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Absinthe’s effects May 12, 2008

Posted by fetzthechemist in Speculation.
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The May 5th, 2008 Chemical & Engineering News article tells that absinthe really had/ has no effects other than it has a large percentage of alcohol, about 70% – like drinking straight rum. The formerly supposed active agent, thujone, was found to be only around a tenth of the concentration needed to effect the brain. The implication is that the alcohol and the placebo effect of absinthe’s mythical powers led to people thinking it was psycho active.

Absinthe is an herbal infusion in alcohol – the alcohol extracts lots of compounds. The study cited looked for thujone (from wormwood) and a few other possible compounds (pinocamphone from hyssop and fenchone from fennel) that could react with brain chemistry. These all were at low concentrations both in modern samples and ones made in absinthe’s golden age of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

One thing that still is open is other lower-concentration psycho actives. The three target compounds were found in the tens of parts-per-million range. Some compounds are effective well below this. Could there be natural compounds that are highly psycho active, analogous to LSD?

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