Alcohol in Winter

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    Michael Martin
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Idaho

    Ok, I know the usual warnings against alcohol consumption in Winter: impaired judgement, loss of coordination, dehydration, hypothermia through vasodilation, etc. And, I’ve seen enough drunken yahoos on ski slopes to confirm the warnings.

    But, I suffer from poor circulation in my hands. They are cold all day, everyday. I must own 30+ pairs of various gloves, mitts, liners, and shells and I’m still looking for a better solution. Even while skinning uphill to backcountry ski, my torso will sweat and need venting, but my hands will still be cold!

    Stephenson’s website suggests consuming less than 0.5oz of alcohol per hour during Winter exercise to help exactly this problem. They claim the vasodilation effect will increase blood flow to the extremities, while cooling the core. This sounds great — warm hands and reduced perspiration. Anyone ever tried it?

    John S.
    BPL Member


    Interesting. I have not tried it. I say go ahead and try it, but be in a group when you do so you (and they) can monitor the effects.

    kevin davidson


    Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson

    I’ll drink to that.

    Seriously, it should be something w/ a relatively high alcohol content to prevent freezing and not unduly increase the SKO weight. Vodka is my favored Winter “dessert” added to coffee or hot chocolate. A true UL beverage–it doesn’t take much to achieve the desired physiological effects!

    larry savage


    Locale: pacific northwest

    You might wnat to get tested to see if you have raynaud’s syndrome. I have a friend who suffers from this and uses thermabands on her wrists, they induce vasodilation. Campmor carries them…

    Ryan Faulkner
    BPL Member


    I dont know if this will help, but you may want to look at the integreal designs wrist warmers

    Stephan Guyenet


    I have Raynaud’s syndrome. Basically it’s just a fancy way of saying your extremities lose circulation under conditions that aren’t particularly harsh. There’s no known cause or real treatment that I know of. It’s very common. Alcohol definitely helps; I can attest to that. So do “energy” practices like meditation and Qi Gung. I always carry foot warmers, even when conditions aren’t that harsh.



    Possible preventive measure. Worked for my wife. Requires periodic repeating.

    Away from prying eyes if you’re self-concious, as the weather gets progressively cooler outside, sit outside in chair wearing your bathing suit. Feet are in a basin of warm water. Hands in a microwave oven heated gel pack designed for this purpose (one or two gel packs). Microwave heated gel packs designed for foot wear can be substituted for the basin of water.

    Spend twenty minutes or so outside until body feels somewhat chilled and hands and feet still warm.

    Repeat one or more times a day for several weeks or a couple of months as required until Reynaud’s symptoms no longer occur.

    When Reynaud’s symptoms reappear, repeat treatment process.

    Even when Reynaud’s symptoms are absent, avoid Reynaud “triggers”. Don’t handle anything cold if possible without wearing gloves, for example, cold water bottles.


    Why would you purposely subject yourself to a known trigger only to then stop it with warming the hands and feet? There is no adaptation.

    Cold environments
    Mental stressors
    Certain occupations (vibration from tools, like jackhammers)
    Smoking (nicotine is a stimulant/vasoconstrictor)

    Avoid exposure to cold environments if possible.
    Wear warm clothing over hands, feet, and entire body.
    Wear loose-fitting clothing in layers.
    Avoid prolonged vibration to fingers.
    Stop smoking or never start.
    Try to identify stressors in your life that worsen the symptoms.


    Seems that you may not have understand the post and possibly have not tried the procedure.

    Cannot tell you why this approach works in some cases. Perhaps the peripheral blood vessels do not constrict as readily when subjected to heat even though the body is cold? Does this treatment approach have a “re-training” effect upon them? I should add, my wife is a medical professional – quite well known in her field. This “treatment” regimen has worked wonders for control of her Reynauds.

    “There is no adaption.” Unable to address this point. Should I ask my wife and if she understands the rational behind this? There is no arguing with success however. Why not give it a whirl? YMMV.

    Add under Prevention, another common “trigger”: driving a car – a well-known trigger of Reynaud’s symptoms for several reasons, both psychological and physical, such as gripping the steering wheel too tightly.


    Called wife. She called me back between seeing patients. Read her your post.

    She said she agreed with it.

    Hers is Primary Reynauds.

    She does not consider her Reynauds to be severe.

    She has never advised anyone to try her treatment approach. She had read about it working in some cases, so she tried it herself with great success. YMMV.

    She said she doesn’t quite understand why this approach works in some cases.

    She recommends that individuals should speak to their personal physician before attempting.


    the technique mentioned was designed by the military I believe. A better idea is to find out the pathology behind your case of raynaud’s as it can be a benign condition or a harbinger of more ominous health problems.

    Robert Miller


    A recent news story offers support for the idea. Russia is in the midst of its coldest period in perhaps 60 years and zoos and circuses are reportedly prescribing vodka for their animals.

    Lots of sources here.

    Mike Storesund


    >> Russia is in the midst of its coldest period in perhaps 60 years and zoos and circuses are reportedly prescribing vodka for their animals. << I just heard on the news this evening that some zoos in New York were adding vodka to their animals drink to increase circulation.

    Jason Klass
    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado

    Let’s do this scientifically, shall we? First, we need a study group. I will volunteer to be the subject to drink all the time during the winter. Then, we need a control group. Anyone volunteer to be the sober ones?

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