This viral video on Facebook, with 31 million views, claims that tequila is a probiotic, enhances insulin production, and helps potentiate certain medications.

Is there any truth to this?


3 Answers 3



A probiotic food, as defined by the dictionaries (1) (2) (3) must contain benefical live bacteria (regarding the human organism). Scientific literature calls those bacteria probiotic (4).

Tequila does not contain these benefical live bacteria, as its alcohol concentration would at least atenuate them if not outright kill (lactobacilli are more fragile than pathogenic bacteria) them. Also they are not part of the production process; tequila is fermented with yeast, not bacteria and if these bacteria would be later added, would have to follow FDA regulations and be declared.

Not to be mistaken for prebiotic that identifies foods that enhance the presence of benefical gut bacteria, but does not contain them in a live and active state.


The Facebook video is wrong because they have confused tequila with agave and probiotics with prebiotics.

1) Tequila is made of agave, (Alcoholreviews.com), which contains fructans, which are a type of fiber, which can act as a prEbiotic - a substance that can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the human intestine (Agave.or.kr).

Tequila is a distilled beverage, which does not contain fiber or any other carbohydrate (CalorieKing). Prebiotics are carbohydrates (WebMD), so if tequila does not contain carbohydrates, it does not contain prebiotics.

2) To me, it is apparent that in the video they wanted to mention prEbiotics, but they erroneously used the term prObiotics, which is a much more known word. Probiotics are live bacteria or yeasts that may have beneficial effects in the human intestine (WebMD).

Strong alcoholic beverages, such as 80 proof tequila do not contain live bacteria or yeasts, at least not in sufficient amounts that would make them probiotics.

In conclusion: Tequila contains neither probiotics nor prebiotics.

  • 2
    Jan, could you please provide references that show: Tequila is made of agave. Tequila contains fructans. Fructans is a prebiotic. What a prebiotic is, and what a probiotic is. That fructans is a fiber. That tequila does not contain probiotics.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 14:56

Ethanol /ˈɛθənɒl/ (EtOH), also commonly called alcohol, ethyl alcohol, and drinking alcohol, is the principal type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts. It is a neurotoxic ... Ethanol is used in medical wipes and most common antibacterial hand sanitizer gels as an antiseptic. Ethanol kills organisms by denaturing their proteins and dissolving their lipids and is effective against most bacteria and fungi, and many viruses. However, ethanol is ineffective against bacterial spores.

(Wikipedia) It's common knowledge that Ethanol kills micro-organisms.

Under U.S. law (27 CFR 5.22 (g)), Tequila cannot be sold in the U.S. at under 40% alcohol concentration (80 U.S. proof).

All tequila in the U.S. is at 40% concentration of ethanol or more.

The bactericidal activity of various concentrations of ethyl alcohol (ethanol) was examined against a variety of microorganisms in exposure periods ranging from 10 seconds to 1 hour 483. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was killed in 10 seconds by all concentrations of ethanol from 30% to 100% (v/v), and Serratia marcescens, E, coli and Salmonella typhosa were killed in 10 seconds by all concentrations of ethanol from 40% to 100%. The gram-positive organisms Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes were slightly more resistant, being killed in 10 seconds by ethyl alcohol concentrations of 60%–95%. Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol) was slightly more bactericidal than ethyl alcohol for E. coli and S. aureus 489


While the article itself says nothing about killing "good" bacteria, The CDC has studied and found that the maximum time for their selected bacterial species to die in a 40% ethanol solution is about an hour. Given that one serving of alcohol is fully absorbed into the blood stream within 30 minutes to 2 hours after intake, we can safely say that the tequila has more than enough time to destroy bacterial agents.

The people that made that video were most likely misguided into thinking that booze raised your gut bacteria, when it was most likely the tequila plant Agave that is a probiotic. The plant can be made easily into a product called agave nectar, which is a probiotic.

  • 2
    Going from the fact that a 40% ethanol solution kills bacteria, to the conclusion that a consuming tequila kills beneficial gut flora seems like a massive leap to me. This study: Alcohol and Gut Microbiota seems to find that alcohol intake resulted in bacterial overgrowth (which seems somewhat at odds with your conclusion, though not being an expert my understanding of it could be mistaken).
    – femtoRgon
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 20:51
  • @femtoRgon I'm not sure that it is such a leap. Most of our "flora" is in fact bacteria.
    – tuskiomi
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 21:26
  • 7
    @tuskomi - Yes, it is, but our bodies are not petri dishes, the solution sitting in the stomach or intestines is not a simple 40/60 alcohol-water solution, fails to consider whether it would still act as an antibiotic once diluted in gastrointestinal fluids, fails to consider how alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream (ie. before reaching the large intestine), etc. You could probably make a guess that it has an antibiotic effect in the mouth, but making any assumptions beyond that based on this reasoning seems like a gross oversimplification.
    – femtoRgon
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 21:35
  • 1
    @tuskiomi, agave can be prEbiotic, not prObiotic.
    – Jan
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:20
  • @femtoRgon, alcocol is quickly and completely absorbed mostly in the stomach and upper part of the small intestine, so it does not reach the large intestine, where the beneficial bacteria are. So, I agree it is not likely that alcohol in reasonable amounts would significantly reduce the amount of beneficial bacteria in the intestine.
    – Jan
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:23

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