In this article we are going to try to answer the question, does whisky settle your stomach? We will take a look and see what evidence there is to suggest that whisky or other forms of alcohol do indeed help with un upset or sick stomach and we will try and give you some reasons why drinking whisky in moderation may well help if you have an upset stomach.
We have all heard the adage that a little wine is good for the stomach. This is something that has been believed for many years and there is even mention of it in the bible. Doctors tend to agree that a little wine can help aid minor stomach problems. But what about whisky and other strong spirits. Do these help calm a sick stomach or do they make the problem worse? Well this is something that many people will debate, so we are going to take a look at the issue and see if we can come up with a definitive answer.
Does Whisky Help?
Does Whisky Calm Your Stomach?
So first of all we should mention that drinking large quantities of whisky will certainly not calm your stomach. This will in fact enhance the problem and drinking large amounts of any spirit is certainly not good for you. We are talking about just a good single measure for medicinal purposes.
From personal experience I would say that whisky does calm my stomach. I often find that when I have a little stomach ache or I’m feeling a little sick, a small glass of whisky makes me feel a lot better and it does indeed calm my insides. I have been doing this for many years, I have enjoyed whisky for around ten years and so often find a nice single malt can have a nice calming effect. Some people though would argue that this is all in my head and it has no effect.
So how can we make sense of this? Well it’s a fact that alcohol kills bugs. Many people will drink whisky or brandy when they have a cold. So the same principle could be true. It could also be that the strong alcohol content has a numbing effect when you drink it, this could lead to you feeling better. A small amount of whisky will often have a relaxing effect on the drinker, another reason why it may settle the stomach. Does this mean though that every time you feel ill you should reach for the bottle.
What Do You Think?
When Not To Drink
Personally I only have whisky for my stomach when it has a minor upset. If you have a serious sickness bug and are vomiting then it’s unlikely any spirit will help the situation. Another bad idea is drinking on an empty stomach, if you have nothing inside you then the strong alcohol could actually damage the lining of your stomach and do you more harm than good.
Another issue to think about is that whisky contains gluten and some people may be intolerant to this. When you are feeling sick your tolerance levels are likely to be even lower so taking in gluten could be a bad idea. Other people simply have a bad reaction to all forms of alcohol so again if this is the case this is something that should be avoided.
Just A Small Measure
What Kind Of Whisky Or Other Alcohol?
Does it matter what kind of whisky you drink if you do have an upset stomach. Well this is really open to debate. I tend to enjoy single malt whisky, usually an Islay version that is flavoured with peat and is quite smokey. I imagine that buying a cheap bottle of blended whisky may not be quite as effective. The alcohol content of some of the whiskies I enjoy is often quite high as well, some are as high as 57% so again this may play a part.
There are other spirits that people claim aid a sick upset stomach. One well known one that is quite similar to whisky is of course brandy. Again the same principles apply, only have a small amount. Occasionally you hear stories of parents giving their children a spoonful of rum when they are young to help settle their stomachs. Again some people are convinced this does indeed work.
It would make sense that most forms of alcohol may well have an effect on ones stomach, whether this is for better or worse may well depend upon the individual. Some people may simply hate the taste of spirits so drinking them may not be at all pleasant and may actually make them feel sick. So really this is something that could well be down to personal preference. If you do have an upset stomach though and there is some whisky lying around then why not sip a small measure and see if it does indeed settle your stomach.
Somendra on June 30, 2020:
I am suffering from IBS, before every meal if I take a small dose of whiskey, I don't suffer stomach aches otherwise there is lot of gas formation and pain
Andrew Orrell (author) from UK on January 02, 2020:
Hi Shane, thanks for you comments. That's all very interesting stuff. It shows that it really does work. The key is obviously moderation and although you seem to be drinking quite a bit each day, if it's helping the situation then that's great. I hope you continue to see the benefits in the future and continue your recovery.
Shane on January 01, 2020:
I have moderate to severe reflux, and I have found the only thing that settles it is a few glasses of neat whiskey every night. My favorite is Jameson 80 proof blended Irish whiskey. I like all whiskeys, and some spiced rums, but I have found Jameson to be the most palatable for me (almost too palatable, LOL). I do my best to moderate, because I already have a fatty liver and elevated liver enzymes, which began long before I started having whiskey nightly. I typically drink two to three doubles every night. I am sure that I would be over the legal limit, although I feel zero effects. Is this worsening my my liver problems? One would think, however my hepatologist says otherwise. As a matter of fact, after being strictly monitored by this clinic for several years, I was released back to the ordinary gastroenterology clinic for routine annual monitoring about six months ago. That was roughly six months after I started drinking nightly and a year after a pretty severe dietary change. He admitted that he didn't know which was working the most, but to my shock he said "whatever you're doing, don't change it." So, I still drink every night. Worst case scenario, I cut a few years off my life, but live with less misery on many gastric fronts. I lost my dad to fatty liver induced cirrhosis in 2014. He was 72. I hope to make it to that age, and to pass peacefully in my sleep as he did.
