The pharmacological action of alcohol is general anesthesia. The nervous system is most vulnerable because alcohol dissolves quickly in the cerebrospinal fluid and because the nerve cells are very delicate. The frontal lobe is the first one to be anesthetized and then it continues down according to Jackson’s law of descending paralysis: Brain cortex → subcortical centers → spinal cord → brain stem (respiratory center). The effect of alcohol is therefore divided in four stages:
- Reduced manual skill and self-criticism, euphoria, increased errors. The euphoria is NOT a stimulation of the mental functions but lack of frontal lobe control! The individual is very sociable and apparently still functioning. However, this is the stage of the accidents!
- Loss of emotional control, incoordination, liberation of animal instincts. This is the stage of crimes of all kinds! At least half of the crimes are committed by individuals who would never act in such way without alcohol.
- Sleep, unconsciousness, coma.
- Skin is wet, cold, defecation, involuntary urinating, respiratory paralysis and death.
“Results of autopsy studies show that patients with a history of chronic alcohol consumption have smaller, lighter, more shrunken brains than nonalcoholic adults of the same age and gender. This finding has been repeatedly confirmed in living alcoholics using structural imaging techniques, such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). … Imaging reveals shrinkage to be more extensive in the folded outer layer (i.e., cortex) of the frontal lobe, which is believed to be the seat of higher intellectual functions. … Shrinkage also occurs in deeper brain regions, including brain structures associated with memory, as well as in the cerebellum, which helps regulate coordination and balance.” (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, No. 47, April 2000, http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa47.htm)
What about alcohol-free beer? The law permits the label “alcohol-free” up to 0.5% of alcohol content. Watch the following advice: “Despite the low alcohol content it is certainly not recommendable to give alcohol-free beer to children. This could produce a conditioning towards the beer taste making it easier to surpass the threshold to alcohol containing beer.“ (Dr. Helmut Oberritter, Director for Research, German Nutrition Society, Medical Tribune, nr. 37, September 1991)
The only safe attitude towards alcohol is total abstinence! “Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” (Proverbs 23: 31-32) I urge my fellow believers not to drink alcohol-free beer or wine to give a good example to our youth!
Coffee is one of the most commonly used beverages. Because it is addictive most coffee drinkers say that “they need it” to function. Caffeine is present in many beverages like coffee, tea, cocoa, mate, guarana, cola, soft drinks, and energy drinks.
“The immediate effect of caffeine is a stimulation of the central nervous system, the heart, the digestive tract, and the kidneys. By exciting the brain, it gives an illusionary sense of energy and well-being without in any way giving relaxation or rest, or increasing muscle power. The brain is stimulated to a more rapid flow of thought until the excitement subsides, then depression and fatigue follow.” (M. Hardinge, A Philosophy of Health, p. 132)
“While it is commonly believed that caffeine increases mental alertness and speeds up motor performance, it can affect motor skill adversely when delicate muscular coordination and accurate timing are required.” (Goodman & Gilman, The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 1970, p. 358-368)
“This is strictly illustrated in the effect of caffeine on the ability of spiders to build geometrically designed webs. Instead of a beautiful orb, the caffeine web is a ragged distortion of what it ought to be.” (Witt, Reed, Peakall, A Spider’s Web, p. 60-61)
The main problem of coffee is not the stimulation of the brain itself but its many other undesired effects on coronary disease, blood pressure, gastric secretion, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It also has been associated, at least as a potentiator, with cancers of the bladder and pancreas. In high doses it also can lead to psychiatric disorders like anxiety and sleep disorders.
“In large amounts, and especially over extended periods of time, caffeine can lead to a condition known as ‘caffeinism.’ Caffeinism usually combines ‘caffeine dependency’ with a wide range of unpleasant physical and mental conditions including nervousness, irritability, anxiety, tremulousness, muscle twitching (hyperreflexia), insomnia, headaches, respiratory alkalosis and heart palpitations. Furthermore, because caffeine increases the production of stomach acid, high usage over time can lead to peptic ulcers, erosive esophagitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. However, since both ‘regular’ and decaffeinated coffees have been shown to stimulate the gastric mucosa and increase stomach acid secretion, caffeine is probably not the sole component of coffee responsible.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine)
Here follow some inspired counsels of Ellen G. White written in 1890:
“Coffee is a hurtful indulgence. It temporarily excites the mind to unwonted action, but the aftereffect is exhaustion, prostration, paralysis of the mental, moral, and physical powers. The mind becomes enervated, and unless through determined effort the habit is overcome, the activity of the brain is permanently lessened. All these nerve irritants are wearing away the life forces, and the restlessness caused by shattered nerves, the impatience, the mental feebleness, become a warring element, antagonizing to spiritual progress. …
“Those who resort to tea and coffee for stimulation to labor, will feel the evil effects of this course in trembling nerves and lack of self-control. Tired nerves need rest and quiet. Nature needs time to recuperate her exhausted energies. But if her forces are goaded on by use of stimulants, there is, whenever this process is repeated, a lessening of real force. For a time more may be accomplished under the unnatural stimulus, but gradually it becomes more difficult to rouse the energies to the desired point, and at last exhausted nature can no longer respond….
“The habit of drinking tea and coffee is a greater evil than is often suspected. Many who have accustomed themselves to the use of stimulating drinks, suffer from headache and nervous prostration, and lose much time on account of sickness. They imagine they cannot live without the stimulus, and are ignorant of its effect upon health. What makes it the more dangerous is, that its evil effects are so often attributed to other causes.” (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 421- 422)
“When these tea and coffee users meet together for social entertainment the effects of their pernicious habit are manifest. All partake freely of their favorite beverages, and as the stimulation influence is felt, their tongues are loosened, and they begin the wicked work of talking against others. Their words are not few or well chosen.” (Temperance, p. 79)
Ellen G. White’s writings indicate that people should drink coffee and tea only for rare medicinal purposes.