Wine and Spine (update)
What are the pro's and con's for wine and your spine? Hi, I am Dr. John Shim, and I want to explore the effects of wine and alcohol on your body, and more specifically, your spine. The scientific data continues to evolve, and I will tell you that the medical community is in a tug of war over this very subject. Let's just accept that the concept that too much alcohol is bad for you - is real. It causes many bad things like liver disease, and is a major cause of traffic fatalities in the United States. On the other hand, some research has suggested benefits to mild to moderate levels of daily alcohol consumption. There is some data to suggest moderate consumption of alcohol can protect your heart. So what is the story about wine and your spine? Well, like all things, it may come down to you as an individual. Alcohol often does have a relaxation effect, and many patients swear their back spasms are reduced by a glass of their favorite adult beverage. Red wine contains Resveratrol - a chemical that may have potential antioxidant effects. While researchers are conducting studies about anti-aging, it may also have benefits of decreased inflammation. Other research suggests red wine has a pain blocking effect as well as a bone preservation property. Still, the con's will point out that alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain, and some people actually have more pain associated with consumption. As a Doctor, I always recommend moderation. For men, a general rule of up to 2 beverages a day, and women 1 beverage a day is considered a moderate amount of alcohol consumption. If it improves your spine pain, without the added risks of weight gain, or increased pain, it may be a reasonable option. For some of you, there may be other medical conditions that preclude the use of alcohol in any amount. Please consult with your personal physician if you have concerns. Remember, Moderation. This is Dr. John Shim, and I hope you will consider your choices as you explore wine and your spine. Thank you.
Does Wine and Spine have benefits?
Wine lovers have more reason to celebrate! By now, many have heard about the Mediterranean Diet. Fruits, vegetables, olive oil and red wine, have shown benefits for reduction of cardiac disease.
But how does Wine and Spine problems relate? Red wine has been show to contain resveratrol, a naturally occurring chemical in grape skin that is under investigation for multiple positive health effects. While there are ongoing studies about it’s potential anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects, we are naturally interested in the interaction of Resveratrol, or Wine and Spine effects.
A 2008 Rush University study showed the promise of Resveratrol in slowing the disk degenerative properties in bovine spine discs. In plain english, it means cows will not wear out their disks if they drink wine.
A 2013 Chinese study indicates Resveratrol may have potential pain blocking properties. Wine and Spine pain reduction may be related!?
A 2011 British study comparing the bone density of women concluded wine drinkers had better bone density.
A 2012 study indicates alcohol consumption slows bone turn over in post menopausal women.
A recent MIT study continues to show promise with resveratrol, and now several companies are in the process of making drugs to potential it’s effects.
As a practical point, I am not suggesting everyone with back pain start drinking lots of wine. Generally accepted recommendations are only one glass of wine per day for women, and up to two glasses a day for men. There are plenty of studies indicating that more than that amount will reverse any of the advantages. And for you college students, it does not mean you can drink a weeks worth of wine on one night!
But there may be benefits to Wine and Spine. Anecdotally, many of my patients do agree that with Wine, Spine pain does improve. There may be the relaxation effect of the alcohol. There may be the stress reduction effect, that also calms the muscles and the nerves.
There is plenty of on going research about Resveratrol and anti-oxidation, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects. But don’t assume if a little helps, why not take more? Like all things, moderation and quantity control will be important. Enjoy your Wine and Spine might improve. Just be reasonable about it. And don’t blame my blog if you have too many glasses!