Alcohol, in its various forms, has been used as a beverage by humans and some animals since Neolithic times. Alcohol provides nutrition in terms of calories; however, it does not provide other nutrients such as fats or proteins or minerals or vitamins.
Alcohol affects the brain, the blood stream, the arteries and other organs directly, and for this reason, I think it should be classified as a medication, not a food or beverage.
In addition, alcohol has potentially damaging effects on the nervous system and the liver. It is harmful to children and to pregnant women. To many people, who have inherited special genes, it may easily lead to a strong form of addiction which is ultimately fatal.
Because alcohol has both beneficial effects and deleterious effects, in my opinion, it should be treated as a medication and not a beverage.
That treatment should involve education by governments and schools, but alcohol should not be prohibited from moderate adult use. It should be prohibited from children under 18 years of age and also from pregnant women whose babies can be affected adversely by the alcohol in the blood stream.
WHAT IS ALCOHOL?
Chemically, alcohol is a two carbon chain with the two molecules of Oxygen and Hydrogen attached to one of the carbons. The formula is C-C-O-H.
Any carbon chain with OH attached is technically an “alcohol” in organic chemistry. This is described in the name by “OL” as a suffix. The two carbon chain with OH is called “Ethanol.”
The other alcohols are very toxic to the human body and should be totally avoided.
The most common non-ethanol alcohol is called “Wood Alcohol” or Methyl Alcohol C-O-H is extremely toxic to the optic nerves of the eyes and causes blindness.
Alcoholics, in their desperation, frequently drink wood alcohol and either die or go blind.
We can conclude that alcohols as a group are dangerous. Ethanol is also dangerous, but, when taken in moderation is very beneficial to the human body, including the mind. It is also beneficial to society as a whole by releasing pent up frustrations that might lead to group physical violence.
However, ethanol does promote physical violence amongst individuals, particularly, young men. If used in excess, it promotes both violent and dangerous behavior, such as driving at excessive speeds or attempting dangerous activities.
For the above reasons, many religions, in particular Judaism and Islam forbid the use of alcohol. Many religions of Asia also either forbid or control the use of ethanol. Many Christian religions in the Protestant area also forbid its use.
Millions of non-religious people will not use alcohol because of a fear that they will misbehave or become sick.
Alcohol, chemically called Ethanol, has been used by humans from the Neolithic ages as can be proven by artifacts found in caves and objects dated back to prehistory.
Animals have been noted to eat or drink fermented fruits and vegetable containing alcohol.
Alcohol has many effects on the human body, especially on the brain. Some of these effects are detrimental to the individual and to the group.
Because of these disruptive and, occasionally, dangerous effects, many religions forbid it use. Governments, throughout the world have enacted laws to prevent its use by children and in some cases by all citizens.
Alcohol, is definitely dangerous to the fetus, and pregnant women are advised not to use it.
When a chemical, either found in nature or made in a laboratory, has beneficial effects for the human body, but also, potentially damaging or dangerous effects, we call that chemical a “medicine” and entrust its use to licensed medical practitioners with governmental laws overseeing public access.
This type of control can never be applied to the use of alcohol in free countries. It was once attempted in the U.S. during a period of time in the 1920’s called “Prohibition” and failed miserably.
No free government would dare to try it again.
However, dictatorships, especially in Islamic countries, do control the use of alcohol amongst their citizens. The Saudi Arabians do have almost total control of alcohol, but they are a very strict dictatorship. Other Islamic countries and also, Indian states prohibit its use. Nonetheless, in all these countries some illegal use goes on within homes and certain clubs.
In Israel, alcohol is not prohibited, but orthodox Jews refrain from drinking alcohol, except on special occasions. Jews in America, Europe and other countries rarely drink alcohol to excess. Jewish alcoholics are almost unknown in medicine.
ALCOHOLISM AND ADDICTION
Alcoholism is a form of addiction to the use of alcohol. It is a serious addiction leading to the early death of the addict.
Addiction to alcohol and other chemicals is widespread in Western countries. There are two major reasons for such widespread addiction.
Almost all addicts have a genetic “flaw” which is conducive to addictive behavior. This “flaw’ is manifested in the structure of the brain.
We might make an analogy between an addict’s brain and a mathematician’s brain. Both brains feel pleasure when doing an activity. The mathematician feels pleasure solving math problems and the addict feels pleasure when a certain drug enters his blood stream and changes the metabolism of his brain.
Unfortunately for the addict, during the process of feeling pleasure, special enzymes are formed in excess, and when the chemical is absent, pain and other disagreeable feelings are experienced, to such an extent that the addict must take more of the chemical.
The mathematician may feel uncomfortable if he has no problems to solve, but this discomfort is easily controlled, and, most importantly, solving math problems is not illegal.
Addiction to alcohol, tobacco and all the other illegal drugs is a major problem in the Western world.
It is a definite economic problem, as billions of dollars are spent in the procurement of the drugs, the governmental control of the drugs and the treatment of addicts. In addition, the level of crime is elevated wherever addicted people live.
Governments should be fighting addiction instead of fighting Middle Eastern countries in order to capture their oil supplies.
The amount of research involving addiction is minuscule in comparison to the amount of research going into other diseases.
ADVANTAGES OF ALCOHOL
Read the second part of this article, ALCOHOL, THE WORLD’S BEST MEDICINE — PART II, for the advantages of drinking alcohol with moderation.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind and in the mind of most modern physicians that alcohol, in moderate quantities, is absolutely beneficial to the human body.
American physicians, trained from birth in households with religious puritanical backgrounds, are frightened about the use of alcohol. Today, American physicians, overwhelmed by the positive evidence are reluctantly admitting that alcohol is beneficial–in moderate quantities.
In Europe, where I was trained, doctors were not afraid of alcohol in the form of wine. In the hospital of Bologna University (oldest university in the world) almost every patient had one or two bottles of wine on the stand next to his bed. They had no bottles of water!