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Health Benefits of Greek Ouzo – 'To Farmako' – The Medicine

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Ouzo – To Farmako – The Medicine

For centuries, Greeks have believed that Greek Ouzo and its predecessor, Tsipouro; have some distinct medicinal benefits. Ouzo has so many uses in Greek folk medicine that they call it To Farmako, the medicine. Certainly, some of the properties attributed to the drink appear to make sense, whereas others are purely anecdotal. These remedies may help in some cases whilst, in others, they may just be the excuse given by Greek men to avoid a scolding when they get home. Some of these effects, such as the diuretic and the decongestant properties, are undoubtedly due to the alcohol, but some of the others have been attributed to the various herbs and spices used to flavour this drink. Certainly, you have nothing to lose by trying it, although take it easy – Ouzo is not to be taken lightly!

1) Acclimatisation: For those unused to the hot and dry climate in Greece, acclimatisation can be a nightmare. For many people, the blood thickens as the body attempts to cope with the intense heat, and nosebleeds and swollen ankles are common for those unused to the Greek summer. Drinking plenty of water is always good, but a glass or two of Ouzo thins the blood and alleviates some of the worst symptoms.

2) Insomnia: If you have trouble sleeping, a couple of Ouzos before you go to bed will help even the worst insomniacs. Greeks tend to sleep during the hottest part of the day, and a slug of Ouzo is better than any sleeping pill.

3) Liniment: Old Greek men and women rub Ouzo into tired muscles and aching joints, claiming that it relieves the worst symptoms of rheumatism.

4) Relaxation: Ouzo makes you smile. For people feeling a little nervous or suffering from anxiety, an Ouzo will make you relax and forget your worries for a while. Make sure that you drink with company and good conversation.

5) Toothache: Ouzo is used to relieve the worst symptoms of toothache, and older Greeks swear by it as an anaesthetic. To be fair, most strong alcoholic drinks have the same effect.

6) Decongestant: Ouzo certainly clears the head, partly because of the alcohol, but also because of the herbs and spices that make up the unique flavour. A hot Tsipouro with cloves is even better, alleviating the worst symptoms of a heavy cold.

7) Expectorant: For a chesty cough, many older Greeks rub Ouzo into their chest, claiming that it clears the lungs.

8) Antiseptic: Greece has a hot climate, and untended wounds can quickly turn septic. A little neat Ouzo is as good an antiseptic as anything.

Other Uses for Ouzo

I accept no responsibility for this one, so disclaim any liability, but I use Ouzo to clean the lens on my CD-ROM drives, and it works a treat. If the drive is having trouble reading discs, pour a little Ouzo onto a Q-Tip and gently clean the lens. I have a sneaking feeling that most warranties would not accept Ouzo as a cleaning fluid, so you have been warned.

Is there anything that Ouzo cannot do?

The Ouzo Effect, where the anise emulsifies in water and gives the opaque and milky experience, is poorly understood mechanism. Scientists researching the effect believe that this effect could be of great benefit to the cosmetic and medical industries.

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brown sugar on June 12, 2019:

My dear friend brought me some ouzo and you have to acquire a taste for it and it's flavor is excellent..i add ice h20 and wala!!

Wonderful I was feeling kind of down,now I feel happy relaxed and I smile OUZO!!!!!FROM MAUREEN

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Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on April 15, 2013:

This Hub's taken on a life of its own! We've got a Greek restaurant not far away in Stratford, London E15 (not far from the Olympic site, London E20). I've been there once or twice in the past with the little woman to celebrate our wedding anniversary. North London, also not far from here, has a lot of Greek Cypriots' restaurants and shops, so it wouldn't be too hard finding either ouzo or retsina.

This sounds like a cure-all - what does it do for kidney stones?

Nice one, Sufi. Keep it up.

Mike Smith on August 20, 2011:

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on March 04, 2011:

Thanks for visiting, Tzak - that is sound advice. Geia Mas!

Tzak on March 02, 2011:


You must drink ouso in a sensible way. Always enjoy a glass every day. Always drink to te health of all. ???? ??? ???.

