Absinthe is famous for being the hallucinogenic drink that was banned in the early 1900s after it sent people insane and drove people to murder and suicide. Now that Absinthe has once again been legalized, many people are understandably asking “What are the dangers of Absinthe?”
Absinthe is a strong liquor which is distilled at high proof but generally served diluted with iced water or in cocktails. It has an anise taste and is flavored with natural herbs including common wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium), fennel and aniseed.
Absinthe has a very colorful history. It was originally created as an elixir or medicinal tonic in Switzerland in the late 18th century but rapidly became popular in the period of history known as La Belle Epoque in the 19th century. The Green Fairy, as Absinthe was known, was particularly popular in France and bars even had special Absinthe hours. Famous drinkers of Absinthe including Van Gogh, Degas, Pablo Picasso, Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway all credit Absinthe with giving them their inspiration and being their “muse”.
As well as being associated with the Golden Age of La Belle Epoque, Absinthe is unfortunately linked with “The Great Binge” of 1870-1914, a period when cocaine was used in cough drops and beverages and where heroin was used to make children’s cough medicine. Absinthe became associated with these drugs, in particular with cannabis. It was claimed that the thujones found in wormwood in Absinthe was similar to THC in cannabis and that thujones were psychoactive and caused psychedelic effects. Many were convinced that the Green Fairy made you see green fairies, that Absinthe was an hallucinogen.
The medical profession and prohibition movement made many claims about the dangers of Absinthe and Absinthism, prolonged drinking of Absinthe. They alleged that Absinthe contained large amounts of thujone which caused:-
– Hallucinations and delirium
– Weakening of the intellect
– Brain damage
It was claimed that Absinthe drove Van Gogh to suicide and made a man murder his family.
So, are these claims true or are they urban myths?
These claims have been proved false by recent research and studies. Let’s look at the facts:-
– The man who murdered his family had consumed two glasses of Absinthe earlier in the day and then copious amounts of other spirits and liquors. He was a well known alcoholic and a violent man.
– Van Gogh was a disturbed person who had suffered bouts of depression and mental illness since childhood.
– Thujone is not like THC.
– Thujone can be harmful and can act on the GABA receptors of the brain causing spasms and convulsions but only when consumed in large quantities.
– Absinthe only contains very small amounts of thujone, not enough to pose any danger. It would be impossible to ingest harmful amounts of thujone from commercial Absinthe because you would die of alcohol poisoning first!
What are the dangers of Absinthe then? Well, there aren’t any. Absinthe will get you drunk quickly because it is so strong but being intoxicated is very different to hallucinating! When Absinthe is consumed in moderation, it poses no threat to your health and wellbeing and has now been made legal in most countries. Enjoy bottled Absinthe or try making your own using essences from AbsintheKit.com – it’s fun to do and also very economical.