kinako mochi wrote:Hmm. Goes to show that THC and thujone information should be more thoroughly researched before any claims can be made. Good links, too.
Actually, thujones are fairly well understood at this point. THC is better understood than many, particularly in the US government, would have us believe; but could still use a lot more research.
-- As a soldier in Europe, I both consumed many and high amounts of different alcoholic beverages, and discovered very different effects from each of them. For example, my choice at the time was Jose Cuervo dark tequila, which gave a slight headache but a pronounced lowering of inhibition, particularly with the fight-or-flight instinct. Vodka of all kinds gave a heavy hangover and painful headaches. Wine, especially red, gave the worst vertigo and disorientation. None of these had any thujone content, natch. But I drank Pernod, which also does not contain thujones, yet I suffered none of the ill effects much lower alcohol-content liquors had, under the same circumstances, with an older, less-efficient liver and lower metabolism (my age in Europe was 19-22, my age now 35). Why is this? It certainly cannot be attributed solely to sugar and alcohol content alone, or all spirits would have the same effect…
There are a wide range of factors involved. Flavorings and other trace substances can have a significant effect, particulary if one is sensitive or allergic to them. Wine in particular is known to cause problems for those who are sensitive to the tannins, as are various other liquors which are aged in oak barrels (like anejo tequila, rum, scotch, etc.). Other contaminants can also cause or magnify hangovers; as well as trigger other responses (the linking of tequila with rage/violence/fight-or-flight responses is a very common one). Vodka, depending on the distiller, can contain a number of trace contaminants that can cause problems for those sensitive to them. And things like what foods you eat, the state of your body at the time, etc. can also contribute to the reactions you get.
Herbal liqueurs like Pernod can often mitigate hangover symptoms. Absinthe itself was originally created as a medicinal tonic, and it's medicinal properties were the impetus for its quick popularity. Modern Pernod pastis contains many similar herbs. A faster metabolism can also contribute to increased hangover potential, since the alcohol hits the system faster and harder, and more likely to cause dehydration.
Incidentally, modern Pernod, and many other herbal liqueurs like juniper-flavoured gin, Chartreuse, and Jaegermeister, do contain trace amounts of thujones from some of their flavouring herbs (most commonly Mugwort, Juniper berries, and Hyssop). It is also present in some "bitters" flavorings.
-- If thujones were never of a high enough concentration to contribute to the psychotrpoic effects of lore, why is the wormwood in particular still banned?
It was originally banned because of a misunderstanding due to the poor quality, and highly politicized, science of the time; and contaminants in cheaper and bootleg grades. It remains technically
banned in a very few
countries due to government inertia and adherence to outdated (and disproven) information. Something the US government is notorious for. AAMOF, at this point in time, I believe that the US is the only place where it's still officially banned. It's legal in Canada and nearly all western Europe. I don't know about its status in the Russian Federation, or most of the Baltic States; but I'm willing to bet it's legal there as well.
Incidentally, wormwood is not banned at all; only absinthe. And at this point, the absinthe ban appears to be almost completely unenforced in the US. Legally prohibited, but de facto permitted. Wormwood (dry herb, oil, or tincture) can be purchased in many health and herbal medicine shops.
And why, with obvious advances in quality control since c. 1880, are they still outlawed to a neglible amount…?
The aforementioned government inertia and adherence to outdated information is a good explanation for just about anything of this nature.
Plus, it's actually not a negligible amount, historically. Recent analyses of vintage absinthe produsts (most notably, samples of an original 1910 Pernod Fils absinthe, and several Swiss variants dating from the same period) shows that the thujone level is consistently lower than the modern EU limit of 35mg/L (for bitters). Even under ideal laboratory conditions, the maximum thujone levels possible are roughly 60mg/L; nowhere near the 100-200mg/l previously claimed. Modern testing shows historical concentrations ranging from negligible to 25mg/L.
Some of the cheaper and bootleg grades may have contained higher concentrations, due to the use of oil of wormwood rather than distillation of wormwood herb. (A practice still used today by "home" absinthe brewers, usually idiot goth/vampire/SCAdian kids who download the recipes from the internet, and drink the stuff to look cool).
Here is a good source of info on the legal history and chemistry of absithe: http://www.feeverte.net/thujone.html