Absinthe thujone is the chemical found in Absinthe’s vital ingredient, the plant known as Common Wormwood, or Artemisia Absinthium to give it its botanical name. The substance thujone was partly accountable for Absinthe being banned during the early 1900s in several countries around the globe and thujone is still tightly regulated today www.absinthesupreme.com, especially in the United States (or states united).
Thujone was considered to be much like THC seen in cannabis and Absinthe was speculated to be psychoactive and have psychedelic effects causing hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe was well-liked by the Bohemian set in Montmartre in Paris and many artists and writers believed that Absinthe, the Green Fairy, gave them inspiration and 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 due to Absinthe and that he cut off his ear under its effect . Absinthe was even held accountable for a man murdering his family, although he had ingested a great many other strong alcoholic drinks right after the Absinthe.
Prohibition campaigners used news of the murder to campaign for the suspending of Absinthe and blamed France’s growing problems of alcohol addiction on the emerald liquor.
Is Absinthe Thujone Harmful?
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 utilized when ingesting Absinthe. Thujone is only found in minute quantities and must 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% may possibly consist of 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 suits but many brands of Absinthe have much less than 35mg with a lot of being under 10mg/kg. In the US it is simply legal to purchase or sell Absinthes with trace levels of thujone.
High doses of thujone may be dangerous leading to convulsions nevertheless you will have to drink a substantial amount of Absinthe to consume that volume of thujone and it might be impossible to drink that amount, you’d be comatosed from alcohol until then!
It is said that Henri-Louis Pernod, who owned the initial 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 all of these herbs is responsible for La Louche, the clouding which occurs when water is put into Absinthe. These herbs especially 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 sometimes used as bitters in cocktails.
There are many brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes that were developed during the ban and therefore contain no Absinthe thujone or wormwood, but many would state that Absinthe just isn’t Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you want real Absinthe try to find brands containing wormwood or Absinthe thujone.