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on October 29, 2010:

Hi Nadine - Thanks for visiting and commenting. I think that was in another Hub - Ouzo and political debate certainly do go together very well. I love Robert Graves, although I have never read that book - I will keep an eye out for it. :)

Sadly, I am not a literature major - my degree was in biology, but I love reading the classics!

Nadine on October 26, 2010:

Either you, or the earlier blog I read on Ouzo said the Greeks enjoy a good political argument. One of the best books I ever read was about a Greek political argument, the reds vs the greens, 6th century Byzantium. It was by Robert Graves, COUNT BELISARIUS. I guess being English, and a literature major, you've already read it. I wonder if the herbs in Ouzo were around at that time.

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on October 02, 2010:

Hi Milenarmr - I have a couple of German friends who drink more ouzo than I do! I often take a hot raki when I have a cold - it clears the throat nicely.

Thanks for visiting :)

milenaamr on October 01, 2010:

You are absolutely right about the ouzo that is used as medicine. When German people come to Greece they called it "white milk" because they mix it with water and the color become white. Greek people use ouso as an aspirin, but they have antibiotic called "raki". This is much , much stronger and it is similar to the Japanese sake. Thanks for the hub.

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on December 20, 2009:

Hi M G - I am partial to a bottle of Uncle Jack, now and then - I could imagine that it has some medicinal uses :D

Money Glitch from Texas on December 20, 2009:

I read another one of your Ouzo hubs, this stuff reminds me of Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey (just a little bit will cure what ever is ailing you).:) Thanks for sharing!

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on June 26, 2009:

Well worth a try - I will personally attest to the health benefits....or maybe I became too drunk to remember that I was ill :D

Amanda Severn from UK on June 26, 2009:

I think NICE might go for it if it can be proven to be cheaper than a prescription drug. After all, they're now allowing Acupuncture on the NHS because it's cheaper than drugs! Certainly worth a try!

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on June 26, 2009:

Hi, Amanda - It is fantastic stuff, and well worth trying to track down. They certainly should provide it on the NHS - ask your doctor for a prescription!

Amanda Severn from UK on June 26, 2009:

I've never tried ouzo, but it sounds like good stuff. I wonder if we could get it on the NHS? Do you think NICE would pass it?

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on June 26, 2009:

Maybe watered down with a drop of diesel - Ouzo from gas stations is to be avoided :D

marinealways24 on June 25, 2009:

Yes, it was definitely the cheap one. I think we bought it in a gas station.

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on June 25, 2009:

Iconoclast: I like the way that you used the word copious - a man after my own heart. I lived in Scotland for many years, and they use whisky in much the same way.

marine: That's the stuff! Not sure about the opium - I have never heard of that one. It was probably cheap ouzo - they put so much sugar in that it guarantees a bad head. The expensive stuff is better - never had a hangover from Barbagianni Ouzo :)

marinealways24 on June 25, 2009:

We went on a float when I was in the military and stopped off at Rhodes Greece. I think I drank some Ouzo. It kinda tasted like licorish and gave me a killer headache. Maybe because I am a lightweight :lol: Somone told me it had opium in it. Is this true?

Iconoclast from Chicago, IL on June 25, 2009:

Most of the listed effects can be had with equally copious amounts of whiskey.

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on June 15, 2009:

Thanks, Iphigenia (I love your name, BTW!)

Pastis, water and olives - that is the way to live. It certainly beats the British 'Pie and a Pint!' The Mediterranean lifestyle certainly is the way to go - I don't blame you for choosing France. I like the EPO thing - Gallic humour at its best.

You have your priorities right - pastis must come first! If you ever fancy trading a bottle of Greek Ouzo for a bottle of French Brandy, I am all ears!

Iphigenia on June 15, 2009:

Just like pastis here in France a cure all for all ills and bad humour ! Order a pastis and it comes with a jug of water and a bowl of olives - prior to last year's Tour de France you could just order "pastis" to get all three delieverd to your table. However, since the EPO doping scandals of the '08 tour, many locals now order an EPO (eau, pastis, olives) ..... I keep meaning to read more of your hubs on Greece .... time ... time and pastis get in my way !

