Would drinking a glass of wine a day for health reasons break the precepts?

Scientific studies show that a small quantity of alcohol is beneficial when it comes to preventing dementia.
See for example this Drink Up: New Study Concludes Wine Can Offset Dementia | Mental Floss
The risk of Alzheimer’s disease is higher for women, especially when they are predisposed (for example if they have a female family member who has had it).
So if you are at risk of getting Alzheimer’s (there are also genetic tests now to check whether you are predisposed to it) would you say that consuming a small quantity of wine every day is wise? I know it goes against the precepts, but then again these are not commandments. Precepts should help us live a happier life, but if you get Alzheimer’s disease you won’t be very happy, and people that are closed to you will probably suffer a lot.

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I suggest the topic is moved to the Watercooler category. :anjal:

Ajahn Jayasaro gives a great answer to this question here


Most people mistaken the precepts as restriction, which actually they are meant to be protection.

The moment the mind get restricted, the mind will retaliate. There will be rebellion

Best is the view must be changed, your protection charm should not seen as be your prison.

There are people in jhanas 2-3 is also drunk, but by their own ecstasy, no need any substance to attached to, and also can cure many dis-ease

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I extremely doubt that…
A person who is in a jhāna knows sāmisa sukha is no closer to nirāmsa sukha. They might take their jhāna as ultimate happiness but taking something less convincing is highly unlikely.

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Thank you, I have listened to it and I agree it is a very good answer; it also addresses at length the distinction between precepts and commandments.
There is however an important distinction between the risk of Alzheimer’s and having low blood pressure (which the Ajahn discusses). Like he says, there are many other ways to increase blood pressure, without drinking wine. I believe having a strong coffee will do so there’s no real benefit of drinking wine in that example that cannot be obtained from drinking coffee for example.
By contrast Alzheimer’s disease’s causes are not well known and there’s a not a single cure on it. There are just ways of increasing the odds of not getting it. So if having a glass of wine, might be one of the many factors that decreases the odds of getting the disease, it might be the wise thing to do, because one would want to do the maximum of things that increase as much as possible the odds of not getting the disease (or of getting it as late as possible).
I hope I was able to express my thoughts clearly.

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Sorry I mean at here is poeple in jhanas, also experiencing drunk alike, not that they drink. They dont need to drink to be drunk. Which even sukha is thrown away to proceed to 4th jhana

So samadhi can provide non attachment to any drink or subtances, and also healthy

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Yes, I think I understand where you’re coming from. I understand the fear of Alzheimer’s. As a kid I watched my great-grandmother wither away from the disease — a scary sight indeed.

And yet, the answer doesn’t change. The fifth precept is against intentionally ingesting intoxicants.

If you’re really worried about Alzheimer’s, I suggest (and Harvard Medical School agrees) eating healthier fats, avoiding red meat, and getting regular exercise. As that article says, the benefit from drinking wine “has not been proved”

So I highly disagree with your implication that wine is the only way for you to prevent this disease. The fact is, the research is not conclusive that it even helps at all and there are other diet and lifestyle changes that have a stronger impact.


I was not able to express myself clearly. I never made the

I meant exactly the opposite: that there are many causes for Alzheimer’s and many things that might decrease the risk of getting it, (like exercise, eating healthy fats etc - and I am doing all of these).
One of these many things (not the only way) might be drinking wine. This is not a certainty, but I am thinking of probabilities, of ways to increase the odds of not getting it. Like the article from Harvard Medical School in your link says:

Drink—but just a little. There is conflicting evidence about the benefit of moderate alcohol intake (one drink per day for women, one or two for men) and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. “It is thought that wine in particular, and not other forms of alcohol, may be helpful, but this has not been proved,” says Dr. Marshall.

So their advice is to drink a glass of wine, they write Drink—but just a little. because even though there is no certainty, a little wine may well be beneficial.
In any case, just for the record, I have not drunk any alcohol for perhaps 15 years, not because of religion but because I just never saw the point of it. So I have a totally open mind on this, I am just trying to work out the most beneficial way.


Thank you Bhante for sharing this, beautiful :anjal:
This reminded me how wonderful it is to keep the Five Precepts! I think many lay Buddhists don’t reflect on this often enough. It is so easy to focus on ones faults and forget how incredibly lucky we are to be able to practice the Dhamma.


There is another way to reduce fear … and that is the Buddhas injunction to limit negative thinking. Often times fear is a result of focusing on possible negative things. The other side of this is the focusing on possible wonderful things. A very careful line needs to be drawn not to engage in fantasy - either the negative or the positive kind, one needs to reduce the types of thinking /proliferating that leads to unbeneficial and harmful results (unrealistic expectation) and to increase those thoughts that have beneficial results.

In the end, everyone will age and the body and mind will deteriorate :slight_smile: this is to be expected :slight_smile: It is just natural :slight_smile:

If one works on the ability to accept these things with equanimity, then there will be less suffering of any kind in the future. As such, even though it may be very daunting to look at ones fears, ultimately it is the best investment…

With best wishes and compassion :pray: :dharmawheel: :sparkling_heart:


Yes this is an excellent point, :pray: Something I should try to keep in mind always. I also read that people who have a positive inner speech and a positive attitude tend to get ill much less, including of Alzehimer’s (they had a study on nuns (I believe Catholic) on this).

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You seem confused with sati and being drunk.

Surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhānā veramaṇisikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi
I undertake the training rule of refraining from liquor, wines, or intoxicants which cause heedlessness.

  • causes heedlessness.
    When someone is drunk his mind wanders, late and not in control where in a jhāna, it stick to the object, does not wander and not late at all.

