Can spices be dangerous?

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Can spices be dangerous?

Postby InaGig » Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:02 pm

Once again, Hello all!

In conducting my research, I am looking into all canned goods. I have a micro brewery friend who stated "some spices could become dangerous when in contact with alcohol". In reading, obviously no solids are desired in the still, but never mentioned in the mash. Also spices would easily make it through a fermentation bag or syphon. If using certain canned goods to augment flavor or percentage could they be dangerous for consumption while being turned to alcohol?

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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby NZChris » Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:42 pm

They made the statement. Ask them what they are and why and for evidence to prove it.
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Kareltje » Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:21 pm

An article, earlier this year:

http://imbibemagazine.com/dangerous-drinks/
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Pikey » Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:56 pm

NZChris wrote:They made the statement. Ask them what they are and why and for evidence to prove it.


+1 - what a load of [ "Social justice warriors " } :roll:
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Neelin01 » Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:51 pm

I don't know about spices but I've read some species of mushrooms are dangerous to eat and then consume alcohol.
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby InaGig » Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:37 pm

Kareltje wrote:An article, earlier this year:

http://imbibemagazine.com/dangerous-drinks/


Thank you for the article, ive google searched and found nothing nor this article. Obviously some are more worried about pointing out the hazards of man made products than natural ones. I received this warning from someone who deals with less than 20% alcohol not distillery levels equaling 40% or more. Being that he is only in the brewery field not distillation he had no further knowledge but "had heard". Throughout my reading, I didn't realize there was a "stupid question" unless you hadn't sought out an answer first. Doubtful ill make another post after this one, currently attempting back channels to contact a local commercial "Master distiller".
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby NZChris » Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:13 pm

I don't get it. You were talking to the person who made the claim, then came to us, without giving us any info related to the claim for us to work with, and are now offended because we didn't confirm, or deny, a very broad claim we didn't make and know nothing about. If there is a spice that we shouldn't be using and you know someone who knows what it is, we want to know about it.

The link given was to stupid people doing stupid things with known consequences, having little to do with sensible use of spices, botanicals and hygiene, etc.. Let's face it, anything indulged in to excess will have adverse effects, even water.

If your friend has sent you here with a misinformed question, that is his fault, not yours, so don't feel embarrassed about asking it. Join in and learn the craft from a collective of people with more experience than he has.
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Still Life » Wed Oct 18, 2017 4:34 am

Hey InaGig~
Here is some interesting reading from our parent site.
Not so much all what is dangerous, but clears up what is safe, and usable amounts.
Just a short ways down the page are also some useful links.

Interestingly enough, one of our own rules is broken as a marijuana entry is on the page.
But that is a leftover from long ago and not to be discussed on this forum otherwise.
(Just be aware of that taboo.)
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby DAD300 » Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:57 am

There are spices and herbs that suppress your breathing, increase your heart rate, alertness....!

"Kava Kava has a calming effect, producing brain wave changes similar to changes that occur with calming medicines such as diazepam (Valium, for example). Kava also can prevent convulsions and relax muscles."

Kava with alcohol is damn near a ruffy!

Khat is another that will over speed your heart with alcohol.

Herbs and spices with adverse affects... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_h ... se_effects
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Kareltje » Wed Oct 18, 2017 12:16 pm

Yes, and I would avoid Digitalis, Taxus, Aconitum and lots of other herbs and spices. :twisted:
Three of rour leaves of taxus can kill a horse. But than again: the flesh of the berries seems to be harmless and even goodtasting. Just make sure you have absolutely no part of the kernel in it!!
And what about that famous Japanese fish?
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby NZChris » Wed Oct 18, 2017 12:25 pm

Kareltje wrote:Yes, and I would avoid Digitalis, Taxus, Aconitum and lots of other herbs and spices. :twisted:
Three of rour leaves of taxus can kill a horse. But than again: the flesh of the berries seems to be harmless and even goodtasting. Just make sure you have absolutely no part of the kernel in it!!
And what about that famous Japanese fish?

I think the claim made was for culinary spices becoming toxic in alcohol, not for known toxins that no sane distiller would use.
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby The Baker » Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:15 pm

Neelin01 wrote:I don't know about spices but I've read some species of mushrooms are dangerous to eat and then consume alcohol.


Some mushrooms can kill you all by themselves. Never heard of alcohol making any difference but it might be possible.

