Absinthe thujone is the chemical present in Absinthe’s vital ingredient, the plant identified as Common Wormwood, or Artemisia Absinthium to give it its botanical name www.absinthekit.com. The chemical thujone was partly accountable for Absinthe being banned in the early 1900s in lots of countries across the world and thujone is still tightly regulated today, especially in the United States (or states united).
Thujone was thought to be much like THC seen in cannabis and Absinthe was purported to be psychoactive and possess psychedelic effects creating hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe was popular with the Bohemian set in Montmartre in Paris and lots of artists and writers believed that Absinthe, the Green Fairy, gave them inspiration as well as their genius. Well-known Absinthe drinkers include Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Degas, Baudelaire and Verlaine. Some point out that Van Gogh’s madness was brought on by Absinthe and that he cut off his ear under its control. Absinthe was even held accountable for a man murdering his family, even though he had taken a number of other strong alcoholic drinks right after the Absinthe.
Prohibition campaigners used news of the murder to campaign for the suspending of Absinthe and charged France’s growing problems of alcoholism on the emerald liquor.
Is Absinthe Thujone Unsafe?
Today’s research suggests that it was in fact the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe which was dangerous instead of the thujone. Absinthe is twice as strong as spirits like whisky and vodka and can be 75% alcohol. Care should therefore be utilized when taking in Absinthe. Thujone is just found in minute quantities and must therefore cause no major negative effects or health conditions. The EU stipulates that alcoholic beverages with an ABV (alcohol by volume) level over 25% may possibly have a maximum of 10mg/kg of thujone, beverages classed as “bitters” can contain approximately 35mg/kg, it isn’t entirely clear which class Absinthe matches but many 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 levels of thujone.
High doses of thujone may be dangerous causing convulsions nevertheless you would need to drink a great deal of Absinthe to consume that volume of thujone and it would be impossible to drink that amount, you would be comatosed from alcohol until then!
It is said that Henri-Louis Pernod, who owned the initial Absinthe distillery, used the herbs wormwood, aniseed, fennel, lemon balm, hyssop, angelica root, dittany, star anise, nutmeg, juniper and veronica to create his famous Pernod Absinthe. The essential oil from these herbs is responsible for La Louche, the clouding which occurs when water is included with Absinthe. These herbs especially the aniseed and anise are accountable for the distinctive aniseed or licorice taste of Absinthe and wormwood is liable for the bitter flavor. Absinthe is oftentimes used as bitters in cocktails.
There are lots of brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes that have been developed during the ban and thus contain no Absinthe thujone or wormwood, however, many would claim that Absinthe isn’t Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you wish real Absinthe try to find brands containing wormwood or Absinthe thujone.