The New Absinthe Thujone

Absinthe thujone is the chemical seen in Absinthe’s vital ingredient, the plant referred to as Common Wormwood, or Artemisia Absinthium to give it its botanical name. The compound thujone was partly responsible for Absinthe being banned during the early 1900s in several countries across the globe and thujone remains tightly regulated today absinthe supreme, particularly in the United States (or states united).

Thujone was considered to be similar to THC found in cannabis and Absinthe was alleged to be psychoactive and possess psychedelic effects causing hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe was well-liked by the Bohemian set in Montmartre in Paris and several artists and writers believed 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 say 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 used a number of other strong alcoholic drinks following the Absinthe.

Prohibition campaigners used news of the murder to campaign for the banning of Absinthe and charged France’s growing problems of alcohol addiction to the emerald liquor.

Is Absinthe Thujone Hazardous?

Today’s studies suggest that it was actually the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe that’s dangerous rather than the thujone. Absinthe is doubly strong as spirits like whisky and vodka and can be 75% alcohol. Care should therefore be used when consuming Absinthe. Thujone is only present in minute quantities and must therefore cause no major negative effects or health problems. The EU stipulates that alcoholic beverages with an ABV (alcohol by volume) level over 25% may only consist of a maximum of 10mg/kg of thujone, beverages classed as “bitters” can contain up to 35mg/kg, it is not completely clear which class Absinthe fits into but a majority of brands of Absinthe have much less than 35mg with many being under 10mg/kg. In the US it is simply legal to buy or sell Absinthes with trace amounts of thujone.

High doses of thujone can be dangerous triggering convulsions nevertheless you will have to drink a great deal of Absinthe to consume that volume of thujone and it would be impossible to drink that amount, you would be comatosed from alcohol until then!

Absinthe Ingredients

It is known that Henri-Louis Pernod, who owned the initial Absinthe distillery, used 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 mainly responsible for La Louche, the clouding which comes about when water is added to Absinthe. These herbs especially the aniseed and anise are accountable for the distinctive aniseed or licorice taste of Absinthe and wormwood is responsible for the bitter flavor. Absinthe is usually used as bitters in cocktails.

There are many brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes that have been developed over the ban and therefore contain no Absinthe thujone or wormwood, but many would say that Absinthe isn’t Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you want real Absinthe look for brands that contains wormwood or Absinthe thujone.