Systematic Misinformation about Thujone in Pre-ban Absinthe

~ by Dirk W. Lachenmeier and David Nathan-Maister ~

The media coverage about absinthe, a bitter spirit containing wormwood (Artemisia absinthum L.), continues to repeat unsubstantiated myths and legends and the public is systematically misinformed. Especially, the theory about a significant thujone content in absinthe must be put into perspective as there are a number of different wormwood chemotypes with a large variance in thujone content (0–70 .6 6 % in essential oil) from which a mean thujone content of about 20 mg/l in distilled absinthe with a large standard deviation of up to 20 mg/l may be calculated. However, a higher thujone amount of 260 mg/l derived from erroneous and out-of-date calculations is generally presented as “historical content” in addition to reports about unsubstantiated psychoactive or aphrodisiac properties. Other studies used unauthentic recipes with unrealistically high amounts of wormwood that would produce undrinkable bitter products. In general, a previous overestimation of the thujone content of pre-ban absinthe was detected.

Lachenmeier & Nathan-Maister

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