Has there been any research on microdosing of alcohol? I did a cursory search but it didn't yield any viable information.

Putting regular stress on various parts of the human body and its systems seems to have an overall strengthening effect. Working out builds stronger muscle, microdosing poison gets you some immunity to poison, bone microfractures lead to denser and stronger bone and so on, gradually and continuously working out various parts and systems of the body appears to have a beneficial effect on their performance.

So what would be the effect of subjecting the organism to continuous alcohol microdosing? And I don't mean "drink a little once a day" but adding a minuscule amount of alcohol to water and other consumed liquids, dosed according to the liver's performance so that the alcohol level doesn't exceed the legal limits you can drive a vehicle with, perhaps even significantly lower than that.

If poison microdosing builds up immunity to poison, and I am only assuming that it is being metabolized by the liver and thus improves its ability to metabolize poison, wouldn't alcohol microdosing too make up for a stronger liver?

I've also read about studies which show conflicting results, while some appear do indicate there are some benefits to drinking a little alcohol (but not microdosing), others claim that drinking any amount of alcohol is detrimental to the health, but again, that means drinking recreationally, not microdosing.


Now that the question gets input, it mandates a clarification be made, that I am specifically interested in liver performance and ability to metabolize toxins, in case it wasn't clean enough. And to clarify the need for this clarification:

There is a problem with mortality rates, due to the extremely uneven distribution of causes of death. When the bulk of deaths are not liver function related, it just doesn't seem like an indicative metric. Not that liver function related deaths are necessarily indicative. Just that mortality rate is a rather rough metric, and when less than 2% of deaths seem to be liver function related, and liver failure related deaths not really being indicative of the effects on "strengthening" the function of healthy liver, mortality rates don't really answer a question on "effects of micro-dosing alcohol", but a rather specific yet deprived of specific information question on "effects on microdosing alcohol on mortality rates".

It seems to me that such a metric would completely stifle say a 10% improvement of metabolism of toxins if the bulk of the test subjects die of unrelated conditions or even already deteriorated liver function, and that is such a case, mortality rates are about as indicative as the effects of microdosing alcohol on the chance of getting struck by lightning.

Maybe there are more isolated and focused studies that have tested liver samples from test subjects, or a study involving the introduction of toxins to the body and measuring the speed and efficiency at which they are being handled?

  • 2
    Building muscle cannot be compared to ingesting small doses of toxins. They don't compare at all in any way. Would you also care to share some of this evidence that taking small doses of toxins does anything other than poison you just a little bit at a time? Because if your premise is false, your question has no merit.
    – Carey Gregory
    Nov 22, 2016 at 5:16
  • 1
    @CareyGregory - if your premise about my premise is false, your comment has no merit. Microdosing poison, which is more toxic than alcohol, has been proven to build poison resistance, this is also how antivenom is produced commercially. I don't know about alcohol, so I am asking. And with that, I will stop stating the obvious.
    – dtech
    Nov 22, 2016 at 13:44
  • Now the not so obvious - every organ has its function. For the liver it is to metabolize stuff, for the muscles it is to contract, for the bone it is to give structural integrity. If you systematically contract the muscle in a controlled manner, the muscle gets stronger, if you systematically micro-fracture a bone in a controlled manner, the bone gets stronger. It appears that when it comes to certain types of poison and venom, the same is true for the liver. Training works the muscle, ingesting toxins works the liver, so I'd say that you can compare working to working.
    – dtech
    Nov 22, 2016 at 14:06
  • 2
    I didn't ask for a discussion. I asked for a shred of evidence. Still waiting.
    – Carey Gregory
    Nov 22, 2016 at 14:57
  • 1
    Again, you need to edit your question and add this information to the question. Comments are ephemeral and if your question depends on information in the comments, then it's an incomplete question.
    – Carey Gregory
    Nov 29, 2016 at 21:28

1 Answer 1


What are effects of microdosing alcohol on the liver's ability to metabolize toxins?

