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Widely considered to be the only alcoholic stimulant, tequila is a distilled beverage originating in the country of Mexico. But is this much-propagated belief of tequila being the only kind of alcohol that does not act as a depressant rooted in fact or fiction?
The origins of this idea and alternatives for alcoholic beverages (which can prove harmful to the body) will also be proposed. Whether tequila is a stimulant or not will be made abundantly transparent after some light is thrown upon the nature of the alcoholic drink and the definitions of stimulant/depressant are made clear.
1. What Is Tequila?
Tequila is a distilled spirit that is consumed all around the world despite being primarily produced in Mexico and surrounding areas. Only the beverage made from blue Weber agave plant grown in nine Mexican states can be considered real tequila. This fact proves beneficial because it encourages tourism and adds to the export value.
The heart of the plant, referred to as pina, is used to prepare the drink. This part is roasted and beaten into a pulp. Then, the pulp is mixed with water and yeast. The fermentation process takes a couple of weeks. It is then distilled many times before it can be ready to consume.
Even though the drink has been in production for centuries, the process of its creation continues to be mostly unchanged. Often confused with Mezcal, they both have a similar method of preparation, but they differ in the type of plant they originate from.
Tequila typically contains 40-60% alcohol by volume. One of the most popular cocktails in the world, margarita was born thanks to tequila. Various types of tequila include Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo. Named after the town it was initially prepared in, the taste of tequila is often described as fruity, sweet, and earthy.
Some people enjoy winding down after a hard day with a glass of margarita and something crunchy to go with it. But what can it mean for the body if this becomes a habit?
It might feel like the energy is shooting into the body with each shot of tequila being gulped down, but drowsiness will hit in under an hour. It can make one feel bloated or sluggish and adversely affect sleep quality.
Despite feeling a boost of energy, it can slow the system down. All of this might feel comforting for a while, but it can prove to be a significant complication in the long run. A cocktail or two now and then will not hurt. But turning tequila into a habit is bound to affect one’s health negatively.
2. What Are Stimulants and Depressants?
2.1 What Are Stimulants?
Stimulants, when ingested, provide a person with a boost of energy. They can feel an energy rushing through them. They might even feel their central nervous processing system speeding up a bit. It can lead to euphoria, joy, confidence, and pure elation.
Often taken by smoking, snorting, or injecting, they can provide a rush of blood, increase breathing and heart rates, spike blood pressure, and also make the user feel less hungry. The consumer is sent into an ‘overdrive’ mode. Common examples of stimulants include meth, cocaine, caffeine, nicotine, ecstasy, Adderall, and Ritalin.
2.2. What Are Depressants?
Depressants, on the other hand, do the exact opposite of stimulants. They also generate feelings such as joy, euphoria, and pure elation, but in a contrary manner. Also, they slow down the central nervous processing system, decrease breathing and heart rate, drop blood pressure, and can, thus, result in feeling hungry.
They tend to generate a calming or relaxing feeling. Depressants can sound alluring to those suffering from stress and anxiety. They are even recommended for the treatment of those in a controlled manner. Common examples of depressants include alcohol, valium, Xanax, amobarbital, and phenobarbital.
2.3. Health Effects of Stimulants and Depressants
Suffice it to say, any substance that can cause such changes in a body can be very harmful if not taken in a limited manner. Because of the great feelings these substances produce, they are easy to get addicted to. When the high wears off, the body demands more of that happy feeling.
Amongst the issues an overdose of depressants can cause, some include disorientation, unconsciousness, delayed or absence of response to stimuli, abnormally low heart rate, losing control of limbs, and cold skin accompanied by bluing of lips and fingernails.
Amongst the issues an overdose of stimulants can cause, some include dilated pupils, unhealthy weight loss, dental issues, twitches or tics, and insomnia. Anyone who has any contact with these substances must ensure that they are used responsibly.
Those who are unable to stop using these substances must realize the issue and get the required help as soon as possible.
Many agencies exist which specialize in providing rehabilitation to those addicted to such substances. One can check out state programs and helplines the government offers, which assist in the same.
2.4. Is Tequila a Stimulant?
From the discussion above, the actual nature of tequila can be difficult to discern. Despite the friend-narrated anecdote of how energetic they felt after having drank the beverage and some short videos online proudly proclaiming how it is the only stimulant alcohol, tequila IS not a stimulant. Tequila is a depressant. Any medical professional will back up this claim.
Initially, drinking a couple of shots of tequila can boost energy and may make the drinker feel as if they are on top of the world. But given an hour or two, the alcoholic side of tequila will imminently kick in. That is when everything starts to slow down, and a state of stupor begins to develop.
Every kind of alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol can never be a stimulant. It is in its fundamental nature for alcohol to be a depressant, no matter what kind.
The essential molecules of alcohol are present in tequila just as in any other form of alcohol (wine, beer, vodka, and so on). They can be masked mildly, but at the end of the day, tequila is an alcohol.
3. Alternatives to Tequila
Now that the effects tequila can have on the body are apparent, are there any lighter substitutes that can be used to provide a similar relief?
Not only does tequila adversely affect the body, but it also burns a hole in the pocket since it is indigenous to a single region, and export charges can bundle up. Hence, here are specific alternatives that can replicate the comfort:
Kombucha is a light, sweet, and sour beverage prepared with the help of fermented tea. Flavorings such as juices, spices, or fruits are often added to give it the desirable taste. It may or may not contain alcohol.
Even if it does, the quantity is low enough for it to be not listed under alcoholic drinks in most lists. It can be relished in place of tequila and produce an almost entirely similar feeling.
All kinds of wines top the list of healthiest alcohol. They provide the same soothing relief without affecting the liver half as much. Peppered with antioxidants and polyphenols, they help prevent damage to cell tissue.
Studies also show that certain wines can help improve cardiovascular health, build up the density of the bone, and assist in maintaining a healthy brain.
A professional can be consulted on the most beneficial wine before purchasing. They do tend to be on the costlier side, but the added health benefits make it worth the money spent.
Made from fermented grapes, there is a reason it is used for celebratory purposes. Even athletes who must stay fit to play publicly celebrate their winning by popping open a bottle of champagne served in glasses.
Since the grapes that champagne is made from are rich in phenolic compounds, this antioxidant-containing drink enhances brain health and also improves memory.
It is so similar to tequila that they are often confused for one another; mezcal is a mildly healthier option than tequila. Their creation process and source material are also almost entirely the same. Mezcal is known to contain prebiotics, thus adding to the health benefits derived from it.
It contains a more distinct and smokier flavor, arguably making it more enjoyable. Sure, researchers claim it supports the microbiome, though those areas require further classification. It also has less severe hangover symptoms and does not trouble as much when the drunkenness wears off.
It is a known fact that clear liquors have the least amount of sugar. They also boast of the fewest calories. Gin is far easier for the body to metabolize and can be served with juices or other added flavors.
It is made with the help of juniper berries and other botanical ingredients. Its origin was a medicinal liquor for saints and philosophers, further adding to its credibility.
4. Final Words
Alcoholic beverages have always been popular among people. However, all types of consumption should be in balance, especially something as potent as tequila. Occasional indulgence is acceptable, but becoming an alcoholic can be dangerous.