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on June 05, 2009:

'Tis something that they do not tell you in the manual. It is also a good excuse for buying a new bottle of Ouzo, although the missus cannot understand why the CD player needs cleaning every day ;)

Cindy Vine from Cape Town on June 05, 2009:

Sufi, can remember using vodka ona q-tip to clean the heads of an old video machine, so am sure ouzo would work a charm as well!

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on June 05, 2009:

Too right, BC - I ended up watching football in Arabic, on Dubai sports. No idea what league, but it was atrocious :(

I wish that your lot would start signing some players - it will help to break the monotony.

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on June 01, 2009:

Hi, BC - probably not!

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 29, 2009:

Thanks Ralwus - you, too - your gentle humour can diffuse any situation :)

Thanks BP - feel free to stalk me anytime, as long as you bring some nice biscuits. I found a glass slipper lying around.....I wonder who that belongs to.....

blondepoet from australia on May 29, 2009:

He truly is and so are you and me ralwus, that is why I think we both gravitated here, and I to stalk him too ROFL. Nearly midnight here guys, the question of the day is will my dress turn into rags at the stroke of midnight, will I lose a glass slipper or will I simply snuggle into my cosy bed and pass out.....

ralwus on May 29, 2009:

Sufi, you are a great one on here ya know. The peacemaker.

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 29, 2009:

Thanks BP - coming from you, that means a lot. Hopefully, we can make a small corner of the world into a better place.

Proud to be your friend, too - you always manage to make people smile, even on the darkest of days :)

Anyway, cigarette break over - back to the grind (Hugs)

blondepoet from australia on May 29, 2009:

Sufi I was reading your comments over at Cindys place, you really have a beautiful heart...I am so proud to be your friend.(hugs)

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 28, 2009:

I look forward to it, and I think that the sheep will, too. :)

blondepoet from australia on May 28, 2009:

Oh great Sufi you will enjoy it heaps. Yes when you take your sheep over the hills and across the valley to Sparta, you must not forget...:)

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 28, 2009:

A few Ouzos is purely medicinal - you will be just fine ;)

Dial-up does suck, but I have no other choice - the disadvantage of living in the mountains.

I should be going into Sparta next week, where I get 3G, so will have a look then :D

blondepoet from australia on May 28, 2009:

Geez Sufi I think I will be an alchoholic before I know it. Damn dial up, that must be so hard even turning pages.....oh you missed a real treat, there is me, Cindy,Pest,Tom and EricG, we go into this house, and Toad is a serial killer and first kills Pest and Cindy, then he nearly kiils Tom, then he gets me with a chainsaw, it is hilarious, plus u missed my naked scene LMAO. Don't u guys have cable in your town :(

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 28, 2009:

Too right - I am only thinking about your health. Five or six is the minimum.

Sadly, I am on dial-up, so videos are difficult :(

blondepoet from australia on May 28, 2009:

You mean five or six drinks a day Sufi....woo hooo I think I like this very much...

Hey did you see my mass murder video I made for Cindy for her birthday today.

ralwus on May 27, 2009:

imagine that. hehe

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 27, 2009:

Howdy Mr Ralwus

I saw the name in the forum, and knew that it could be only one certain Hubber reborn!

Alas, the avatar was taken a couple of years back, and I now look more like GT's bearded avatar - old and kaput! :(

ralwus on May 27, 2009:

Well this is certainly a fun hub. haha I use it all the time to clean my dirve. hehe and " Ouzo makes you smile." It certainly does. LOL how in the hell did you find me so dam fast? Ya know if I was a chick you'd make me all creamy inside you hunk o' beef you! to use a toad expression. LOL

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 25, 2009:

Hi BP - It should be the same - you have so many Greeks over there! The only thing to watch out for is that they sometimes add sugar to exported Ouzo - the proper stuff should taste a little bitter. Have five or six and you will be healthy and strong ;)

blondepoet from australia on May 25, 2009:

Sufidreamer what great reasons to have a few drinks..Is Greek ouzo similar to the one we have in Australia, if so I will be drinking it. I don't think the bourbon I drink does nothing but make me drunk..

