Cane Alcohol vs. Grain Alcohol: Myths and Truths
It has come to our attention that certain folks in the herbal community have been spreading the fake news that our tinctures are made with grain alcohol, a very common solvent used in the herbal extracts industry. In the pursuit of absolute honesty, fairness, and both values of science and tradition, we wrote this blog post to explain to you why this is far from the truth.
All of our alcohol-based extracts are made with 100% organic cane alcohol (as in sugar cane), a gluten-free alternative to grain alcohol that we have found sits better with our ethics, customer preferences, and extract preparation methods than grain alcohol. We've had many requests to use GF ingredients in our extracts and want to honor our GF customers by doing so. We value those who live with celiac's disease and want them to be able to use our medicines without any discomfort or concern, and we also value those who may be gluten sensitive or avoid gluten for other reasons.
In the spirit of truth and information, we want to share with 100% transparency our medicine making methods. Let's be real - we've been doing this for over 25 years and we know the difference between cane alcohol and grain alcohol, and we feel like it's important that you guys/gaias know, too.
So, here's the nitty gritty. We use 100 proof organic (non-GMO) cane alcohol from PharmCo to make all of our alcohol-based herbal extracts. Let's dive deeper into our process: when making a batch of medicine, we dilute 190 proof cane alcohol with distilled water to arrive at a safe, effective 100 proof organic cane solution which is just the right strength for effectively extracting all of the desired phytochemicals from the plant without having an overly 'alcoholic' sting on the tongue. Side note: we do recommend you add your tinctures to water, juice, or tea if you are taking them regularly to reduce the direct exposure of the tongue and throat to such high proof alcohol. We choose not to use a higher proof because regular use of 190 proof alcohol may potentially harm the kidneys and liver and we want our herbal extracts to be taken safely and regularly - when that's appropriate (with tonic or long-term use herbs, for example). Want more information on how much alcohol is in our herbal extracts? See here.
The fresh plant material dilutes the 100 proof extract even more to take most bottled extracts to a final proof which is between 60-80 (30%-40% alcohol by volume). In days gone by, we used 100 proof vodka (which is usually made with whatever grain is available) and 100 proof organic grain alcohol (corn or wheat). Our switch to cane alcohol was catalyzed by several factors: (1) we found numerous customers who mentioned their sensitivity to the corn or wheat which make grain alcohol (2) supporting the conventional corn or wheat industries is not something we found complied with our values (3) cane alcohol is said to be produced 3x more efficiently than grain alcohol and the massive green impact of the sugar fields has a net positive effect on carbon levels. In other words, one acre of sugar cane may produce 2-3 times the amount of alcohol that one acre of corn would produce.
We use fresh plant material harvested at its peak and processed immediately in a 1:2 ratio with almost all of our extracts to make them as potent as possible - the exceptions to this rule are the few herbs that have been proven to extract better when dried, such as some of the medicinal mushrooms (which we make double extractions out of with both alcohol and water) and usnea lichen (which we lightly heat). Any plant that has been dried before extracting will have that information on its product page, but otherwise you can assume that all of our extracts are fresh, which is a point of pride and quality for us. Many herbal companies make extracts from dried plants, which may be taken in higher doses and do not typically contain the full range of constituents (not to mention the 'energetics') of the plant in the same ratios as the fresh extracts.
The 'energy', 'vibrations', or 'qi' - whatever you want to call it - of the aerial portions of fresh plants are most potent in the spring and summer as they bud and bloom. Motherwort, dandelion, and violets are in this category. Late flowering plants - lobelia and goldenrod, for example - are at their best towards the end of summer and beginning of autumn around the time they begin to seed, while the roots of a plant, such as burdock and yellow dock, are typically at their peak potency post-frost in the early winter. We are sure to harvest each individual plant in accordance with its own cycle within the wheel of the year.
Please let us know if you have any questions concerning our medicine making methods. We are here for you and are honored that you have put so much trust in our manufacturing process.