Absinthe is well known for being famously banned in the early 1900s because of worries over its safety. Even today, many people associate it with drugs like cannabis and talk about it causing you to “trip” or hallucinate and didn’t Van Gogh commit suicide because of Absinthe? Are these claims and stories just urban legend or are they true – how safe is Absinthe?
Absinthe is a strong alcoholic beverage made with herbs such as wormwood, aniseed and fennel. It is approximately twice as strong as other spirits such as whisky and vodka. It has an anise taste and is commonly served diluted with iced water which makes the Absinthe louche when it is added to the alcohol.
How Safe is Absinthe
Absinthe, or the Green Fairy, was a popular drink in the Great Binge of 1870 – 1914 in France, a time when cocaine was used in beverages and cough drops and heroin was used as a morphine substitute and in cough medicine for children. Absinthe was wrongly compared with cannabis because it was thought that thujone, a chemical in wormwood, was similar to THC in cannabis. Thujone was claimed to be psychoactive and to cause psychedelic effects.
The medical profession became concerned about the popularity of Absinthe and what they called “Absinthism”, a disease caused by prolonged drinking of Absinthe. They said that long term use of Absinthe caused:-
– Frothing of the mouth and convulsions
– Hypersensitivity to pain
– Loss of libido
– Brain damage
The French Academy of Medicine pushed for Absinthe to be banned, as did prohibitionists and wine producers who were unhappy with Absinthe’s popularity. In 1905 a man in Switzerland murdered his family and this crime became known as “The Absinthe Murder” because he had consumed two glasses of Absinthe earlier that day. The man had in fact consumed many alcoholic beverages AFTER the Absinthe but this fact was ignored and the crime was used by prohibitionists to fuel their campaign.
Absinthe was banned in 1912 in the United States and in 1915 in France.
Recent tests on Absinthe made from original recipes and gas chromatography tests on vintage bottles of Absinthe have shown that Absinthe contains very little thujone and so could not possibly cause the effects alleged by doctors in the early 1900s. People would die of alcohol poisoning before ingesting a harmful amount of thujone! It was concluded that Absinthe is perfectly safe when consumed in moderation, after all it is very high proof.
Absinthe was made legal in many countries in the late 1980s and 90s but Americans had to wait until 2007 for some brands to be made legal in the US or risk getting Absinthe shipped over from other countries.
So, how safe is Absinthe today? It is just as safe as any other strong liquor and will not make you hallucinate. Buy quality Absinthe which meets EU or US guidelines or make your own using proper essences. AbsintheKit.com make essences for the Absinthe industry and for the public. They are easy, safe and can be shipped worldwide. Just be careful that you don’t drink too much in one go!