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Thujone in vintage vs. modern absinthe

-- By  Michael Posner in  London on Sat, 6 Jan 2007 at 17:12.

The thujone page fails to address the common myth regarding thujone levels in 19th century absinthe vs. present-day products. Also, no attempt is made to dispel the associated incorrect belief that "more thujone = more 'effective' absinthe".

Giving some space to these issues would be useful to the site's visitors.

In short:-

Despite popular belief, 19th century absinthes did *not* contain more thujone than the products available today. For a long time, it was thought that vintage absinthes were more thujone-rich than current varieties. This was shown to be a misconception once reliable testing methods for thujone content became available. Testing for thujone is painstaking, expensive and prone to errors, and accurate testing methods have only become available within the last few years. When vintage absinthes were first reliably tested for thujone, the results showed levels of thujone well within the current European standard.

Also, it is debatable whether or not thujone is the *only* compound responsible for the so-called absinthe effects. Genuine absinthe is a complex liquer, made from a range of different herbs, each with its unique properties. It is likely that some (or all) of these work in combination and so produce the effects that absinthe is known for. In my mind, thujone may not deserve *all* the credit here, though it undeniably plays an important role. But judging the quality of absinthe by its thujone content alone is crude and plain misguided. Absinthe is far more complex, and far more subtle, a drink.

A different kind of Thujone...

Editor's pick-- By  Jamie in  Unspecified location on Mon, 8 Jan 2007 at 18:41.

The Absinthe Drinkers is a Philadelphia band that spawns catchy, original pop/funk/rock/whatever songs from works of literature ancient and modern. The Drinkers have funkified Baudelaire, punkified Shakespeare, and rockified a number of modern writers.

"We took the name Absinthe Drinkers when we started because it seemed we were pulling a lot of material from that period of art/literature," says Chris McDonough (vocals).

"A now regular feature in our live shows is our host Thujone, who may appear in the form of one of the following:

- Alien Thujone, Pliedian Humanologist (Abductor of Abductees)
- Doctor Thujone, Man of SCIENCE
- Monsieur Thujone, Gentleman Impressario
- Inspector Thujone, Investigator Extraordinaire
- Robot Thujone, Helper/Enslaver of Humanity"

Here are the details of the Drinkers' next show:

Tue, Jan 23rd & Thu, Jan 25th at 9pm
Northwest corner of 6th & Bainbridge Streets,
$10 at door

"Monsieur Thujone's Cabinet of Musical-Visual Curiousities"

Delights for the ears and eyes! A night of strange music, video, and theater featuring: The Absinthe Drinkers - musical-litpop-visual-whatnot. Sex? Yes! Murder? Yes! Sexy Murders? Absolutely! The Tbaggadelics - songs about drinking, monsters, and life. Mostly drinking with monsters. Mr. Dead Guy - he's scary. But Baby Cheezwits is SCARIER! DJ/VJ Ryan - pokes your eye and ear-holes with dancin' music and visuals.

Checkout the Drinkers' MySpace page for more.


-- By  Ari in  California on Tue, 30 Jan 2007 at 23:12.

Unfortunately many people have fallen into a fallacy, believing that because thujone was targeted in the past it must be the cause of any "absinthe effects." Modern evidence has shown that absinthe contains very little thujone and that thujone inhibits GABA receptor activation, which would not cause hallucinations or other reported effects. While it was blamed by poor science in the past, it has been picked up by modern myth and is used by companies to hype poor products even though it has no effect on absinthe drinkers.

More information,


-- By  Peter Turnbull in  Essex on Fri, 30 Mar 2007 at 09:19.

It is my understanding that thujone (from wormwood) and anethole (from fennel and star anise) are jointly responsible for the effect experienced by the absinthe drinker. Thujone was traditionally suspected, while the other herbal constituents of absinthe were ignored.

The Holy Trinity of Absinthe

-- By  Barry in  CA on Sat, 23 Jun 2007 at 22:32.