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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby cob » Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:29 pm

The Baker wrote:
Neelin01 wrote:I don't know about spices but I've read some species of mushrooms are dangerous to eat and then consume alcohol.


Some mushrooms can kill you all by themselves. Never heard of alcohol making any difference but it might be possible.

Geoff


+1 Geoff

Neelin01; can you supply further information for this claim ?
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Kareltje » Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:27 pm

I remembered the story my late best friend told about a mushroom that is edible but when you drink alcohol in the three or four days after eating you get the same effects as when you drink after consuming Refusal. I found two other similar kinds.

Coprinopsis atramentaria, the poison is coprine. If young they are edible, but you should not drink alcohol before two days later. There was an article about Swiss warnings that described the way this poison works.

Boletus luridus, the poison is muscimol. Edible if sufficient cooked. But if not well cooked, raw or with alcohol, it causes nasty illnesses.

Lepiota aspera, onmentioned poison. Can cause alcoholintolerance and be poisonous.
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun May 13, 2018 3:25 pm

Sassafras oil is a known carcinogen and is fairly toxic in even small quantities.
Wintergreen is poisonous as well. Maybe we should compile a list of baddies for this site. I can work on putting one together....
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby aircarbonarc » Sun May 13, 2018 4:54 pm

Alchemist75 wrote:Sassafras oil is a known carcinogen and is fairly toxic in even small quantities.
Wintergreen is poisonous as well. Maybe we should compile a list of baddies for this site. I can work on putting one together....



Those 2 are in root beer!! Upsetting.
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun May 13, 2018 5:41 pm

Yes, or at least they were until the fda banned the use of sassafras in any commercial products for human ingestion. These days the flavor of root beer is synthetic.
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun May 13, 2018 5:47 pm

Sassafras tea is still consumed to some extent and I'll admit to having used small quantities of it in a couple botanical liquors I've done in the past but in general I'd be leery of it. Might make a nice body spray or perfume.
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Rod » Sun May 13, 2018 8:27 pm

Please define what you mean by spices

below I list a lot of spices that can be used in

Gin Extract Recipes

Coriander
Angelica Root
Cassia
Cinnamon
Liquorice
Bitter Almonds
Grains of Paradise
Cubeb Berries
Bitter Orange peel
Sweet Orange peel
Ginger
Orris Root
Cardamom
Nutmeg
Savory
Calamus (sweet flag)
Chamomile
Violet Root
Cumin
Aniseed
Fennel seed
Lemon Peel
Pepper cracked

not are used but most are
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun May 13, 2018 9:16 pm

Wikipedia defines spices as:
"A spice is a seed, fruit, root, bark, or other plant substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are the leaves, flowers, or stems of plants used for flavoring or as a garnish. Many spices have antimicrobial properties. This may explain why spices are more commonly used in warmer climates, which have more infectious diseases, and why the use of spices is prominent in meat, which is particularly susceptible to spoiling. Spices are sometimes used in medicine, religious rituals, cosmetics or perfume production, or as a vegetable"

By my estimation a spice would be:
Any botanical with a strong and pleasing essential oil profile. All the ones you listed there are fine as far as I know. Honestly the spices that are questionable in nature make only a small handful. These being:
Camphor
Horseradish
Mugwort
Mustard
Pennyroyal
Rue
Sassafras
Savin
Tansy
Thuja
Wintergreen
Wormseed
Mace

Some would also add wormwood and cassia cinnamon to this list but obviously they've been used extensively in flavoring of alcoholic beverages so there's little reason to think they're any more poisonous than the rest.
All essential oils have dose dependant toxicities but the ones on the list above aught not to be used or used in VERY minute quantities.
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby aircarbonarc » Sun May 13, 2018 10:42 pm

Alchemist75 wrote:Yes, or at least they were until the fda banned the use of sassafras in any commercial products for human ingestion. These days the flavor of root beer is synthetic.


I think it it also a precursor for MDMA, there is alot of illegal Sasaphras poaching in South East Asia. It comes from the bark think from a big old beautiful protected tree that people are finding in jungles and cutting up.
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby aircarbonarc » Sun May 13, 2018 10:50 pm

Here is something also interesting about bitter almonds as I saw were metioned above. This is stolen from Wikipedia, also anyone here from New Zealand could clarify this; importation of Bitter almonds and raw almonds are banned because of cyanide content in New Zealand?

