Q. I read that if you soak raisins in gin it might help ease arthritis pain. I have pain in my hands and would like to try this remedy.

I am a school bus driver and we get tested all the time for drugs and alcohol. If I were to try the raisins would the alcohol show up on the Breathalyzer test? They say not to use mouthwash 30 minutes before the test for it will show up. I am afraid that I could lose my job if gin-soaked raisins triggered the alcohol reading on one of my tests.

A. We have had the raisins analyzed and there is only one drop of alcohol in the daily dose of nine raisins. Nevertheless, your concern is justified.

Back in 1995 a North Carolina sheriff got into trouble because of the gin-soaked raisin remedy. According to the Hendersonville (NC) Times-News, “Madison County Sheriff Dedrick Brown was stopped for suspicion of drunken driving…but the charge was thrown out by a magistrate when his Breathalyzer test was lower than the threshold to be considered legally impaired.

“The sheriff had a blood alcohol content of .07 percent, just under the state limit of .08 percent…Brown said he took a home remedy mix of white raisins and gin about 15 minutes before he was stopped. Brown said he was returning from a car auction in Henderson County. The sheriff normally chews tobacco to keep awake when driving…He couldn't find any tobacco in his car that night so he said he instead had about three mouthfuls of the raisins soaked in gin. Brown said he had been using the mixture lately for his arthritic knees.”

We are sending you our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis, which tells about the gin-soaked raisins and offers other approaches, including a grape juice-apple juice-apple cider vinegar concoction.

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  1. Gail
    Redmond WA

    I don’t see the point of having to let the alcohol evaporate. If it is the botanicals in the gin and the sulfites in the white raisins that make it work, the alcohol is not of any effect, as far as arthritis is concerned. I put the raisins in a screw-top jar, pour in the gin and have a spoonful twice a day. Works for me!

  2. JM

    As a certified BAT (IE Breath Alcohol Technician) I would like to assure the bus driver who was concerned about triggering a positive breath alcohol result by eating a few gin soaked raisins that it would be highly unlikely that he could do so.
    If the alcohol content in 9 raisins is truly only one drop (as per your study) it would be far too insignificant to trigger anything close to the .07 that the North Carolina sheriff blew by supposedly eating only three mouthfuls of the raisins (unless of course they were pretty big mouthfuls indeed). Even if our concerned driver was tested immediately after eating 9 gin soaked raisins and did blow a positive result of .02 or above, a second Confirmation test would be administered in exactly 15 minutes. The fifteen minute wait is to allow any residual mouth alcohol to dissipate and it is virtually impossible to blow a false positive on the Confirmation test if the 15 minute waiting period has been followed. Since Confirmation test results are the final results and those results would be .000 our driver should be in the clear (unless of course additional alcohol was consumed along with those few raisins!).

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