To keep the discussion of thujone going, I thought I would share the following.

According to other sources that I have read, there are three components of absinthe which combine to create the pleasant effects that all absinthe enthusiasts praise and love. These three herbs are green anise, florence fennel and grande wormwood.

In addition to this absinthe holy trinity, there are many other herbs that can be used for flavor reasons. These additional herbs include "hyssop, melissa, star anise and petite wormwood (Artemisia pontica or Roman wormwood). Various recipes also include angelica root, Sweet Flag, dittany leaves, coriander, veronica, juniper, nutmeg, and various mountain herbs."

Should I worry?

-- By  Horolen Restrepo in  Miami, Florida on Thu, 2 Aug 2007 at 08:52.

My curiosity flurished after having seen (a bunch of times) "Dracula" w/ Gary Oldman and "From Hell" w/ Johnny Depp about this infamous alcoholic drink called ABSINTHE. So I went online, searched and finally purchased an Absinthe Brewing Kit. The kit comes with everything: Absinthium Herbs in a muslin bag (wormwood 1.2oz, hyssop, calamis, melissa, anise seed, fennel seed, star anise and coriander seed) another smaller bag (flavoring) comes w/ mint, melissa, wormwood, citron peel and liquorice root. A couple of micron filters are included since at home you don't have the proper equipment for distillation this method will filter it. Along with a bottle, sugar cubes, Absinthe Spoon and a glass. I'm on day 2 of the eight needed to fulfill the process with Everclear and Vodka. I may say that I'm a bit nervous about a true story I read on how a man's son who purchased online woodworm oil (unlike me) died of seizures! This company I purchased the kit from states that Thujone level is between 70-90mg/L but then again, they can say whatever they want to in order to sell their product but whose to know? I really want to enjoy my visit with the "Green Fairy" but I don't look forward to any health complications because of it. Any tips/ suggestions I can use to ease my worries? Is there a limit on drinks? Is the right amount of water added to the Absinthe 5 oz. water to 1 oz. Absinthe? Is more than three drinks ok or is that considered enough? I mean really, "How much thujone oil is considered safe?"
Desperately seeking advise from all you professionals out there. Much Regards!

Century absinthe

-- By  Andrew in  Lakewood, ohio, united states on Mon, 1 Aug 2011 at 19:41.

I just purchased a bottle of century absinthe and am eagerly anticipating it's arrival. Was wondering if anyone experienced the effects of the thujone, and how it feels? Please let me know anyone who has tried it.

Why is Thujone so vilified?

-- By  Travis M in  Victoria, BC, Canada on Sat, 28 Jul 2012 at 02:14.

Thujone is not new to us. We have known something about it for hundreds of years. We do know that large quanitities of it is toxic. We also know that absinthe rose to it's peak infamy due, primarily, to it's thujone content.

At the time of the absinthe ban, there was a perfect storm brewing. The wine industry in France was recovering, slowly, from the phylloxera years. Cries for temperance were loud and clear and moving to the fore-front. Industry was being damaged by the peoples' desire to DRINK!!!

The temperance movement was strong, but could not even hope to see a general ban on alcohol in France. LOL! Imagine: France with ZERO alcohol?! Not going to happen! Temperance did not want to suffer a complete fail after having spent so much energy on thier cause, so the movement shifted focus. The temperance movement began to zero their tagetting down to one particular meanie: The new-comer, Absinthe. After all, everyone knows, it is a crazy substance with all that thujone in it!

The temperance movement did not have any real money or backing. The wine industry had money and means. The wine industry was recovering slowly from being nearly decimated by phylloxera in the 1860s. The peoples' love of the absinthe tradition was hampering wine's return to it's throne as THE drink. Absinthe was ripe for the picking. Absinthe was bad, as it contained all that THUJONE!! All the wine industry needed to do was to paint absinthe as the evil spirit and prove to the government that absinthe would be the downfall of all, and they could get that marketshare back.

