There is so much contradictory Absinthe information available online and in books, it’s hard to know what to believe.
Misleading Absinthe Information
One book “Absinthe The Cocaine of the 19th Century: A History of the Hallucinogenic Drug and its Effect on Artists and Writers in Europe and the United States” by Doris Lanier, compares Absinthe to drugs such as cocaine because it was said to be addictive, to give a sense of euphoria, have psychedelic effects and weaken the brain and other faculties.
Absinthe became popular at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century, a time known as “The Great Binge”. This was a time in history when many of today’s illegal drugs like crack cocaine, morphine and heroin were developed and used by normal everyday people for medicine, on prescription for coughs etc. and in drinks. Popular drinks in bars were Absinthe, Vin Maraiani (cocaine and wine) and Coca Cola (then made from cocaine, wine and kola nuts). These drugs and drinks were all thought to be harmless and were widely consumed throughout Europe.
Absinthe was linked with these drugs because of its popularity with Bohemian artists and writers, who liked to overindulge to help their creativity, and with the loose morals of the courtesans of the Moulin Rouge and Montmartre.
Thujone, the chemical in wormwood, was also claimed to be psychoactive and similar to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in the drug cannabis (marijuana). Both THC and Thujone are terpenoids and are both from essential oils but THC affects the central nervous system whereas thujone affects the GABA receptors in the brain. When wormwood is smoked as a joint or consumed in large quantities, it has been known to cause effects similar to cannabis intoxication – to cause hallucinations and fantasies, to make the person feel euphoric, to relieve pain and to act as an aphrodisiac.
Absinthe was banned along with some drugs in the early 1900s and was made illegal to buy and sell in many countries around the world. We now know that its ban was just part of the hysteria of the time. People lumped Absinthe, the Green Fairy, together with drugs like heroin (the White Fairy), cannabis and cocaine and even now there are many people and websites who mention Absinthe in the same sentence as magic mushrooms, LSD, weed, cannabis and ecstasy.
Absinthe Information – What we now know
We know that medical studies on Absinthe and wormwood in the past were not accurate and were “colored” by the prohibition movement of the time and the worry that Absinthe was a drug. Recent studies have shown that Absinthe, once it is distilled, only contains very small amounts of thujone – not enough to cause any harmful side effects or hallucinations, that is just a myth. Even tests on vintage pre ban Absinthe has shown that it hardly contained any thujone at all. A person would die of alcohol poisoning long before suffering any side effects from thujone.
Results from studies and research have caused many countries to legalize Absinthe again so the Green Fairy can now be enjoyed in bars and in homes across the world.
Even though it may not make you trip or get high, it is easy to get drunk on Absinthe because of its high proof. It has twice the alcohol content of spirits such as vodka or whisky so care should be taken when drinking it. If you do get drunk on Absinthe you will probably experience a very different intoxication than you would experience from other spirits or fermented beverages. Many describe it as a “lucid” or “clear headed” kind of drunkenness. This can be explained by the blend of herbs and the alcohol – a mix of sedatives and stimulants. Some people enhance these qualities by making cocktails containing Absinthe and the caffeine loaded drink Red Bull!
So, you will be disappointed if you believe some of the misleading Absinthe information and buy Absinthe to give you vivid hallucinations. However, it is a great tasting herbal alcoholic beverage which is fun to prepare and has a great anise flavor. You can even enjoy making your very own wormwood Absinthe at home by using real, top-quality Absinthe essences from AbsintheKit.com – a fun and economical way to enjoy Absinthe.