Archive for the ‘ALCOHOL’ Category

You can unpickle an alcohol-soaked brain after reading this article

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

pickle brain cartoon man image

If you’ve consumed too much alcohol in the past years, it is possible to unpickle your brain – but there’s a catch.

Mild pickling can cause subtle impairments that can be difficult for you to recognise, probably because you are already slightly impaired.

To do something about this, you have to be clear headed enough to recognise you are not as sharp and as functional as you were and that you could benefit from real medical help.

A report from the United Kingdom suggests 80 per cent of people with alcohol-related brain damage, ARBD, are undiagnosed.

It says three quarters of them could be helped. “Usually a person’s intellect will recover over a period of three months of complete alcohol abstinence,” the authors say.

But for those who have drunk heavily over the long term, recovery could take up to three years. Then there are some who never regain what was lost.

The report, Alcohol and Brain Damage in Adults, is the result of a collaboration between the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of General Practitioners, and the Association of British Neurologists.

It says ARBD is not a defined diagnostic category. Rather, it is an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of conditions that affect the brain and the nervous system.

People who have it are typically active and in their 40s, 50s and 60s. They have structural and chemical changes in the areas of the brain that influence memory and executive function.

Men who consume an average of 50 standard drinks a week for five years are highly likely to have such changes.

But often these changes are not diagnosed because of a lack of awareness among health professionals and because of the stigma associated with long term alcohol misuse.

The report says as the intellect improves through abstinence and treatment, so do these changes, as visualised by scans.

Medication managed


The evidence shows optimal results can be achieved when withdrawal and the maintenance of withdrawal are managed with medication, together with ongoing counselling and support. Vitamins are often necessary too.While vitamin B1 has protective properties and is given during the acute phases of withdrawal, others are used to counter malnutrition which, in itself, can be damaging.

The report calls for a co-ordinated approach to managing ARBD.

Because there are no established pathways of care, it says people either receive no care or are directed to inappropriate care.

Some eventually land up in nursing homes designed for older people with dementia.

Providing specialist services for people with ARBD can make a dramatic improvement to their quality of life, says Kenneth Wilson, editor of the report and professor of old age psychiatry at the University of Liverpool. It can also dramatically reduce hospital admissions.

Australia doesn’t have a comprehensive approach either, says Dan Lubman, Director of Turning Point and Professor of Addiction Studies and Services at Monash University.

He says services are under-funded and treatment is episodic.

While a variety of services supply different forms of support to people with problematic drinking– including online and telephone services – , it is not always easy for a person to find a longer-term comprehensive package that offers both medical and psychological care, as exists for many other chronic medical conditions.

Although alcohol misuse can cause considerable bodily harm, Lubman says it is not often treated as a medical issue.

Rather, it has been seen as something that belongs in the domain of social welfare.

“We often fail to understand that alcohol is a drug that affects brain systems, which is why we take it,” says Lubman, who is also chair of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ Section of Addiction Psychiatry.

“Because it is licit, people fail to recognise it is toxic, particularly if consumed above recommended levels regularly, and can cause problems for both the body and brain.”

It is estimated 2.5 per cent of the general population of Australia would have some alcohol-related brain changes on post mortem. The degree ranges from mild to severe.

Among heavy drinkers, some 25 per cent would have noticeable changes on post mortem.

Lubman says that the best place to go for anyone concerned about their alcohol consumption is to their general practitioner.

If necessary, from there they can be referred on to an addiction medical specialist or to a specialist alcohol treatment service.

If concerned about confidentiality, one starting point could be to seek advice anonymously online from Turning Point at

Why your recognition of your impairment is impaired

Jill Margo

A UK report says many people who have been drinking heavily for five years are unlikely to be aware of the effect this has had on their memory and their reasoning ability.

But their family, friends and employers are likely to have noticed.

These drinkers will probably also have ”furring” of their arteries in the brain which can lead to more permanent damage and can put them at risk of a stroke.

In general, their brains need up to three months of total abstinence to recover.