There seems to be no effect.

Alcohol can induce the enzyme system CYP2E1 in the liver, which can speed up the metabolism of toxins thus making some more and others less toxic. But according to niaaa.nih.gov:

...CYP2E1 only is active after a person has consumed large amounts of alcohol...

What are effects of microdosing alcohol on the liver performance?

There seems to be no studies about the effects (beneficial or harmful) of microdosing alcohol (1-2 g alco/day) on liver function, but light drinking (up to 17 g alco/day) can show signs of impaired liver function, such as increased blood levels of the liver enzymes (PubMed).

What is the relation between microdosing alcohol and mortality?

In a systematic review of 87 studies including 3,998,626 individuals (PubMed, 2016), no significant reduction in mortality risk was observed for low-volume drinkers (1.3-24.9 g ethanol/day) and occasional drinkers (<1.3 g ethanol/day):

...low-volume alcohol consumption has no net mortality benefit compared with lifetime abstention or occasional drinking.

Another analysis of several surveys including 333,247 individuals (JACC, 2017):

Light and moderate alcohol intake [up to 2 drinks or 28 g ethanol/day] might have a protective effect on all-cause and cardiovascular disease-specific mortality in U.S. adults.

According to both reviews, microdosing (consuming 1 g or similarly small amount of alcohol per day) is not associated with significantly lower mortality than abstention (see the graph with a J-curve in the 2nd review).

Can microdosing alcohol improve your immunity like antivenom can protect you against venom?

No, not likely. Mithridatism - practice of protecting oneself against a poison by gradually self-administering non-lethal amounts (Wikipedia):

...immunity generally is only possible with biologically complex types [usually proteins] which the immune system can respond to... In some cases, it is possible to build up tolerance against specific non-biological poisons. For some poisons, this involves conditioning the liver to produce more of the particular enzymes that deal with these poisons (for example alcohol).

But, according to rcpe.ac.uk, p. 140, this increased liver alcohol clearance (alcohol tolerance) develops only after

prolonged use of alcohol in substantial doses.

Concluding from studies that included larger amounts of alcohol, microdosing alcohol does not seem to have any significant beneficial or harmful effects on the liver, but there is a lack of direct evidence.

  • Of course, microdosing alcohol will not be a direct exercise at metabolizing poisons or general toxins, but I don't think it is unreasonable to assume that a "stronger" liver might still do better in terms of general function. Or maybe worse, if it leads in a specialization that undermines certain specific functions. Like how bodybuilders are not good runners.
    – dtech
    Nov 16, 2018 at 11:24
  • Metabolizing toxins is a significant part of the liver's general function, and "liver performance" is quite literally referring to the liver's general function. I don't see why you feel like a choice is mandated here, or stating the implicit for that matter. Improved liver function doesn't necessarily have to have a pronounced effect on mortality rates, as it is a rather minor contributor to death.
    – dtech
    Nov 16, 2018 at 11:51
  • What does improved liver function do if you consume 5000 calories from fast foods and sugary sodas and sit 10 hours a day? You can't expect improved liver function to reverse that. Mortality rates is a "weakest link in the chain", it is puzzling that you don't see how this throws away data on effects that may otherwise be tangible.
    – dtech
    Nov 16, 2018 at 11:52
  • I've added something about alcohol and metabolism of toxins to the beginning of my answer, but effects of microdosing alcohol on other liver functions has apparently not being studied. Most studies are about drinking more than 1 alcoholic drink per day; for example, moderate drinking(up to 2 drinks/day) can increase the levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol synthesized in the liver, but you are not asking about these amounts.
    – Jan
    Nov 16, 2018 at 13:22
  • I wonder if there is a difference in term of adaptation if you start drinking X amount daily or you ramp up to X in micro-increments. Maybe it is time to start a rat farm, plus having full control over the test subjects will help isolate those subtle details.
    – dtech
    Nov 16, 2018 at 13:43

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