Simona N Cali on January 28, 2019:
I have been dealing off & on with stomach issues, I think it's IBS, don't know for sure, and Yes, Whiskey has helped in past. I have taken a quick shot right before bedtime, Yes I get a little loopy and feels good so I can sleep thru the night medicine, and it sure beats drugs which do more harm than anything. I just found this blog, (Thank you), and it does confirm that others also have found whiskey to settle their stomachs, So, I will do the whiskey treatment again, just this time I will go more nights in a row until the issue is solved!! Thanks for the blog and Thanks to all who contributed to help me understand better my options.
I think I read a while back that back before medicine was created by big pharma, the Doctors gave their sick patients a shot of alcohol to aid whatever the issue...., So if it worked then, it should also work now, the Old Fashioned way!!! :) I remember reading that when someone got a bad cut then, they poured a whole glass of Vodka on the cut/ wound to disinfect the area!
God bless Y'all!
John N Florida on August 23, 2017:
I've noticed that some whiskey will 'kill the carbonation' in beer and also works, for me, to relieve gas bloating in my stomach.
I had acid reflux (before the fancy names came along) since I was 17; now 70 so I have SOME experince.
Years ago I used a prescription product, Wyeth with OxaineM. It was expensive.
After some self experimenting I found that mixing about a half a tsp of Baking soda IN a few mixed drinks would stop the overnight GERD. The alcohol deadened that nerve and the baking soda neutralized the stomach.
It's also a helluva way to become Alcohol Addicted which I also wound up dealing with.
Since the invention of Prevacid, et al, I don't have the problem anymore and I finally got off the booze.
IF I get stomach gas I try the traditional methods first. If that doesn't work I know that a small glass of whiskey will.
Jack0churchill on March 26, 2017:
In the past alcohol has always made me very ill and given me a severe hang over the next few days. For this reason i normally avoid it like the plauge. The past year i have been having bad stomach problems and puking white foam. A few days after my recent 21st i was out not feeling great and wanting to leave, i was offered a drink of 1shot 7&7, admittedly i figured if i said yes i would puke and get to go home. To my amazement quite the oposite happend. I felt my stomach settle a bit and i ended up drinking two additional glasses of segrams 7 on the rocks and i cant say i felt the slightest buzz from the drinks but my stomach sure felt better. You would think no alc in YEARS id feel something but no. After a while of just enjoying feeling healthy i decided to go for another one curious if id get a buzz. I drank about half the glass pretty slowly noticing the alc was now having the opposite effect and making me a Little queezy. So i stoped there. I had not eaten in the two days before hand due to nausea. I was able to sleep that night and have no hangover or adverse affects from the alc. the next day no hangover but the now normal nausea resumed. Having told my mate what happened the day before he saw me walk down the steps belching and tossed me a beer. I figured what the heck if it made me puke i prolly would anyway. So i cracked it open and took a sip. It did not help. I finished the beer kinda slow as it wasnt helping and just made me thirsty. No buzz from the beer not that i exspected one. Later i tried cranberry rum and found while it did help the sweetness made me gag a little so i swaped back to the whiskey and problem solved stomach better again no buzz. Thats not saying my fine motor function was not impaired as it was ever so slightly. But it wasnt enough you would notice, i did cuz i take a lot of pride in my steady hands. I had the oprotunity to try this one more time two days later this time straigt to the segrams with great results but i gota ask...anyone have a clue what is going on with me? Im seeing more than a few doctors about this now and its obvious by the sack of failed pills i have that they havent a clue. But they keep insisting my problems are all causes by the cannabis that i started smoking for my migranes...years after the migranes started...funny i didnt know cannabis could give you migranes before you knew what it even looked like (rolls eyes) so dont give me any shit about this being chs or anything related to the weed because its so obviously painfully is not this is just getting absurd. And yes i humored them by going off it for a while. But they have no meds that help with the migranes, abstaining sent me back to bed ridden migrane hell and its obviously not causing a problem so if i am perscribed a medication that helps with the migranes (after 14years of pills injections rectal sublingual and inpatient visits i doubt they will) then ill give up the new found weed until then its not the issue so seriously stop with that. I understand im 21 and all but i have not been using long enough i did abstain and symptom wise i dont fit the bill. I get its a new syndrom and you want to slap it on everyone but stop with the chs cuz it just makes you look like scrubs. Im not even convinced its a real syndrom with how much they are trying to force the diagnosis. I havent seen real patients exsibiting real symptoms. I also do not believe cannabis causes paranoia. Show me one person is all i ask. Smoke a bowl in front of me. You wont get paranoid because that is a result of your psychology derived from your environment. Not an effect of cannabis. So again stop the bull. So if anyone could exsplain why white foam? Why whiskey helped? Why i didnt get a buzz any of the times? I would appreciate your answer. Thank you very much.
Justin on November 19, 2016:
Vodka seems to help me more with stomach problems or the runs
Patrik on July 23, 2013:
I think the gluten in whiskey goes away with the distillation.
dommcg on October 30, 2012:
When i have an upset stomach i'll often have a hot toddy, i find it helps. Ginger wine also helps with me. Thanks for the hub.