Do alcoholic digestives (e.g. grappa, limoncello, sambuca) really help digestion after a heavy meal?

  • 1
    Can you provide a source for this claim? – Rory Alsop Jan 3 '12 at 14:11
  • 5
    @RoryAlsop I don't think that really needs a source. It's part of the description of what a "digestive" is anywhere you care to look. – John Rhoades Jan 3 '12 at 14:21
  • @JohnRhoades - Well if it makes you vomit then you could say it helps with digestion by making digestion no longer necessary though I am pretty sure that is not what the OP meant. I think a good question lurks here but it needs refined. A source for the claim would go a long way towards doing that and provide us a direction for confirming/refuting. – Chad Jan 3 '12 at 15:55
  • @RoryAlsop I thought the name 'digestive' is enough to suggest they are meant to aid digestion. But here's a source: french-property.com/reference/digestif-drinks-france (drinking a small quantity...should indeed make you digest more easily) – Michael Jan 3 '12 at 16:27
  • grappa and limoncello are not marketed as digestives (source: me, as I'm Italian). Amaros like Jagermeister and similars are. – Sklivvz Jan 3 '12 at 18:11

Maybe, maybe not...

Reference - Effect on gastric function and symptoms of drinking wine, black tea, or schnapps with a Swiss cheese fondue: randomised controlled crossover trial (BMJ)

Alcohol during or immediately after a heavy meal causes the stomach to empty more slowly.

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It's not clear whether this effect is beneficial or not:

Alcohol promotes gastric relaxation but delays gastric emptying. As a consequence, drinking white wine and schnapps with a Swiss cheese fondue may provide short term relief of postprandial dyspepsia; this may, however, come at the cost of more prolonged fullness (the feared “cheese baby” syndrome) and reflux.

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