According to a study, low and moderate drinkers of alcohol reported lower severity of symptoms of fibromyalgia than teetotallers. The study can be found in BioMed Central's open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy. Too much alcohol reversed this effect.
The chronic pain of fibromyalgia is thought to affect one in 20 people worldwide but there is no known cause or cure. It often goes hand in hand with fatigue and sleep problems, headaches, depression and irritable bowel and bladder problems. Treatment is based around pain management and lifestyle changes.
Alcohol is reported to have both positive and negative effects on health. Moderate drinking is thought to reduce risks of cardiovascular disease especially when in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and not smoking. Researchers from the Mayo clinic in the US and the University of Michigan surveyed patients with fibromyalgia to examine the association between alcohol and their severity of symptoms and quality of life.
Discussing why moderate drinking may have this effect Dr Terry Oh, who led this study said, "Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter, is low in the brain in fibromyalgia, which may go some way to explain why the nervous system reaction to pain is amplified. 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."