Pharmacology and toxicology of absinthe


Absinthe is a flavoured distilled liquor, emerald green in colour, turning to cloudy, opalescent white when mixed with water. It has inspired many prominent artists, writers and poets – Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway just to name a few. Absinthe was first produced commercially in 1797 by Henry-Louis Pernod, who purchased the formula from a French exile living in Switzerland. The wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, is the chief flavouring ingredient of absinthe and the presence of the monoterpene thujone in this drug was the reason for the prohibition of the production and sale of absinthe in many countries. Thujone is a toxic chemical present in wormwood and is responsible for the pharmacological and toxicological properties of absinthe.


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