Recovery is much longer for serious long-term heavy drinkers. The changes in their brain are more permanent.

A major problem for them is getting enough vitamins. Even if they have good meals, many have problems absorbing vitamin B1 (thiamine). This and other vitamins are necessary for the brain to operate properly.

Without them brain damage can be permanent.

Typically, short-term memory has been affected. They appear able to maintain normal conversation but after a few minutes start to forget what has been discussed.

The same can happen to long-term memory and depending how seriously they are affected, they may lose up to 25 years’ worth of memories.

There is also a problem with false memories and when they can’t remember, they confabulate. Their brain tries to make sense of the world and fill in the gaps. They don’t recognise they are doing this.

Then there are problems with reasoning, difficulties with emotional issues and changes in behaviour.

They are unlikely to be aware that the front part of their brain, the main seat of reasoning and decision-making, is damaged.

This means they may not grasp the implications of decisions, particularly complicated ones in financial planning.

However, most can benefit from rehabilitation and dramatically improve over two to three years.

Others notice they have problems controlling impulses and managing risk. Socially they become unpredictable, they don’t comprehend the emotional needs of others and arguments or even relationship break-ups follow.

Optical microscopy helps to identify alcohol abuse damage in neurons at a molecular scale

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014
 alcohol abuse chart image

Researchers at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU; Spain) and the University of Nottingham in England have identified, for the first time, the structural damage caused at a molecular level to the brain by chronic, excessive alcohol abuse. Using a combination of techniques—including optical microscopy—the research team has determined the alterations produced in the neurons of the prefrontal cortex (which controls executive functions such as planning, designing strategies, working memory, selective attention, or control of behavior). The research could lead to new drug developments and therapies that enhance the life of people suffering from alcoholism, as well as reduce morbimortality due to alcoholism.

Related: Laser brain stimulation reduces alcohol consumption in rats

Dr. Luis F. Callado, Dr. Benito Morentin, and Dr. Amaia Erdozain of UPV/EHU, together with Dr. Wayne G. Carter’s team from the University of Nottingham, analyzed the postmortem brains of 20 people diagnosed with alcohol abuse/dependence alongside another 20 non-alcoholic brains. Studying the prefrontal cortex, researchers detected alterations in the neuronal cytoskeleton in the brains of alcoholic patients; in concrete, in the α- and β-tubulin and the β II spectrin proteins. These changes in the neuronal structure, induced by ethanol ingestion, can affect the organization, the capacity for making connections, and the functioning of the neuronal network, and could largely explain alterations in cognitive behavior and in learning attributed to people suffering from alcoholism

Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, May 30th, 2013


Caitie Keyes-Liley, 20, was used to hangovers – the headache, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness. But then a new symptom emerged. Panic.

The day after big drinking sessions she found herself replaying events of the night before, obsessing over gaps in her memory. She was paranoid she had done something badly wrong.

”I’ve [twice] had a panic attack when hung-over,” says Keyes-Liley, who now works as a librarian. ”One was immediately when I woke up, whereas the other was in the middle of the day when I’d had more time to think about [the night before].”


Keyes-Liley says she didn’t realise at first that her feelings of guilt and embarrassment were extreme. ”I sort of accepted that that’s what a hangover was, that you’d feel quite horrible about yourself.”

Emerging international research suggests she is only one of many drinkers who face persistent, unwanted thoughts after a night of boozing.

A study of 1400 Dutch students aged 18 to 30, published in March in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, found 8 per cent suffered anxiety during hangovers. More than a third of participants reported disorientation and half said they felt agitated.

A co-author of the study, psychologist Dr Adele McKinney, says it is clear that alcohol continues affecting the brain even after it has left the body.

I’s not the first study to report the correlation. In 2006, McKinney, a lecturer at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, found ”high levels of anxiety” in 48 healthy but hungover students.


The heavier drinkers, who weren’t more stressed than average at the beginning of the study, suffered worse emotional distress the day after drinking.

McKinney is concerned by a lack of public knowledge about the link between binge drinking and anxiety. ”An escalation of awareness needs to occur,” she says.

