Alcohol consumption is prevalent since ancient times. Health benefits of alcohol consumption are explained in detail.
A verse from an ancient Ayurveda text –
madyam svabhaavena yathaiva annam tathaa smrutam |
ayuktiyuktam rogaaya yuktiyuktam yathaa amrutam ||
Alcohol is quite similar to any other food. Alcohol in moderation is similar to nectar, but excessive alcohol consumption, without any control or planning leads to diseases.
Qualities of alcohol
Qualities of alcohol according to Ayurveda –
- light to digest
- penetrates deep into body tissues
- hot in nature
- spreads through out the body pretty quickly
- Imparts dryness to the body
- sweet, sour,bitter, astringent and pungent in taste.
Alcohol health benefits
Health benefits of alcohol in moderation –
- Improves strength
- Relieves stress
- Improves body nourishment
- Improves intelligence
- Helps in sleep
- Improves digestion
- Good for heart and respiratory system
- Improves tone of the voice.
Who should not drink alcohol –
According to Ayurveda,
- people having anger, fearful,
- suffering from excessive thirst and hunger,
- suffering from severe grief, panic attacks,
- excessively tired due to exercise, long travel should not drink alcohol.
Alcohol therapeutic utility
Therapeutic Utility of Alcoholic Drinks
मद्यं तैक्ष्ण्यौष्ण्यवैशद्यसूक्ष्मत्वात् स्रोतसां मुखम्|
प्रमथ्य विवृणोत्याशु तन्मोक्षात् सप्त धातवः||१६६||
पुष्यन्ति धातुपोषाच्च शीघ्रं शोषः प्रशाम्यति|
madyaṃ taikṣṇyauṣṇyavaiśadyasūkṣmatvāt srotasāṃ mukham|
pramathya vivṛṇotyāśu tanmokṣāt sapta dhātavaḥ||166||
puṣyanti dhātupoṣācca śīghraṃ śoṣaḥ praśāmyati|
Madya (alcoholic drinks) is Teekshna (sharp), Ushna (hot) Vishada (non- slimy) and Sookshma (which can penetrate subtle channels) in its property. Therefore, it is capable of forcefully and quickly opening the orifices of srotas (channels of circulation) as a result of which 7 categories of tissue element get proper nourishment. [Charaka Chikitsasthana 8/166-167]
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have found that moderate intoxication with alcohol helps a person to notice minor changes in a visual scene. The research article was published online in the journal Consciousness and Cognition. The research clearly suggests that moderate amount of alcohol would increase the power to perceive things more clearly.
References from Charaka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana, 24th chapter:
Good effects of Alcohol Taken in appropriate manner:
हर्षमूर्जं मुदं पुष्टिमारोग्यं पौरुषं परम् |
युक्त्या पीतं करोत्याशु मद्यं सुखमदप्रदम्||६१||
harṣamūrjaṃ mudaṃ puṣṭimārogyaṃ pauruṣaṃ param |
yuktyā pītaṃ karotyāśu madyaṃ sukhamadapradam||61||
Alcohol taken in appropriate manner produces
• Harsha – Exhilaration
• Urja – energy
• Mudam – happiness (mental satisfaction),
• Pushti – nourishment,
• Aarogyam – good health,
• Paurushyam – excellent virility and
• Sukha madya – pleasant intoxication instantaneously. 
