Beer: It’s good for burns, too
Well, not really.
But a case report last year in Emergency Medicine Australasia describes how one man — presumably in Hong Kong, where most of the report’s authors are based — recovered as well as might be expected after a self-devised treatment:
We present the case of an unusual fluid resuscitation regime in a 65-year-old man with 40% burns. He fell into a garden fire, but believing the hospital to be closed, waited at home drinking six cans (2 L) of ‘San Miguel’ beer, with no other fluid intake, before attending the ED the next morning, 17 h after injury.
I’m going to pause here and ask the question that may be on others’ minds: What is a garden fire? Is it one of these?
Back to the case report, which notes:
Initial laboratory tests showed evidence of mild dehydration, which fully resolved within 24 h; and subsequent recovery was unremarkable.
The case report goes on for a bit and then smacks beer lovers in the face:
But no one recommends resuscitation with beer.
Say it ain’t so!
A Medline and Embase search found no papers relating to the use of beer as a resuscitation fluid in burns. However, alcoholic beverages have been advised for ongoing fluid requirements following burn injury. Fauntleroy described a continuous rectal infusion of ‘normal salt, sodii bicarbonas and 4 per cent to 8 per cent glucose’, supplemented by large quantities of oral whiskey during the night’.
I doubt the whiskey, even in large quantities, made up for the “continuous rectal infusion.” But this was 1919, so perhaps things were different. Speaking of different, the case report goes on:
Beer as an oral rehydration fluid has recently been shown to be effective as water following athletic exercise, with no adverse effects.
Those studies actually exist, although the fact that they’re gathered by a group called Cerveza y Salud — that’s “Beer and Health” — may be an, um, hiccup.
To our knowledge, this is the first report of burns resuscitation with beer. We do not advocate its routine use…
Oh, you scientists and your need for evidence!
…and a randomized controled trial of beer versus conventional i.v. fluids is unlikely to be approved.
I’d love to be on the institutional review board at the medical school where someone tries putting through that protocol.
I checked with Tim Rainier, one of the case report’s authors, to see if there had been any follow-up on the case, in particular any new cases. There hadn’t been.
Of course, there may be another explanation for all of this:
Alternatively, our patient may just have been fortunate in his choice of beer. ‘San Miguel’ (St Michael) is the patron saint of paramedics.
Hopefully not while they’re driving.