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 organic name. The chemical thujone was to some extent responsible for Absinthe being banned in the early 1900s in several countries across the world and thujone is still tightly regulated these days, specifically in the United States (or states united).

Thujone was considered to be similar to THC found in cannabis and Absinthe was alleged to be psychoactive and have psychedelic results causing hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe has been popular with the Bohemian set in Montmartre within Paris and many artists and writers claimed that Absinthe, the Green absinthe thujone Fairy, gave them inspiration and their genius. Famous Absinthe drinkers include Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Degas, Baudelaire and Verlaine. Some claim 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 a number of other strong alcoholic drinks right 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 studies suggest that it was actually 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 taken whenever consuming Absinthe. Thujone is simply obtained in minute quantities and should therefore trigger 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 contain a maximum of 10mg/kg of thujone, beverages classed as “bitters” may contain up to 35mg/kg, it is not entirely clear which class Absinthe matches but most brands of Absinthe have much lower than 35mg with many being below 10mg/kg. In the US it is simply legal to get or sell Absinthes with trace amounts of thujone.

 

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

Absinthe Compounds

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

There are numerous brands of Absinthe or Absinthe replacements which were developed throughout the bar and therefore contain no Absinthe thujone or wormwood, but many would say that Absinthe is not Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you’d like real Absinthe search for brands containing wormwood or Absinthe thujone.