Medical Concerns

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Old Topics Archived Thru Sep 2000:Medical Concerns
By blackjack on Saturday, July 29, 2000 - 10:11 am: Edit

"but generally it was after six or more ounces of absinthe (DEVA or Sebor) consumed in approximately one hour, by infrequent, but experienced, absinthe drinkers. In one case it was after 3/4 of a bottle of Sebor in one sitting"

That's a pretty hefty quantity of alcohol. Considering the small quantity of other ingredients and the sher toxicity of alcohol, I'd lay good money that you'd suffer alcohol poisening LONG before any of the hebal ingredients had a deleterious effect.

Unless maybe they're allergic to anise or fennel or something...

By malhomme on Thursday, July 27, 2000 - 08:25 pm: Edit

I've been drinking Arak for years and have never tasted any bitterness. I detect an almost grape-y flavor to it though, not unlike the best Ouzos (though somewhat "hotter"). I also feel a slight secondary effect with Arak and Ouzo. I still feel that thujone is only part of the story with "the effect".

By bluedog1 on Thursday, July 27, 2000 - 06:08 pm: Edit

Don't know about Raki, but Arak has no wormwood, mostly anise and alcohol. It louches white with water, but most don't use sugar as a sweetener and prefer it plainly bitter.

By Alfred Jarry on Thursday, July 27, 2000 - 05:17 pm: Edit

About malhomme's dreams: That reminds me of the effect that melatonin has. I've taken melatonin as a sleep-aid off and on in the past and had the most sensational dreams. Very vivid, very colorful, very real, a certain "presentness" ;) Not weird dreams, just very convincing.

Melatonin supposedly aids REM sleep. What's interesting (as concerns absinthe) is that alcohol actually inhibits REM sleep. So is there something in absinthe that acts in the same way as melatonin, and counteracts the alcohol?

By Absinthedrinker on Thursday, July 27, 2000 - 06:23 am: Edit

Does anyone know whether Arak or its Turkish cousin Raki ever contain any wormwood? I ask because the only time I have ever had pronounced secondary effects from a drink was after drinking Raki.


By bluedog1 on Thursday, July 27, 2000 - 05:13 am: Edit

Thanx. OK, I'm not going crazy. I too have found very few downsides to Absinthe. Having spent a lot of time in the Middle East, I like its similarity to Arak (which I didn't know until this forum has a historical link to absinthe in France), and I enjoy the calming ritual of imbibing as an escape from the day's stress. I have yet to have a hangover or headache or any negative side effects. The dreaming part is an unexpected pleasure.

By Marc on Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - 09:51 pm: Edit


what I was suggesting in my post on the thujone and THC connection is:
If they are molecularly similar, would the combination of the two have some weird chemical synergy? Would they play off their similarities?
I am not a scientist of any sort, so excuse me if this seems like a very naive question.

By malhomme on Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - 09:43 pm: Edit

The colors in my dreams are different, too. Perhaps it is no surprise that the colors most emphasized are red, yellow, and green.

The exaggeration of these colors, especially the yellow and red, is quite significant... not just like a filter but like the deeply penatrating light of a sunset. Everything seems to glow with these colors.

The sense of the dream is that the dream is taking over entirely. I'm just along for the wonderful ride.

Has anyone noticed this phenomenon?

(Note: marijuana is not an issue, here. I don't smoke.)

By Absintheur on Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - 08:35 pm: Edit

"My advice to him would be to give up the cannabis, either temporarily or permanenty, and see whether or not the absinthe alone has same transitory effect he describes."

I appreciate the advice, but it's been damn near forever since I've smoked anything.

I'm one of those cases where absinthe alone induced these symptoms. In some of the other cases the anecdotes involved related, or recent, consumption of cannabis. It's entirely possible, in fact it's quite likely, that the cannabis consumption is unrelated even in those cases. I only mentioned it because it factored in the anecdotes.