"The bitter almond is slightly broader and shorter than the sweet almond and contains about 50% of the fixed oil that occurs in sweet almonds. It also contains the enzyme emulsin which, in the presence of water, acts on the two soluble glucosides amygdalin and prunasin[30] yielding glucose, cyanide and the essential oil of bitter almonds, which is nearly pure benzaldehyde, the chemical causing the bitter flavor. Bitter almonds may yield 4–9 mg of hydrogen cyanide per almond[31] and contain 42 times higher amounts of cyanide than the trace levels found in sweet almonds.[32] The origin of cyanide content in bitter almonds is via the enzymatic hydrolysis of amygdalin.[32]

Extract of bitter almond was once used medicinally but even in small doses, effects are severe or lethal, especially in children; the cyanide must be removed before consumption.[32] The acute oral lethal dose of cyanide for adult humans is reported to be 0.5–3.5 mg/kg (0.2–1.6 mg/lb) of body weight (approximately 50 bitter almonds), whereas for children, consuming 5–10 bitter almonds may be fatal.[32]"
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby zapata » Mon May 14, 2018 12:16 am

I use sasafras. I make tea, sodas, and even some whiskey. Its on my list to add to a gin, though I think as a background note and not dominant. Go look at the studies yourself if you care too, lotsa things are bad for rats if you cram it into them by the kilo. Ethanol comes to mind as one example.

And sasafras is only banned from interstate trade, it is still legally used in some of the few remaining local artisanal sodas and teas. Sasafras root has centuries of usage amongst native Americans and Appalachians alike. The stuff being tapped in Asia is not the same plant, not even the same genus, it's a camphor tree. Ironically the same camphor tree is a terrible invasive in Florida with a bounty on its head because it kills everything around it. Conservationists are paid by the state to dig them out of the swamps, they offset some costs by selling or even just giving the wood away as mulch. What is a prized commodity worth raping the planet over in one environment market is a pest you can't destroy and give away in another. If only they figured out they could turn it into MDMA for all those sad dying old people they have :lol: I've seen the FL mulch, it does have an interesting odor but is a far cry from real sasafras.

I did read somewhere that crepe myrtle flowers are poisonous in distilled spirits. I wondered just how someone came up with that, I've seen many a crepe myrtle and never thought, hey, let's make booze out of that!
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Birrofilo » Mon May 14, 2018 4:00 am

Well, some herbal remedies are known to be poisonous in certain doses.
Sometimes it's the dose that makes the medicament or the poison (since Paracelsus should be common knowledge, Sola dosis facit venenum "Only the dose makes the poison").

An example is nerium (Nerium oleander) which traditionally can be used to prepare a medicine (a cardiotonic, I presume) and can squarely kill you if you exaggerate with the dose (I think it's now forbidden, in Italy or Europe, to prepare herbalist's remedies with nerium).
You can also get intoxicated with honey prepared by bees which fed on natrium, or with escargots which fed on natrium.

The idea that what is "natural" is not dangerous is flawed. Until a few centuries ago, all poisons were "natural" and they killed nonetheless.

So the general idea of the article, to study the herb you are putting in your gin or cocktail before doing it, is quite sensible. This obviously refers to "exoteric" botanicals, not to tried and true recipes. Caution is necessary when trying something new. If you like the perfume of your nerium's flowers and you think about putting some petals in your gin basket, think again, the flower is poisonous too.

Alcohol is a very powerful extractor and you might end up with much more essential oils in your brewage than it is safe to consume.

I'm surprised the final list of the article doesn't mention absinthe, which contains thujone in relatively high quantities. The European Union regulations set a maximum amount of thujone admissible in spirits. Home-made absinthe could exceed the amount.
(Thujone is also present in juniper, oregano, common sage. Absinthe is also present in your vermut such as Campari or Martini. That doesn't mean they are bad, but it's advisable that you know what you are doing).
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Alchemist75 » Mon May 14, 2018 5:00 am

zapata wrote:I use sasafras. I make tea, sodas, and even some whiskey. Its on my list to add to a gin, though I think as a background note and not dominant. Go look at the studies yourself if you care too, lotsa things are bad for rats if you cram it into them by the kilo. Ethanol comes to mind as one example.