The Australian Medical Association reports the majority of Australians drink alcohol at levels that involve a risk of harm. The problem is worst among the young – 80 per cent of the alcohol intake of 18- to-24-year-olds is consumed at risky levels.

Mental health awareness groups, such as Beyondblue and Headspace, say that those with mental illnesses are more likely to drink to overcome negative emotions. They also warn that long-term alcohol abuse can cause anxiety and depression.


But the findings of McKinney and others suggest short-term alcohol abuse can also have mental health consequences, even for those with no history of mental illness.

End-of-year celebrations that offer regular and sustained drinking opportunities, including schoolies and Christmas parties, may be hazardous in ways not previously acknowledged.

A psychiatrist and associate professor at Flinders University in Adelaide, Dr Michael Baigent, who is also a national clinical adviser to Beyondblue, says alcohol can have a ”rebound effect”, leaving people feeling on edge.

”As the alcohol wears off, you lose the sedating effect,” Baigent says. He describes how the body metabolises alcohol into acetaldehyde, a chemical compound that produces ”very nasty symptoms” such as a fast pulse and anxiety.

Law student Will (who did not wish to be identified by his real name) says being hung-over can mean hours of feeling upset and stressed. ”It’s more than being hung-over or a little bit down,” he says. ”It’s like you’re against yourself.”

Like Keyes-Liley, Will often fixates on events of the night before. ”I do become really worried and anxious,” he says. ”It’s happened a couple of times with me where I need to call and talk to people and apologise.


”But then it’s not an issue with them. It’s more my anxiety, my paranoia, that I’ve done something or offended someone.”

A US blogger who has a master’s degree in psychology, Paul Dooley, tells how drinking precipitated his first panic attack.

”After a night of drinking with friends, my life changed forever,” he writes on his mental health blog, ”I remember reading a magazine and having nothing really on my mind, when I suddenly became overwhelmed with feelings of fear and confusion. After that night I stayed anxious for nearly six months straight.”

In online health forums, many people describe hangovers that involve overwhelming anxiety symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, racing heart rates and fears of insanity or death.

So what should drinkers do if they experience a panic attack? A Brisbane psychologist, Santo Russo, says sufferers should understand that anxiety during a hangover is a product of the alcohol. ”This is not you,” Russo says. ”Affirm for yourself that this will pass. Calm yourself – focusing on breathing is one important option to look at.”


While most people when hung-over will want to lie in bed, curled up in the foetal position, Russo says a distraction can also be really helpful

”You are better off trying to keep commitments, including work, the next day.’

Baigent says that while people should always seek help for mental problems, including recurrent anxiety after drinking, ”no psychiatric treatment will be better than reducing the alcohol you’re drinking”.

”No amount of cognitive behavioural therapy or anti-depressants will make a difference if you’re not cutting down,” he says. Baigent worries that many people who enjoy alcohol to reduce inhibitions will dismiss the next day’s woes, ”more enamoured by the help it gave them the night before”.

Russo is also concerned by the peer pressure associated with drinking. He says people who want to feel part of the group when drinking can succumb to pressure ”knowing that negative feelings the next day can be hidden”


Instead, Russo says, people at risk of an anxious hangover need to have a plan and stick to it. ”Let your friends know, ‘I’m only having two drinks.’ When they say, ‘Oh come on,’ you have to feel strong enough to say, ‘No, it’s not worth it.’

”Very few groups will ostracise someone for not keeping up. And if they do, you have to ask yourself, ‘Do I really want to be a part of this group?”’

Russo warns that drinking again the next morning is a ”huge trap”.

”Anyone who engages in that is setting themselves up for a problem. That’s how alcoholism starts. If the whole pattern is persisting, it’s important to actually seek help.’

Will admits he still drinks a lot. ”But I do cut it down after I’ve had an episode. It’s pretty exhausting. On top of having a hangover you’re mentally exhausted.’

