Alcohol might cause a nasty hangover but scientists are now saying that it could be good for cleaning the brain. The finding is based on the way that alcohol interacts with the glymphatic system, which is responsible for cleaning toxins from the human body. Scientists at The University of Rochester have found that small amounts of alcohol can help the glymphatic system to function more efficiently.
The study was done on mice, according to Newsweek. One group of mice was given the equivalent of two and a half alcoholic drinks. The other group was not given any alcohol at all. The group that was given the low dose of alcohol displayed an improved performance of their glymphatic system in comparison to the group that drank no alcohol.
Furthermore, the team found that the mice’s glial cells, which provide insulation between neurons in the brain, were less inflamed in the group that was not given alcohol. Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, told Newsweek that the result surprised the team. Nedergaard added that they were so shocked about the positive result, they repeated the experiment multiple times. But the same thing happened each time i.e. the mice given alcohol had better results than the control group which is something that hardly ever happens during experiments like these.
The reduced inflammation they noticed could provide an explanation as to why the alcohol-drinking mice had better working glymphatic systems than the control group.
But human beings are not mice. Our bodies are drastically different. For example, rodents have a much faster metabolism than humans do. So it means that the dose of alcohol that would be helpful should be lower in humans than mice. More importantly, when the mice were given more alcohol, it had a negative impact on their glymphatic systems.
According to an article published in the journal, Neurochemical Research, the glymphatic system is a recently found waste clearance system that eliminates soluble proteins and metabolites out of the central nervous system. It doesn’t just eliminate waste, however. The glymphatic system is also responsible for the dispensation of important chemicals like lipids, glucose and amino acids.
The full text of the study was recently published in the journal, Scientific Reports.