My month of alcohol and caffeine abstinence has ended, with curious fallout.
Sometime mid-week between the 25th & 29th of January, I had a big glass of Kombucha at work. Kombucha, you may or may not know, is a fermented tea beverage. There is a lady at work who’s WILD about Kombucha and its health benefits and she got another lady at work hooked and then they were trying to hook a THIRD lady but that lady went home for the day and I happened to be in the kitchen so the second lady evangelist offered me some and I said, sure. I didn’t actually know what it was. I guess I trust my co-workers. She poured me a HUGE glass of the stuff and I had a sip and it was good, I guess. It was a little fizzy, quite sour. Tasted like wine.
Hm, this tastes like wine, I said. I looked at the ingredients: tea, grape juice, yeast, bacterial culture.
This IS wine, I said.
But alive, and healing your gut! the lady evangelist said.
A few minutes later I was talking to someone, still sipping my beverage, and I felt that flush in the face I feel when I have alcohol. I noticed my voice sounded quite enthusiastic about whatever we were talking about. Was I DRUNK? At work? On Kombucha? Back at my desk, since I was incapable of working for the moment, I googled “can Kombucha make you drunk?” and learned that no, the alcohol level is quite low, at around 1% BUT if you have a histamine intolerance or lack the enzyme needed to neutralize histamines you can FEEL as though you are drunk on very little alcohol indeed. (But really? That article? Lists all the food I eat all the time, to which I have no reaction at all, that I am aware of. My blood is 90% mixed nuts, for example.)
Interesting, I thought. Histamine intolerance? Sounds legit. So that Friday I had a glass of wine, to see if I had a histamine-like reaction like the ones I’d been reading about. It was my dad’s wine, homemade from grape juice and yeast. (JUST LIKE KOMBUCHA ALMOST OMG) The wine tasted fine. I did feel itchy on my chest and chin. I got a few hives. I got tired and went to sleep.
Now, I have a long history with random itchery. I used to get itchy spots a LOT and hadn’t really noticed they’d gone away until they came back. This is a revelation. Are they alcohol related?
The next night I had a beer (having decided my new rule is only have alcohol on non-school nights, so Saturdays only, or Friday too if there is no class on Saturday). The beer did not make me itchy. (whew!)
But overall, I have definitely been itchier in the past few days. Mostly around my chin and chest, my scalp, and my breasts. This morning I went for a short run and as I expected, I developed exercise hives. This only seems to happen when I have a kind of food / substance (if you’re including alcohol, which I might be, now) in my body that my body doesn’t like, and the exercise activates an allergic reaction. If not alcohol, it might also be dairy (I ate a lot of pizza this weekend) but ugh, I am still itchy right now, and the polysporin lotion I bought years ago is expired. Googling itchiness just brought me to a forum on perimenopausal itching, which also fits with my current circumstance but READING about the itchiness of strangers has made me feel itchier.*
Anyway, if you are ever considering giving up coffee OR alcohol, I really recommend you do both. Without the coffee, you are so tired you don’t want the alcohol. Over time, without the alcohol, you wake up in the morning not really needing the coffee. Really. I did have half a cup of coffee this morning, my first in a month, and it tasted really good, but I didn’t dance across the kitchen singing show tunes or anything. I just did laundry like every other Sunday morning.
* If you’re now itchy, I apologize.
Perimenopausal itching is a thing? JESUS.