Navigation Links
Absinthe uncorked: The 'Green Fairy' was boozy -- but not psychedelic

A new study may end the century-old controversy over what ingredient in absinthe caused the exotic green aperitifs supposed mind-altering effects and toxic side-effects when consumed to excess. In the most comprehensive analysis of old bottles of original absinthe once quaffed by the likes of van Gogh, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso to enhance their creativity a team of scientists from Europe and the United States have concluded the culprit was plain and simple:

A high alcohol content, rather than thujone, the compound widely believed responsible for absinthes effects. Although consumed diluted with water, absinthe contained about 70 percent alcohol, giving it a 140-proof wallop. Most gin, vodka, and whiskey are 80 100-proof and contain 40-50 percent alcohol or ethanol.

The study is scheduled for the May 14, 2008 issue of the American Chemical Societys bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, where the full text of the article can be downloaded now without charge.

Absinthe took on legendary status in late 19th-Century Paris among bohemian artists and writers. They believed it expanded consciousness with psychedelic effects and called it the Green Fairy and the Green Muse. The drinks popularity spread through Europe and to the United States. However, illness and violent episodes among drinkers gave absinthe the reputation as a dangerous drug, and it was banned in Europe and elsewhere.

In the new study, Dirk W. Lachenmeier and colleagues point out that scientists know very little about the composition of the original absinthe produced in France before that country banned the drink in 1915. Only a single study had analyzed one sample of preban absinthe. The researchers analyzed 13 samples of preban absinthe from sealed bottles the first time that such a wide ranging analysis of absinthe from the preban era has been attempted, they say.

The analysis included thujone, widely regarded as the active ingredient in absinthe. It is certainly at the root of absinthes reputation as being more drug than drink, according to Lachenmeier. Thujone was blamed for absinthe madness and absinthism, a collection of symptoms including hallucinations, facial contractions, numbness, and dementia.

However, the study found relatively small concentrations of thujone, amounts less than previously estimated and not sufficient to explain absinthism. Thujone levels in preban absinthe actually were about the same as those in modern absinthe, produced since 1988, when the European Union (EU) lifted its ban on absinthe production. Laboratory tests found no other compound that could explain absinthes effects. All things considered, nothing besides ethanol was found in the absinthes that was able to explain the syndrome of absinthism, according to Lachenmeier.

He says that scientific data cannot explain preban absinthes reputation as a psychedelic substance. Recent historical research on absinthism concluded that the condition probably was alcoholism, Lachenmeier indicates.

Today it seems a substantial minority of consumers want these myths to be true, even if there is no empirical evidence that they are, says Lachenmeier. It is hoped that this paper will go some way to refute at least the first of these myths, conclusively demonstrating that the thujone content of a representative selection of preban absinthe... fell within the modern EU limit.


Contact: Michael Bernstein
American Chemical Society

Related biology news :

1. Boost for green plastics from plants
2. Stevens Center for Science Writings honors environmental critics with Green Book Award, April 30
3. Green gel
4. Queens develops safe green decontamination method
5. Revolutionary CO2 maps zoom in on greenhouse gas sources
6. New formula for combating the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide
7. Viruses, oxygen and our green oceans
8. Think green, UOs Hutchison says, to reduce nanotech hazards
9. Green tea helps beat superbugs
10. Blueberry and green tea containing supplement protects against stroke damage
11. Voyage to Southern Ocean aims to study air-sea fluxes of greenhouse gases
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Absinthe uncorked: The 'Green Fairy' was boozy -- but not psychedelic
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015 NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ... on the growing mobile commerce market and creator ... a leading marketplace to discover and buy innovative ... wallet on StackSocial for this holiday season.   ... "Company"), a biometric authentication company focused on the ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ), the leader ... adopted the Synaptics ® ClearPad ® Series ... newest flagship smartphones, the Nexus 5X by LG and ... --> --> Synaptics works closely with ... in the joint development of next generation technologies. Together, ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... -- Research and Markets ( ) has announced ... Market 2015-2019" report to their offering. ... voice recognition biometrics market to grow at a CAGR ... --> The report, Global Voice Recognition ... in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... InSphero AG, the leading supplier of easy-to-use ... promoted Melanie Aregger to serve as Chief Operating Officer. , Having joined ... management team and was promoted to Head of InSphero Diagnostics in 2014. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... /CNW Telbec/ - ProMetic Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: PLI) (OTCQX: ... Pierre Laurin , President and Chief Executive Officer of ProMetic, ... Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference to be held ... st , at 8.50am (ET) and ProMetic,s ... day. The presentation will be available live via a webcast ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 HemoShear Therapeutics, LLC, a ... for metabolic disorders, announced today the appointment of ... of Directors (BOD). Mr. Watkins is the former ... Sciences (HGS), and also served as the chairman ... Powers , Chairman and CEO of HemoShear Therapeutics. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... and NEW YORK , November ... irst investment by Bristol-Myers Squibb in a European ... Bristol-Myers Squibb Company in which the companies will ... in immuno-oncology and other areas of unmet medical need. The ... in LSP 5, the latest LSP fund. This is the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: