Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Research on Absinthe and its components
The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > Dr Magnan's Lab
Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4
It seems like it might be good to centralize the links to research. I'll start:

Frohlich & Shibamoto 1990. Stability of Pulegone and Thujone in Ethanolic Solution. J. Agric. Food Chem, 38, 2057-2060.

I have no background in chemistry, but this adresses Dr. O's question about the decomposition of thujone. It appears that in either 30% or 100% ethanol solutions at pH 2.5 or 6.5 it doesn't break down unless exposed to light, in which case it very rapidly transforms into "only two products (Figure 6). They were identified as the isomeric 5-methylene-6-methylhept-2-enepsh,o tochemical products described earlier by Eastman et al. (1963)" (2058)

However, I can't figure out how long exactly they tested storing it in the dark at 20 c. It seems it was at least seven months.

Nonetheless, this is an example of how the decomposition of thujone can be tracked.
Lachenmeiera, Dirk W., J. Emmertb, T. Kuballaa and G. Sartorb 2005. Thujone - Cause of absinthism? Forensic Science International, In Press, Corrected Proof.

(This is available online for $30 from Pubmed if anyone wants to foot the bill. The corresponding author's email address is Note that this article is brand new.)

Here's the abstract:

Thujone—Cause of absinthism?


Habitual abuse of the wormwood spirit absinthe was described in the 19th and 20th centuries as a cause for the mental disorder “absinthism” including the symptoms hallucinations, sleeplessness and convulsions. A controversial discussion is going on if thujone, a characteristic component of the essential oil of the wormwood plant Artemisia absinthium L., is responsible for absinthism, or if it was merely caused by chronic alcohol intoxication or by other reasons such as food adulterations.

To ascertain if thujone may have caused absinthism, absinthes were produced according to historic recipes of the 19th century. Commercial wormwood herbs of two different manufacturers, as well as self-cultivated ones, were used in a concentration of 6 kg/100 l spirit. In addition, an authentic vintage Pernod absinthe from Tarragona (1930), and two absinthes from traditional small distilleries of the Swiss Val-de-Travers were evaluated. A GC–MS procedure was applied for the analysis of α- and β-thujone with cyclodecanone as internal standard. The method was shown to be sensitive with a LOD of 0.08 mg/l. The precision was between 1.6 and 2.3%, linearity was obtained from 0.1 to 40 mg/l (r = 1.000).

After the recent annulment of the absinthe prohibition all analysed products showed a thujone concentration below the maximum limit of 35 mg/l, including the absinthes produced according to historic recipes, which did not contain any detectable or only relatively low concentrations of thujone (mean: 1.3 ± 1.6 mg/l, range: 0–4.3 mg/l). Interestingly, the vintage absinthe also showed a relatively low thujone concentration of 1.8 mg/l. The Val-de-Travers absinthes contained 9.4 and 1.7 mg/l of thujone.

In conclusion, thujone concentrations as high as 260 mg/l, reported in the 19th century, cannot be confirmed by our study. With regard to their thujone concentrations, the hallucinogenic potential of vintage absinthes can be assessed being rather low because the historic products also comply with today's maximum limits derived to exclude such effects. It may be deduced that thujone plays none, or only a minor role in the clinical picture of absinthism.

Keywords: Thujone; Absinthe; Absinthism; Artemisia absinthium L.; GC–MS
Lachenmeier DW, Emmert J, Sartor G. 2005. Authentification of Absinthe - the bitter truth about a myth. DEUTSCHE LEBENSMITTEL-RUNDSCHAU 101 (3): 100-104.

Absinthe is a spirit drink with a certain bitter taste, which should origin from the bitter substances of the wormwood plant (Artemisia absinthium L.). In this study, besides the principal component thujone, further characteristic components of the essential oil of wormwood are determined in absinthe and the analysis results are interpreted using multivariate statistics to authenticate the spirit drink. An efficient sample preparation using solid-phase extraction (SPE) was performed to separate the lipophilic terpenes from the alcoholic spirit matrix. Gas chromatography in combination with mass spectrometry (GC/MS) was used for separation and quantification of the analytes. The PGA scores plot of 70 absinthes showed discrimination between high-quality absinthes, which were manufactured by distillation of wormwood, and such of inferior quality, made by using small portions of wormwood extracts, macerates, oils or totally without wormwood. Quantitatively determined, 6 absinthes had a thujone content of less than 2 mg/l and in 35 products no thujone was detectable at all. In addition, the typically wormwood taste was missing and the products belonged to the inferior category "without wormwood content". The labelling of the products as "absinthe" was considered to be a deception of the consumer. Summarized, absinthe raises fewer problems in health protection than in the protection of the consumer from deception. Due to extensive control measurements of the official food control in the last years, the maximum limit of thujone is observed by all products. However, due to missing legal requirements on absinthe, a legal uncertainty exists utilised by many manufacturers selling deteriorated products.


