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ThujoneI’ve got a bottle of absinthe, at the back of a shelf in our store-cupboard. Unopened, this bottle of green uber-liquor languishes untested awaiting an appropriate occasion when a drink containing 70 percent alcohol (140 proof) is required.

To find out more about the myth of absinthe.

10 Responses to “Arty with a Capital F and the Myth of Absinthe”

I’ll recommend a graphic novel, “The Salon”, where Picasso, Eric Satie, Gertrude Stein, et al, have adventures with Blue absinthe. It’s quite droll.
I also have made a couple batches of homebrew using wormwood in addition to hops. Really, really, really bitter, but otherwise just a brewski.

I’ll have to get hold of a copy, from which to read extracts at the feline wake…


Dude, every time I discover a new way to get high, some researcher has to go and prove it’s not gonna work. Way to go, science.

To say that ‘it must be the 70% ethanol’ is very disingenuous. When I’ve drunk it, it was watered, and also it went into a gut full of food and other drink. As a scientist I believe I’m quite objective, but my experiences of definitely odd dreams make me wonder about this report. OK, hardly a psychedelic trip, but certainly interesting. Maybe different brands have different components?

Thanks for the comment Clifford, yes the point about the 70% is well taken, most people would drink it with food or diluted in some way, but I do know people who’ve tried it neat too and a few slugs of that in the stomach is going to get through the gut wall very quickly nevertheless.

As to bad and weird dreams, don’t you find you have those if you drink a lot of beer/wine/spirits in one assault? I know I do, I think it’s fairly well known that an alcoholic stupor can lead to nightmares. Of course, nightmares are hallucinations, the difference is that you’re not seeing them while you’re awake.

Finally, the researchers tested different contemporary brands from that period. I don’t believe they analysed modern absinthe, but it would certainly be illegal to add anything to that today that was a known psychotrope.


Narcology (Russian). – 2003. – №9. – С. 51-56.

Wormwood (Artemisia sp.):
a component of the drugs, supplements available for the addiction and strong beverages.

ROZHANETS V.V. cand.biol sci., senior researcher of toxicological lab. of National Research Center on Addiction, Ministry of Health, Russian Federation, Moscow

Review. Data about different means for usage of some Aremisia species in traditional and current medicine with special references to actions available for the drugs, food additives (supplements) in the field of addiction, and absinthe production are presented. Different Aremisia compounds possess hepatoprotective, holagogic, antiulcer, hypoglycaemic and neurotropic activities. It is possible, that some Aremisia preparations are useful for the treatment of alcohol hepatitis and pancreatitis. Now it is evident, that neither thujone nor other Artemisia neurotropic compounds are not responsible for special addictional absinthe effect. At the same time it should be pointed, that the “old absinthe” as a product of special distillation of a complex medicinal and fragrance herbs extract may revealed some unusual addictive actions in the case of chronic ingestion of such beverages.

Key words: Artemisia, wormwood, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, sesquiterpenoids, volatile chemicals, flavonoids, coumarins. Hepatoprotective, holagogic, antiulcer, hypoglycaemic antipancreatitic and neurotropic activities. Thujone, artemisinin, absinthe.
(Review, 86 ref.)

Thanks for the reference Vladimir, very useful.


Perhaps a bit of research into the art history that is claimed to be the background for this erudite analysis would apply a more “scientific” result in the assessment of absinthe’s relationship to 19th century artists’ application of its use in their work. Alcohol was most certainly the effective progenitor of relief from stress, but the artists of whom you speak were consumed with creative powers that did not seek chemical enhancement. Nor did these artists find anatomical alterations to their hearing mechanisms related to their choices of thirst quenching medicinals.

An addendum to my comment about wormwood in beer- a recent batch of strong ale with less wormwood, more hops has aged out and is quite good. I’ll have to try some another batch sometime. If I can get the aphids off my wormwood.

Nice one Rob, I’d love to give it a try…