If you look at the actual conclusions of many of these “pro-alcohol” studies, they clearly state that no one who currently abstains from alcohol should start drinking just to get these benefits. However in the popular press that part is left out. The fact is that while correlation can be shown, causation is very difficult to prove. Scientists know this, which is why they include these caveats that popular press leaves out.

Also many of the wine studies state that drinking grape juice gives you the same benefits. And many of the alcohol studies are funded by the alcohol industry, so that should make one skeptical.

And all of these food/health studies should be looked at with great suspicion. At the very least the popular reporting should be ignored in favor of reading the actual studies. Even so called “scientific” conclusions seem to change more frequently than the direction of the wind.

If we believe what the Buddha taught, then drinking alcohol is specifically the cause of mental derangement, not the other way around. Of course one has to take this as a matter of faith until one can see causation for one’s self.

If someone has more faith in scientists, then “L’chaim!” :wine_glass:


I haven’t seen the advice that

no one who currently abstains from alcohol should start drinking just to get these benefits

even though I did look at scientific studies (here I posted a link to a popular article because I thought it would be less heavy for this forum).
Your point that you can reap the benefits of wine from fruit juice is partly valid, though I read that juice has some but not all the antioxidants of wine.
Concerning your point in having faith in scientists, I understand that many monks do value and respect science and scientists, for example Ajahn Brahm mentions every other talk that he has been to Cambridge and considers himself a theoretical physicist. He invited a scientist (Bernard Carr) to speak at a Buddhist conference in Perth.
So why not take scientists seriously when it comes to your health, particularly on this disease which can cause a lot of suffering to the relatives of the person who get it?

There is little evidence of this from the people I have observed around me (as I said I do not drink myself and haven’t done so for at least 15 years), or from historical figures. Take the latter case. Churchill was a drunkard but he is considered a very capable politician, a good painter, a good writer (he got a Nobel prize for literature) and above all he arguably saved the world from the threat of Nazi Germany, which was led by Hitler who was a teetotaler.

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Oh I apologize, but here I was not talking about sati, it’s piti in jhanas, it a little bit drunk alike but without great addiction like alcohol
Alcohol can even get your more unconscious which speed up your tanha upadana and bhava

Sati isnt even jhanas… its leading to nibbana, cessation to bhava, the non-self itself produces sensations on the body from time to time, which is even greater than piti, i think this is what you meant.

Because I was a drinker before I come to study buddhism so I can clearly see the different, in alcohol it does makes you lighter but only if your mind is a stresful mind, when your mind is at ease and your body always relax, the alcohol actually bothers, it produces the mini unpleasant vibrant all over the blood. Even in the sleep, we dont really rest. A restless sleep I’d call it.

I even tried drugs, the problem with drugs apart from its addiction and it destroy the body, is that the pleasure cannot sustain, the peak of pleasure seems always lost after reached upon thats why people try more and more. But in jhanas, its all up to you, always in the peak is also possible, called hard jhanas, and no addiction and the truth , dhamma reveal eventually, the world ,all is your own making, and there is no real you exist here

Just a reminder to keep posts relevant to the Opening Post ie. wine for health AND precepts,
rather than focusing just on the scientific health issues.

Many thanks for your understanding and co-operation :dharmawheel:


Consuming alcohol is not considered a way of performing bad deed SN 14.27.
However, it is considered a basis of demerit.

Majjañca pānaṃ na samācareyya,
Dhammaṃ imaṃ rocaye yo gahaṭṭho;
Na pāyaye pivataṃ nānujaññā,
Ummādanantaṃ iti naṃ viditvā

Whatever householder this Dharma approves,
in maddening drink should never indulge,
nor make others drink, nor approve if they do,
knowing it leads to a mind that’s disturbed.

Madā hi pāpāni karonti bālā,
Kārenti caññepi jane pamatte;
Etaṃ apuññāyatanaṃ vivajjaye,
Ummādanaṃ mohanaṃ bālakantaṃ

Fools do many evils because they are drunk,
while causing other people to be negligent.
This basis of demerit should be avoided,
but fools are delighted, confused with mind upset (Snp 2.14).

On the other hand drinking creates heedlessness which is a hindrance to achieve mindfulness and concentration in meditation.

MN 90 gives a breaf explaination about five facotor that one could have to achieve dhamma cakkhu.

appābādho hoti appātaṅko samavepākiniyā gahaṇiyā samannāgato nātisītāya nāccuṇhāya majjhimāya padhānakkhamāya
They are rarely ill or unwell. Their stomach digests well, being neither too hot nor too cold, but just right, and fit for meditation MN 90.

A person with an illness would face higher difficulty to achieve Nibbāna. The person might not even be a person who seeks Nibbāna. To a person like that consuming alohol for medicinal perposes would not be a problem.

However, scholars have shown that the liquor dranked by Sāgata tero was a wine from Afganistan. As long as this is about bhikkus, a lay person would not have to worry about these rules. The buddha allowed alcohol even to Bhikkus, when they are adviced under a physician to consume alcohol mixed medicines. But they should not take it as a liquor, should not smell or taste like liquor when they consume it. Pācittiya 51

Consuming alcohol on a medicinal purpose will not be a problem. Still it gives heedlessness at higher amounts. I doubt about achieving these requirements with wine though.

They should not take it as a liquor, should not smell or taste like liquor when they consume it.

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Conveniently I found this video where Ajahn Brahm talks about alcohol just now. Cheers! :hugs: https://youtu.be/fq-nVhcn-dM?t=1760

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