Thujone is a compound found in wormwood, one of the key ingredients in absinthe, and has been the subject of much debate and speculation surrounding the effects of absinthe.
The traditional belief that absinthe's effects were due solely to the presence of thujone has been largely debunked by modern science.
While wormwood does contain thujone, the distillation process of absinthe involves steeping wormwood along with other herbs such as anise and fennel in high-proof alcohol, and then redistilling the mixture to create a concentrated spirit. This process removes most of the thujone, resulting in very low levels of the compound in the final product. This holds true for both pre-ban and modern absinthes.
A study was conducted on a vintage bottle of absinthe in the 1990s, which found that the levels of thujone were actually quite low and unlikely to have caused the supposed psychoactive effects attributed to absinthe in the past. This was an important discovery that helped pave the way for the legalization of absinthe in many countries, including the United States.
In fact, the thujone levels in absinthe are strictly regulated by law in many countries, including the United States and the European Union. The maximum allowed levels of thujone in absinthe are typically around 10 mg/kg in the EU and 35 mg/L in the US. As you can see below, the difference is negligible. It really is two ways to say the same thing - nothing!
The US federal government first approved the sale of absinthe in 2007, after new regulations were established to ensure that absinthe was safe for consumption and contained only trace amounts of thujone. Since then, absinthe has become increasingly popular, with many new brands and styles emerging on the market, including Absinthia's Absinthe, first released in 2017.
While it is true that absinthe historically had a reputation for causing hallucinations and other psychoactive effects, these effects were likely due to the high alcohol content of the drink and other herbal ingredients rather than the presence of thujone.
It's important to note that while absinthe is legal again, it should still be consumed responsibly and in moderation, as it is a high-proof spirit that can have potent effects. As always, it's a good idea to follow the recommended serving sizes and to drink responsibly.