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 21, 2009:

No problem, SweetiePie - Glad to help!

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on May 20, 2009:

Hi Sufi,

Thanks for pointing out the link to me and I will definitely go back and read this :).

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 20, 2009:

Hi SweetiePie - I included a little about Greek Honey in my Folk Medicine Hub - maybe it was that one.

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on May 19, 2009:

Were you the one who wrote about the Greek honey and its restorative properties? I remember reading about that somewhere, but I just could not remember where.

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 19, 2009:

That is steep - we pay a little medical insurance here, but not at the same level, and once you have it, everything is covered.

Still, the Greeks have many old remedies, some of which do actually work :)

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on May 19, 2009:

I agree, modern medicine does have its purposes, and I will go to the doctor if I am severely injured, but I will just tell you I paid large amount of taxes because of my HSA. Right now insurane is not exactly making me a happy camper, which induces me to find other ways to deal with my colds. I just never want to pay $100 dollars for a doctor's visit, or $22 for stronger cough syrup, just to be told I have a cold.

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 19, 2009:

Hi SweetiePie - Good to see you!

I am not going to completely disregard modern medicine, but there is so much profiteering. It is run as a business, and it is in their interests that you take things that you do not need. There are many little remedies that we use over here, and they work perfectly well. I rarely take medicine, and am quite happy with that!

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on May 19, 2009:

Ouzo and other natural alternatives are at least better to the glorified Dayquil doctors often prescribe.  I do not have medical insurance, but even when I did I went to the doctor I was just told oh it is a cold, and here is your cough syrup, which will costs twenty-two dollars.  Thus, I would say Ouzo or anything natural is much healthier, and less risky than developing a dependence to over the counter drugs, which is a little to prevalent here in the US.

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 17, 2009:

Hi AW - Good to see you

Still researching that one - there are plenty of companies selling Ouzo, but I have to check the authenticity! The US should be OK, because there are a lot of Greek expats there. If you know any Greeks, don't be afraid to ask, and they will probably know the best!

It is pronounced oo (like the -wo in two) zo (Like sew, but with a z)

It is a great drink!

Artisan Walker from Springfield, Oregon on May 16, 2009:

Wow!  The question for me is; get I get it here in the States?

Just read in your comments that you're aware of mail-order Ouzo. And I totally agree it would best to go with the authentic Greek product. Please fill me in.

PS: How do you properly pronounce that?

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 14, 2009:

No worries, Brenda, although a nice Irish Whiskey should have the same effect! I used to love a hot toddy when I had a cold.

Hopefully, there should be a Hub on mail-order Ouzo soon, so you can order some. :)

\Brenda Scully on May 14, 2009:

When you have finished the challenge, maybe you could send some over, it sounds like the miracle cure I have been waiting for...... Nice hub and good luck with the challenge....

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 13, 2009:

Hi LondonGirl - I have tried the hot tsipouro for a cold, and that works, but I am not sure about the rest.

Mind you, there is plan B - Drink lots of Ouzo and you will forget that you are ill. You will probably forget your own name, too, but I tend to do that anyway as I get older.

LondonGirl from London on May 13, 2009:

I'm not quite convinced by all those claimed medicinal qualities (-:

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 13, 2009:

I am a little busy finishing off some Hubs for the challenge, but I plan to do one about mail order Ouzo. It is better to order authentic Greek, because the stuff that they export tends to have a lot of added sugar, killing the flavour and giving one hell of a hangover!

Frieda Babbley from Saint Louis, MO on May 13, 2009:

I did hone right in, didn't I. How shameful of me. Well, it's a good thing I suppose. LOL. Yes, I'd rather be safe than sorry myself. Now if I could just find the good stuff over here.

Sufidreamer (author) from Sparti, Greece on May 13, 2009:

Hi Frieda

Thanks for that - I should have known that you can hear a bottle of Ouzo being opened on the other side of the world.

Not sure if they work or not, but it is better to be safe than sorry!

Frieda Babbley from Saint Louis, MO on May 13, 2009:

Fantastic and Absolutely. What a most excellent idea for a hub. And I can attest it's all true. =D

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