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 original Bach’s extracts contained up to 40% of alcohol by volume. These days, I believe that ‘original’ Rescue Remedy only contains 27%. And some modern versions are alcohol-free. What does this mean in practice? Well, a pint of normal strength beer (3.5% alcohol) would contain 19.9mls of ethanol (which is what alcohol is). One of the alcohol-based Rescue Remedy products in the 20ml size would only be anywhere near this… IF it were neat (100%) alcohol to begin with, and IF you used a whole container of it at a time. It isn’t neat, and you only use a few drops of it at a time.

However, ‘original’ Rescue Remedy is only about 27% alcohol in the first place, so a whole 20ml container of it 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 (or two teaspoons) of normal beer.

So, unless you were already so close to being over the limit that a couple of teaspoons of beer took you over, the answer is no. If you are that close to being over the limit, that’s your problem. Rescue Remedy cannot take you over the drink drive limit – not in the UK, at any rate – if you haven’t been drinking already. 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, so you’d be better off getting one of the alcohol-free types.

There are alcohol-free version for kids, the spray version is only water-based, and you can get it in tablet and pastille form.

I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but just remember that flower extracts and dilutions have been proven not to work. But that’s another subject.

If you really are suffering from debilitating nerves on lessons or your test, you could consider seeing your GP to find out about beta blockers.

Does Rescue Remedy contain alcohol?

The original type does. But they do alcohol-free versions, water-based sprays,  and tablet and pastille variants are also alcohol-free.

How much alcohol is in one drop of Rescue Remedy/Bachs?

You really should stop overthinking this.

The maximum amount of alcohol it will contain is 40% by volume. You’d have to drink several entire bottles of Bachs/Rescue Remedy in one go to get the same amount of alcohol as found in a pint of normal beer – and that’s assuming it’s the original type that has alcohol in it. One dose contains negligible alcohol unless you are already drunk.

In short, you’d have to drink three or four bottles neat, and if you’re doing that, it’s your own fault. The same is true if you’ve already been drinking and you then get pulled over.

What is Grape Alcohol?

For all practical purposes, it is brandy. Both grape alcohol and brandy are produced by distilling either wine or wine ‘must’ (pomace). Brandy for drinking is usually higher quality, and is distilled from wine. Grape alcohol isn’t usually meant for drinking by itself and is made from the cheaper pomace. The original Rescue Remedies were made using genuine brandy, I believe (usually this is at least 35% alcohol). These days, they use grape alcohol (at 27% alcohol).

Can I use grape alcohol for anxiety?

For driving, absolutely not, under any circumstances. Grape alcohol is brandy, so you’d be drink-driving. You should not drink alcohol to calm your nerves, because it also impairs your reactions.

Can alcoholics take Rescue Remedy?

The alcohol-free types, yes. I don’t want to say that it’s OK to take the regular kind, because it depends on the individual. A quick squirt might not do any harm whatsoever for some alcoholics, but if the person gets it into their head that they’re taking alcohol…? It’s up to you.

Can Rescue Remedy make you drunk?

If you use the alcoholic type as per the label, no. If you drank a lot of it – and I mean several bottles at the same time – then it could. But anyone choosing this way to get drunk would be crazy, as it would cost about 10-20 times the price of a bottle of cheap cider.

Can it take you over the limit?

Technically, yes, the alcoholic type could. But if you already had so much alcohol in your system that two drops 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.

Is it illegal to drive on Rescue Remedy?

No. Even if you used the kind which contains alcohol and comes in 20ml bottles, you’d need to drink at least ten bottles of the stuff in one go to imbibe the equivalent of two pints of beer. Even if that still seems a likely possibility, the fact that it would cost you over £50 to do it suggests you perhaps ought not to operate any sort of machinery – for your good, and everyone else’s.

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

No. You are not taking enough alcohol to have any inebriating effect if you use the recommended dosage.

Nothing calms you down – except your own mind (or beta blockers, which are a prescription medicine). Rescue Remedy (and the like) effectively don’t have anything active in them (they are diluted dozens of times to get the final product). Even if they did contain pharmacologically significant amounts of the plant extracts in them, they simply don’t do anything.

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.

Is there anything that can help my anxiety/nerves when driving?

Consider seeing your GP. He could prescribe beta-blockers – a genuine medicine that reduces anxiety.

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