In Praise of Alcohol Taken Appropriately
रोचनं दीपनं हृद्यं स्वर वर्ण प्रसादनम्|
प्रीणनं बृंहणं बल्यं भय शोक श्रमापहम्||६२||
स्वापनं नष्ट निद्राणां मूकानां वाग्विबोधनम्|
बोधनं चातिनिद्राणां विबद्धानां विबन्धनुत्||६३||
वध बन्ध परिक्लेश दुःखानां चाप्यबोधनम्|
मद्योत्थानां च रोगाणां मद्यमेव प्रबाधकम्||६४||
अपि प्रवयसां मद्यमुत्सवामोदकारकम्||६५||
पञ्चस्वर्थेषु कान्तेषु या रतिः प्रथमे मदे|
यूनां वा स्थविराणां वा तस्य नास्त्युपमा भुवि||६६||
बहुदुःखहतस्यास्य शोकेनोपहतस्य च|
विश्रामो जीव लोकस्य मद्यं युक्त्या निषेवितम्||६७||
rocanaṃ dīpanaṃ hṛdyaṃ svara varṇa prasādanam|
prīṇanaṃ bṛṃhaṇaṃ balyaṃ bhaya śoka śramāpaham||62||
svāpanaṃ naṣṭa nidrāṇāṃ mūkānāṃ vāgvibodhanam|
bodhanaṃ cātinidrāṇāṃ vibaddhānāṃ vibandhanut||63||
vadha bandha parikleśa duḥkhānāṃ cāpyabodhanam|
madyotthānāṃ ca rogāṇāṃ madyameva prabādhakam||64||
api pravayasāṃ madyamutsavāmodakārakam||65||
pañcasvartheṣu kānteṣu yā ratiḥ prathame made|
yūnāṃ vā sthavirāṇāṃ vā tasya nāstyupamā bhuvi||66||
bahuduḥkhahatasyāsya śokenopahatasya ca|
viśrāmo jīva lokasya madyaṃ yuktyā niṣevitam||67||
Alcohol taken appropriately produces invigorating effects as follows:
It promotes Rochana (appetite), Dipanam (stimulates the power of digestion), Hrdyam (tones up the heart), promotes Svara (voice) and Varna (complexion), Prasadanam (produces the feeling of refreshment) and Prinanam (corpulence), balyam (increases strength), and removes Bhaya (fear), Shoka (grief) and Shrama (fatigue).
Patients suffering from insomnia enjoy sound sleep by taking alcohol and it stimulates in timid persons(Muka= dumb);
It helps persons having excessive sleep to remain awake and causes bowel movement in constipated patients.
It renders the mind insensitive to the miseries of injury, imprisonment and fatigue.
Alcohol itself cures the diseases caused by its excessive and inappropriate intake.
It represents erotic passion, and when associated with an object, it promotes the association of pleasure in it.
It stimulates passion and hilarity even in persons of old age.
The enjoyment derived from the 5 enjoyable objects of senses by the young or old during the first stage of alcoholic intoxication has no parallel in this world and
It provides respite to persons afflicted with multitudinous suffering and grief. [62-67]
Appropriateness of Alcohol Intake
अन्नपान वयो व्याधि बलकाल त्रिकाणि षट्|
त्रीन्दोषांस्त्रिविधं सत्त्वं ज्ञात्वा मद्यं पिबेत्सदा||६८||
तेषां त्रिकाणामष्टानां योजना युक्तिरुच्यते|
यया युक्त्या पिबन्मद्यं मद्यदोषैर्न युज्यते||६९||
मद्यस्य च गुणान् सर्वान् यथोक्तान् स समश्नुते|
धर्मार्थयोरपीडायै नरः सत्त्वगुणोच्छ्रितः||७०||
सत्त्वानि तु प्रबुध्यन्ते प्रायशः प्रथमे मदे|
द्वितीयेऽव्यक्ततां यान्ति मध्ये चोत्तम मध्ययोः||७१||
सस्य सम्बोधकं वर्षं, हेम प्रकृति दर्शकः|
हुताशः, सर्वसत्त्वानां मद्यं तूभयकारकम्||७२||
प्रधानावरमध्यानां रूपाणां व्यक्ति दर्शकः|
यथाऽग्निरेवं सत्त्वानां मद्यं प्रकृति दर्शकम्||७३||
annapāna vayo vyādhi balakāla trikāṇi ṣaṭ|
trīndoṣāṃstrividhaṃ sattvaṃ jñātvā madyaṃ pibetsadā||68||
teṣāṃ trikāṇāmaṣṭānāṃ yojanā yuktirucyate|
yayā yuktyā pibanmadyaṃ madyadoṣairna yujyate||69||
madyasya ca guṇān sarvān yathoktān sa samaśnute|
dharmārthayorapīḍāyai naraḥ sattvaguṇocchritaḥ||70||
sattvāni tu prabudhyante prāyaśaḥ prathame made|
dvitīye’vyaktatāṃ yānti madhye cottama madhyayoḥ||71||
sasya sambodhakaṃ varṣaṃ, hema prakṛti darśakaḥ|
hutāśaḥ, sarvasattvānāṃ madyaṃ tūbhayakārakam||72||
pradhānāvaramadhyānāṃ rūpāṇāṃ vyakti darśakaḥ|
yathā’gnirevaṃ sattvānāṃ madyaṃ prakṛti darśakam||73||
One should always drink alcohol with due regard to the 3 varieties of each of the 6 factors, viz food drinks, age, diseases, strength and season and of the Doshas and mental faculties.
