Author: Rida Hassan

Raise a glass and say cheers. Alcohol beverages can be consumed socially by people having fibromyalgia, in low to modest levels, and may be symptoms can improve. One caution is there regarding alcohol and fibromyalgia and that is: sedatives, opioids, muscle relaxers or some other medications for an existing disease should not be taking these drinking as they interact with alcohol.

Fibromyalgia and alcohol

γ-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) levels boosts up by alcohol, as this is low in patients having fibromyalgia. Unluckily, there is no as such drug approved by FDA that plays the same role as alcohol does with these GABA levels. But there are certain drugs that FDA has approved and other new drugs are also being explored and developed.

A study was conducted on fibromyalgia and alcohol by the coauthor Daniel Clauw, MD, from the University of Michigan Medical School, published in Arthritis Research & Therapy. this study shows that fibromyalgia symptoms get lower and the quality of life is being improved by consuming low to moderate alcohol as compared to people with no alcoholic consumption or very high consumption. That study was published back in 2013, but still the research stands today.

This study made an urge in Dr. Macfarlane in Scotland to search for large databases to see if he could find a similar association and he did. The data was showing that fibromyalgia symptoms can be improved by taking low alcoholic consumption as compared to no or high consumption. It was found in a study on fibromyalgia and alcohol, which was published in Arthritis Care & Research that people say that their symptoms were disabling who were having chronic widespread pains if they also consumed alcohol up to certain level.

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Dr. Clauw says, “Perhaps. They might want to at least give it a try to have a single drink a few hours before bedtime to see if they feel any better” if alcoholic consumption up to moderate level is good for people having fibromyalgia.

All medical professionals don’t suggest alcohol for improvement in the symptoms. “I think that a mild to moderate amount of alcohol is probably not going to be harmful to most patients. But I think it is another step to suggest that it be used for pain,” said the past president of American Academy of Pain Medicine, Lynn Webster, MD.

Dr. Webster says that you have to increase the dose just like in opioids because the tolerance will develop with the chronic use of alcohol. You can say that it is a kind of slippery slope. He also says that alcohol is considered to be a rewarding substance, so a portion of people who consume alcohol daily would end up having an alcohol use disorder. They can then become alcoholics.

Another risk can arise that is drug-drug interactions. Any drug like sedatives, opioids, muscle relaxers or some other drug for a coexisting medical condition can interact with the alcohol, says Dr. Webster. It can be uncontrollable and lead to a dangerous condition.

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Symptoms can get a help with drinking alcohol for a while but “I think it is not practically acceptable to recommend alcohol. If my patients ask me to drink alcohol or not, I would say that consumption of alcohol on moderate level can be used in people having fibromyalgia just like people who consume it without having fibromyalgia. But it should never be taken a way to treat the pain,” said Dr. Webster.

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The question arises that how much consumption is okay? Like one or two glasses of wine or 3 to 4 per week would be good? This is too much for some people. Hope is still there to find a cure for fibromyalgia.

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