And sasafras is only banned from interstate trade, it is still legally used in some of the few remaining local artisanal sodas and teas. Sasafras root has centuries of usage amongst native Americans and Appalachians alike. The stuff being tapped in Asia is not the same plant, not even the same genus, it's a camphor tree. Ironically the same camphor tree is a terrible invasive in Florida with a bounty on its head because it kills everything around it. Conservationists are paid by the state to dig them out of the swamps, they offset some costs by selling or even just giving the wood away as mulch. What is a prized commodity worth raping the planet over in one environment market is a pest you can't destroy and give away in another. If only they figured out they could turn it into MDMA for all those sad dying old people they have :lol: I've seen the FL mulch, it does have an interesting odor but is a far cry from real sasafras.

I did read somewhere that crepe myrtle flowers are poisonous in distilled spirits. I wondered just how someone came up with that, I've seen many a crepe myrtle and never thought, hey, let's make booze out of that!

While I agree that tests done on rats isn't always the best marker of safety there have been toxicity issues observed in humans as well. I think our biggest concern with this plant is it's delicious essential oil which would be in a rather higher concentration in an ethanolic distillate than in tea. Obviously I've used it and I'm still standing but just like you, I used it as a back note only in a few blends. It was used for many years without any reports of toxicity in the manufacture of beverages but then no longevity studies have been conducted in human subjects so we don't really know if there were problems or not. I have a quarter pound of it in my freezer and use it sparingly, it smells so good it's hard to resist. Smoking cigarettes is probably worse realistically than consuming the tea or root beer but I'm cautious consuming the concentrated distillate and I definitely won't be giving it to any pet rats I might acquire :moresarcasm:
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Alchemist75 » Mon May 14, 2018 5:09 am

Actually on the same note I use a fair amount of chamomile in my botanical recipes for gin and others and it causes no problems though I once took a bath with 8 drops of the essential oil and got quite sick. When I distill it into gin I'm probably only getting small amounts of the stuff per volume so to poison myself with it I'd probably have to drink a couple 5ths of it in quick succession which would land me in the hospital with alcohol poisoning long before I could get enough of the oil. This is the same phenomenon with absinthe, to get enough thujone to poison yourself or even get high on it you'd be dead from the amount of booze you drank.
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Re: Can spices be dangerous?

Postby Alchemist75 » Mon May 14, 2018 5:27 am

Birrofilo wrote:Well, some herbal remedies are known to be poisonous in certain doses.
Sometimes it's the dose that makes the medicament or the poison (since Paracelsus should be common knowledge, Sola dosis facit venenum "Only the dose makes the poison").

An example is nerium (Nerium oleander) which traditionally can be used to prepare a medicine (a cardiotonic, I presume) and can squarely kill you if you exaggerate with the dose (I think it's now forbidden, in Italy or Europe, to prepare herbalist's remedies with nerium).
You can also get intoxicated with honey prepared by bees which fed on natrium, or with escargots which fed on natrium.

The idea that what is "natural" is not dangerous is flawed. Until a few centuries ago, all poisons were "natural" and they killed nonetheless.

So the general idea of the article, to study the herb you are putting in your gin or cocktail before doing it, is quite sensible. This obviously refers to "exoteric" botanicals, not to tried and true recipes. Caution is necessary when trying something new. If you like the perfume of your nerium's flowers and you think about putting some petals in your gin basket, think again, the flower is poisonous too.

Alcohol is a very powerful extractor and you might end up with much more essential oils in your brewage than it is safe to consume.

I'm surprised the final list of the article doesn't mention absinthe, which contains thujone in relatively high quantities. The European Union regulations set a maximum amount of thujone admissible in spirits. Home-made absinthe could exceed the amount.
(Thujone is also present in juniper, oregano, common sage. Absinthe is also present in your vermut such as Campari or Martini. That doesn't mean they are bad, but it's advisable that you know what you are doing).


And this is one of my favorite things about dealing with my clients: do you have a "natural" version of X....technically all things are natural so please clarify. You mean pharmaceutical vs. Herbal? For the record, about 80% of pharmaceutical drugs are still derived directly from plants and there are a lot of new "herbal" supplements on the market that employ isolated compounds taken from plants. Other than fda controlled terms like "drug" or "cure" the line is actually quite fuzzy.
"Natural" products are safer/better right?
I dunno, are they? I can think of about a dozen plants I could kill you with and a couple that I could use to make biological weapons that rival chlorine gas or mustard gas. Safer? Sometimes. Better? Depends on what we're doing. Different? That's a better perspective on it.
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