Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Drinking alcohol with a headcold: Highly recommended

I just spent a week in Jerez, Spain with a mild headcold: sore throat, slight fever. Not the flu. Not enough to keep me from all the wineries and all the meals.

I took ibuprofen in the mornings for the sore throat, and acetaminophen in the evenings (pro tip: it doesn't upset your stomach, making it a better painkiller when you're drinking, though it doesn't fight inflammation).

But my best painkiller was Sherry. I felt rundown every morning until we got to a winery, and I got some of that 15% alcohol Fino in me. Then I started feeling better. When we drank buckets of Manzanilla in the evening, I felt great!

This is something your doctor won't tell you, because doctors in the US are afraid to say anything good about alcohol. Of course alcohol is not bad for you when you're sick: most cough syrups and other liquid medications are alcohol-based, which is why true alcoholics have a hard time with headcolds.

You need to drink enough water so that you don't get dehydrated. I went through 12 personal 1.5-liter bottles in six days, not counting all the water I drank at restaurants.

Alcohol simply made me feel better. Unless you have stomach symptoms, I highly recommend it. There's a reason that most patent medicines of the 1800s had a lot of alcohol in them: it works.

Not many people with headcolds can drink in the morning, every morning, like The World's Best Wine Blogger (Roederer Award, 2013) visiting a wine region. But if you can, you should -- you'll feel better.

As for nighttime, you should up the dosage, so you can get to sleep. Here's my best nighttime cold remedy. Keep some lemons and honey around for flu season:
2-3 oz Bourbon or brandy (rum will do)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp honey
Boiled water
Fresh mint (optional)

Pour lemon, honey and booze in a large mug. Fill with hot water. Drink 'er up. If one of these is insufficient, you're not using enough booze.

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12 comments:

Waynegrape said...

Totally agree with this! Here in Friuli grappa is the base-booze of choice.
I DO object, however, to your endorsement of acetaminphen... It is extremely toxic to the liver and should be avoided al all costs in conjunction with alcohol!
http://www.envtox.ucdavis.edu/cehs/toxins/acetalc.htm

W. Blake Gray said...

What do you suggest as a substitute?

Unknown said...

have to agree with waynegrape. you should never take acetaminophen if you drink alcohol regularly. as for a substitute- why take anything? give your body a chance to take care of the infection. the reason your temp goes up when you're sick is because the higher temp kills off a lot of the pathogens. We take pain killers a lot of the time because we think of them as making us better. You're already having a night cap to help any pain- you really are better off skipping anything else.

W. Blake Gray said...

My doctor recommends larger-than-normal single doses of painkillers when one truly feels symptoms. "I'm not into pain," he says.

He's the one who recommended acetaminophen if I was drinking alcohol, though with caution not to exceed the daily limits.

rapopoda said...

hmmn. Paracetamol and booze makes me really nervous. It is toxic to the liver at ca. 4g + per day. My understanding, from speaking to docs, is that if your liver function is compromised in some way, that amount can be less.
I'd never risk the double stress on the liver.

Bob Henry (Los Angeles wine industry professional) said...

Blake,

See this Harvard Medical School advisory against mixing alcohol and "Tylenol" (acetaminophen).

Link: http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/overdoing-acetaminophen.shtml

A better approach: switch the order of ingestion for your over-the-counter pain reducers.

"Advil" (ibuprofen) at night after imbibing.

"Tylenol" (acetaminophen) in the morning after completely metabolizing alcohol from the night before.

And one more piece of advice: consider ingesting an acid reducer like PepCid AC (famotidine) or ZANTAC (ranitidine hydrochloride) before imbibing, to lessen the "sour stomach" some experience after drinking alcohol.

(Purportedly, physician-cum-wine enthusiasts "in the know" ingest activated charcoal pills before imbibing. They can be procured from your neighborhood pharmacist. Personally, I've not investigated this technique.)

(signed)

"Doctor Feelgood"

Andrew Walter said...

I am a physician-cum-wine enthusiast....

