Absinthe thujone is the chemical present in Absinthe’s vital ingredient, the plant called Common Wormwood, or Artemisia Absinthium to give it its botanical name www.absinthekit.com/articles. The compound thujone was partly responsible for Absinthe being banned in early 1900s in lots of countries around the globe and thujone remains tightly regulated today, particularly 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 claimed that Absinthe, the Green Fairy, gave them inspiration in addition to their genius. Well-known 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 effect. Absinthe was even held responsible for a man murdering his family, despite the fact that he had consumed a great many other strong alcoholic drinks following the Absinthe.
Prohibition campaigners used news of the murder to campaign for the outlawing of Absinthe and charged France’s growing problems of alcoholism to the emerald liquor.
Is Absinthe Thujone Dangerous?
Today’s studies suggest that it was actually the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe that was dangerous rather than the thujone. Absinthe is two times as strong as spirits like whisky and vodka and can be 75% alcohol. Care should therefore be used when taking in Absinthe. Thujone is simply found in minute quantities and ought to therefore cause no major unwanted effects or health conditions. The EU stipulates that alcoholic beverages 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 as much as 35mg/kg, it isn’t completely clear which class Absinthe matches 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 just legal to purchase or sell Absinthes with trace levels of thujone.
High doses of thujone may be dangerous triggering convulsions however you would have to drink a great deal of Absinthe to consume that volume of thujone and it might be impossible to drink that amount, you would be comatosed from alcohol before then!
It is known that Henri-Louis Pernod, who owned the very first Absinthe distillery, utilized 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 these herbs is mainly responsible for La Louche, the clouding which occurs when water is added to Absinthe. These herbs particularly the aniseed and anise are accountable 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 several brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes that were developed during the ban and thus contain no Absinthe thujone or wormwood, but some would say that Absinthe is not Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you wish real Absinthe look for brands that contain wormwood or Absinthe thujone.