Absinthe thujone is the chemical present in Absinthe’s vital ingredient, the plant known as Common Wormwood, or Artemisia Absinthium to give it its botanical name. The chemical thujone was partly the cause of Absinthe being banned in early 1900s in lots of countries across the world and thujone continues to be tightly regulated today absinthesupreme.com, specifically in the United States (or states united).
Thujone was considered to be much like THC present in cannabis and Absinthe was speculated to be psychoactive and possess psychedelic effects creating hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe was favored by the Bohemian set in Montmartre in Paris and several artists and writers claimed 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 point out that Van Gogh’s madness was caused by Absinthe and that he cut off his ear under its control . Absinthe was even blamed for a man murdering his family, although he had ingested many other strong alcoholic drinks right after the Absinthe.
Prohibition campaigners used news of the murder to campaign for the suspending of Absinthe and charged France’s growing problems of alcohol addiction on the emerald liquor.
Is Absinthe Thujone Dangerous?
Today’s studies suggest that it was in fact the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe that’s 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 used when ingesting Absinthe. Thujone is merely present in minute quantities and should therefore cause no major side effects or health conditions. 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 as much as 35mg/kg, it isn’t completely clear which class Absinthe matches but a majority of brands of Absinthe have much less than 35mg with a lot of being under 10mg/kg. In the US it is just legal to get or sell Absinthes with trace levels of thujone.
High doses of thujone may be dangerous triggering convulsions but you will have to drink a substantial amount of Absinthe to consume that quantity of thujone and it will be impossible to drink that amount, you would be comatosed from alcohol until then!
It is known 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 these herbs is mainly responsible for La Louche, the clouding which occurs when water is added to Absinthe. These herbs particularly 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 usually used as bitters in cocktails.
There are lots of brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes which were developed in the ban and so contain no Absinthe thujone or wormwood, but some would claim that Absinthe just isn’t Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you wish real Absinthe search for brands that contain wormwood or Absinthe thujone.