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The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > Dr Magnan's Lab
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Provenance
From the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (2009).

Absinthe, epileptic seizures and Valentin Magnan
MJ Eadie
Professor Emeritus, University of Queensland, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Australia

ABSTRACT Absinthe is an alcoholic liquor containing extracts from the wormwood
plant. It was widely consumed in France in the late nineteenth century. Its
production was banned in 1915, partly because it was thought to cause
neurological disturbances, including mental changes and epileptic seizures.
Modern knowledge of an acceptable content of the convulsant a-thujone in
absinthe has allowed the lifting of the production bans, and called into question
the experimental work of Valentin Magnan in the 1870s, which formed the
scientific background to the campaign against absinthe. An examination of
Magnan’s published investigations suggests that his science was very adequate by
the standards of his time, and that he had shown that an alcohol-soluble
component of wormwood did produce lapses of consciousness, myoclonic jerks
and tonic-clonic convulsions in animals. Whether that component, presumably
thujone, was present at convulsant concentrations in some of the available
absinthes of Magnan’s time cannot now be known.


Favorite quote:

there can be little doubt that Magnan was being far-sighted when,
in The Lancet, he wrote that the ‘essence of absinthe is a valuable
agent for the study of the mechanism of epilepsy.


Complete article available here http://www.rcpe.ac.uk/journal/issue/journal_39_1/eadie.pdf

From the response by Luauté and Lachenmeier:

In an attempt to defend Magnan's conclusions on the
responsibility of absinthe to cause epileptic seizures in
humans, Eadie argues that the presence of thujone at
convulsant concentrations in some of the available
absinthes of Magnan’s time cannot be known. We have
demonstrated, however, that it can be known: not only
from theoretical calculations, but also from chemical
analyses of surviving products

From Eadie's response to Luauté and Lachenmeier:

The various publications that Drs Luauté and Lachenmeier
have cited in their letter provide persuasive evidence
that specimens of some absinthes that have survived
intact from as long ago as 1895 did originally contain
concentrations of the convulsant thujone that would be
considered acceptably safe today. However, as far as I can
make out, the publications do not seem to provide data
for the thujone concentrations that were present in the
absinthes that Magnan’s patients actually imbibed at an
earlier time, in the decade centred on 1870, the period
when his investigational work was done. Such absinthes
may have differed from later ones in thujone content,
and involved sources which have long ceased to exist.
As yet, there seems no way of being sure.

Moreover, thujone concentration in absinthe is unlikely
to be the sole determinant of any tendency to epileptic
seizures associated with absinthe exposure. …

Certainly, the high quality analytical chemical work of
Dr Lachenmeier and his colleagues does not support
Magnan’s interpretations of the relation between absinthe
intake and epileptic seizures. However, by itself, it also
does not seem sufficient to refute his conclusions. So
many years after the event, it seems unlikely that evidence
adequate to fully resolve the issue will ever become
available.


Complete letter to the editor and author response may be found here http://www.rcpe.ac.uk/journal/issue/journal_39_3/letters.pdf
Zman
Thank you.
Isn't about time that the prok chop emoticon for thuyone be sent to the scrapheap?
Head_prosthesis
Interesting. I'll check the sell by date.
sixela
QUOTE

Such absinthes
may have differed from later ones in chop.gif content,
and involved sources which have long ceased to exist.


Of course, that ignores the point that recreations of higher end brands of absinthe following historically documented recipes also don't produce absinthe that has enough t-jone in it to produce any t-jone related psychotropic effects.

Yes, it's possible that lower end absinthe might have been different, but then I think the onus is on him to

a) prove that he can actually make an absinthe with more t-jone in it (preferably the more active alpha-t-jone)
b) prove that it's at least likely that lower end brands in the 1870s would have used that recipe. Wormwood being expensive,…


"We really can't know" is quoting Lapalisse. But it's not really a scientific attitude.

He's derived a hypothesis, and at the end offers little argument in favour of it, other than "there's always the odd chance it might not be false", without presenting any evidence to increase the likelihood of his hypothesis being true.

So, in short, he's saying his hypothesis is unfalsifiable, which makes it fundamentally unscientific. Way to go!

QUOTE

However, by itself, it also does not seem sufficient to refute his conclusions.

That's my favourite quote. First, he ignores half the evidence (based on recreations and not historical samples). Secondly, the Lachenmeier research does not refute his conclusions in toto. It does show that
a) Magnan was at least incorrect in his generalisations about all absinthe
b) make it less likely that the research was relevant to any absinthe (even though it was relevant to t-jone in very large doses).

And yes, given we're no longer in the 1870's, that's the best you can do, as in most historical research.

You cannot refute something, and you build theories on the preponderance of evidence.

