In general, ethanol in low to moderate amounts, is relatively benign to most body systems. A moderate amount of ethanol causes peripheral vasodilation, especially of cutaneous vessels, and stimulates the secretion of salivary and gastric fluids; the latter action may aid digestion. On the other hand, ethanol consumption in high concentrations, as found in undiluted spirits, can induce hemorrhagic lesions in the duodenum, inhibit intestinal brush border enzymes, inhibit the uptake of amino acids, and limit the absorption of vitamins and minerals. In addition, ethanol can reduce blood testosterone levels, resulting in sexual dysfunction.
Ethanol is a diuretic. This effect may be caused by its ability to inhibit secretion of antidiuretic hormone from the posterior pituitary, which leads to a reduction in renal tubular water reabsorption. The large amount of fluid normally consumed with ethanol also contributes to increased urine production.
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