Proper application of the triads of these 8 factors is called Yukti or appropriateness in view, and then a person does not suffer from the evil effects of drinking. On the other hand, he with his exalted state of mind enjoys all the good effects of alcohol as stated before without endangering Dharma (religious virtues) and Artha (satisfaction of senses).
During the first stage of intoxication, the mental facilities generally get stimulated.
During the second stage and in between the second and third stages of intoxication, these faculties get suppressed or become unmanifested.
Simile – As the rain stimulates the growth of crops, and fire demonstrates the real nature (Purity) of gold, similarly, alcohol both stimulates and demonstrates the minds of all creatures.
As fire demonstrates the nature of superior, medium and inferior qualities of gold, similarly alcohol demonstrates the characteristic features of the (different types of) mind. [68- 73]
Disclaimer / warning:
- I, being a teetotaler, never advise people who are not into alcohol to start drinking alcohol.
- Do not start alcohol just because of the above benefits. There are plenty other ways and means to get the above-said health benefits. If you want freshness of mind, and feel happy, go to Youtube and watch some funny videos, if you want to improve digestion, eat ginger, if you want to improve respiratory health, have some tulsi and turmeric.
- This article is only for those who are already accustomed to alcohol, and who believe in self control.
- Never drive after you drink.
- Even regular alcoholics should take a break from alcohol for weeks – months period for a better health.
Effects of excessive alcohol consumption
Effects of alcohol – Ayurveda perspective –
Depleted physical interest, lack of control over mind, irrational decision-making, gastritis, ulcers, psychotic features.
Ayurveda explains effect of alcohol in four stages.
- Increased intellect and memory, love towards all, feels happy, increased physical interest and sleep.
- Increased interest in songs, dance, elated mood, high self-esteem and high beliefs.
- Lack of co-ordination in speech and activities
- slurred speech,
- restlessness, laziness
- Depends on others for support in walking
- Abusive language
- Irrational speech and eating habits
- Severe Vata and kapha imbalance
- Irrational behavior
- Lack of analytical capacity
- Psychotic features.
Effects of alcohol on Tridosha
Alcohol affects Vata Dosha and leads to – hiccups, breathing difficulties, tremors, headache, bloating, abdominal pain, lack of sleep, irrelevant talk.
Alcohol affects Pitta Dosha and leads to excessive thirst and hunger, sweating, delusion, diarrhoea, liver disorders.
Alcohol affects Kapha Dosha and leads to vomiting, lack of interest in food, nausea, feeling sleepy and feeling tired all the time.
Effects of alcohol indigestion – Bloating, belching, chest pain, headache, unconsciousness, fever.
Effects on brain and mind
- Altered or decreased functionality of sense organs. – Lack of proper visual and hearing abilities.
- Slow reaction to stimulus
- Depleted judgement ability
- Hallucinations, delirium, elated feelings, superiority complex
- Fits, confusion, mood changes
- Brain damage, and memory loss
- Headache, dizziness
- Internal fear, craving, addiction, tremors
- In pregnant women, the brain development of fetus will be affected. It also causes growth retardation.
Effects on heart and blood vessels
- High blood pressure, there by increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of heart diseases
- Weakness in heart muscles
- Lack of strength in blood vessels, leading to varicose veins, erectile dysfunction.
Effects on Liver
Liver is the first and most affected organ due to excessive alcohol. Because liver helps in alcohol metabolism and excretion.
- Alcohol causes depleted liver functions
- Fatty liver changes,
- Liver cirrhosis, swelling
- Improper secretion of enzymes
- Impaired fat metabolism
- Liver failure
Effects on stomach and intestines
Severe irritation in mucosa of stomach and intestines gastritis, bloating, vomiting sensation Duodenal and peptic ulcers Worsening of Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome Alcohol is linked with increased risk of cancer.
Social effects of alcoholism
- Lack of respect and reputation among family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.
- Lack of control over financial aspects
- Irrational decisions, abusive language and aggression leading to sourness in relationships.