Mind you, Magnan didn't live in the 20th century so a lot of his research is actually not that silly - he was clearly not an idiot. Neither was Newton, even though gravitation simply doesn't exactly work the way he thought it did on closer inspection.
OCvertDe
QUOTE(Zman @ Feb 25 2010, 07:45 PM) *
Isn't about time that the prok chop emoticon for thuyone be sent to the scrapheap?


dry.gif

Indeed.
Marc
chops removed from Pro's post.
Zman
Thanks. It's kind of silly when someone comes here looking for real information (media, absinthe sellers, etc.) and see that prokchop.
Donnie Darko
This article seems to be influenced by the fact that Magnan is deified in medical and scientific circles (particularly by the French), and indeed he did much revelatory work worthy of praise. It is his status that in my opinion is influencing this article and gives Magnan far too much benefit of the doubt, rather than basing the analysis on solid evidence or even the plausibility of a hypothesis.

Furthermore, while Magnan tested isolated Thjone in the lab, he did not perform any reliable tests on the absinthes of his time, so no extrapolation about the effect of Thjone in the concentrations found in pre-ban Absinthe can be reasonably made from his experiments one way or the other, because Magnan didn't test Absinthe, but rather tested a highly concentrated extract. Magnan's assumption would be the equivalent of having someone eat thousands of pounds of lettuce in a single sitting, which would kill them, and then concluding that eating a salad is toxic.

Meanwhile, because of Lachenmeier's research, extrapolations of about the effect of Thjone in the concentrations found in pre-ban absinthe can very easily be made. There is no evidence of absinthe manufacturing processes or ingredients changing significantly in the 30 year period between 1870 and 1900 that could cause the dramatic change in Thjone concentrations that would be necessary to justify Magnan's hypothesis, so the author's assertion in his response requires an implausible scenario.

Saying "Oh, I guess we'll never know because we don't have any bottles from 1870" is like saying "Oh, I guess we'll never know whether the sky was blue 1,000 years ago because we don't have any photographs of it".
absinthist
QUOTE
tested a highly concentrated extract


Let's blame the real perpetrator, ain't we all the victims of anisism?

IPB Image
Artemis
I think the chop should be restored. Everybody here knows what it means, and if newcomers don't know, they can ask. This is not fucking Wikipedia. For people who don't know how the chop came to be: thinking people in this forum long ago (I mean years and years ago) reached the consensus that chop.gif was a non-issue in absinthe. But non-thinking people continued to bark about it here. Thus the chop was born, to poke fun at the hard-of-thinking. When the time comes that everyone concedes the obvious, that chop.gif in absinthe is a non-issue, then maybe the chop should be retired, but I would say that even then it should be retained as a cultural landmark of Fee Verte dot net. Again, Wikipedia this is not. What next, purge Don Walsh from the historical record?
Artemis
I see now that the chop was selectively removed from the first post in the thread, and not "sent to the scrap heap" (God forbid). I feel only slightly better about that - like dressing up for church. Better to go in overalls and sincerity.
G&C
QUOTE
This is not fucking Wikipedia.


Here, it's real.
Artemis
In Pennsylvania there are wonderful old barns (and new barns too I guess) with anti-witch symbols on them. Science has long ago disproved the existence of witches (or so I hear), but those hex signs are a beautiful thing and I'd hate to see them taken down. Symbols go where science dares not tread.
Steve
There are several ways of easily getting around the thujone porkchop for old-timers. I still find it amusing when newcomers first encounter it.
Artemis
I never learned those ways myself. I didn't even realize until just now, or maybe I had forgotten, that the substitution works both ways: Thujone-Bottle.jpg
Steve
Yeah, that one is hilarious. Also try typing ppm - that's my favorite!

ppm.gif
Absomphe
Edited to preserve the marginally arcane. :evill:
Artemis
I have already been clued in privately - you might want to edit your post to leave the public guessing.

Having rethunk it, I have to concede that it's appropriate to disable the chop when someone's work, such as an article, is being quoted.
Artemis
Yes. Preservation of the Marginally Arcane. I like it. But then I like Shriner hats.
Absomphe
As do I.

But turn-of-the-century Shriner commemorative loving cups have a charm all their own.
Artemis
QUOTE
"Oh, I guess we'll never know whether the sky was blue 1,000 years ago because we don't have any photographs of it".


I seem to remember a theory that the ability of humans to see color was something that happened suddenly, almost overnight as it were. Imagine that. Alley Oop is trudging across the dust-colored Kansas tundra, not even aware he's on his way to see the wizard, and BANG! - The Emerald City. Or Emerald Forest, anyway. Must have been quite a rush.
Tibro
Does this theory involve a field of poppies, too?
Provenance
QUOTE(Artemis @ Feb 26 2010, 01:00 PM) *
Having rethunk it, I have to concede that it's appropriate to disable the chop when someone's work, such as an article, is being quoted.

