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 partially liable for Absinthe being banned in early 1900s in lots of countries around the globe and thujone is still tightly regulated these days, specifically in the United States (or states united).

Thujone was thought to be much like THC seen in cannabis and Absinthe was alleged to be psychoactive and have psychedelic results causing hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe had been popular with the Bohemian set in Montmartre within Paris and lots of 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 Verlaine. Some say 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 many other strong alcoholic refreshments after the Absinthe.

Prohibition campaigners utilized news of the murder to campaign for the banning of Absinthe and held responsible France’s growing problems of alcohol dependency on the emerald liquor.

Is Absinthe thujone Dangerous?

Today’s studies suggest that it was actually the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe that was dangerous instead of the thujone. Absinthe is doubly strong as spirits like whisky and vodka and can be 75% alcohol. Care should therefore be taken whenever taking in Absinthe. Thujone is only contained in minute quantities and must therefore trigger no major side effects or health issues. The EU states that alcoholic beverages with an ABV {alcohol by volume) level above 25% may only contain a maximum of 10mg/kg of thujone, beverages classed as “bitters” may contain as much as 35mg/kg, it is not completely clear which class Absinthe fits into but most brands of Absinthe have much less than 35mg with many being beneath 10mg/kg. In the US it is just legal to purchase or sell Absinthes with trace amounts of thujone.

High doses of thujone may be harmful causing convulsions but you would have to drink a large amount of Absinthe to use that quantity of thujone and it would be impossible to drink that amount, you’d be comatose from alcohol until then!

Absinthe Elements

It is said 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 create his famous Pernod Absinthe. The essential oil from these herbs is in charge of La Louche, the clouding which happens when water is added to Absinthe. These kinds of herbs especially the aniseed and anise lead to the distinctive aniseed or licorice style of Absinthe and wormwood is responsible for the particular bitter flavor. Absinthe is sometimes employed as bitters in cocktails.

There are numerous brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes which were developed throughout the ban and so contain no Absinthe thujone or perhaps wormwood, but some would say that Absinthe isn’t Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you would like real Absinthe search for brands made up of wormwood or Absinthe thujone.