By Don Walsh on Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - 07:48 pm: Edit

Bluedog, yes, I have the same experience, i.e., vivid realistic and pleasant dreams (not nightmares) after drinking absinthe (mainly my own, and La Bleue, as I don't like Sebor's (a mostly full bottle just sits on my shelf) and don't have any Deva yet. I did put down the better part of a bottle of Mari with good old James Gordon once. I have posted about this dreaming, more than once, and others have posted about similar experiences.

I have never had any negative experience from drinking absinthe. I find it hangover free.

I am surprised that Absintheur's post elicited such harsh skepticism from some quarters. Absintheur is an honorable man and not given to pulling the Forum's leg. However my advice to him would be to give up the cannabis, either temporarily or permanenty, and see whether or not the absinthe alone has same transitory effect he describes.

Marc, I do object to your thujone/THC analogy, but I do so not on ideological grounds, but on straightforward scientific ones: the analogy is a false one, and always was, and now has been proven so. Alleged structural similarities are greatly exxagerated, and the biochemical aspects (receptor site and enzymatic effects) are totally unrelated. QED. NO CONNECTION.

By bluedog1 on Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - 06:45 pm: Edit

I was going to ask a question similar to this, but since the topic has been raised, I'll post it with this thread. So far, I have all but finished my first bottle of Deva and am into a bottle of Mari Mayans beginning tonight. One thing I do notice is not any physical irregularity, but it seems I tend to dream more vividly after an absinthe session of two to three glasses before retiring. The dreams seem more real and on at least one occasion I had a hard time realizing that what I dreamed was a dream and not a real event. It is not unpleasureable, and actually quite fun, as I love to dream, but this has not happened with any other alcoholic product, nor in the olden days when I was a cannabis user. Is this common?

By Black rabbit on Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - 05:55 pm: Edit

Well, here's one more bit of anecdotal evidence: I find that, regular consumption of Deva, that is a glass or two a day, perhaps five days a week(mind you, this is the only absinthe I have ever consumed with regularity)produces some things you could call symptoms. I tend to hallucinate more frequently (and before you flamers start up your blowtorches, I have auditory and corner-of-the-eye hallucinations most days anyway.) I also find physical coordination somewhat impaired. So far, I have gone through three periods of two to three weeks regular consumption, and noticed this on all three. So I don't drink absinthe with regularity now :) I save it for special occasions. It has never happened with any other alcaholic beverage consumed with the same conditions. What did it? Who knows- probably an herb, but maybe it is the thujone. I should get some Chartreuse and do an experiment, but I despise Chartreuse (sp?). Anybody have any suggestions? Herbsaint perhaps?

By Absintheur on Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - 04:50 pm: Edit

"1) Under what circumstance/solicitation were these 25 emails garnered? (i.e., a self-selected group of 25 among how many non-self-selectors, and did you lead the witnesses)"

As stated just below, as my email address is (by my own request) associated with each of my reviews in the guide, I get a large volume of mail related to absinthe, these were all unrelated anecdotes mailed to me (generally while the symptoms were being suffered) by randoms drinkers who I had no previous contact with.

My total contact with each of them was a short reply asserting that, while I was no doctor and thus a poor source of advice, I would, in their position, wait a day or two to see if the symptoms went away.

"2} What exactly are you talking about when you say "an unusually large amount of absinthe"? 1 bottle in a sitting? every day for a week? 2 bottles?"

In one case it set in after two glasses of Sebor in the hands of a first time drinker (who happened to be a regular pot smoker) -- but generally it was after six or more ounces of absinthe (DEVA or Sebor) consumed in approximately one hour, by infrequent, but experienced, absinthe drinkers. In one case it was after 3/4 of a bottle of Sebor in one sitting.

And, incidentally, I don't pretend that any of this constitutes sound medical evidence, I only offer it up by way of anecdote, because I've been getting a rash of emails about it lately.

By Absintheur on Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - 04:39 pm: Edit

I get all the personal complaints, medical and aesthetic, about various brands.