But Keyes-Liley says after a bender earlier in the year she has drastically reduced her drinking. She can now resist the pressure to drink, even though ”it’s such a social norm”.

”I haven’t had a bad hangover in a really long time because I deliberately haven’t had a big night. Now I can go out and not have a lot to drink.”


Weathering the storm

Try to remain calm
Reassure yourself that the anxiety is a product of the alcohol consumed and will pass.

Distract yourself
Go to work and keep other commitments.

Reduce drinking
Drinking to reduce social anxiety can set you up for an anxious hangover; drinking to handle an anxiety hangover can set you up foralcoholism.

Seek help
Ask peers for their support in not encouraging you to drink to risky levels; seek professional help for persistent heavy drinking and  anxiety.

Costume Warehouse

Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Drink beer & lose weight!

I’ve been warning you away from some pretty awful diets lately – eating schemes loaded with everything from Twinkies to jelly beans.

So let me give you the lowdown on one crazy diet that might actually work: The Beer Diet!

Before I tap the keg on this one, let me get to one crucial little detail right up front: This isn’t a license to drink to excess each night, or skip out on the real food your body needs.

But if you want to have a couple of brews each night, go ahead – they won’t interfere with your weight-loss goals, and a new study shows they might even help shrink your belly.

Spanish researchers examined 1,249 men and women aged 57 or older, and found that daily beer drinkers were much less likely to suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure.

So far so good… but it gets even better, because this study also cuts the beer belly myth right open. The researchers say the beer drinkers had lower levels of body fat, were unlikely to gain weight, and some of them even lost it during the study period.

They say the secret isn’t the beer alone… but the things that usually accompany it.
Think chorizos instead of chips.

This study took place in Spain, after all – and the researchers say their volunteers ate a typical Mediterranean diet.

Now, I’m not a big fan of the trendy diet, but I will say this for it – while it’s low in the red meat your body needs, it’s also relatively low in carbs, especially sugar, and that means they’re on the right track.

And a couple of cold ones each night helps take the diet to the next level, because beer is bubbling over with amino acids and loaded with essential minerals including potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and copper.

It’s also rich in the dietary silicon that’s great for your bones, and some studies have even linked it to a lower risk of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Beer does contain a few carbs – but with benefits like that, they’re well worth the tradeoff.

Joining the brew crew,

William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.

Received & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Red wine battles cavities

Any reason to drink is a good one as far as I’m concerned, so here’s one more for the list: Red wine is good for your teeth.

No, I’m not drunk and I haven’t gone crazy – I know wine can darken your pearly whites if you’re not careful.

But the polyphenols in a good red can also stop the process that leads to cavities and tooth decay.

As you learned in kindergarten, sugar kicks this party off. But the sugar alone doesn’t do all the damage – it gets help from Streptococcus mutans, bacteria that basically eat the sugar and poop out glucans.

The glucans form a film on your teeth that then allow the bacteria to cling and cause decay and rot – and next thing you know, you’re screaming 7 kicking in a dentist’s chair.

But researchers have found that the polyphenols in fermented grape stems, skins, and seeds actually render S. mutans impotent, at least when it comes to all that glucan- making.

The researchers also found a similar effect with cranberries. And if you can eat or cook with plain cranberries, more power to you. But since most people have never seen a cranberry that wasn’t drowned in sugar and then sauced or juiced, let’s stick to the wine.

Researchers say the two best wines for bacteria-blocking polyphenols are Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. But they don’t recommend actually drinking those wines – oh no. That would be too easy.

These killjoys point out that wine can stain teeth, so instead they want to isolate the polyphenols and add them to toothpaste and mouthwash.

And that’s where this turns into hogwash – because you just know that rinse will be loaded with fluoride, too.

Since the benefits of wine go far beyond cavity prevention, don’t be afraid to drink up. And if you’re worried about stains, be sure to rinse with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide at the end of your evening.

Just remember to swallow your wine and spit your peroxide, and you’ll do just fine.

