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 liable for Absinthe being banned during the early 1900s in many countries around the globe and thujone is still tightly regulated today, particularly in the United States (or states united).

Thujone was thought to be similar to THC seen in cannabis and Absinthe was speculated to be psychoactive and have psychedelic outcomes causing hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe had been popular with the Bohemian set in Montmartre within Paris and several artists 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 absinthethujone.com 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 ingested a number of other strong alcoholic drinks after the Absinthe.

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

Is Absinthe thujone Dangerous?

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 merely obtained in minute quantities and should therefore cause no major unwanted effects or even health conditions. The EU stipulates that alcohol based drinks with an ABV {alcohol by volume) level over 25% may only have a maximum of 10mg/kg of thujone, beverages classed as “bitters” can contain up to 35mg/kg, it is not totally clear which class Absinthe matches but most brands of Absinthe have much less than 35mg with many being beneath 10mg/kg. In the US it is simply legal to buy or sell Absinthes with trace amounts of thujone.

 

High doses of thujone may be hazardous causing convulsions but you would need to drink a large amount of Absinthe to take that amount of thujone and it would be impossible to drink that amount, you would be comatose from alcohol before then!

Absinthe Compounds

It is known 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 primary oil from these herbs accounts for La Louche, the clouding which comes about when water is put into Absinthe. These herbs especially the aniseed and anise lead to the distinctive aniseed or licorice taste of Absinthe and wormwood is responsible for the actual bitter flavor. Absinthe is usually utilized as bitters in cocktails.

There are many brands of Absinthe or Absinthe replacements which were developed during the bar and so contain no Absinthe thujone or even wormwood, but many would say that Absinthe isn’t Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter flavor of wormwood. If you would like real Absinthe try to find brands containing wormwood or Absinthe thujone.