Ah, Jagermeister, commonly called simply Jager, this deep green, syrup-like spirit has become an acquired taste of much of the US after being popularized by the Jager-bomb, a mixture of the Jagermeister and the energy drink Rockstar. The majority of drinkers either love Jagermeister with cult follower-like devotion or hate it with a passion, but does the licorice-anise flavored liquor offer medicinal uses?
The first question to ask when moving towards an answer to that question, would be what’s in Jagermeister, and how is it made?
Sadly, Jagermeister’s ingredient list is actually top secret. Despite the original recipe being drawn-up way back in 1934, only sixteen verifiable ingredients could be found of the fifty-six herbs, spices, and berries that give the drink its flavor.
Known ingredients in Jagermeister include:
Cinnamon bark, star anise, cloves, ginger root, saffron, coriander, bitter orange skin, chamomile flowers, licorice root, lavender, rose hips, poppy seeds, juniper berries, ginseng, red sandalwood, and blueberries.
These and forty other mystery herb, berry, or spice ingredients are measured, ground, combined and then reduced to extracts by being seeped in cold water and alcohol for a few days. The result is then strained and stored away in oak barrels for a minimum of one year. Afterwards, the liquid is strained again, and then mixed with caramel, liquid sugar (beet and cane), alcohol (often suggested to be rum), and water. The mixture is then filtered yet again before being placed in that iconic green bottle.
Contrary to popular myth, Jagermeister does not contain blood of any species as secret recipe or not, blood would not allow this brewing method to work properly. Many fans also have suggested the drink may contain wormwood, one of the herbs from which absinthe is made. There is no evidence to support or disprove this suggestion. Those who have tried wormwood are aware that the flavor would lend nicely to Jagermeister being similar to licorice in flavor, however, in the US and several other countries, thujone, the chemical present in wormwood believed to cause hallucination is strictly regulated. Even if Jagermeister contained wormwood, it would have to be strictly for flavor to be sold world-wide as Jager is, and would not cause a psychedelic effect true absinthe does in some individuals.
Next, you have to consider the history of Jagermeister when guessing at whether it has medicinal uses. Jagermeister, as a company was founded in 1878 by a German named Wilhlem Mast. Wilhelm created the secret formula in 1934, and it was marketed to the German people shortly after in 1935. Coincidentally, it was indeed marketed as medicinal liquor boasted as a digestive aid and cough suppressant. It wasn’t until 1970 that Jager was imported by other countries and became popular to simply get drunk. Even today, Jagermeister is still used in some German homes for medicinal purposes.
But does Jagermeister really aid in digestion and suppress a cough?
The fact is something being marketed to do something doesn’t mean it does it. However, even the mere sixteen ingredients that could be found do have medicinal uses.
Cinnamon bark has been shown to reduce gas, prevent diarrhea, and stimulate appetite.
Star Anise has been shown to improve liver health as well as acts as an anti-viral.
Cloves have been shown to reduce fevers, act as an anti-inflammatory, and prevent intestinal cancer.
Ginger Root reduces nausea, inflammation, and has been shown to cure mild indigestion.
Saffron has been shown to prevent cancer, vascular and visual disorders, as well as reduce symptoms of depression and ADD.
Coriander prevents gas, is an antispasmodic and stomachic (herb that improves stomach muscle health.)
Bitter Orange Skin is suggested (studies are limited) to be an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, relaxant, anti-fungal and antibacterial.
Chamomile Flowers reduce gas, cramping, and overall indigestion while aiding in relaxation.
Licorice Root may suppress cough and cure digestive ailments including peptic ulcers, however, studies have had mixed results.
Lavender is used to treat insomnia, stress, and anxiety. It’s also an anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal.
Rose Hips promote healthy tissue in the stomach lining as well as prevent diarrhea.
Poppy Seed has long been known to improve digestion and reduce cough.
Juniper Berries are a diuretic, but also have been shown to help treat bronchitis.
Ginseng increases immune system strength, has been proven to reduce the duration of colds, and helps prevent cancer.
Red Sandalwood is suggested to reduce anxiety and increase alertness.
Blueberries are extremely high in antioxidants and fiber, which aids in healthy digestion.
Even this small sampling of known ingredients in Jagermeister show the drink may have medicinal uses, particularly to treat cough and digestive upset. However, it should be noted, as a full recipe cannot be obtained, Jagermeister may pose an allergic reaction risk with over 56 ingredients, some of which are well-known allergens. This could explain why some can’t tolerate drinking the unique liquor whether they like the taste or not. Whether you’re drinking for the taste, the health benefits, or just to get drunk, the fact remains there is no other alcohol quite like Jagermeister.