Does alcohol have any medicinal properties? It had better, or some of our mothers have a lot of explaining to do. In years past there has been more than one occasion when someone in the household was given a delicious hot toddy while suffering the ravages of a belligerent cold.
Of course, we’re all aware of the fact that some over-the-counter cough syrups contain small amounts of alcohol as well. We’re assuming it’s in there because it helps. Otherwise, there would be no reason to include it.
What does history say about it?
Historically speaking, alcohol has been mentioned throughout the ages for its medicinal properties. This could be the result of historians just wanting to promote drinking, but we doubt it. Especially since alcohol consumption is mentioned more than 190 times in the Bible, and several of these mentions are medicinal in context.
According to research from Potsdam University, the biblical references to medicinal alcohol are just the starting point. Their research shows that, even in the modern era, alcohol has been consistently looked upon as helpful in moderation.
For example, in the early 1900s there was already evidence mounting to suggest moderate alcohol consumption is good for the heart. Potsdam cites a number of studies to back up this claim, including a published article from the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1904.
Why is alcohol good for the heart?
You might think alcohol is good for the heart because it makes you feel good. And anything promoting positive feelings must be heart healthy, right? Well, have no fear, it goes much further than the temporary emotions of euphoria you experience after slamming down a few mojitos.
According to WebMD, moderate alcohol consumption is good for the heart because of how alcohol interacts with the cardiovascular system. They claim alcohol in moderation can reduce bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and minimize damage to arteries and blood vessels.
It’s also pretty well known that alcohol consumption slows down your heart rate. It’s almost like forcing your heart to sit down and relax for a while, rather than always going full speed ahead. Of course, moderation is the key. Excessive drinking can negate any possible benefits of alcohol consumption.
What is considered moderate alcohol consumption?
So far this article has been pretty positive. After all, we’ve given you reasons to continue drinking and be happy about it. But don’t take what you read here as an excuse to binge drink like so many sailors on leave after 12 months at sea. Practice moderation.
Drugs.com echoes what most other sources say in terms of moderate drinking. In specific terms they define moderate drinking as no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks for men. A single drink is equivalent to one beer, half a glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
In more general terms, moderate drinking is defined as that which does not make you drunk. However, that definition can be a shaky from one person to the next. All of us probably know people on either side of that scale. One friend may get drunk just by sniffing a wine cork while another friend needs an entire keg before he starts losing his inhibitions. It seems best to stick to the specific numbers previously mentioned.
What about alcohol and other medications?
To be clear, don’t confuse using alcohol as a medicine with consuming alcohol while taking medications. For example, are you familiar with those warnings of drowsiness and operating heavy equipment you see on over-the-counter drug labels? Don’t ignore them.
There are a lot of different drugs with which alcohol doesn’t play nicely. Any drug that makes you drowsy or impairs your functioning should never be paired with drinking. If you’re taking over-the-counter or prescription drugs, follow all the warnings provided before you drink.
Can you recommend any home remedies?
In case your mom or dad didn’t think it was a good idea to give you alcohol in a homemade concoction to help a variety of maladies, like ours did, we’ll let you know just a few of the home remedies mom used to make. We’re not endorsing these, mind you; we’re just passing along a bit of information. Please remember that.
We’ve already mentioned the hot toddy, but a close cousin is the hot tea and tequila. The key with this drink is to find a tea with a flavor that does not clash with the tequila. It won’t do you any good if the mixture is so offensive it makes you vomit all over yourself. Unless, of course, induced vomiting is one of your goals.
If you’re not partial to tequila, the hot Cuban is another favorite among medicinal alcohol consumers. The hot Cuban combines tea, rum, and amaretto. Once again, be careful about your choice of teas.
If you prefer vodka, the possibilities are almost endless. People have been known to use vodka to clean wounds, disinfect boils and blisters, annihilate foot odor, stop the spread of poison ivy, and treat earache. Some people even rub it on the back and chest as a liniment.
It’s fair to say that alcohol does have some uses as a medicinal product. Just don’t go overboard. Used in moderation it can do wonders for helping you self-heal. Enjoy!