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Absinthe Thujone

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Absinthe thujone is the chemical found in Absinthe’s essential ingredient, the plant called Common Wormwood, or Artemisia Absinthium to give it its organic name. The chemical thujone was to some extent accountable for Absinthe being banned during the early 1900s in several countries across the world and thujone is still tightly regulated these days, specifically in the United States (or states united).

Thujone was regarded as just like THC present in cannabis and Absinthe has been alleged to be psychoactive and have psychedelic results causing hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe has been popular with the Bohemian set in Montmartre inside Paris and many artists and 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 absinthe thujone Verlaine. Some state that Van Gogh’s madness was caused by Absinthe and that he cut off his ear under its influence. Absinthe was even blamed for a man murdering his family, despite the fact that he had ingested many other strong alcoholic beverages right after the Absinthe.

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

Is Absinthe thujone Harmful?

Today’s studies suggest that it was really the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe that was dangerous as opposed to the thujone. Absinthe is twice as strong as spirits like whisky and vodka and can be 75% alcohol. Care should therefore be utilized whenever ingesting Absinthe. Thujone is just present in minute quantities and should therefore result in no major side effects or health conditions. The EU states that alcoholic beverages with an ABV {alcohol by volume) level more than 25% may only consist of a maximum of 10mg/kg of thujone, beverages classed as “bitters” may contain up to 35mg/kg, it is not entirely clear which class Absinthe matches but most brands of Absinthe have much less than 35mg with many being below 10mg/kg. In the US it is just legal to buy or sell Absinthes with trace amounts of thujone.

High doses of thujone could be dangerous causing convulsions but you would have to drink a large amount of Absinthe to use that amount of thujone and it will be impossible to drink that amount, you would be comatose from alcohol before then!

Absinthe Substances

It is known that Henri-Louis Pernod, who owned the first Absinthe distillery, utilized the herbs wormwood, aniseed, fennel, lemon balm, hyssop, angelica root, dittany, star anise, nutmeg, juniper as well as veronica to make his famous Pernod Absinthe. The essential oil from all of these herbs is responsible for La Louche, the clouding which happens when water is added to Absinthe. These types of herbs especially the aniseed and anise lead to the distinctive aniseed or licorice taste of Absinthe and wormwood is liable for the actual bitter flavor. Absinthe is sometimes used as bitters in cocktails.

There are lots of brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes which were developed during the prohibit and so contain no Absinthe thujone or even wormwood, but some would say that Absinthe is not Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you’d like real Absinthe look for brands made up of wormwood or Absinthe thujone.