Many of these seem to be coming out of the same lab. I'd post the PDF but I don't have access to this journal. This one could be interesting.
QUOTE (turangalila @ Sep 15 2005, 08:26 PM)
Lachenmeiera, Dirk W., J. Emmertb, T. Kuballaa and G. Sartorb 2005. thujone - Cause of absinthism? Forensic Science International, In Press, Corrected Proof.

(This is available online for $30 from Pubmed if anyone wants to foot the bill. The corresponding author's email address is Note that this article is brand new.)

Yeah I saw that a couple months ago. My work has an online subscription. (Sorry I can't use that to post the article!)
Just in the last hour I've found 28 recent articles. I'd like to sort through them and only link the interesting ones, instead of spamming the forum.

Ari and Hartsmar have both recently cited Emmert et. al's 2004 Determination of a-/b-thujone and Related Terpenes in Absinthe using Solid Phase Extraction and Gas Chromatography.

Anyway, had a free hour and wanted to do some research.
Yeah, I shouldn't have used my subscription to post the top article either, but unfortunately my bad judgment got the better of me. Copyright laws are sometimes quite a pain.
Dettling A, Grass H, Schuff A, Skopp G, Strohbeck-Kuehner P, Haffner HT. SEP 2004. Absinthe: Attention performance and mood under the influence of thujone. JOURNAL OF STUDIES ON ALCOHOL 65 (5): 573-581

This one looks not to be so good. Apparently there's a bit of a debate going on as to the effects of absinthe, but this study neglects to notice the literature suggesting that Absinthe hardly contains thujone. They administer a drink with a high content of thujone and discover it has an effect, but that hardly matters if absinthe shouldn't contain any.

It's funny. They believe absinthe is toxic, believe that toxic ingredient to be thujone, so then they administer a superhuman amount of it and find that it has a deleterious effect on attention and mood. This is of course not surprising.

Here's the abstract:

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether the impacts of absinthe on attention performance and mood were different from those experienced with beverages that contain only alcohol. The ingredient causing absinthe's toxicity is believed to be thujone. Method: A total of 25 healthy subjects participated in the study. An attention performance test and two questionnaires testing different mood dimensions were used. Three drinks with an identical amount of alcohol but with different amounts of thujone were offered. Results: The results of the present study showed that the simultaneous administration of alcohol containing a high concentration of thujone had a negative effect on attention performance. Under this condition, the subjects tended to direct their attention to signals in the central field of attention and to neglect peripheral signals; the number of correct reactions decreased significantly in the peripheral field of attention, and reaction time and the number of "false alarm" reactions increased significantly. The effects were most prominent at the time of the first measurement. When the subjects were under the influence of alcohol or were administered both alcohol and a low thujone concentration, these effects were not observed. The assessment of mood state dimensions showed that the anxiolytic effect of alcohol was temporarily counteracted by a high thujone concentration. Conclusions: As they are apparently opposed to the effect of alcohol, the reactions observed here can be explained by the antagonistic effect of thujone on the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor. Similar alterations were observed for the other mood state dimensions examined.


E-mail Addresses:
when you say "superhuman," how much chop.gif are we talking about?
I don't actually know! I don't have access to the article, only the abstract, although if anyone wants to know more I can order it. It sounds, however, as if they were not using absinthe, but instead a solution of thujone in ethanol.

Obviously it's irresponsible to judge the study before anyone reads it, but I'm willing to place bets on the fact that the amount was fairly high. There was just a similar thesis written at Reed College testing place aversion in rats with injections of thujone.
Although their assumptions and conclusions may be off, I think it's an important study for absinthe.

Yes they did use a mix of ethanol and thujone. I don't have access to the paper but it has been talked about on here before and the thujone amounts given.
No thujone = plain alcohol
low thujone = alcohol + 0.028 mg/kg(body weight) thujone
high thujone = alcohol + 0.28mg/kg thu-jone

It would take 4 1.5oz shots of supposed 100 mg/l absinthe to even get close to their high level for a 150 pound person. Since that level is the only one that showed any effects, it helps put a nail in the coffin for those that believe thujone along produces the effects. Since they reported a depressant effect, which is opposite of the often described clear headed drunk, it provides evidence against high thujone absinthe.
I dont agree with the way these thujone studies are being related to absinthe toxicity.

If you want to study the toxic effects of absinthe, then study absinthe! Studying thujone by itself is not the same thing as studying the effects in context with all the other chemicals present in absinthe.

It would be like a study that shows sodium is toxic, as well as chlorine, and concluding that sodium-chloride (table salt) must be super toxic…
Exactly, which is why the German study is more relevant since it is a study on absinthe and thujone in absinthe….
In so much of my livelihood depends on peripheral acuity, I may have to give up drinking thujone in ethanol.
I'll be blind by the time I'm 50 anyway, so I'm just going to keep drinking harhar.gif
le Gimp
I thought that was something else that caused blindness if one didn't quit.

