Absinthism: fictitious 19th century syndrome

Stephan A Padosch†1, Dirk W Lachenmeier*†2 and Lars U Kröner†3

Addresses: 1 Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg, Klinik für Anästhesiologie, Im Neuenheimer Feld 110, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany; 2 Chemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA) Karlsruhe, Weißenburger Str. 3, D-76187 Karlsruhe, Germany;  3 Institut für Rechtsmedizin der Universität zu Köln, Melatengürtel 60–62, D-50823 Köln, Germany


The theory of a previous gross overestimation of the thujone content of absinthe may have been
verified by a number of independent studies. Based on the current available evidence, thujone
concentrations of both pre-ban and modern absinthes may not have been able to cause detrimental
health effects other than those encountered in common alcoholism. Today, a questionable
tendency of absinthe manufacturers can be ascertained that use the ancient theories of absinthism
as a targeted marketing strategy to bring absinthe into the spheres of a legal drug-of-abuse.
Misleading advertisements of aphrodisiac or psychotropic effects of absinthe try to re-establish
absinthe's former reputation. In distinction from commercially manufactured absinthes with limited
thujone content, a health risk to consumers is the uncontrolled trade of potentially unsafe herbal
products such as absinthe essences that are readily available over the internet.

A Classic Cocktail


1 oz ginger liqueur
2 oz sweet vermouth
1/4 oz fresh lime juice
2 or 3 dashes absinthe
1 or 2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

Shake and strain into an iced filled Collins glass, top with tonic.
Gwydion Stone, 2008