The Ecology of Humans – Alcohol


“An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.” ~ Charles Darwin

Despite the American monkey that Darwin had as a drinking buddy, primates are no better than fruit flies when it comes to savoring the sauce. Both apes and descendant hominids share the genetic ability to metabolize ethanol.

Chimpanzees in West Africa collect sap from raffia trees. They used folded leaves to sponge out the sweet sap, which contains 3% ethanol.

Chimps enjoy getting tipsy: both males and females. Hitting the raffia sap is sometimes a social activity, though some chimps develop an especial hankering for the boozy nectar and drink alone.

Fermentation was an early hominid discovery. By the dawn of the Neolithic 10,200 BCE cave men were finishing their day with a brew. The Chinese sipped wine by 7000 bce. Europeans were getting liquored up on distilled spirits by the mid-12th century.

Unlike other psychoactive substances, alcoholic beverages are a source of food energy, though nutritional value is negligible beyond carbohydrates. Alcohol provides only empty calories.

The ethanol in alcoholic beverages is a central nervous system depressant that pervades tissues, as cell membranes are highly permeable to alcohol. Ethanol greatly exacerbates sleep problems.

“When people make mistakes, activity in a part of the brain responsible for monitoring behavior increases, sending an alarm signal to other parts of the brain indicating that something went wrong. Alcohol doesn’t reduce your awareness of mistakes – it reduces how much you care about making those mistakes.” ~ American psychologist Bruce Bartholow

That drinking alcohol transforms a sentient soul into a sloppy bore is universally known. Alcohol is addictive. Continued consumption impairs cognition and memory, devastates health, and ruins lives: both the drinker, and relations who have to deal with the downward spiral.

“When the wine is in, the wit is out.” ~ proverb

Studies that purport health benefits to drinking alcohol are trash talk. Whatever benefit may be attributable to red wine can be realized in a healthy manner by eating red grapes, or, better yet, more nutritious fruit.

Nonsense about healthy drinking is perpetrated by reductionist chemists with an agenda, who examine ingredients and ignore how alcohol affects the system (e.g., “the resveratrol in red wine….”). Instead of offering any health benefits, alcohol causes cancer.