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Thread: absinthe makes the heart fond

  1. #1

    absinthe makes the heart fond

    Does absinthe really cause hallucinations?
    by Julia Layton

    January 9, 2007
    When absinthe was banned in France, Switzerland, the United States and many other countries in the early 1900s, it had really fallen out of favor. It wasn't just frowned upon; it was accused of creating murderers, making children into criminals and turning women into "martyrs." That regular old alcohol received similar treatment during the Prohibition period in the United States turns out to be pretty apropos: We now know that properly manufactured absinthe, an anise-flavored, alcoholic drink, is no more dangerous than any other properly prepared liquor.

    What about the tales of hallucinations, Oscar Wilde and his tulips, family massacres and instant death? Not absinthe's fault, technically speaking. Absinthe does have a very high alcohol content -- anywhere between 55 and 75 percent, which equates to about 110 to 144 proof. It makes whiskey's standard 40 percent (80 proof) seem like child's play, which is why absinthe is supposed to be diluted. Absinthe is not a hallucinogen; its alcohol content and herbal flavor sets it apart from other liquors.

    Traditional absinthe is made of anise, fennel and wormwood (a plant), and various recipes add other herbs and flowers to the mix. The anise, fennel and wormwood are soaked in alcohol, and the mixture is then distilled. The distillation process causes the herbal oils and the alcohol to evaporate, separating from the water and bitter essences released by the herbs. The fennel, anise and wormwood oils then recondense with the alcohol in a cooling area, and the distiller dilutes the resulting liquid down to whatever proof the absinthe is supposed to be (based on brand variations or regional laws). At this point, the absinthe is clear; many manufacturers add herbs to the mixture after distillation to get the classic green color from their chlorophyll.

    The chemical that's taken all the blame for absinthe's hallucinogenic reputation is called thujone, which is a component of wormwood. In very high doses, thujone can be toxic. It is a GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) inhibitor, meaning it blocks GABA receptors in the brain, which can cause convulsions if you ingest enough of it. It occurs naturally in many foods, but never in doses high enough to hurt you. And there's not enough thujone in absinthe to hurt you, either. By the end of the distillation process, there is very little thujone left in the product. Modern science has estimated that a person drinking absinthe would die from alcohol poisoning long before he or she were affected by the thujone. And there is no evidence at all that thujone can cause hallucinations, even in high doses.


    Absinthe is now perfectly legal in almost every country in which alcohol is legal. The United States is one of the only countries that still bans the sale of absinthe.


  2. #2
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  3. #3
    Senior Member lynnifer's Avatar
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    Windsor ON Canada
    It's allowed in Canada (Windsor ON anyway) and we spell it Absynthe with 'y'. I've always wanted to try it but David said I would die of heart attack after one swallow .. lol.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Juke_spin
    Lynnifer and Juke,

    Sorry that i was a bit cryptic.
    Absynthe (can also be written absinthe, absente, absinth, etc.) is also known as 'la fée verte' (the green fairy).

    Absynthe, a drink with a long and controversial history, enjoyed its greatest popularity in late 19th century Paris, when Vincent Van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Verlaine, Ernest Hemmingway and Oscar Wilde were among its most ardent fans. It was an inseparable part of artistic life during that period of time. It is said to have inspired fine literature and great paintings.

    Henri-Louis Pernod opened the first Absynthe distillery in Switzerland and then moved to a larger one in Pontarlier, France in 1805. By the 1850's it had become the favorite drink of the upper class. The bohemian lifestyle embraced it. La fée verte (the green fairy) as it became commonly known, was most popular in France. Most days started with a drink and ended with l'heure verte (the green hour) as one or two or more were taken for it's apéritif properties.
    Regarding the title of the post, abynthe is/was considered by many to be an aphrodesiac.
    Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

    The Western world's most notorious elixir, Absinthe hit its popularity peak around the turn of the Twentieth Century. In the early 1900's, it was outlawed in most nations, notorious for making men go mad.

    An ultimate emblem of decadence during La Belle Epoch, Absinthe was the cocktail of choice on Paris' wealthy nightclub scene. Mixed with water dripped over a sugar cube on a specially designed silver spoon, the drink was an ultra-chic fashion statement. But its true power lies not in presentation, but the dangerous mix of distilled herbs from which the drink derrives its distinctive flavor.

