The Absinthe United States Predicament

Absinthe thujone is the chemical seen in Absinthe’s vital ingredient, the plant known as Common Wormwood, or Artemisia Absinthium to give it its botanical name. The substance thujone was partly accountable for Absinthe being banned in the early 1900s in many countries around the world and thujone is still tightly regulated today, specifically in the United States (or states united).

Thujone was considered to be similar to THC present in cannabis and Absinthe was speculated to be psychoactive and have psychedelic effects causing hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe was well-liked by the Bohemian set in Montmartre in Paris and many artists and writers believed that Absinthe, the Green Fairy, gave them inspiration and 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 caused by Absinthe and that he cut off his ear under its control alcoholplant. Absinthe was even held responsible for a man murdering his family, even though he had ingested a number of other strong alcoholic drinks after the Absinthe.

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

Is Absinthe Thujone Hazardous?

Today’s studies suggest that it was in fact the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe which was dangerous instead of the thujone. Absinthe is doubly strong as spirits like whisky and vodka and can be 75% alcohol. Care should therefore be utilized when ingesting Absinthe. Thujone is only present in minute quantities and must therefore cause no major unwanted effects or health issues. The EU stipulates that alcohol based drinks 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 approximately 35mg/kg, it is not entirely 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 only legal to purchase or sell Absinthes with trace levels of thujone.

High doses of thujone can be dangerous triggering convulsions however you would need to drink a large amount of Absinthe to consume that amount of thujone and it will be impossible to drink that amount, you’d be comatosed from alcohol until then!

Absinthe Components

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 and veronica to create his famous Pernod Absinthe. The essential oil from all of these herbs is responsible for La Louche, the clouding which occurs 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 liable for the bitter flavor. Absinthe is oftentimes used as bitters in cocktails.

There are several brands of Absinthe or Absinthe substitutes that were developed over the ban and so contain no Absinthe thujone or wormwood, but many would claim that Absinthe is not Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you want real Absinthe look for brands that contain wormwood or Absinthe thujone.