The 40% solution?

To drink or not to drink with chronic pain associated with a disease like Multiple Sclerosis? There are two recent studies that argue for pro- and con-sides of the argument. The “pro” study says that regular moderate consumption improves the EDSS scores of MS patients. Another says that moderate drinking reduces the risk of developing MS.

There is a similar study for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The con side says that substance abuse and depression can be common among MS patients. (Yeah, big surprise. It’s a very yuk-yuk disease) Or, more broadly that there is no benefit at all to moderate alcohol consumption.

Drinking, I suppose, is a personal decision.

I do.

However, in the spirit of “consume nothing these days that isn’t nutrient dense, or otherwise beneficial,” I’ve taken to doctoring my drink. Hopefully, this amps up the pain relief to something that isn’t as obvious as empty alcohol calories to get rid of stress.

I load up plain vodka with Ceylon cinnamon and dried ginger rhizome.

Ginger’s many benefits are not controversial.

Ginger and cinnamon in combination have lately been proved not to significantly affect IL-6, an interleukin that indicates inflammation, but did reduce muscle pain significantly in healthy young female athletes.

Although the taste change takes place within hours–even putting a cinnamon stick into vodka and water give an immediate taste– I leave the spices to steep in the vodka for about four days, so that the color is changed. The taste gets more intense, then levels out — the color doesn’t change much after four days. Ceylon cinnamon, unlike the more common Cassia, has a lower level of coumarin, which , like alcohol, is harmful to the liver when taken in excess. Ceylon cinnamon has a lighter color and a more flowery taste.

Dried ginger rhizome is arguably the best way to purchase ginger, as it retains its taste much better than ground ginger, and that means it retains its health-giving properties. Looks like whiskey, without the congeners found in highly flavored (and often colored) distillations. I also find that the kind I buy (from Penzey’s) has enough moisture to eat the larger pieces out of hand–getting the tummy-calming benefits of ginger without the sugar of candied ginger.

And, it smells and tastes nice. The ginger, the cinnamon, and the vodka that looks like whiskey.









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