How to treat a hangover? Some argue for rest and electrolytes. Some for Tylenol. Some swear that “hair of the dog” cures what ails you.
Well, a recent study out of the UK found that the “hair of the dog” camp was onto something.
According to the study, published in the Journal of Pain, drinking two pints of beer is more effective at relieving pain than over-the-counter pain medicine like Tylenol.
The paper was a meta-analysis of 18 different studies involving 404 participants that looked at beer’s ability to dull pain intensity and boost the pain threshold. The authors found that once participants hit a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08, or about four drinks, there was a small rise in participants’ pain thresholds.
However, that 0.08 BAC showed a substantial effect on lowering the participants’ pain intensity. “We found that when people were given alcohol, their pain ratings were around 25 percent lower compared to when nothing was administered or a placebo was given,” said coauthor Trevor Thompson of London University of Greenwich.
“It can be compared to opioid drugs such as codeine and the effect is more powerful than [acetaminophen],” said Thompson.
Researchers aren’t yet sure why that effect occurs—whether beer blunts the sensation of pain by working on brain receptors, or if it lowers anxiety which in turn reduces the perception of pain.
But don’t reach for that pint just yet.
For one thing, the type of pain that the studies examined was different than the type of pain that pain medications treat. “The studies that we looked at used short-term, acute pain that