Absinthe thujone

Absinthe thujone is the chemical found in Absinthe’s important ingredient, the plant called Common Wormwood, or Artemisia Absinthium to give it its organic name. The chemical thujone was to some extent responsible for Absinthe being banned during the early 1900s in several countries around the world and thujone is still tightly regulated nowadays, specifically in the United States (or states united).

Thujone was regarded as much like THC seen in cannabis and Absinthe has been purported to be psychoactive and have psychedelic effects causing hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe has been popular with the Bohemian set in Montmartre within Paris and lots of artists as well as writers claimed that Absinthe, the Green absinthethujone Fairy, gave them inspiration and their genius. Famous Absinthe drinkers consist of Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Degas, Baudelaire and Verlaine. Some say that Van Gogh’s madness was caused by Absinthe and that he cut off his ear under its influence. Absinthe was even blamed for a man murdering his family, although he had ingested many other strong alcoholic refreshments following the Absinthe.

Prohibition campaigners utilized news of the murder to campaign for the banning of Absinthe and held accountable France’s growing problems of alcoholism on the emerald liquor.

Is Absinthe thujone Harmful?

Today’s studies suggest that it was really the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe that was dangerous as opposed to the thujone. Absinthe is two times as strong as spirits like whisky and vodka and can be 75% alcohol. Care should therefore be utilized any time taking in Absinthe. Thujone is only present in minute quantities and should therefore cause no major negative effects or health issues. The EU states that alcohol based drinks with an ABV {alcohol by volume) level over 25% may only consist of a maximum of 10mg/kg of thujone, beverages classed as “bitters” can contain around 35mg/kg, it is not entirely clear which class Absinthe matches but most brands of Absinthe have much less than 35mg with many being under 10mg/kg. In the US it is only legal to purchase or sell Absinthes with trace amounts of thujone.

High doses of thujone can be harmful causing convulsions but you would need to drink a large amount of Absinthe to take that quantity of thujone plus it will be impossible to drink that amount, you’d be comatose from alcohol until then!

Absinthe Substances

It is said that Henri-Louis Pernod, who owned the very first Absinthe distillery, used the herbs wormwood, aniseed, fennel, lemon balm, hyssop, angelica root, dittany, star anise, nutmeg, juniper and veronica to make his famous Pernod Absinthe. The primary oil from these herbs is responsible for La Louche, the clouding which comes about when water is added to Absinthe. These types of herbs especially the aniseed and anise lead to the distinctive aniseed or licorice flavor of Absinthe and wormwood is responsible for the actual bitter flavor. Absinthe is sometimes utilized as bitters in cocktails.

There are many brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes which were developed during the ban and so contain no Absinthe thujone or even wormwood, but many would say that Absinthe just isn’t Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you want real Absinthe search for brands containing wormwood or Absinthe thujone.