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Absinthe possibly was an hallucinogenic...but probably not.

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I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and mentioned to her that I had ordered a bottle of Duplais Balance. I asked her if she had ever had any and she said no -- when I told her not to buy any of the stuff she finds in shops because it's all fake bottled crap she said she knew.

 

It was an interesting turn in the conversation: how would somebody know who has never had absinthe, and never even researched absinthe, that the stuff you can buy in shops today is fake?

 

She told me her science teacher was alive before the ban, and had been a fan of the real stuff that everybody would love to taste from the vintage bottles today. Apparently he claimed that after two glasses he started to hallucinate, or was it two shots? Maybe we had it in shots in England, it's an almost certainty that some people would have had it undiluted anyway.

 

So there you have it, a person who had pre-ban, pre-vintage, absinthe said it made him hallucinate. Of course, it could easily have been the fake absinthe of that day containing the toxic chemicals to make it green, and to make it louche. It probably was. Even if it wasn't he might even be lying.

 

When I told her all research suggests it was never an hallucinogenic, she told me "I don't know what else he was on at the time."

 

Possibly opium given the time period.

 

Just wanted to share.

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How long ago did your friend hear this from her teacher? Because if it was recent, her teacher either has to be full of shit, had consumed whatever it was after the ban, or is extremely ancient (and even being ancient he must have had it at a young age).

 

And then, like you said, there's no telling what he was actually drinking or what kind of drugs he was doing.

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I think the bottom line is, people have had pre-ban absinthe. People have sampled numerous kinds of pre-ban absinthe. Nobody hallucinated.

 

Also, lots of people have had Czech absinthe and say they hallucinated. They didn't either.

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She told me her science teacher was alive before the ban, and had been a fan of the real stuff that everybody would love to taste from the vintage bottles today. Apparently he claimed that after two glasses he started to hallucinate, or was it two shots? Maybe we had it in shots in England ...
Assuming your friend and the science teacher live/lived in England, don't forget that absinthe was never banned in England anyway; it was available for a few years after 1915 and features extensively in the Savoy Cocktail Book (first published in 1930, I believe). So what timescale are they talking about?

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Sounds to me like the teacher just wanted to impress with the "been there done that." Wouldn't expect that from a science teacher of all but who knows maybe there was a little something else in the drink.

That, or it was the pink elephants :twitchsmile:

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My question (perhaps should be in the science section) is: how stable is thujone once distilled and bottled in absinthe (or in ethanol between 45 and 80% concentration)? Testing antique bottles might not mean much if the thujone deteriorates significantly over time. However, if it is relatively stable, I am much more assured the teacher was exaggerating (or trying to impress a student with his "radical youth").

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Really? I thought that sunlight just affected the chlorophyl. I don't think the thujone levels really matter; high levels would just make you convulse and die rather than hallucinate, right?

 

Anyway, I thought he might be exaggerating to try to impress, but then, as others have said, it doesn't sound like a very teachery thing to do. The placebo effect is a possibility, but again it's questionable.

 

Alan - I think we must be talking late 1920s-30s. Any earlier than that and he's far too ancient.

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Tests show relatively stable unless you decide to put it in a clear bottle on the window-sill.

Also, if it did deteriorate, wouldn't it leave some sort of evidence of what the original content was? I can't imagine it would just disappear without a trace.

 

I don't think the thujone levels really matter; high levels would just make you convulse and die rather than hallucinate, right?

Right. But WAY too high of levels to be possible to consume in two glasses. Or even two bottles. Or even two demijohns.

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In the study high doses of UV radiation turned beta-thujone into carbon monoxide and 2- isopropyl-1,4-hexadiene, mmm yummy.

My favorite way to break thujone down is exposure to the liver.

 

It's actually quite interesting to read things like Erowid trip reports where someone drinks a couple shots of homemade absinthe then eats a handful of shrooms, and the trip report ends up under absinthe.

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... how stable is thujone once distilled and bottled in absinthe (or in ethanol between 45 and 80% concentration)? Testing antique bottles might not mean much if the thujone deteriorates significantly over time.
My understanding is that it's pretty stable in ethanol. Even if it broke down, it would leave traceable degradation products behind.
Really? I thought that sunlight just affected the chlorophyl.
UV? It effects everything. Solar photo-oxidation is not to be underestimated.
high levels would just make you convulse and die rather than hallucinate, right?
Or at least give you a hell of a case of the jitters and the shits.
Anyway, I thought he might be exaggerating to try to impress, but then, as others have said, it doesn't sound like a very teachery thing to do.
Being a fan of the Occam's Razor principle, I vote for the "teacher full of BS" theory. There's old hippies out there who swear they tripped balls on banana peels.

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" how stable is thujone once distilled and bottled in absinthe (or in ethanol between 45 and 80% concentration)? Testing antique bottles might not mean much if the thujone deteriorates significantly over time."

 

Dr. O would certainly agree with you, Auguru. He claims that one study done recently showed the thujone molecule to be extremely fragile, thus making a valid study of the level of thujone found in antique absinthes to be impossible.

 

Of course, we're talking Dr O here, so... :rolleyes:

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Dr. O's approach is to try to poke holes in what everyone else knows from scientific studies without proving his own opinion at all. Because, to him, if there's no proof for our point of view then his is correct by default.

 

But that's hardly a phenomenon limited to him.

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