Science says booze is a better painkiller than painkillers

A new study by researchers at Greenwich University says booze is a better pain killer than Tylenol.

The Huffington Post and a bunch of other sites are reporting that drinking 3-4 standard drinks can have a similar or better effect on pain than acetaminophen and can “reduce pain by up to a quarter.”

The findings, published in The Journal of Pain reviewed 18 controlled studies involving 404 participants.

According to the abstract, “A mean blood alcohol content (BAC) of approximately .08% (3–4 standard drinks) produced a small elevation of pain threshold … and a moderate to large reduction in pain intensity ratings.” Further increasing the BAC also increased the analgesic effect.

They’re not clear on whether alcohol consumption affects brain receptors or whether it lowers anxiety, which reduces our perception of pain.

They write, “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.”

Like every decent scientific study ever, researchers recommend further research.

They also say that, as the strongest analgesia unfortunately occurred for alcohol levels exceeding World Health Organization guidelines for low-risk drinking, they suggest raising awareness about less harmful pain interventions to vulnerable patients.

Lead author Trevor Thompson told The Sun (via HuffPo): “We have found strong evidence that alcohol is an effective painkiller.

“It can be compared to opioid drugs such as codeine and the effect is more powerful than paracetamol [which is British for Tylenol].

“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.”

I’m not entirely sold on this since I’ve taken many a Tylenol or Advil that has completely killed a headache or other type of pain, while booze has never had the same effect.

Nice headline though.