Absinthe thujone

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

Thujone was considered to be much like THC seen in cannabis and Absinthe had been speculated to be psychoactive and have psychedelic results causing hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe was popular with the Bohemian set in Montmartre inside Paris and many artists and writers claimed that Absinthe, the Green Fairy, gave them inspiration and their genius. Famous Absinthe drinkers consist of Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Degas, Baudelaire absinthethujone and Verlaine. Some state that Van Gogh’s madness was brought on by Absinthe and that he cut off his ear under its influence. Absinthe was even blamed for a man murdering his family, even though he had eaten many other strong alcoholic refreshments after the Absinthe.

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

Is Absinthe thujone Hazardous?

Today’s research suggests that it was actually the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe which was dangerous rather than the thujone. Absinthe is two times as strong as spirits like whisky and vodka and can be 75% alcohol. Care should therefore be taken whenever taking in Absinthe. Thujone is merely obtained in minute quantities and should therefore result in no major unwanted effects or health conditions. The EU stipulates that alcohol based drinks with an ABV {alcohol by volume) level more than 25% may only contain a maximum of 10mg/kg of thujone, beverages classed as “bitters” can contain around 35mg/kg, it is not totally clear which class Absinthe fits into but most brands of Absinthe have much under 35mg with many being below 10mg/kg. In the US it is simply legal to buy or sell Absinthes with trace amounts of thujone.

High doses of thujone could be hazardous causing convulsions but you must drink a great deal of Absinthe to consume that amount of thujone and it will be impossible to drink that amount, you would be comatose from alcohol before then!

Absinthe Components

It is said that Henri-Louis Pernod, who owned the first Absinthe distillery, utilized the herbs wormwood, aniseed, fennel, lemon balm, hyssop, angelica root, dittany, star anise, nutmeg, juniper as well as veronica to create his famous Pernod Absinthe. The essential oil from these herbs is responsible for La Louche, the clouding which comes about when water is added to Absinthe. These kinds of herbs specially the aniseed and anise are responsible for the distinctive aniseed or licorice taste of Absinthe and wormwood is responsible for the bitter flavor. Absinthe is oftentimes used as bitters in cocktails.

There are many brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes which were developed throughout the ban and therefore contain no Absinthe thujone or perhaps wormwood, but many would say that Absinthe is not Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter style of wormwood. If you want real Absinthe look for brands made up of wormwood or Absinthe thujone.