Researchers have found that low to moderate amounts of alcohol may improve the quality of life among individuals with fibromyalgia.
Investigators found that modest alcohol intake was associated with lower severity of symptoms of fibromyalgia as compared to those with fibromyalgia who abstained from alcohol.
However, as reported in the open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, too much alcohol reversed this effect.
Fibromyalgia is associated with chronic pain, and has no known cause or cure. The disorder often goes hand in hand with fatigue and sleep problems, headaches, depression and irritable bowel and bladder problems.
Treatment is traditionally focused on pain management and lifestyle changes.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and the University of Michigan surveyed patients with fibromyalgia to examine the association between alcohol and their severity of symptoms and quality of life.
In the study, researchers discovered low and moderate drinkers reported better scores for physical function, ability to work, the number of work days missed, fatigue and pain, than people who abstained.
Moreover, moderate drinkers who had between three and seven standard-size drinks a week seemed to have less pain than low or heavy drinkers, even when the results were controlled for confounding factors.
Investigators also found similar results for the quality of life scale, including social functioning, vitality and general health.
Study leader Terry Oh, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic suggested moderate drinking may mitigate the effects of a low production of gamma-aminobutyric Acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter, in the brain in fibromyalgia.
Low levels of GABA in the nervous system may cause an amplified reaction to pain. Alcohol binds to the GABA receptor in the central nervous system which in turn may turn down pain transmission.
“However the effects of alcohol may also be due to improved mood, socialization and tension, and while moderate drinkers have fewer symptoms there are still many questions about how this happens,” Oh said.
Source: Biomed Central