Wining and dining,

William Campbell Douglass II, M.D

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Back in 1918, a precursor of today’s dreaded avian flu virus wiped out over 20 million people worldwide. People tried everything to stop the onslaught. At least one folk remedy may have succeeded. The formula was handed down from generation to generation by a family in Stuttgart, Germany, who credit it with saving many lives.

Bird flu survivors credit astonishing fact

Why it really may have worked. The recipe calls for a quarter kilo of garlic and a quart of cognac. The cognac may act as a tincture, extracting powerful antiviral compounds that are known to exist in garlic. If you’ve got any type of flu, take 20 drops, 3 times a day. It was also used to prevent flu.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Arthritis Vanishes

so fast, “I am in a state of shock!”
Yet all this incredible new cure consists of is…

HUH? How can a recipe for gin-soaked raisins qualify as the arthritis home remedy of the century?

Hey, it wasn’t my decision, it’s yours! In the past few months, savvy Bottom Line readers like yourself have been writing to us in stunned amazement about their personal results from the Wilen Sisters’ famous raisin remedy…

What is this recipe? We’re printing a short version right here

**** FREE RECIPE! ****
The Amazing Gin-Soaked Raisin Remedy
  • 1/2 kg. golden raisins
  • gin (approximately 1 pint)
  • glass bowl (Pyrex® is good – crystal is bad)
  • glass jar with lid

Spread the golden raisins evenly on the bottom of the glass bowl and pour enough gin over them to completely cover. Let them stay that way until all the gin is absorbed. It may take 5 to 7 days.

When the gin is absorbed, transfer the raisins to the jar, put the lid on and keep it closed. Do not refrigerate.

Daily intake of several gin soaked raisens is a must.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Plusses of the ‘magic’ hangover cures

Fran Rimrod

December 8, 2010 – 7:54AM

The effects of having too much 'Christmas cheer'.The effects of having too much ‘Christmas cheer’.

After a hard night on the booze, you would do or pay just about anything to ease the headache, the nausea and the feeling as though you’re as dry as the Great Sandy Desert.

With the silly season in full swing, so are the parties and, along with that, the risk of having a little too much “Christmas cheer”.

The web bursts with tips and tricks to speed up the recovery from the more “self-induced morning sickness”, but a Perth nurse (who wishes to remain anonymous) revealed some of the medical guild’s most coveted secrets.

Over-indulging on alcohol is easy during the Christmas 'silly season', but prevention seems to be better than any cure.Over-indulging on alcohol is easy during the Christmas ‘silly season’, but prevention seems to be better than any cure.

“When some doctors or nurses have a bad hangover, they sometimes self-administer intravenous fluids or put on an oxygen mask for a while,” she said.

Perth-based National Drug Research Institute director Steven Allsop said he was familiar with the unorthodox practices, having heard about them “in medical school 30 years ago”.

Breathing in pure oxygen with a mask could help ease fatigue and oxygen-depletion caused by an alcohol binge, he said, while an IV drip could help alleviate the effects of dehydration a little faster than drinking fluids.

The most common hangover cures recommended by the online community are a hearty bacon and egg breakfast, a swig of Berocca or the infamous “hair of the dog”, otherwise known as the “counter-beer”.

According to the National Geographic website, strange remedies from around the world include pickled herring in Germany, tripe soup in Romania and sour pickle juice in Poland.

Another website,, lists remedies that range from lemon in the armpits, dried bull penis and licking your own sweat and spitting it out, to pickled sheep eyes and rabbit droppings.

The root of the rotten feeling

Professor Allsop said while science to date didn’t offer one single cure to relieve the sufferer, there were a variety of reasons why we feel bad when we drink.

“Some of it has to do with the metabolites from alcohol, and one of them is acetaldehyde, which is highly toxic and can make you feel very, very poorly,” he said.

“Alcohol is also diuretic, so you become dehydrated and that’s a particular issue in a country like ours, and some quench their thirst with alcohol, which is the worst thing you could do.

“It also impairs your sleep. You do fall asleep quickly initially, but it disturbs that deep, restful REM sleep.