I could have disabled the filter to write thujone. When it was first posted, my thought was the same as Z's, take out the chop. Then I figured if it was worth changing, Socky would do so. It all worked out just fine.

For what it's worth, I would never remove a hex sign from a barn as I don't know any witches that object to them.
Artemis
QUOTE
Does this theory involve a field of poppies, too?


No, but there was another one that Jesus was actually a mushroom, Amanita muscaria I believe.
Absomphe
That would explain so much.
Tibro
Fun guy?
Artemis
QUOTE
I could have disabled the filter to write chop.gif


To be clear, I had no problem with the original post, whether the actual word or the picture showed up was fine with me, and I was not suggesting that you could or should have done anything differently. I didn't like Zman's suggestion that the chop be scrapped altogether (or that's how I understood it). I agree that it all worked out just fine.
Artemis
QUOTE
Fun guy?


A divine fungus among us.
Head_prosthesis
I see the porkchop, I read the word thujone.
I read thujone, I see the porkchop.

It's all the same to me. It's all sausages.
Green Baron
If life keeps coming up sausages, then everything must be ok then.

This was the second site I stumbled upon after my first stop at a crapsinthe vendor. I read the FAQ with great interest, but I have to admit, the porkchop served as a very tongue in cheek visual aid to help me understand how ridiculous the chop.gif hype was. I actually think I might have accepted the truth more slowly if it was all serious written wurdz n stuff.
Marc
QUOTE(Artemis @ Feb 26 2010, 10:00 PM) *

Having rethunk it, I have to concede that it's appropriate to disable the chop when someone's work, such as an article, is being quoted.

Agreed, that's the reason why I edited Pro's post/quote.


The easiest way I found to bypass the chop.gif is to write the word in French : thuyone
Patlow
Now that just seems sleazy…
Absomphe
QUOTE(Head_prosthesis @ Feb 26 2010, 11:02 PM) *

It's all the same to me. It's all sausages.


Scott Thompson, is that you? Wiener.gif
Artemis
QUOTE
to write the word in French : thuyone


I've been told some other ways, but already forgot. I don't mind the picture; I agree with the Baron.

Hey Froggy, is being called Frog demeaning to a Frenchman? This question has come up elsewhere. Maybe I'll start a thread about it.
Artemis
Pierre, what do you say as to "Frog"?
Tibro
QUOTE(Artemis @ Feb 27 2010, 12:30 AM) *

A divine fungus among us.

IPB Image

A rare glimpse of heaven?
Patlow
If the nazis won the war…
Donnie Darko
More like if the Oompa Loompas won the war.
absinthist
QUOTE(Marc @ Feb 27 2010, 04:48 AM) *

The easiest way I found to bypass the chop.gif is to write the word in French : thuyone

or Polish tujon.
pierreverte
QUOTE(Artemis @ Feb 27 2010, 07:42 PM) *

Pierre, what do you say as to "Frog"?



It's about equivalent to an American being called a 'Yankie'.
Those who use the term against the foreigner are trying to be mean, and the foreigner hearing the insult is only mildly offended or actually amused…
Donnie Darko
QUOTE(pierreverte @ Feb 28 2010, 06:38 AM) *

QUOTE(Artemis @ Feb 27 2010, 07:42 PM) *

Pierre, what do you say as to "Frog"?



It's about equivalent to an American being called a 'Yankee'.



Unless they're from Boston, in which case you'd better run for your life.
Artemis
Fair enough, Pierre. To provide context for non Fee Verte members, Pierre has lived in France for many years, working with lots of French people and all.
G&C
I always thought it was meant here as a term of endearment.
Artemis
Exactly. If you search here on Frog or Froggy, the results prove that.

Butt what if it were viewed as people familiar enough with each other to be comfortable with their bigotry?
Tibro
Outsiders would attribute it to the porkchops?
Artemis
It's a serious question, but any answer is appreciated - it doesn't have to come from a French person but their answers might carry more weight.

Facetious answers are also welcome, but again, serious answers would shed more light on the question. Tibro, your answer could be serious - it's hard for me to tell.
Steve
Knowing the full context of your remark, I am not at all offended. But then I'm not French. And I'm not sure exactly where on the scale from endearing to offensive the term might be to a stranger. Consider a different term, "kraut". That sounds quite offensive to me. I'm not quite sure why "Frog" doesn't elicit the same reaction. It's not a term I would use, though, except with Marc, who uses it himself and who I know well.
pierreverte
I like frogs and I love certain Frogs, I even made one…
Steve
Well, you didn't make one all by yourself, but well done, she's awesome!
Artemis
A demi-grenouille!
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