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 compound thujone was partly accountable for Absinthe being banned during the early 1900s in several countries across the globe and thujone remains tightly regulated today absinthesupreme.com, especially in the United States (or states united).
Thujone was regarded as just like THC seen in cannabis and Absinthe was alleged to be psychoactive and possess psychedelic effects triggering 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 claim that Van Gogh’s madness was due to Absinthe and that he cut off his ear under its control . Absinthe was even blamed for a man murdering his family, despite the fact that he had used many other strong alcoholic drinks after the Absinthe.
Prohibition campaigners used news of the murder to campaign for the outlawing of Absinthe and charged France’s growing problems of alcoholism on the emerald liquor.
Is Absinthe Thujone Unsafe?
Today’s research suggests that it was in fact the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe which was dangerous rather than the thujone. Absinthe is twice as strong as spirits like whisky and vodka and can be 75% alcohol. Care should therefore be used when ingesting Absinthe. Thujone is simply present in minute quantities and must therefore cause no major negative effects or health conditions. The EU stipulates that alcohol based drinks with an ABV (alcohol by volume) level over 25% may possibly have 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 fits into but many brands of Absinthe have much less than 35mg with many being under 10mg/kg. In the US it is just legal to get or sell Absinthes with trace amounts of thujone.
High doses of thujone could be dangerous triggering convulsions nevertheless you would need to drink a great deal of Absinthe to consume that quantity of thujone and it would be impossible to drink that amount, you’d be comatosed from alcohol before then!
It is known that Henri-Louis Pernod, who owned the very first 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 responsible for La Louche, the clouding which occurs when water is included with 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 many brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes which were developed during the ban and so contain no Absinthe thujone or wormwood, but some would say that Absinthe isn’t Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you want real Absinthe try to find brands containing wormwood or Absinthe thujone.