A Driving Instructor's Blog

A lot of people use Bach’s Rescue Remedy (or something similar, like Kalms) for their nerves when driving – especially on their tests. Someone found the blog today on the search term “can bachs rescue remedy make you over the drink drive limit because it contains alcohol[?]”Yellow flowers

The main thing to consider is that flower extracts and dilutions have been proven not to work. But that’s another subject.

Bach’s extracts can contain up to 40% of alcohol by volume, though I believe that original Rescue Remedy only contains 27% (bear in mind some versions of Rescue Remedy are alcohol-free). What does that mean in practice? Well, a pint of normal strength beer (3.5% alcohol) would contain 19.9mls of ethanol (which is what alcohol is). Alcohol-based Rescue Remedy in the 20ml size would be equivalent to a pint of beer in terms of ethanol… IF it were neat (100%) alcohol to begin with, and IF you used a whole container of it at a time.

Since original Rescue Remedy is only about 27% alcohol, a whole container would be equivalent to just under a third of a pint of beer. And since a 20ml container contains between 20-30 doses, each dose is equivalent to less than 10mls of normal beer. And there is also the question of what it means when they say “alcohol” on the label, because Bach apparently uses brandy (latterly, “grape alcohol”), which is a maximum of 60% ethanol to start with, so the dilution would be still greater if this is what they were referring to.

So, unless you were already so close to being over the limit that a few mls of alcoholic liquid would take you over, the answer is no. Rescue Remedy cannot take you over the drink drive limit – not in the UK, at any rate. However, if you live somewhere they have a zero-tolerance alcohol limit, and if you had just squirted the stuff into your mouth when you got pulled over, a breath test might be a bit unpredictable.

In any case, there is an alcohol-free version for kids, the spray version is only water-based, and you can get it in tablet and pastille form.

But it still doesn’t work…

Does Rescue Remedy contain alcohol?

The original type does. But they do alcohol-free types, water-based sprays, tablets, and pastilles.

Can Rescue Remedy make you drunk?

If you use the alcoholic type as per the label, no. If you drank a lot of it, then it could.

Ironically, if you did drink a lot of it, you wouldn’t be overdosing on anything – you’d just be drinking alcohol and water, which is pretty much what it consists of.

It appears that only the original liquid version is alcohol-based. The spray is a water-based product, and tablets and pastilles don’t contain alcohol, either.

Can it take you over the limit?

Technically, yes, the alcoholic type can. But if you already had so much alcohol in your system that a squirt of Rescue Remedy was going to make any difference, it would just serve you right. On its own – if you haven’t already been drinking – no, it can’t take you over the limit, assuming you don’t drink a half pint of it.

Isn’t it just the alcohol that calms you down?

Nothing calms you down – except your own mind (and perhaps beta blockers). Rescue Remedy (and the like) have nothing active in them, and even if they did the purported ingredients simply don’t do anything. They are literally so diluted that there is probably not a single molecule of whatever is supposed to be in there actually there. And the dose taken each time is so small that even if it were pure alcohol it would have no discernible effect on anyone.

If anyone claims  that Rescue Remedy calms them down, it is all in their mind. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – if it works, it works – but it is not a proper medicine. It is a placebo, of benefit only to those susceptible to the placebo effect.

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