Absinthe thujone

Absinthe thujone is the chemical found in Absinthe’s vital ingredient, the plant called Common Wormwood, or Artemisia Absinthium to give it its organic name. The chemical thujone was partially liable for Absinthe being banned in the early 1900s in several countries around the globe and thujone is still tightly regulated these days, specifically in the United States (or states united).

Thujone was thought to be much like THC found in cannabis and Absinthe had been purported to be psychoactive and have psychedelic results causing hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe has been popular with the Bohemian set in Montmartre in Paris and several artists absinthelegal as well as writers claimed that Absinthe, the Green Fairy, gave them inspiration and their genius. Famous Absinthe drinkers include Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Degas, Baudelaire and Verlaine. Some state 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, despite the fact that he had ingested many other strong alcoholic beverages right after the Absinthe.

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

Is Absinthe thujone Hazardous?

Today’s studies suggest that it was really the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe that was dangerous rather than the thujone. Absinthe is twice as strong as spirits like whisky and vodka and can be 75% alcohol. Care should therefore be taken any time taking in Absinthe. Thujone is only obtained in minute quantities and should therefore trigger no major negative effects or perhaps health problems. The EU states that alcoholic beverages 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 easily contain around 35mg/kg, it is not completely clear which class Absinthe fits into but most brands of Absinthe have much under 35mg with many being under 10mg/kg. In the US it is just legal to get or sell Absinthes with trace amounts of thujone.

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

Absinthe Compounds

It is known 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 all of these herbs is responsible for La Louche, the clouding which comes about when water is added to Absinthe. These herbs particularly the aniseed and anise have the effect of the distinctive aniseed or licorice taste of Absinthe and wormwood is responsible for the bitter flavor. Absinthe is usually used as bitters in cocktails.

There are lots of brands of Absinthe or Absinthe alternatives which were developed throughout the prohibit and therefore contain no Absinthe thujone or perhaps wormwood, but many would say that Absinthe is not Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter flavor of wormwood. If you want real Absinthe look for brands containing wormwood or Absinthe thujone.