Dirty martini? Moscow mule? Yes and yes, please. Vodka is a versatile spirit that can really cater to your mood, but the benefits of vodka go beyond creating the perfect cozy cocktail or giving your karaoke sessions greater gusto.
When consumed in moderation, vodka has nine surprising health benefits.
- Keeps your mouth clean
- Protects your heart health (maybe)
- Helps you stick to a low carb diet
- Tones your skin — for a little while
- Calms down your hair
- Neutralizes odors and cleans
- Chills you out
- Reduces inflammation (maybe)
- Kills germs
Vodka is super versatile. Its antibacterial effects and zero-carb status mean that, in certain circumstances, it can provide unexpected benefits.
Do not drink or apply vodka if you experience alcohol use disorder
In the U.S., around 14.1 million adults live with alcohol use disorder, and around 95,000 people every year die from alcohol-related issues.
If you find it difficult to control your alcohol intake, you shouldn’t use it to wash your hair or clothes. Find some distance from alcohol until you’re able to nurture a healthier relationship with it.
Alcohol use may well be significantly interfering with parts of your life or the life of somebody you know. If so, you can call the SAMHSA National Helpline (1-800-662-4357).
Alternatively, you can use the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s Treatment Finder to locate the nearest facility than can help.
1. Keeps your mouth clean
Vodka is a natural disinfectant, and lots of commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol. So why wouldn’t it work?
On the epic science show, “Mythbusters,” they combined one part vodka with nine parts cinnamon, put the mixture to the side for 2 weeks, and returned 2 weeks later to find a fully functional mouthwash.
That being said, smell is a subjective way to measure the “success” of a remedy. And good as “Mythbusters” is, it’s no substitute for a controlled study.
One 2012 study found that people who drank alcohol 2 to 7 times per week had a lower risk of needing the removal of infected teeth. The researchers put this down to vodka’s bacteria-killing effects.
Take that, bacteria!
2. Protects your heart health (maybe)
Drinking vodka regularly (in moderation, of course) might have promising effects on heart health, according to a few studies.
In one study on pigs, researchers found that both wine and vodka reduced protein oxidation in the heart — although only wine significantly relaxed blood vessels.
Protein oxidation can contribute to the hardening of blood vessels and stinks all-round when it comes to heart disease. So if vodka can keep this potentially harmful chemical process at bay, we’re for it.
However, a glass of wine may be a healthier choice for your ticker.
3. Helps you stick to a low carb diet
While alcohol can underpin a great night out, it can also hit you right in the carbs, especially if particular beers or wines are your go-to (although low carb options are available for each).
Spirits, on the other hand, are virtually carb-free. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, vodka has 0 grams of carbohydrates. So, y’know, not bad at all.
If you’re on a carb-restricted diet, vodka might be a way to get your rocks off without needing to sub as many snacks and foods during the day.
However, unless you’re planning to drink vodka shots, a one-way ticket to a painful hangover and some potentially terrible life decisions, be aware that adding sugary fruit juices or sodas come with plenty of their own carbs.
Try choosing a low sugar or low carb mixer to keep your carb count closer to zero.
4. Tones your skin — for a little while
The Uber’s on the way, pre-drinks are very much conquered, but… wait, what’s this? Visible pores? Don’t worry. The drink in your hand may well help.
Try creating a solution of equal parts vodka and water and dabbing it on with a cotton ball. This tightens the skin, and the disinfecting properties can get rid of the bacteria that cause breakouts.
However, products that contain alcohol might actually act as an irritant to the skin, causing dryness.
So this might not be ideal if you have dry skin already. Plus, the effect is only temporary. If you’re looking to clear your pores on a more permanent solution, putting alcohol on your face is not the answer.
5. Calms down your hair
A shot of vodka in your deep conditioner can add a bit of extra shine.
Alcohol features in many hair products, especially anti-dandruff shampoos, so people who experience dandruff might well see the benefits of adding vodka to their hair care products.
It lowers your hair’s pH, which ultimately helps the cuticles to close. This means reduced frizz and sunshiney hair.
6. Neutralizes odors and cleans
While many vodkas have a certain… nail-varnish-remover-y aroma, they can actually neutralize other odors.
Vodka is a wonder for getting the stink out. You can use it to clean:
- your feet or armpits
- shoes and clothing
- oily kitchen utensils
- the gunk left behind after removing a sticky label (isn’t it the worst?)
- toilet rings
- red wine and grass stains
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should douse everything you own in pure vodka. Keep it in a little spray bottle for on-the-go use, and be sure to dilute it in water.
Pro tip: If you’d rather not smell vodka as you clean, a dash of your fave essential oil can keep the process pleasantly fragrant.
7. Chills you out
One study found that beer containing alcohol, used in moderation, was more effective than alcohol-free beer at helping your cortisol (a stress hormone) level recover after a stressful situation.
While that’s all well and good when you’re at a party, if you’re regularly using vodka to combat stress, it’s likely to become a dependency.
8. Reduces inflammation (maybe)
According the Arthritis Foundation, enjoying a regular drink could reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (with extreme moderation).
To be clear, the they certainly don’t recommend vodka in the treatment of any existing inflammatory disease.
9. Kills germs
As unkind as alcohol may be on your head in the morning, it’s even less kind on germs. But not every vodka is a germ-killing machine.
The CDC recommends that you use a solution that’s 60 to 80 percent alcohol to serve as a disinfectant. That means you’d need a vodka that’s 120 to 160 proof (think Everclear) to do the job.
But before you try to make your own hand sanitizer, keep in mind that you’re still better off washing your hands with soap and water. A good scrub is better at getting rid of all of the nasties, including chemicals, that can make you sick.
There’s a fine line between reaping vodka’s possible benefits and putting yourself at risk. So keep it moderate, if you go down the vodka route at all.
Excessive alcohol use presents a risk for many health conditions, and even moderate vodka consumption can lead to increased risks.
- Increased risk of injury. When drinking vodka, be cautious of your surroundings and do not operate a motor vehicle. It may help to drink with someone else in case your balance gets worse.
- Pregnancy risk. Vodka and alcohol in general increases a person’s risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies during pregnancy. Don’t consume alcohol if you’re pregnant.
- Chronic health concerns. Over time, regular alcohol consumption can contribute to a person’s risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and serious liver disease.
- Mental illness. In some people, alcohol consumption can contribute to mental health difficulties, including depression, anxiety, and psychosis.
Drinking alcohol while taking medications to treat the above can also cause unexpected interactions and side effects, so speak with your doctor about whether it’s safe to consume alcohol with your prescription.