I am not a particular fan of beer.

My family certainly did not have it in the house.

(Control freak that I am, I even had trouble with Passover wine. I never — and I mean never — managed to imagine how anybody made it through the allegedly requisite four glasses.)

I really don’t remember tasting beer until I was working Mme.Mareschal’s Cafe “Les Arcades” in Amiens, France, — a quaint village where I attended medical school — where beer was a staple. In fact, it was pretty much a staple everywhere in Northern France.

Even though the Patronne chose the lightest and most delicate of the Belgian beers, it seemed heavy to me. I remember a vague sense of nausea, as well as the vague decision that I did not particularly need this beverage.

It was not until my post-graduate year of general surgical training in Cincinnati, Ohio when I was informed that it was the official drink of that city because of its Germanic heritage, that I decided to give beer another try. (They told me it was something all real surgeons were supposed to drink. Then again, they had told me the same thing about whiskey in Scotland.)

Although some say that consumption is down these days, I know there are still those who cherish beer and live by that.

I still smile to remember that stalwart citizen of Northern California, one of my very first psychiatric patients in the Golden state, who informed me that “hops” was an herb and that he required a considerable amount of daily beer to get his requirement.


Not so. Interesting idea, but I told him we could not do psychotropic medications with that one.

An interesting story showed up in a current compendium of headlines and I felt compelled to check it out.

The major trouble with the internet is the same as the major advantage of the internet — It is totally open to everybody.

It is important to check information out for yourself.

“Fish guts in beer?” This one is a calculated attempt to gross out beer drinkers who read the internet.

The gelatin-like substance in fish air bladders is actually used in the course of processing some beers to help solids and molds “settle out” from the beer. This means that it is not supposed to actually show up in the final product, although there might be traces.

I have written before about veganism, which frankly I cannot justify physiologically, although I respect those who justify it religiously. Even granting that we may all be eating more animal products than we actually need, only the religious need eliminate traces of a substance used for processing.

Before indicting either cochenille dye from crushed beetles or caramel coloring, let’s look at the alternatives.

First, cochineal has been around for a couple of centuries. I can’t even find decent toxicity data on it — there might not be any.

Stranger than fiction.

I have actually heard proposals about cheap processing of arthropods (including beetles) as a cheap protein source, to solve the world’s hunger problems.

On the other hand, I would worry some about any kind of artificial red dye.

Although the FDA put caramel coloring on its “Generally Recognized as Safe” list a while ago, more recently concerns have been raised about the higher concentrations of it in cola-type drinks.

The Europeans are ahead of us stateside at eliminating this sort of thing.

As for the worries about genetically modified corn turning up in beer — well, I would not lose sleep over this “corny” idea.

Not only is genetic modification a process that does not necessarily guarantee disaster — Look at Bill Gates’ golden rice project – but it seems to be used only as a source of sugar to produce alcohol ,so it seems to be essentially impossible to find anything in beer that resembles corn, anyway.

The final ingredient we are supposed to worry about is propylene glycol.

This is everywhere — basically good for some, bad for others — in multiple grades and presentations.

It is freely available as an over-the-counter drug.

A laxative, no less.

Once a restaurateur of northern France, who served about 50/50 beer and wine in his establishment, told me that he believed the principle merit of beer was that it caused urination.

Like caffeine, beer does inhibit the anti diuretic (urination inhibiting) hormone.

Hardly an excuse to go on a beer bender if coffee does pretty much the same thing.

Me? I just think that the most dangerous item here remains the alcohol content. Especially where I live, where the cops frequently put up completely random “drunk driving and DUI” checkpoints on the road.

Just be careful, please.

Author's Bio: 

Estelle Toby Goldstein, MD is a board-certified psychiatrist in private practice in San Diego, CA.

Practicing Medicine Since 1981

In her medical career, she has studied in Europe and Canada as well as the USA. She has attended specialty training beyond medical school in the fields of general surgery, neurology and neurosurgery and psychiatry (specializing in psychopharmacology).

Experienced In Many Situations

She has worked in a variety of positions, including:

Medical school professor
General and Orthopedic surgeon
Brain surgeon
Army Medical Corps psychiatrist
Prison psychiatrist
Community Mental Health Center staff
Consultant to a major transplant hospital
Drug researcher
“Whatever It Takes!”

She currently has her own indepenent clinic in San Diego where she is concentrating on what she calls Mind/Body medicine — or Integrative Medicine. Her practice is cash-only, doesn’t accept insurance or government payments, and she operates on the concierge, or “private doctor” practice model to give her patients the absolute best quality of care and the highest level of confidentiality.

Dr. Goldstein’s philosophy is “Whatever It Takes!” Her goal is to do everything possible to solve whatever problem she is presented. This includes seeing patients as quickly as possible — not making them wait weeks for an appointment. This includes making appointments days, nights, weekends or holidays. This includes making house-calls. And it includes using the best, most innovative treatments available — most of which are unknown to standard, mainstream doctors.

Her focus is on transitioning patients away from prescription drugs and onto natural substances. She is also a master practitioner of Emotional Freedom Technique, a powerful and dynamic form of energy psychology that usually brings quicker results than traditional psychotherapy.