“Some people react to congeners, which give flavour and colour to alcohol. So for some, the higher the number of congeners, the greater the negative effects.”

Professor Allsop also said the reason why people thought their hangovers got worse with age was that the older people got, the proportion of water and muscle tissue in the body decreased, while fat increased.

He said this could influence how long alcohol stayed in the body and how it affected the body. The same amount of alcohol people used to drink would have worse effects as they got older.

Rethink and replenish

Megan Alsford, a dietician with the Dietitian Association of Australia, said the loss of electrolytes, low blood sugar and damage to the lining of the digestive tract also added to the poorly feeling after too much alcohol.

She said there while there was no magic hangover cure, a sure bet to feel better was drinking plenty of water or an electrolyte-replacement drink and eating some fruit.

“An anti-inflammatory may help with the headaches, but try to eat before you take any tablets as they may irritate your stomach further,” she said.

“If all else fails, you may be best to go back to bed and let the liver do its job.

“One sure fire way of not getting a hangover is not to overdo it on the alcohol – prevention is better than cure.

“Failing that, have a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink, as one of the reasons for a hangover is dehydration. This method can prevent dehydration and slow yourself down so you don’t drink as much.

“Why not make it a sparkling water with a lemon or lime slice if water is a bit boring?”

Professor Allsop supported Mrs Alsford’s message, saying hangover prevention was “much better than putting yourself on a drip”.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Is booze is worse than crack?

Here’s one from the wacko-science files: Some nut actually thinks drinking alcohol is more dangerous than crack or meth.

Not only that, this nut actually claims you can have a “safe” heroin habit.

The nut in question is Dr. David Nutt, a man obsessed with living up to his name by trying to prove that illicit and dangerous drugs are far safer than a good booze habit.

And his latest “study” is an absolute masterpiece — not from a scientific point of view, of course, but from a public relations standpoint: The work earned him headlines around the world.

Too bad for him it’s a work of fiction.

Nutt created a list of 20 “drugs” and ranked them based on 16 measures of harm to both individual users and society as a whole.

Who assigned those rankings? Why, it was Dr. Nutt and his friends, of course. Nutt & Company.

And they “found” that alcohol — more widely used and therefore more widely abused — does far more overall harm than heroin, crack, meth, coke, pot and so on. What’s more, Nutt actually claims that heroin, for example, is safe if you use it in the form of a prescription opiate.

“Heroin itself is a medicine,” he said in a TV interview with the BBC. “All medicines are safe if used appropriately.”

Really? All of them?

I’d like to say that this Nutt has finally cracked — it’s a pretty good pun — but it’s clear this man lost it years ago.

He was fired from a government position last year for making similar claims about booze and drugs, and once even tried to develop an “antidote” to alcohol — which is kind of like creating an antidote to chicken.

But I don’t care what this Nutt says — a couple of drinks a day is not just acceptable for most people, it’s healthy. Moderate booze can boost heart and brain health, and even increase longevity.

I guess Dr. Nutt will not be enjoying those benefits.

Published by Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Louis Pasteur and the history  of Brewing Beer

Many historians believe that the ancient Sumerians and Mesopotamians were brewing as early back as 10,000 B.C. Even though this product would have been different from the bottles varieties of today, it would have still been recognizable. The ancient Egyptians and the Chinese brewed their beer, as did civilizations in America, where they used corn instead of barley. Back then, thousands of years ago, microbrews were very popular and on their way to what we now know and love today.

In the middle ages, European monks were the guardians of literature and science, as well as the art of making beer. They refined the process to perfection, and even institutionalized the use of hops as both flavoring and a preservative. It wasn’t however, until Louis Pasteur came along that a final, important development was determined. Until this time, brewers had to depend on the wild yet airborne yeast for fermentation. By establishing that yeast is actually a living organism, he opened the gates for controlling the conversion of sugar into alcohol. Grapes grow well in warmer climates, while barley grows better in cool climates. This is how the cold northern areas of Germany and England first became famous for their beers. *

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha