What are the medicinal uses of rakija (Serbian brandy)?

ipsy Pilgrim product testing for 10 or so homemade Serbian "medicines". Photo by Ana Dunjić.
Tipsy Pilgrim product testing for 10 or so homemade Serbian “medicines”. Photo by Ana Dunjić.

None, according to reputable doctors. Reputable Serbian grandparents, however, prescribe rakija for the following conditions:

  • Toothache
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach ache
  • Sore throat
  • Depression
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Anxiety
  • To make a newborn baby boy more of a man (only feed him a few drops)
  • Help babies fall asleep (let them suck on a rakija-soaked finger)
  • Disinfectant
  • Pretty much anything else


PREVENTATIVE CARE: Many older men start the day with a shot of rakija to ensure they maintain good health. This is the only time, ever, when it is acceptable to down your rakija in one gulp; one is meant to slowly sip to “enjoy” the flavor.

DENTAL CARE: First thing in the morning, have a scoop of slatko, or Serbian fruit preserves, to maximize the bacteria in the mouth. Then annihilate them with a shot of rakija. Replaces brushing.

HANGOVERS: Rakija is also touted by Serbs as the one thing of which you can drink as much as you want and never have a hangover. In the service of my readers, I have tested this folk wisdom; while comforting in the drinking stage, it invariably proves the next day to have been a cruel bit of bullshit.

CHILDHOOD ILLNESSES: Many Serbians fondly recall that when the fell ill as children, they would wind up stinking of komovica, a homemade rakija produced from grape pomace. While not great to drink, komovica is hailed for its ability to calm fevers or sore throats; towels soaked in the stuff are dabbed over the body.

DISCLAIMER: This post is not meant to be taken as individualized medical advice and is no substitute for consultation with your own Serbian grandparents.

Tip of the Tipsy hat to Ana Dunjić, Jovana Đaković, Jelena Roda Rodić, Mara Kulović, Ana Stijelja and other Serbian friends for their input. Do your Serbian grandparents have their own rakija wisdom? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading our treatises on cross-cultural boozing and boinking. On rare occasions, this site contains automatically monetized affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

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