There are Health Benefits of Adequate Drinking and Fears of Excessive Alcohol Use

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A lot of people love alcohol. I mean, people really love to drink alcohol and most times can not do without downing a bottle or more in a day. As much as there are health benefits of adequate alcohol consumption, there are also concerns for excessive drinkers or alcohol addicts.


Personally, I am no stranger to alcohol; although I favor drinking wines. And even though a little over a week ago, I was involved in a Beer Challenge, my alcohol intakes were, however, always moderate. But then, the same can not always be said of alcoholics who can't go a day without a binge session.

The point to note with alcohol is that it functions and acts in the human body in different ways. And when it comes to alcohol addiction, its effects can be far-reaching as well on the body. Before considering the new stem cell study towards curbing alcohol addiction, how does alcohol work through an average human body?

Now how exactly does alcohol act up in the body?

First, it is important to note the medium through which the tasty chemical substance travels in our body – it all happens through our bloodstream.

When you lift that glass of beer or wine to your lips and take a swallow, that alcohol goes a long way to reach every organ and is largely distributed via the water in our body. Our brain which contains a lot of water needs adequate blood supply to work. And as soon as the alcohol hits the bloodstream, the brain gets particularly affected by the alcohol in the bloodstream. That’s the moment when you begin to feel tipsy and feel the ‘high’.

Not only the brain feels the impact of alcohol, organs like the liver, heart, kidneys, pancreas, also get affected by alcohol soon after it hits and starts its journey through our bloodstream.

What systems in our body feel the impact of alcohol?

Four of our body systems – the digestive, central nervous, endocrine and circulatory body systems – get affected by alcohol, once our mouth opens up and becomes the flow station. Let's consider the systems briefly.

Our digestive system

Our digestive system is incomplete without the following players – the mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines (small and large), rectum and the anus. Since alcohol doesn’t subscribe to the normal digestive process in the body, it goes straight to the bloodstream. This results in about 20 percent of the alcohol we consume lodging in the stomach, and about 80 percent of the consumed quantity is then absorbed in the small intestine.

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Our Central Nervous System (CNS)

As for our central nervous system, it comprises of the brain and the spinal cord. As we can tell from our biological make-up, alcohol is a depressant of our central nervous system, because it slows down its activity. However, the level of slowed activity the brain and CNS experiences is subject to the amount of alcohol a person consumes and how fast the person consumes it.

Our Circulatory System

When it comes to the circulatory system, it is made up of the heart, blood, arteries, veins and capillaries (the last three known as a system of vessels). Medical and scientific studies have shown overtime that consuming a glass of alcohol a day can boost heart function. However, excessive consumption of alcohol can greatly alter how the heart functions. For instance, if the alcohol affects the heart and it doesn’t pump blood sufficiently for the body, several other organs could go on strike, due to lack of nutrients and oxygen, and our body would inadvertently pay the price.

Our Endocrine System

For the endocrine system, it aids the regulation of growth, it signals the kick-off of puberty, it aids tissue function, metabolism, and is involved in moods via the transfer of chemical signals known as hormones brain glands. How does alcohol impact the endocrine system? Well, the functions of the glands that release hormones and tissues can be impaired by alcohol, preventing the transfer of hormones to tissues that receive them.

For people with alcohol addiction, how can they be helped?

New research led by a scientist Yedy Israel and his colleagues suggests that chronic alcohol addicts may soon get a form of relief from their addiction following a study which showed that stem cell therapy via a single dose of human mesenchymal stem cells could help reduce the urge for alcohol consumption in alcohol addicts.

Earlier studies of the mesenchymal stem cells’ (MSCs) application to reduce alcohol in test rat-subjects in 2017 proved successful; as the injection of the MSCs and the procedure resulted in a dramatic reduction in alcohol consumption of the test rat subjects.

However, the old study faced a major challenge; as the same “intracerebral administration of the MSCs substance is not considered an ideal form of treatment of alcoholism in humans.” Also, MSCs are molecules which are relatively large and do not effectively get to the brain when intravenously injected.

The New Stem Cell Study Approach

The new study, therefore, adopted a new technique which helped reduce MSCs to smaller aggregates of about 75 percent reduction in the cell size, enabling them to reach the brain easily when intravenously injected.

The procedure involved rats that had been bred as high consumers of alcohol. The test-rat subjects consumed alcohol in quantities that were equivalent to a bottle of vodka every day for about 17 weeks. Researcher, Yedy Israel and his colleagues wanted to ascertain if a single injection of human stem cells could alter the rats’ dependence on alcohol.

According to Yedy Israel who is also co-author of the study; 'When a single dose of small-sized cells was injected intravenously, it reduced brain inflammation and the oxidative stress in the animals that had consumed alcohol chronically. Brain inflammation and oxidative stress are known to self-perpetuate each other, creating conditions which promote a long-lasting relapse risk.'

Discovery from the study

When the rats were injected with the human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from fat gotten from liposuctions, the single dose reduced alcohol consumption in the rats by almost 90 percent, and also significantly dropped neuro-inflammation normally induced by alcohol, within a 48 hour period. The effects from the treatment lasted for about 3 to 5 weeks after the single-dose treatment.

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