Temperance was part-way there in proving to the public that absinthe was the devil in a bottle, targetting the thujone. The wine industry stepped to the plate also. They had the money and science on their side. The wine industry invested in some shady science and injected the required funding to the cause and were able to prove that the thujone in absinthe was to blame.

But why thujone? Thujone is not the most toxic ingredient in absinthe. Easy answer: The only alcoholic beverage that contains thujone is absinthe. The wine industry and the new focus of the temperance movement did not want anything else banned; just absinthe. So, they targetted the one thing that absinthe had that nothing else did and focussed fire. Eventually, absinthe fell.

Temperance scored a hit. Wine lost a competitor.

We know now that the science was heavily skewed and biased. We also know now that the small amounts of thujone that were actually present do not pose health risks. Now, we see the return of The Green Fairy.


-- By  C3 in  U.S.A-PA. on Thu, 20 Sep 2012 at 12:34.

EVERYTHING on this planet is poisonous to some degree;....and Human Beings filter EVERYTHING We eat;drink,and breath throughout life. From The Moment We Are Born;....We Are All Slowly Dying!---So; enjoy Life to it's fullest extent.....................take EVERYTHING IN MODERATION,...and you'll be just fine.

A drink for today.

-- By  Willow Pearce in  UK on Thu, 21 Mar 2013 at 09:53.

Gerritson's absinthe ' rant ' is nothing more than scientific mumbo jumbo. It is well known that drinking large quantities of anything highly alcoholic is not desirable, but anything in MODERATION. What always amazes me is the habit of posters to pontificate while not even knowing really what the big picture is all about. Absinthe is not about consumption of thujone, it is an old and very pleasant drink that has re emerged to be enjoyed by adults.


-- By  james blundell in  Cessna 210 8k feet, Sunshine Coast, QLD on Sat, 18 Oct 2014 at 05:07.

Absinthe has always held a real attraction for me.. no heavy 'drag'.. and always illuminating.. had no idea, until reading the blog on thujone, that I'm mereley one of the multitude who see it as much more than just another way to sway.. no wonder Byron, Keats, and Shelley were proponents ... Clear skies and thought to all out there...

Wormwood Thujone and Parasites

-- By  Willy in  Mass on Sun, 11 Jun 2017 at 17:25.


Maybe the psychoactive effects of the Thujone are because of their parasite killing properties. I imagine parasites dying in the brain could cause some serious psychoactive effects!


-- By  Smitha810 in  Smitha810 on Fri, 26 Jan 2018 at 10:24.

Thanks again for the blog post.Thanks Again. Cool. aecedaagdgbgegga

History and health

-- By  Per in  Sweden on Thu, 13 Feb 2020 at 21:40.

Hi guys.
Absinthe was France national drink from approx year1600 to 1900 and sold in thousands of places for healt! Now we know why. It contains artemisinin that makes the body produce interferon-y previously called immune interferon. It also contains tujone that helps produce interleukin-2 witch is essential for you’re immune system. Cheers!

Copyright © 2006 AbsintheFever.com Contributors.
All Rights Reserved.

Thujone rich: Artemisia absinthium
Thujone is found in a variety of common plants and herbs. In absinthe, thujone comes from wormwood (pictured), the wild-growing perennial that is especially rich in the substance. (Photo: H. Kress)

More absinthe information...

About thujone

The Wikipedia entry on thujone gives an overview of the substance's chemical composition and pharmacology. Also includes a brief discussion of thujone content in absinthe (modern and pre-ban).

Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen, writing for the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics in 2005, isn't too thrilled by the Green Fairy's comeback. A scientific analysis of the effect of thujone, or a modern-day anti-absinthe rant? You decide.

Should you care to know that the substance's formal chemical name is "1-isopropyl-4-methylbicyclo[3.1.0] hexan-3-one", then the geeky 3Dchem's interactive 3-D model of the thujone molecule is a toy you'll like. Unfortunately, the associated article contains quite a few factual errors.


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