Daytime drinking
Beer is an effective painkiller iStock

Drinking two pints of beer is better at relieving pain than painkillers, according to new research.

Scientists from the University of Greenwich have found drinking alcohol can reduce pain by a quarter, as part of a study published in the Journal of Pain.

Raising your blood alcohol content to 0.08% gives the body a "small elevation of pain threshold" and therefore a "moderate to large reduction in pain intensity ratings".

The study compared 18 different controlled experiments involving 404 people. The researchers also concluded the more beer people drank, the less pain they felt.

It is not yet clear whether alcohol reduces feelings of pain because it affect brain receptors or because it lowers anxiety, which in turn makes us think the pain isn't as bad.

"It can be compared to opioid drugs such as codeine and the effect is more powerful than paracetamol," said Trevor Thompson, an author on the study.

This would explain why so many people who have chronic pain self-medicate with alcohol, Thompson said.

"Findings suggest that alcohol is an effective analgesic that delivers clinically-relevant reductions in ratings of pain intensity, which could explain alcohol misuse in those with persistent pain despite its potential consequences for long-term health," the researchers explained.

Researchers stressed the long-term use of alcohol as an analgestic is extremely harmful and causes health problems.

Government guidelines recommend no more than 14 units of alcohol a week for both men and women, which is around six pints of beer or six 175ml glasses of wine.