Because the source of the alcohol used as a solvent is so seldom considered by those who take herbal extracts, the issue of individual sensitivity to these minor components is also ignored. This is a matter of concern when whiskey is used, since grains are among the foods most frequently associated with hypersensitivity reactions and intolerances. Though the protein antigens common to allergies are not present, it could be important to avoid exposure to other components of the fermented grain distillate. Neutral spirits are usually used to make tinctures, and most neutral spirits are derived from grain alcohol. Though the congeners have been removed, there still exists in the alcohol an energy pattern that is unique to the grain from which it was derived. In certain cases of hypersensitivity a sublingual challenge with such a highly dilute form of the sensitizing agent can still produce reactions. Using herbal extracts made with alcohol distilled from grapes may be the best way to assure that agents from grains are not an aggravating factor.
Dr. Francis Brinker practices in Tuscon, Arizona and can be reached at (520)747-1898