According to a new study, drinking two beers in a row is a faster and more effective way to relieve pain than codeine or paracetamol. No, really.
Anyone who’s ever fallen arse-over-tip while drunk knows that alcohol dulls pain – it’s only the next morning that you begin to feel the damage from the night before.
However, a new study has found you don’t actually need to be intoxicated to enjoy the analgesic benefits of grog. Just two beers was shown to be more effective at combating pain than non-prescription painkillers.
Researchers from the University of Greenwich conducted a meta-analysis of 18 controlled experiments supporting the analgesic effects of alcohol. They observed that alcohol resulted in a small increase in pain threshold as well as a moderate-to-large decrease in pain ratings.
As you’d expect, higher blood alcohol content resulted in greater pain relief. However, a blood alcohol content of just 0.08 per cent -approximately two medium-strength beers – was enough to trump most commercial pain killers, including heavy-hitters like codeine.
Interestingly, the study concluded that this was a potentially bad thing for patients:
This meta-analysis provides robust evidence for the analgesic properties of alcohol, which could potentially contribute to alcohol misuse in pain patients. Strongest analgesia occurs for alcohol levels exceeding World Health Organization guidelines for low-risk drinking and suggests raising awareness of alternative, less harmful pain interventions to vulnerable patients may be beneficial.
Obviously, anyone who suffers from chronic pain shouldn’t be self-medicating with alcohol. However, for occasional pain relief we’d argue that two beers is no more harmful than a handful of paracetamol. It’s also tastier and more social.
You can find out more about the study in the Channel Nine video below.