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Science Documents on Absinthe

These are some of the most relevant scientific documents relating to the study of absinthe. They range from the earliest papers written by absinthe's polemicists, such as Dr. Valentin Magnan, right up to the modern work of Dr. Dirk Lachenmeier and others.

It should be noted that some of the older papers contain errors or mistaken calculations, sometimes based on the findings of still earlier, erroneous work. Much of this has been detailed and documented in the later pieces.


Scientific American. New Series, Volume 20, Issue 14, Apr 3, 1869

It appears that until 1864 the belief that there was nothing injurious in absinthe except the alcohol, was general enough. In that year, however, a mad doctor named Marce, communicated a paper to the Academy of Sciences, in which he demonstrated that the essence of wormwood was contained in the liquor called absinthe, in the proportion of twenty grammes of essence to 100 liters of alcohol, and argued that this essence had a peculiarly injurious effect on the brain.

In 1867 a petition was presented to the Senate, praying that the sale of absinthe might be absolutely forbidden. Nothing came of it; and now the question of absinthe has been once more brought forward by two physicians, MM. Magnan and Bouchereau, who, for the first time, have made regular scientific experiments with the questionable stuff. The object of the experimentalists was to show what the effect of pure alcohol would be on a guinea-pig, and what the effect of absinthe.

With this view, they placed a guinea-pig under a glass case, with a saucer full of essence of wormwood by his side, another guinea-pig being placed under another glass case with a saucer full of alcohol. The guinea-pig, who, so to say, was being treated with absinthe, sniffed at the fumes, and for a few moments seemed, like the ordinary absinthe drinker, supremely happy. Gradually, however, be became heavy and dull, and at last fell on his side, agitating his limbs convulsively, foaming at the mouth, and presenting all the signs of epilepsy. The same epileptic symptoms were manifested on the part of a cat and rabbit, who, in a similar manner, were made to inhale the fumes of absinthe.


ABSINTHE - American Journal of Pharmacy, 1868

soldiers drinking absintheThe indulgence in absinthe, which already prevails to a great extent among all classes of Frenchmen, threatens to become as wide-spread in France and as injurious there as opium eating in China. If a visitor to Paris strolls along the boulevards from the Madeleine to the Bastille some summer's afternoon, between five and six o'clock — which is commonly called " the hour of absinthe " — he can hardly fail to remark hundreds of Parisians seated outside the various cafes or lounging at the counters of the wine shops and imbibing this insidious stimulant.

Read more: ABSINTHE - American Journal of Pharmacy, 1868


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