept secret that a starting dose of 2,000 milligrams (mg) of powered vitamin C, with an increasing dose of 2,000 mg every night, always produces good results. This natural remedy, available in health food stores, is overlooked while many people continue using over-the-counter laxatives that injure bowels.
So what’s my latest experience with medical cannabis? I recently believed I’d finally found a cure for chronic neck pain. Previously I had experimented with various brands of medical cannabis, such as oral oils and rub on creams. I may as well have been using water.
But then a cannabis producer announced the use of nanotechnology to produce medical cannabis. This means cannabis ingredients are reduced in size to penetrate the body easier. The result is an increased dose of cannabis directed to the area of pain.
The result? Unfortunately, it was another medical cannabis failure for me. But there is some good news. It’s getting close to five o’clock and a glass of Chardonnay with dinner beats all the medical cannabis I’ve tried.
Surely there’s a brilliant molecular scientist somewhere to find the magic pain molecule in alcohol.