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Ari (Eric Litton)

Absinthism: A fictitious 19th century syndrome

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This was posted by an anon IP at wikipedia,

"Absinthism: A fictitious 19th century syndrome with present impact"

 

"The only consistent conclusion that can be drawn from those 19th century studies about absinthism is that wormwood oil but not absinthe is a potent agent to cause seizures. Neither can it be concluded that the beverage itself was epileptogenic nor that the so-called absinthism can exactly be distinguished as a distinct syndrome from chronic alcoholism."

 

Read the whole Abstract and download the 755k PDF doc (around 19 pages of text) here,

Absinthism

 

Although I didn't see anything new to us, it's good to see a peer-review paper that combines history and modern studies about absinthe. Instead of the more common paper that takes the old studies as fact and either tries to come up with excuses or shrugs it's shoulders as to why it couldn't find a cause for absinthism and/or why thujone isn't as dangerous as assumed.

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I am amazed there hasn't been any discussion about this paper! It is very well researched. This could go a long way to helping out the US cause.

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It was just published a week ago.

 

Check this out:

 

"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 absinthes 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."

 

I'm liking this Dirk Lachenmeier guy. This is the third absinthe related paper I've seen him involved in and they're all good.

 

He signed up here a while back, but we haven't heard anything from him.

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Unfortunately it appears he got it wrong when mentioning the "vie boheme of Prague." Is there even one scintilla of evidence that absinthe has any popularity in Czecherland?

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It does seem like he has done some reading on forums, although I'm sure some errors will still get through.

 

Verte: Does one painting at the end of the absinthe boom count? :)

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Unfortunately it appears he got it wrong when mentioning the "vie boheme of Prague."  Is there even one scintilla of evidence that absinthe has any popularity in Czecherland?

 

Absinth (no "e") is widely available in Prague, probably more so than in any other city I have been to. It's in most of the city centre bars and restaurants (maybe for the tourists as much for the locals) and in all the big supermarkets, suggesting that the locals drink it too.

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In my experience the locals are not the ones consuming absinth. Yes, it's everywhere in Prague, but only token representation once you're out of the city. Of course, the locals love their beer but mostly consume liquor in the form of shots. Best is some HG Slivovice from Moravia, but the local Tuzemak (an interesting potato-based rum, really good in a warming winter grog) is very popular. Even a shot of Fernet. Absinth's a bit strong, and harsh, for shots. And I can't even imagine the average Honza drawing attention to himself in a local beer hall by lighting one up. The market is overwhelmingly aimed at Prague tourists, in my opinion. Although I do think that the poor production standards are in part a result of trying to keep prices in line with local income so as not to automatically price themselves out of the local market.

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Definition of Pre-Ban Absinthe...

(line208 )...Typical historic recipes are given in the books of Duplais [30], Fritsch [27], Bedel [31] and de Brevans [28]. The composition of herbs used along with the wormwood differs from recipe to recipe. To improve the taste or add coloring, anise, star anise, lemon balm, hyssop, juniper, nutmeg, veronica, angelica root, melissa, coriander, camomile or parsley were added. Each country produced its own types of absinthe. For example, in the Czech Republic, peppermint was added, but neither anise nor fennel. In Switzerland, melissa, hyssop or angelica root were added to the Swiss alpine wormwood, which was a valued ingredient due to its strong aroma [32], while in France, coriander was added. 

Here he really seems to be talking about czech absinthe in an historical context. But he's very unspecific about when czech absinthe was made this way, or where he got this information.

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Good question, so I asked.

It would appear they were too trusting and fell for the same czech false claims. I e-mailed Dirk and he said it came from a couple of sources including Czech absinthe importers. He also pointed to Adams p. 243 and Baker p. 161 as well as Prague post and Summer journal articles.

I don't have Adams' book but Baker starts out describing modern Hills then goes into the same standard Czech claim and lacks a source for it. The first article describes modern czechsinth and the second only makes the mention that Hills' father supposably made absinth in the past. (it does provide an interesting look at absinth quantity as it says in '03 hills produced 77,000 liters absinth)

 

Although a number of czech makers like to make the claim none have backed it up. For example, out of curiosity I asked LaFee's Bohemian group what the evidence they said existed was. They gave me the name of a modern written czech fictional novel and the famousish painting of an undescript green liquor painted in the czech republic by a czech man who spent a lot of time in paris (since absinthe was shipped everywhere few question the possibility of absinthe being imported and existing in the czech republic, especially when the painter of the image spent time in absinthe drowned france).

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The first article describes modern czechsinth and the second only makes the mention that Hills' father supposably made absinth in the past.  (it does provide an interesting look at absinth quantity as it says in '03 hills produced 77,000 liters absinth)

 

Checking The Prague Post's on-line archives doesn't turn up anything more edifying about historical precedent, but a 2001 article there states Hill's output at 40,000 liters. That means they nearly doubled their duplicity in those two years.

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He also pointed to Adams p. 243

I do have a copy of that book, in the original hardcover, and page 243 only talks about how modern purists are dissapointed with czech absinth because it is not the real absinthe of the belle epoque. There's no reference to a history for czech absinthe before the current revival.

 

 

and then he goes on to say that absinthe will make you jump off a cruise ship...

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Zombie Thread!

You're right, there is some good stuff here. Dirk Lachenmeier has made some significant contributions to our little world.

 

I'm always happy when a Zombie Thread appears that doesn't show me saying something incredibly embarrassing.

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"Risk assessment of thujone in foods and medicines containing sage and wormwood – Evidence for a need of regulatory changes?" this is the newest article (in pdf) from Dirk.

 

Should anyone be interested, you know who to ask for. Unless, it has already been published somewhere.

Edited by Boggy

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