Drunk Flies Avoid Parasites, How About Drunk Humans?

Wasp sting, with a droplet of venom

Image via Wikipedia

In an interesting twist on self-medication with alcohol, there’s a nice mini-series over at Scientific American on the possible benefits of alcohol.

Specifically, there’s a wasp that lays its eggs in fruit fly larva.  If the flies drink, they are less likely to become hosts.  So those alcoholic fruit flies you see zig zagging around just have waspophobia.  (Yes, the technical term is Spheksophobia, but not many people know the Greek word for wasp.  Geek down, people.)

So do humans self-medicate for parasites?  It’s an interesting angle, but we lack a giant human-infecting parasite wasp predator (NOT a movie worth making).  We do have things like h. pylori, which causes stomach ulcers.  And alcohol seems to help.

Before you forego your in-the-arm shots for on-the-bar shots, too much alcohol is bad for you (gasp!).  It also doesn’t kill things inside you as fast as you’d like.  But it isn’t entirely useless, either.

What is missing from the mini-series is when people do smart things like drink alcohol and then take probiotics like yogurt or sauerkraut.  That would give you some half-decent results.


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