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BSF scale: Form follows dysfunction

Alcohol inhibits digestion, causes dehydration, depresses glucose metabolism, and compromises the functioning of the central and peripheral nervous systems. The cumulative impact of these factors is behind chronic constipation related to alcohol abuse.


Oh, boy, do I need a drink to answer that one… You see, boozing yourself up until amnesiac is still a national pastime in my country of origin, so this ‘Russian-American’ (me) knows the hard truth, and it is, indeed, very hard…

Here are the primary reasons why it does:

Alcohol dehydrates your body just as reliably as a sauna does. That is why your mouth feels so dry the morning after.

Cause-and-effect: Once your body becomes dehydrated, it works overtime to recover fluids and electrolytes from anywhere it can find them, including from the content of your bowels. As a result, stools become dry, hard, and painful to pass. So don‘t be surprised — pardon my French — over your crap getting just as dry as your mouth.

  Alcohol suppresses intestinal peristalsis and kills the urge to move your bowels for the same reason it turns off your good judgment.

Cause-and-effect: Failure to move your bowels on schedule enlarges, impacts, and hardens up already dried out stools until they become impossible to pass out without straining and causing yourself anorectal damage — two problems that commonly precede chronic constipation.

Alcohol causes the loss of electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, that are essential to retain moisture in stools.

Cause-and-effect: Water retention in the body and stools requires sodium and potassium, the minerals known as electrolytes and aren‘t stored in the body the same long-term way as calcium or magnesium. Since alcohol stimulates profuse urination, and, often, diarrhea and vomiting, these minerals are quickly lost. In turn, the body recovers lost electrolytes from feces, making them just as hard, dry, and abrasive as prune pits. Just imagine the aftereffects of squeezing out these pits from your poor drunken ass!

Alcohol in excess causes profuse vomiting that precipitates all of the above conditions.

Cause-and-effect: Alcohol inhibits stomach digestion, and causes delayed stomach emptying — a condition known as gastroparesis. After about 8 to 10 hours inside the stomach, undigested proteins start to rot. The exceptionally poisonous byproducts of rotting provoke violent vomiting, that cause an extensive loss of fluids and electrolytes, and I have already explained what this double jeopardy does for constipation. 

Alcohol affects your blood sugar level to such an extent, that it may cause loss of bowel function control, and cause diarrhea, with the same side effects as vomiting.

Cause-and-effect: Just like your knees go weak on you from too much booze, so does your bowel. The ensuing inability to retain the bowel‘s content may cause diarrhea. In turn alcohol-induced diarrhea and vomiting, may cause severe inflammation of the entire GI tract, and fester for some time. This condition, known as gastroenterocolitis, is squarely behind irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, associated with alternating patterns of chronic constipation and diarrhea. Alcohol can lower blood sugar to a dangerous level, and a person can loose consciousness momentarily — a condition called syncope. A syncope may also lead to profuse diarrhea, and all that follows.

Alcohol is often used to self-medicate stress and depression. Since both of these conditions are also implicated in constipation, alcohol only makes it worse.

Cause-and-effect: Depression is commonly accompanied by irregularity and constipation even without alcohol. After a while, the sparks begin to fly from one‘s eyes not only from a stiff one, but also from straining too hard, making both — constipation and depression — even more severe.

Finally, alcohol is behind inflammatory bowel disease that is also instrumental in constipation, and is the number one cause of non-genetic colorectal cancer.

Cause-and-effect: All of the above aftereffects of alcohol consumption.

So, if you can‘t say ‘no’ to one too many Martinis or Manhattans, visit this page to learn how to mop up after your youthful indiscretions and mature indulgences…

Cheers and good luck!


You already know without my council that it is best not to drink yourself into a stupor extending all the way down to the gut! So, I'll skip moralizing on the merits and demerits of alcohol consumption, and, instead, will give you some practical and gut-saving advice:

Concentrate on hydration. This means drinking good quality mineral water on an empty stomach, several hours before food and alcohol, so the water and minerals have a chance to assimilate into the blood and tissues.

Increase salt intake. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt (2.5 g) to each glass of water (250 ml) — sodium chloride is essential to retain all that water in the body, otherwise you'll urinate most of it out as soon as it gets assimilated into the blood.

Find a good balance to your water intake. If you drink too little — you'll get dehydrated quickly, if you drink too much, you'll dehydrate yourself from urinating more. The optimal amount will depend on your age, weight, gender, diet, climate, water's mineral count, and salt intake. Keep experimenting until you'll find a good balance.

'Empty stomach' is the key. When the stomach is full with food and alcohol, it won't let water pass into the intestines, and you will dilute your digestive juices by drinking water, causing yourself even more problems with indigestion. Restrain fluids once you start drinking alcohol and/or eating.

Avoid proteins during 'heavy' drinking. Meat, fish, seafood, fowl, and nuts are the worst food to eat when drinking hard, because they require lots of time to become digested, especially when alcohol is added to the mix. Uptake of the body's own fluids for digestion makes dehydration even worse, while a 'locked-up' stomach and slow digestion prevent you from rehydrating.

Rehydrate on an empty stomach. Do not start rehydrating until the stomach is empty, otherwise you are going to vomit. In some instances, it is actually better to vomit out the undigested content of the stomach, than wait for the rotten mess inside to get digested and assimilated.

Purge yourself if necessary. If you wish to abort the agony of a hangover, drink rapidly several glasses of bottled (not mineral) water with salt (1% by volume), and it will induce vomiting. If not, it means your stomach is already empty, and that the water along with  the salt will quickly rehydrate you.

Salt is a hangover's best friend. Always drink water with added salt to rehydrate. When doctors pump water into the patient via IV, the solution contains 0.9% of sodium chloride, a.k.a. table salt. Drinking plain water will only intensify urination (by diluting blood chemistry), and speed up dehydration.

The gut ain't a straight pipe. You can't overcome constipation by drinking more. The intestines are not a straight pipe, and the body doesn't work that way. Either you'll need a laxative, or, for a safer approach, use Hydro-C instead. In addition to softening up your stools, Hydro-C will also mineralize your body with essential calcium, magnesium, and potassium, that are rapidly lost with the excess urination stimulated by alcohol.

Supplement water-soluble vitamins and minerals. To prevent a broad range of disorders caused by vitamin C and B-group vitamins deficiency, take high-quality multivitamins, such as these Morning and Evening packs. This is because alcohol affects the digestion, assimilation, and/or synthesis of these health-critical vitamins. The calcium and magnesium in these packs is essential in preventing kidney stones, osteoporosis, osteomalacia (bone softening), periodontal disease, and tooth loss.

Go easy on carbs. Finally, while consuming alcohol, restrain the consumption of carbohydrates, because this combo leads to weight gain, elevated triglycerides, inhibits blood circulation (particularly when dehydrated), and commonly causes a 'fatty liver' condition that is quite deadly, especially along with the deficiency of essential B-complex vitamins. If you are past 45-50, the sum total of carbs and booze is the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes “the morning after."

All of the above recommendations will also reduce the drunkenness, the severity of the hangover, long-term health damage, and, of course, the risk of constipation, hemorrhoids, and colorectal cancer. What can be worse than the indignity of having a hangover and constipation all at the same time?