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 early 1900s in lots of countries around the globe and thujone remains tightly regulated today, especially in the United States (or states united).
Thujone was considered to be just like THC found in cannabis and Absinthe was purported to be psychoactive and have psychedelic effects causing hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe was favored 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 due to Absinthe and that he cut off his ear under its influence. Absinthe was even held responsible for a man murdering his family, even though 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 outlawing of Absinthe and charged France’s growing problems of alcohol dependency to the emerald liquor.
Is Absinthe Thujone Unsafe?
Today’s studies suggest that it was actually the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe which was dangerous instead of 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 consuming Absinthe. Thujone is only found in minute quantities and ought to therefore cause no major unwanted effects or health problems. 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 up to 35mg/kg, it is not totally clear which class Absinthe fits into but many brands of Absinthe have much less than 35mg with many being under 10mg/kg. In the US it is simply legal to get or sell Absinthes with trace levels of thujone.
High doses of thujone can be dangerous causing convulsions nevertheless you would need to drink a great deal of Absinthe to consume that amount 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, 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 these herbs is responsible for La Louche, the clouding which happens when water is put into Absinthe. These herbs particularly the aniseed and anise are responsible for the distinctive aniseed or licorice taste of Absinthe and wormwood is liable for the bitter flavor. Absinthe is usually used as bitters in cocktails.
There are lots of brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes that were developed during the ban and therefore contain no Absinthe thujone or wormwood, however, many would state 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.