Alcohol dulls the pain better than paracetamol - study

Beer - dulls the pain (Getty)
Beer - dulls the pain (Getty)

A couple of beers is just as good - if not better - for easing pain as popping a couple of paracetamol tablets, a new study has found.

Researchers in the UK looked at 18 previous studies on patients with chronic pain. They found at a blood-alcohol content level of about 0.08 percent, patients reported "a small elevation of pain threshold" and a "moderate to large reduction in pain intensity ratings".

They said it explained why some people who experienced long-term pain problems turned to the bottle, rather than pills, to get through the day.

"Alcohol is an effective analgesic that delivers clinically relevant reductions in ratings of pain intensity, which could explain alcohol misuse in those with persistent pain despite its potential consequences for long-term health," the study read.

Whether it worked by dulling pain receptors or alleviating anxiety remained to be found out.

"[Alcohol] can be compared to opioid drugs such as codeine and the effect is more powerful than paracetamol," study leader Dr Trevor Thompson of Greenwich University told The Sun.

"If we can make a drug without the harmful side-effects, then we could have something that is potentially better than what is out there at the moment."

A blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent was until recently the legal limit for driving in New Zealand. It is now 0.05 percent for over-20s, and zero for under.

The findings were published in The Journal of Pain.