Alcohol consumption creeps up. Our society enjoys a drink. We love to toast and celebrate, “wine down”, share a quiet few. It’s a wonderful element of Australian custom…except that it often gets out of hand.
There’s something awesome about stopping alcohol totally for a few weeks. Clarity, freshness, and easeful mornings to name a few.
The idea of periodic sobriety has caught on. Projects such as Febfast, Dry July and Oct-sober. These are brilliant, win-win-win scenario. One month of the year, providing great rest for the body (gut, liver, nervous system), a supportive group movement and healthy social experiment, all whilst raising money for worthy causes. And if you’re involved in one, it’s easier to say “no” to alcohol without creating suspicion of being an alcoholic or pregnant, or being chided for not conforming to the social mores.
There’s no need to explain anything, you just say “Febfasting”. No questions asked.
Alcohol is a phenomenal drug.
In November 2009 a study published in the Lancet described how alcohol, when considered in the wholistic context of social effects as wells as physical and emotional effects, caused more harm than the use of heroin. The costs of alcohol’s effects are significant on a personal, family, community, national and international level.
As a socially accepted drug, excessive consumption and problem drinking, often slips under the radar as ‘normal’.
While studying naturopathy at university, one laboratory experiment demonstrated how high proof alcohol destroyed all cells they contacted. Alcohol at varying percentages essentially destabilises cell membranes, often causing to the cell content to spill into the surrounding tissue.
In the same period as undertaking this study, I was massaging people in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation community. My clients were recovering from all types of drug abuse, from heroin to pharmaceuticals. I vividly recall massaging a man who was an alcoholic. The lack of vitality his body tissue emitted was like nothing else I had sensed before. It was as though he was only partly alive.
Alcohol mixes easily with water. Therefore it infiltrates the whole body, potentially effecting all tissues.
Alcohol negatively affects all organ systems in the body. As a diuretic, it places stress on the kidneys and can lead to dehydration. The gut often expresses its challenge as heartburn. Alcohol initially increases gastric secretions, and with extended use decreases them, interfering with digestive ability. The irritation to the stomach lining from excessive alcohol can be combated by producing mucous and may cause vomiting.
Once absorbed into the blood alcohol is metabolised by the liver, which can effectively convert the alcohol contained in one standard drink every hour. More than one standard drink an hour can damage the liver. It also results in an increase in the blood concentration of alcohol and a compound called acetaldehyde, which damage surrounding tissues.
Eventually alcohol is changed in the body to tetrahydroisoquinolines (TIQs), substances that bind to the pleasure centres, conferring a feeling of well being. TIQs may sound like fun, however they slow down the body’s production of homemade pleasure-inducing molecules and increase the quantity of the enzyme that break down feel-good molecules, often leaving people feeling flat and reaching for another drink. The balance of other neurotransmitters is disrupted too, as the body inherently attempts to balance the effects of alcohol.
Binge drinking consists of excessive drinking over a continuous period of time. The exact number of beverages varies depending upon who has created the definition, but starts at 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men. Binge drinking damages the brain in a frightening way. Alcohol is a depressant for the brain as it increases the neurotransmitter GABA, which acts like Valium. To balance this rise, the brain produces a load of excitatory neurotransmitters, called Glutamate.
While drinking, the alcohol is coming in, and everything’s fine. When alcohol consumption stops, the GABA level drops quickly, leaving high levels of Glutamate in the brain. In a quest of normalcy, a complex mechanism involving a change in calcium and magnesium levels, reduces the glutamate concentration but kills brain cells in the process.
What dies with those cells can be delicious life memories and your sparkly clarity of thinking.
Last but not least, the energy content of the alcohol is great, almost equivalent in energy per gram as fat. This caloric energy can be transformed into storage compounds and then it can access the fat cells.
Think beer belly.
Abstinence for a month is an excellent opportunity for the innate repair mechanisms of the body to catch up on the silly seasons shenanigans. It also helps to “reset” your social drinking patterns. Alcohol is so integral to the Australian way of life. The weekend barbeque, a game of footy, an exhibition opening, indeed most gatherings invariably involve some form of alcohol consumption. Humans from the Neolithic era, to the Ancient Greeks and Romans and beyond, have all enjoyed wine in abundance. Thousands of years of enjoyment are hardly going to stop, however it’s refreshing to detach from it all for a moment and clear out negative patterns of alcohol consumption.
Another great project to check out is Hello Sunday Morning
Tips for alcohol-free periods
- Explore mocktails or drinking bitters lime and soda
- Consider herbal support of St Mary’s thistle seed.
- Take a quality Vitamin B complex daily, preferably food derived.
- Add GMO-free refrigerated Lechithin, to your cereal
- Discuss a relevant regime of supplements which could include Vitamins A, C and E and minerals Zinc, Selenium, calcium and magnesium
- Enlist the help of a trained practitioner to support you individually
This is one element of Sparkle Detox Course – a step-by-step, effective and safe, body tissue cleansing process designed by Naturopath Sally Mathrick. If you haven’t already, join Sparkle Detox. You’ll have life-time access to wholistic, doable, ‘delicious-with-benefits’ practices to keep your precious body-mind healthy, fresh and vital. JOIN NOW
Copyright Sally Mathrick – please cite www.sparklewell.com.au if using this information. Written Oct 2010 and previously published in Wellbeing Australia