Being a computer programmer?
Awwww… I'm shit out of luck.
As are quite a few of us….
QUOTE (DenSetsu @ Sep 19 2005, 08:57 AM)
I'll be blind by the time I'm 50 anyway, so I'm just going to keep drinking harhar.gif

What's that you typed? sleepy.gif abs-cheers.gif
Aye, ya spank one monky one-time too-much…

Trust me -- YOU WILL TURN BLIND! Luckily, I found my sigst/ Peras tv weotj jhuap@

Great testicles blink.gif

Is that photo really you ?

You don't see him with a goat, do you?

Ergo, he must be pod Balz.
What the fuck are you talking about?
Did you forget his old lounge sig line that quickly?

I mean nearly every one-liner that you've dropped in nearly every thread in every absinthe forum for the past week has me asking…
Lighten up, dude.

You'll live longer.
Right. I'm in the wrong… g'night.
Pleasant dreams.


What the hell just happened?
The sun just rose in the west!

It's a miracle, I tell ya!
Not quite… I had more important things to do, thanks for reminding me.
Glad to see you're still alive Grim.
Thanks. Things have been, heheh… well things are things, I could give two xits so long as I can still handle, and even spill, my liquor.

… Also, I feel even better after deleting some Absomphe-droppings.
Turangalila, first of all, thanks for the data.

I also believe that your posts have ended the 2jone controversy forever. Not because the data is so conclusive, but because it is so irredeemably scattered.

No complaints here, it is great that, with a careful selection of the data available, we can ALL be right.

For example: I like my original absinthe to have been around 30 mg/Kg. So I take the Swiss La Bleue from Ian's study and, lo and behold, I'm right.

You prefer your original absinthe to have been between 6 and 10 mg/Kg. No problema, you take the other three absinthes in Ian's study, and, by golly, you are right too.

Now, he (yes, YOU) prefers his original absinthe to have been even lower. Easy, use Lachenmeier and your original absinthe will have been between 0 and 4.3 mg/Kg. No doubts.

(If we are to believe Lachenmeier baby, modern absinthe is TOO HIGH on 2jone… Maybe that explains the lack of secondfairies.)

You believe in testing vintage absinthe? Go to Ian's.

You believe that testing vintage absinthe is nonsense? Frohlich et Jap will make you look golden.

This is enough, as the Irish saying goes, to make a bat grin.

It is a stretch to even believe they are TALKING about the same drink.

So it is fitting that, absinthe being a drink shrouded in mystery, 2jone content should remain a mystery too. At least we all have done our little bit to drum some controversy, and for that the Absinthe gods will smile on us…


Dr. O: I think you are taking all of this a bit too exact. None of this is exact science or super controlled. When you are dealing with a drink that has multiple herbs with the same chemical in them. The amount of this chemical in the herbs is variable and the amount of herbs in the batch is variable too, you are bound to see variation between products (I bet you could find some variation between different years of the same brand and maybe even different bottles of the same year).
When the high number of 30mg/kg is really 30/1,000,000, we are measureing a very tiny amount of that chemical.
le Gimp
Not to mention where the cuts were made in the batches you are comparing.

If one manufacturer decides that having a bit of tails is acceptable for financial reasons, he may well have different levels than a manufacturer who makes his cut earlier.

Then there is the matter of the system being used and how much reflux takes place, intentional or not (I saw one photo in which the manufacturer had wet towels on the top of the still inducing more reflux).

Lots of variables.

Expect a wide standard deviation.
We all see what we want to see.…l_illusion.html
VERY good, Selmac! You got the point!

(I, however, see a green point circling around pink points. Let's enjoy this brief moment of freedom before Head replaces green points with an image of bottle-nosed dolphins or petunias or small-block Chevy engines…)
I see London…
Thanks, Head. I'm relieved to hear that green points don't upset you.

It is soooo freeing to be able to talk about green points…

So, Head, how far can we take the "green point" controversy before you start turning our "green points" into something else? Isn't it a bit late to try to be cool, Head?
I see France…
That's very good, Head, sweet master of my dreams and desires. We're improving.

You see London. Now you see France.

Now if you keep your fingers off the knobs, the rest of us can see chop.gif.
Nah, you blew it.

Even changing my posts, you suck.
Oxy, this is your turf.

Are you going to allow this arrested-development has-been to keep changing the posts of Forum members?
I see thujone's underpants.
You can't see your OWN underpants with Kallisti's help and a flashlight.

Oxy, will you shoot him? Be kind.
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Invision Power Board © 2001-2018 Invision Power Services, Inc.