Bob Henry is right on all accounts...I would also keep the dosing to <2 grams per day total and would not take it everyday

Charcoal pills will absorb the ETOH and prevent you from getting drunk to some degree...but what in the heck is the point of that?? And, it will make your BMs "charcoal-y"...eww

Andrew Walter said...

I am a physician-cum-wine enthusiast....

Bob Henry is right on all accounts...I would also keep the dosing to <2 grams per day total and would not take it everyday

Charcoal pills will absorb the ETOH and prevent you from getting drunk to some degree...but what in the heck is the point of that?? And, it will make your BMs "charcoal-y"...eww

Bob Henry (Los Angeles wine industry professional) said...

Andrew,

I wan't planning "to go" there about the byproducts of activated charcoal pills . . . (eww)

~~ Bob

Bob Henry (Los Angeles wine industry professional) said...

BLAKE,

SINCE WE ARE DISCUSSING "INDULGENCE," MIGHT I ASK YOURS TO POSE A QUESTION TO THE "GOOD DOCTOR" WALTER?

YOU QUIPPED: "Charcoal pills will absorb the EtOH [a.k.a. ethanol, drinking alcohol] and prevent you from getting drunk to some degree...but what in the heck is the point of that??"

WHAT HAS BECOME THE FATE OF “SOBER UP” PILLS? MY RESEARCH ON THE SUBJECT GOES COLD CIRCA 2006.

~~ BOB

Excerpt from New York Times “U.S.” Section
(November 28, 1986):

“Tests Said to Show New Drug Reverses Intoxication”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/1986/11/28/us/tests-said-to-show-new-drug-reverses-intoxication.html?pagewanted=print

By Associated Press

Government researchers are testing a drug that quickly reverses or prevents the intoxicating effects of alcohol, and they say it could potentially be used to sober up drunken people or to treat those who suffer from alcoholism.

While the researchers acknowledge that the [Ro 15-4513 chemical] substance offers a quick way to become immediately sober for those who drink too much, the researchers say ethical and legal considerations may stand in its way.

Scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health, in a paper to be published in the next issue of the journal “Science,” say the substance, a synthetic compound, blocks the intoxicating and inhibition-erasing effects of alcohol in rats.

. . .

Excerpt from the Los Angeles Times
(January 6, 1987):

“The Sad Fate of a Swiss Sober-Up Pill"

[Link: not available]

By John Brennan
"Your Prescriptions" Column

As we celebrated the New Year with parties, many livened up by drinking alcoholic beverages. What would be better to contemplate than to be able to drink one's fill, then take a tablet and, presto, become sober again. Such a drug is on the horizon and it is now known only by its code name, Ro15-4513.

About three years ago, pharmaceutical chemists of the giant Swiss company, Hoffman LaRoche, discovered this drug . . .

To confirm these findings, Drs. Peter Suzdak, John Glowa, Jaqueline Crawley, Rochelle Schwartz, Phil Skolnick and Steven Paul of the U.S. National Institutes of Health repeated the experiments. Not only were the original observations of the effects of Ro15-4513 confirmed, the mechanism of the action of the drug was clearly delineated.

. . .

Excerpt from Science Daily
(May 10, 2006):

“How Drug Binds To Neurons To Stop Drunken Symptoms Of Alcohol”

Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060510192138.htm

UCLA researchers discovered how an experimental drug, called Ro15-4513, binds to specific receptors on brain neurons, which helps explain how this drug stops the drunken behavioral symptoms of alcohol such as impaired motor coordination, memory loss and drowsiness.

. . .

Andrew Walter said...

I've not heard anything about this one way or another. Seems interesting...but then again impaired motor coordination, memory loss and drowsiness is the best part :)

Bob Henry (Los Angeles wine industry professional) said...

Andrew,

Would I find a copy of Ogden Nash's quote hanging in your wine cellar?:

“Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”

~~ Bob

(Curious aside: Are you the Dr. Walter of northern California, or Delaware? I'm guessing the former . . .)