One article on PainSci cites Hansen 2010: Does Epsom Salt Work?
PainSci commentary on Hansen 2010: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.
Can you get drunk through your skin? In this whimsical MythBusters-style experiment, three adults were “tested” in the office of a Danish hospital: specifically, their feet were submerged in a bowl filled with vodka — three 700 mL bottles of vodka, to be precise.
The main outcome measure was the concentration of plasma ethanol: “blood alcohol level.” It was measured every half hour for three hours of foot submersion, so there was some real dedication here!
They also asked the subjects how drunk they felt, got them to rate their self-confidence, urge to speak, and — I am not making this up — counted the “number of spontaneous hugs.” Danes get huggy when drunk, I guess.
Alas, the hug rate did not increase! The subjects did not become intoxicated, and their blood alcohol levels did not change, although “the urge to speak increased slightly at the start of the study, probably due to the setup.” The authors concluded:
Our results suggest that feet are impenetrable to the alcohol component of vodka. We therefore conclude that the Danish urban myth of being able to get drunk by submerging feet in alcoholic beverages is just that; a myth. The implications of the study are many though.
Indeed. It’s hard to tell if the researchers were actually serious about any of this, but they obviously had fun doing it.
~ Paul Ingraham
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the validity of the Danish urban myth that it is possible to get drunk by submerging feet in alcohol.
DESIGN: Open labelled, self experimental study, with no control group.
SETTING: Office of a Danish hospital.
PARTICIPANTS: Three adults, median age 32 (range 31-35), free of chronic skin and liver disease and non-dependent on alcohol and psychoactive drugs.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary end point was the concentration of plasma ethanol (detection limit 2.2 mmol/L (10 mg/100 mL)), measured every 30 minutes for three hours while feet were submerged in a washing-up bowl containing the contents of three 700 mL bottles of vodka. The secondary outcome was self assessment of intoxication related symptoms (self confidence, urge to speak, and number of spontaneous hugs), scored on a scale of 0 to 10.
RESULTS: Plasma ethanol concentrations were below the detection limit of 2.2 mmol/L (10 mg/100 mL) throughout the experiment. No significant changes were observed in the intoxication related symptoms, although self confidence and urge to speak increased slightly at the start of the study, probably due to the setup.
CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that feet are impenetrable to the alcohol component of vodka. We therefore conclude that the Danish urban myth of being able to get drunk by submerging feet in alcoholic beverages is just that; a myth. The implications of the study are many though.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- No long-term effects after a three-week open-label placebo treatment for chronic low back pain: a three-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Kleine-Borgmann 2022 Pain.
- Exercise and education versus saline injections for knee osteoarthritis: a randomised controlled equivalence trial. Bandak 2022 Ann Rheum Dis.
- Association of Lumbar MRI Findings with Current and Future Back Pain in a Population-based Cohort Study. Kasch 2022 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- A double-blinded randomised controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Yousef 2013 Anaesthesia.
- Is Neck Posture Subgroup in Late Adolescence a Risk Factor for Persistent Neck Pain in Young Adults? A Prospective Study. Richards 2021 Phys Ther.