London: Scientists have claimed that alcohol can be used to treat tremors, a brain disorder that triggers exaggerated shaking and occurs during movement.
A team at the US National Institutes of Health claims that octanol -- a form of alcohol and a colourless ingredient in perfume -- may help treat tremor which can affect people of all ages, though it becomes more common after the age of 40.
In fact, the scientists begun investigating its use for tremor after observations that symptoms reduce significantly when sufferers drink alcohol. They set out to use a safe form of alcohol that doesn`t cause the damage associated with it.
According to them, around 80 per cent of patients have significant tremor reduction from drinking alcohol, a newspaper reported.
In one experiment, the scientists gave patients a single dose of one milligramme of octanol for each kilogramme of their weight, and found it significantly decreased tremor for up to 90 minutes.
And in the second experiment, people who had octanol had fewer symptoms of tremor after five hours than those given a placebo.
Tremor occurs during movement, but not at rest. It usually involves the arms and hands, though the head, face and feet can also be affected. In at least half of cases there is a family history, suggesting a faulty gene is to blame.
Other causes of similar tremor symptoms include an over-active thyroid, anti-epileptic medication and drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders. There is no cure though there are a few treatments.
It is thought tremor is caused by spontaneous activity in nerve cells in the areas of the brain that control movement.
One theory is that alcohol may help dampen this activity. It`s known that alcohol has some effect on this kind of movement because as well as reducing tremor, it can also cause it if drunk excessively.
"Essential tremor can cause significant distress or embarrassment. Some patients find they get useful benefits from alcohol, but this can give rise to regular drinking above the safe limits, which can damage nerve cells and lead to irreversible neurological problems.
"So, the potential emergence of a safe and non-
intoxicating alternative is of great interest," said Nicholas
Silver of The Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, an
NHS hospital in Liverpool.