The thujone content of absinthe was lower at the beginning of the 20th century than previously thought.
Read Only Alcohol lent its fatal effect to absinthe, a popular fashion drink until the beginning of the 20th century, especially in the artist scene. In contrast, the concentration of the cannabis-like substance thujone contained therein was too low for it to have had a noticeable effect on the consumer. This has been proven by scientists led by Dirk Lachenmeier of the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office of Karlsruhe in the analysis of historical absinthe bottles, which had been bottled before the 1915 ban came into force in France. In the literature, the harmful effects of bitter spirits made from wormwood, aniseed, fennel and other herbs have repeatedly been reported: disorders of consciousness, hallucinations, decay of memory and loss of control were among the typical symptoms of strong absinthe drinkers. This was mainly attributed to the ingredient thujone, which unfolds in the brain a similar effect as the cannabis drug THC. In 1991, when absinthe could be re-produced in the EU, a separate threshold for thujone was set to protect consumers from these harmful effects.

But even the absinthe, as it was served until the ban in 1915, contained little more Thujon, Lachenmeier and his colleagues found out: The scientists had in France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States sealed bottles with the drink tracked down and analyzed. The thujone content was in most cases below the current EU limit of 35 milligrams of thujone per liter. The researchers were thus able to dispel the myth shared by absinthe supporters, according to which absinthe with well over 200 milligrams of thujone per liter was distributed a hundred years ago. a concentration in which psychogenic effects could have been expected. The described damage to chronic consumption, also referred to as absinthism, was therefore probably attributable to the high alcohol content of up to 70 percent.

Numerous legends surround the bitter spirit. Pendants called their drink "the green fairy", which became increasingly popular in bohemian circles in the second half of the 19th century, especially in France. Prominent consumers were artists like Vincent van Gogh or Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Absinthe drinkers were also a popular motif in art, including in pictures by Edgar Degas or Eduard Manet.

Dirk Lachenmeier (Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office Karlsruhe) et al .: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, DOI: 10.1021 / jf703568f ddp / Ulrich Dewald ad


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