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August 30, 1958


Author Affiliations


Professor of Biochemistry and Toxicology, Indiana University School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1958;167(18):2199-2202. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.72990350014007

Most of the drug effects of alcohol are due to its presence in the brain, since it is absorbed very rapidly and enters the brain within seconds after it appears in the blood.

The pharmacology of alcohol will be discussed in accordance with its effects on various organs and on certain bodily functions.

Effect on Body Organs 

Skin.—  Moderate doses of alcohol cause a marked dilation of skin vessels, resulting in a flushed face and hyperemia of other body surfaces. However, in alcoholic coma, the resultant impaired circulation causes a pallor of the skin. These two effects are of central origin.

Gastrointestinal Tract.—  A temporary increase in the acidity of the gastric juice follows the ingestion of 4 to 10 cc. of alcohol, diluted to about 7% with water. This effect has been ascribed to the liberation of a histamine-like substance, or perhaps gastrin, by the action of

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