The study, published in Scientific Reports, found that beer contains a substance called hordenine, which acts much the same as dopamine, the naturally occurring ‘happy’ chemical in our body. Hordenine works on the dopamine receptors, giving us the warm and fuzzies by stimulating our brain’s pleasure centre.
In even better news out of the study, it seems that hordenine provides and even longer lasting happy feeling that dopamine.
“It came as a bit of surprise that a substance in beer activates the dopamine D2 receptor, especially as we were not specifically looking at stimulant foodstuffs,” says Dr. Monika Pischetsrieder, of the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.
The study does come with an important disclaimer, so beware before hitting the cans on the way to work. The dopamine receptor is also the very same part of the brain that makes it hard to stop after one drink. It’s the voice in our heads that encourages us to eat and drink for pleasure, rather than survival.
While the negative effects of excessive beer consumption are well documented, the benefits for the odd brew are piling up. Earlier this year, another group of genius scientists identified beer as a more effective pain reliever than Tylenol whilst the American Chemical Society found that regularly indulging in dark beers reduces the risk of cataracts and heart disease by as much as 50%.
For now at least, we’ve got a great reason to toast these pioneers of modern science, and hope they continue their research into the benefits of an occasional beverage.