In a new study, researchers found drinking alcohol moderately is linked to reduced depression and chronic pain.
The research was conducted by pain researchers from Michigan University.
Currently, in the U.S., moderate drinking is defined as two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
Previous studies have shown that in older people, moderate drinking could provide several health benefits.
The benefits include lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and dementia and higher physical function and quality of life.
In the current study, the team examined alcohol drinking in people seeking treatment for chronic pain or fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a condition that leads to widespread pain throughout the body. It can affect the patient’s mood, cognitive functions, and sleep quality.
The researchers surveyed 2,583 people with chronic pain and fibromyalgia. They asked these patients about their drinking habits, pain symptoms, body function, anxiety, and depression.
They found patients with chronic pain tend to drink less than the general population.
About 50% of patients also used opioid for pain relief. Opioid drugs could bring serious health risks when combined with alcohol.
The team also found that patients who drank moderately were less likely to use opioids. They also reported less pain, lower anxiety and depression, and better body function.
In addition, people with fibromyalgia who drank moderately also reported reduced pain and depression. But they still experience other related symptoms.
The team suggests that drinking alcohol could increase GABA in the brain and that is why it could bring some psychiatry effects.
According to the researchers, GABA is a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It is responsible for reducing the activity of neurons.
Drugs that act on GABA often have relaxing effects.
The researchers suggest that moderate drinking may help people who experience chronic pain.
However, doctors cannot recommend this to patients because alcohol can also bring many health risks such as cancer and addiction.
In addition, many pain medications can interact with alcohol and harm the patient.
The team suggests patients tell doctors about the pain-relieving effects and reduced depression that are linked to moderate alcohol drinking.
Future research should find the appropriate intake of alcohol for pain relief.
The lead author of the study is Ryan Scott, MPH, of the Michigan Medicine Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center.
The study is published in Pain Medicine.
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