It's gradually slackened, but there was a time, early on in the history of the absinthe guide, when I was getting between five and ten messages a day, mostly folks asking if I would sell them a bottle of absinthe (mind you, this was after the Spirit's Corner link was added, so these were non-readers).

Now it's mostly complaints.

By anatomist1 on Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - 04:38 pm: Edit

Before everyone starts stampeding for the exits, could you please explain:

1) Under what circumstance/solicitation were these 25 emails garnered? (i.e., a self-selected group of 25 among how many non-self-selectors, and did you lead the witnesses)

2} What exactly are you talking about when you say "an unusually large amount of absinthe"? 1 bottle in a sitting? every day for a week? 2 bottles?

The reason I ask is because these symptoms could be interpreted as an ordinary variation on a hangover, or alcohol poisoning. Smoking pot while hungover or poisoned even moreso. In order to make something out of such information we need more details about the data, and how it was gathered.

If you want a hair-raising experience, look up the full listing of potential side effects in the PDR on any drug you gulp down casually... even aspirin. These side effects lists contain every "side effect" ever associated with the ingestion of the drug in trials without regard to their statistical significance. They don't have to report potential coma, death, hair loss, and ectopic pregnancy risks on an aspirin bottle because these reported reactions are not deemed statstically significant enough to establish a likely correlation in the future.

I'm not saying what you report should be dismissed, but as yet I am not alarmed.

It is a great failure of our educational systems and media outlets that anecdotal evidence, and sweeping conclusions based on inadequately explained, unrepeated individual studies are paid much attention.


P.S. Does anyone want to buy 6 unopened cases of genuine oat bran cereal cheap? (circa 1985)

By Artemis on Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - 04:29 pm: Edit

Absintheur, did you solicit those reports, or are you just the Dear Abby of FeeVertedom J?

I might as well come clean with a physical symptom that I attribute to absinthe, with what accuracy I cannot say.

At a time when I was drinking a lot of Deva (every day), I developed a twitching, more like a subtle tremor, in my upper lip. It wasn't painful, but extremely annoying. I had not experienced it before I drank Deva. I haven't experienced it in some time, and maybe not coincidentally, I haven't drunk Deva in any quantity for some time. I mentioned this in a response here to Ted some time ago without going into detail, as anectodal evidence about the effects of absinthe. Obviously, there's no proof, but I immediately perceived a connection. If I was absolutely sure, it would be enough to make me stop drinking absinthe, especially if the "Elvis Lip" spread and/or got any worse. For what it's worth, I do not smoke cannabis. Nor do I think absinthe drinking invokes spirit possession by The King, because I don't sing any better and haven't shot the picture tube out of any TV sets.

By Marc on Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - 11:15 am: Edit

Wow. 25 e-mails. This is startling news. I have not experienced anything like this from drinking
Deva or Sebor. Maybe it has something to do with
thujone's molecular similarity to THC. I know Don would argue against this connection, but it seems

By Absintheur on Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - 10:10 am: Edit

Over the last two months I have received more than 25 emails detailing the same medical concern -- and it's one that I, myself, have experienced.

The concern is brought on only by DEVA and Sebor absinthes, none of the others seem to cause it, and is most acutely pronounced when the absinthe drinker in question is a regular cannabis smoker (though in more than half the cases, myself included, the absinthe drinker is not a smoker at all).

The primary symptom is a prolonged tactile disassociation, frequently coupled with some inner ear disturbance. In most cases this disassociation is the tactile equivalent of watching a video where the sound is improperly synched -- the sufferer comes in clumsy contact with objects prior to receiving the appropriate biofeedback.

In approximately half the cases the sufferer had comsumed an unusually large amount of absinthe prior to the onset of the symptoms, though in some cases it was after only one or two glasses. Some sufferered the same symptoms on multiple occassions, some only once.

The syptoms last for minimally one day, and in at least one case, have remained for more than a week. When they clear the process is gradual, and ballance and tactile sensitivity can take days to return in full.

As I say, I have experienced this myself, and while it doesn't seem to be life threatening, it is worrying, and unpleasant.

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