Absinthe wormwood is normally Artemisia Absinthium or Grand Wormwood which is actually a variety of wormwood which does not contain a vast amount of the chemical thujone. A few brands of Absinthe use Roman Wormwood which also contains thujone in addition to Grand Wormwood so drinks with two types of wormwood may contain more thujone. Thujone amounts can differ between brands significantly, some Absinthes only have negligible amounts of thujone, whereas others have up to 35mg/kg. Only Absinthe which has negligible amounts of thujone is legal for sale in the USA because thujone is an illegal food additive there.
What is the cause of controversy about Absinthe Wormwood ?
Since Ancient times common Wormwood is being used as a medicine. It has already been used:-
– It can be used to counteract poisoning caused by toadstools and hemlock.
– One can use as a tonic.
– To decrease a fever.
– As a stimulant to digestion.
– To deal with parasitic intestinal worms.
Due to wormwood Absinthe got it’s bitter taste, green color and name. The essential herbal oils in Absinthe are also responsible for the famous “louche” effect, the cloudy that happens when water is added to the drink.
Absinthe was banned in the early 1900s in many countries because of the alleged harmful effects of the chemical thujone, found in Wormwood extract. Thujone was claimed to have psychoactive and psychedelic effects and also an hallucinogen and Absinthe drinking was linked with violent crimes, serious intoxication, insanity. A french man killed his whole family after drinking Absinthe and lots of other alcohols for which Absinthe was claimed to be the basic cause!
Several writers and artists enjoyed this Bohemian drink and it was suddenly a banned and illegal drink. It was banned in many European countries and also in the USA but was never banned in the UK, where it had never been popular, Spain, Portugal or the Czech Republic.
Absinthe Wormwood Revival
There was never any real evidence linking Absinthe drinking to hallucinations or insanity and it is now known that Absinthe is no worse than any other highly alcoholic drink. Absinthe has approximately twice the alcoholic content of spirits such as whisky and vodka and so should be consumed in moderation, but Absinthe wormwood is not thought to be harmful. Many Absinthe drinkers do report feeling a funny lucid or clear headed type of drunkenness when consuming a bit too much Absinthe – this could be due to the combination of the sedative effects of some of the herbs (and the alcohol content)and the stimulating effects of the Wormwood and other herbs.
During the 1990s many nations authorized Absinthe which made Absinthe drinking more interesting. There are many different types and brands of Absinthe available to buy and buyers can even order Absinthe essence, to make their own Absinthe, online from companies like AbsintheKit.com.
The thujone content of Absinthe Wormwood is strictly illegalized in the European Union and the United States. One should avoid Absinthe containing artificial flavors.