Absinthe thujone is the chemical seen in Absinthe’s vital ingredient, the plant identified as Common Wormwood, or Artemisia Absinthium to give it its botanical name www.absinthekit.com/articles. The substance thujone was partly accountable for Absinthe being banned in the early 1900s in several countries across the globe and thujone remains tightly regulated today, specifically in the United States (or states united).
Thujone was regarded as just like THC seen in cannabis and Absinthe was speculated to be psychoactive and possess psychedelic effects creating hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe was well-liked by the Bohemian set in Montmartre in Paris and lots of artists and writers believed that Absinthe, the Green Fairy, gave them inspiration in addition to their genius. Renowned Absinthe drinkers include Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Degas, Baudelaire and Verlaine. Some claim 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, although he had taken many other strong alcoholic drinks after the Absinthe.
Prohibition campaigners used news of the murder to campaign for the outlawing of Absinthe and charged France’s growing problems of alcohol dependency on the emerald liquor.
Is Absinthe Thujone Dangerous?
Today’s research suggests that it was in fact the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe which 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 utilized when consuming Absinthe. Thujone is just found in minute quantities and ought to therefore cause no major unwanted effects or health problems. The EU stipulates that alcohol based drinks with an ABV (alcohol by volume) level over 25% might only have a maximum of 10mg/kg of thujone, beverages classed as “bitters” can contain up to 35mg/kg, it’s not totally clear which class Absinthe fits into but a majority of brands of Absinthe have much less than 35mg with a lot of being under 10mg/kg. In the US it is simply legal to buy or sell Absinthes with trace quantities of thujone.
High doses of thujone could be dangerous causing convulsions but you would need to drink a large amount of Absinthe to consume that quantity of thujone and it might be impossible to drink that amount, you would be comatosed from alcohol until then!
It is known that Henri-Louis Pernod, who owned the initial Absinthe distillery, employed the herbs wormwood, aniseed, fennel, lemon balm, hyssop, angelica root, dittany, star anise, nutmeg, juniper and veronica to produce his famous Pernod Absinthe. The essential oil from all of these herbs is responsible for La Louche, the clouding which occurs when water is added to Absinthe. These herbs particularly the aniseed and anise are responsible for the distinctive aniseed or licorice taste of Absinthe and wormwood is mainly responsible for the bitter flavor. Absinthe is oftentimes used as bitters in cocktails.
There are lots of brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes which were developed over the ban and therefore contain no Absinthe thujone or wormwood, but some would state that Absinthe just isn’t Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you want real Absinthe look for brands containing wormwood or Absinthe thujone.