Food & Drink

Drinking two beers could be better pain relief than taking paracetamol

Posted by
Emily Reynolds
Published

A bacon sandwich, a bottle of Lucozade, a long walk or a day spent under the duvet – we all have a hangover cure that we faithfully swear by. But sometimes, when things are really bad, only one thing will do the job: hair of the dog.

There are numerous theories as to why this is the case – science writer Adam Rogers, for example, has argued that because a hangover could be the symptom of “very small amounts of methanol” in the body, drinking alcohol could “displace the methanol off the enzyme” and make us feel better.

And a new study, from the slightly terrifyingly named Journal of Pain, suggests that it could be because alcohol is a pretty effective painkiller.

Their research suggests, in fact, that alcohol is such an effective painkiller that it delivers “clinically-relevant reductions in ratings of pain intensity”, and that drinking a few beers could be more effective than taking painkillers.

Researchers found that elevating blood-alcohol levels to 0.08% (the equivalent of about two pints) led to a “moderate to large reduction in pain intensity ratings”, and suggest that a treatment without the bad side effects of alcohol (y’know – throwing up when you drink too much, or the horrifying Fear the next day, or making even worse decisions than usual) could actually be more effective than many commercially available painkillers.  

It’s not all good news though (obviously). Though alcohol does indeed decrease pain, this can often cause alcohol misuse – so you’re probably better off sticking to your paracetamol for now, tbh.