Why say no to alcohol? Reasons you haven't heard of yet...

Why say no to alcohol? Reasons you haven't heard of yet...

You’ve heard by now that alcohol isn't all too great a substance for your mind and body. Unlike many other pleasures in life, consuming alcohol “in moderation” does not nullify its anti-health effects. The WHO has stated that “There is no amount safe amount that does not affect health” and the International Agency for Research on Cancer lists alcohol as a Class 1 carcinogen in humans. For more information on these health effects, we recommend reading this article from the BBC. Instead, we’ll focus on why we think alcohol is bad at what it does, independent of its established negative health effects.

Alcohol is bad at what it does

Alcohol produces many of the following effects, depending on the individual and dose:

  • Mild euphoria
  • Disinhibition
  • Anxiety suppression
  • Memory suppression and amnesia (blackout)
  • Loss of motor control and balance
  • Delusions of sobriety 
  • Sedation 

Alcohol’s after-effects (hangover) include:

  • Brain fog
  • Motivation suppression
  • Dysphoria
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors (during chronic withdrawal)
  • Poor sleep

Part A: The alcohol hangover is unnecessary

For many of us, we’ve accepted that the alcohol hangover is the price to pay for a few hours of tipsiness. This isn’t a fair trade, though. In reality, it's more like a scam since most of these negative after-effects have little to do with the alcohol high itself

Acetaldehyde, the primary metabolite of alcohol, is actually what’s responsible for the alcohol hangover and many of its negative health effects. What’s more - this metabolite contributes nothing to alcohol’s enjoyable effects. Essentially, much of the alcohol hangover is due to being under the influence of another drug entirely. An ideal alcohol alternative would be void of harmful metabolites like acetaldehyde.

You wouldn't rationalize paying a $100 parking ticket because it’s “just the price you pay” for parking downtown - you’d try to find a place to park where you wouldn’t get ticketed. So why should you settle for a light buzz with a heavy hangover? More on alternatives in a bit.

The “Asian Flush” reaction is due to the buildup of acetaldehyde in individuals with a genetic aldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency. These individuals are at greater risk of alcohol-induced esophageal cancer.

Part B: Alcohol’s negative health effects are unnecessary 

Let’s bring it back to alcohol’s enjoyable effects and why it fails here too. Alcohol is classified as a “GABAergic drug” - a drug that promotes the activity of GABA in the brain. GABA is the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. That is to say, it “calms down” excessive neuronal activity which, in a very simplistic sense, produces feelings of relaxation and - at higher concentrations - suppresses one’s ability to control their body, emotions, and actions. 

As a molecule, alcohol itself possesses additional actions that other GABAergics lack. All of these actions are irrelevant to its desired ‘tipsy’ effect:

  • Liver toxicity 
  • Caloric value (alcohol contains 4 calories per gram)
  • Tetragogen (cancer-causing)
  • Nauseating effects
  • Additional interactions with 13 other receptors in the brain

These observations have inspired our selection of functional ingredients that underpin the effects of our drinks. Our objective is to produce desirable acute effects alongside cumulative long-term health benefits, with none of the hangover. 

Part C: Designing a better alcohol

Earlier in this review, we discussed alcohol’s shortcomings and areas for improvement. A good alcohol replacement would fulfill most of the following criteria:

  • Produces a relaxed, mildly disinhibited mood without negatively impacting cognitive abilities
  • Consumption does not result in a next-day hangover
  • Enhances stress tolerance over time, rather than producing dependence
  • Improves sleep, but isn't necessarily sleep-inducing
  • Does not increase the risk of certain cancers at any dose
  • Has a ‘ceiling effect’ which makes overdose unlikely
  • Occurs naturally or is naturally derived

We believe that these criteria are best fulfilled by a stack of ingredients which work synergistically to produce a range of health benefits alongside an enjoyable psychological effect. Some of our selected ingredients include (with links to our research pages):

We hope this review has informed you of the thought process behind our formulations, as well as reassured you of the research-backed nature of our ingredients. While our drinks do not replicate the effects of alcohol (and shouldn’t for reasons discussed above), we believe that they are nonetheless a suitable replacement for alcohol in the social contexts where it is used.

Back to blog