    Absinthe's ingredients include a mixture of Chamomile, Hyssop and other herbs, but its potency and supposed hallucinogenic capabilities are owed to the addition of wormwood, a shrub-like perennial. The drink has been credited with everything from curing stomach ailments to inspiring great works of fiction. The most devout of Absinthe's fans credit the drink with visions of a gorgeous green fairy, La Fee Verte, (think Tinkerbell meets Barbie).

    A sexy representation on recent films "From Hell" with Johnny Depp and the movie musical "Moulin Rouge" has sparked a revival. Many countries have revoked Absinthe's ban, although the U.S. is holding out.
    Although the possession of Absinthe in the U.S. is legal, its import is forbidden. It is, however, possible to obtain from European websites.
    The supposed active ingredient of absynthe (other than 75% alcohol) is wormwood (Artemesia absinthium) extract which turns the drink green and bitter. So, it is traditionally diluted with cold water poured over a perforated spoonful of sugar. However, it is frequently made with other herbs, including aniseed, fennel, hyssop, and lemonbalm along with lesser amounts of angelica, star anise, dittany, juniper, nutmeg, and veronica. Dried herbs, including more wormwood, were added to the distillate, which was then diluted with alcohol to give a concentration of about 75% alcohol by volume (Simonetti 1990). Different absinthe manufacturers used slightly different ingredients, sometimes using nutmeg and calamus, both of which have been purported to have psychoactive effects.

    The drink was villified in the 1850's and said to cause alcohol addiction, epilepsy, delerium, and hallucinations. The active ingredient is suppose to be Tujone but the dose of this ingredient in absynthe is too low to cause these symptoms. Although it is not allowed in the United States, hundreds of varieties of absynthe and paraphernalia can be purchased over internet. Ther is a very active forum called "The Wormwood Society" Absinthe Forums (Source).

    In summary, Absynthe is an alcoholic herbal extract that includes wormwood. Wormwood is Artemesia absinthium. Note that wormwood is extremely bitter and is sometimes used in the place of hops in beer brewing and is popular amongst the witch and witchcraf crowd (Source). By the way, wormwood is closely related to mugwort, both of which appears extensively in the Harry Potter books. Mugwort is used for strength, power, prophecy, and healing while wormwoord was mentioned in Professor Snape's class "Potter! ... What would I get if I added powered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"... Later, Snape tells Hermione, "For your information, Potter, asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death." [p. 138, Sorcerer's Stone]"

    Wormwood has several practical uses besides witchcraft. It is called wormwood because it repels insects and is placed in inks to protect paper from being eaten by mice (because of its bitterness). It is also used as an antiseptic.
    Last edited by Wise Young; 07-15-2007 at 12:31 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member lynnifer's Avatar
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    Aug 2002
    Windsor ON Canada
    So wonder he doesn't want me to try it the recovering alcoholic! lol
    Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

    T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12

  6. #6
    Banned adi chicago's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    near dracula castle
    here is called green of a deadly poison.
    • Dum spiro, spero.
      • Translation: "As long as I breathe, I hope."

  7. #7
    interesting -- I'm glad the myth has been quelled. I tried a few shots of it many years back, and other than it being *very strong*(it is easy to light on fire) and flavorful (if you like anise) it didn't seem to have any * special* or psychedelic qualities.... More than anything I think it's just been romanticized by the myth surrounding it and van Goghs painting..I read somewhere a while ago that absinthe was banned particularly in the United States because it was a popular drink among the poor and inexpensive to make.... I think this is around the time of prohibition.

    but I do know on a side note that wormwood is great to have growing in a a perennial garden and that it *does* keeps bugs away.

    for more about its history here's the virtual Museum:

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by dcristo
    This stuff is wicked! It's only available in select bars and pubs in Australia. It pretty much makes you feel stoned.
    Have you tried it anytime? I guess it’s worth trying once,huh??
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  9. #9

    Sounds like a nasty drink...

    Guess I'll pass on it...anything with alcohol can kill me... ...

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