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Ari (Eric Litton)

Thujone containing plants

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An incomplete but interesting list of plants that contain Thujone. Plant list was gained by searching for alpha-thujone, beta-thujone and thujone at http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/highchem.html a database site bringing together multiple sources. I don't fully trust the exact numbers given since we have seen some chemicals which appear as thujone under certain tests. However since it only takes a tiny amount to fail "thujone free" the exact numbers aren't as important.

 

In red are additives that must be thujone free according to the FDA, in green are those that don't.

 

Tansy -- Tanacetum vulgare L.

Artemisia Spp

Common Sage -- Salvia officinalis L.

gum rockrose -- Cistus ladaniferus L.

Rosemary -- Rosmarinus officinalis L.

Winter Savory -- Satureja montana L.

Micromeria croatica

Micromeria juliana

Micromeria thymifolia

Hyssop -- Hyssopus officinalis L.

Cordoba' Sage -- Salvia gilliesii BENTH.

Spike Lavender -- Lavandula latifolia MEDIK.

Acinos alpinus var. meridionalis

Spanish Heal-All -- Cleonia lusitanica (L.) L.

Greek Sage -- Salvia triloba L.

Golden Germander -- Teucrium polium var. valentinum

Applemint -- Mentha x rotundifolia (L.) HUDSON

Slenderleaf Mountain Mint -- Pycnanthemum tenuifolium

European Pennyroyal -- Mentha pulegium L.

Balkan Sideritis -- Sideritis scardica GRISEB.

Orosped Thyme -- Thymus orospedanus H. del VILLAR

 

 

Some of the plants in green can even be found on the FDA's "SUBSTANCES GENERALLY RECOGNIZED AS SAFE" list,

http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/fcf182.html

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Nice work, Ari.

 

TheGreenOne: are you getting this down?

 

Yep. I was particularly interested to see that Salvia officinalis is far higher in both alpha and beta-thujone than A.A.

 

I was thinking of sending the FDA a letter simply asking for them to explain why they classify sage as GRAS but not A.A.

 

Right now, because the alpha-thujone and alpha/beta thujone mixtures are under study by NTP specifically "because of its potential for widespread human exposure through spices, herbs, and essential oils..." including those on the FDA GRAS list, I suspect they will defer any meaningful epxlanation pending completion of the NTP work.

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Thanks.

Yes research is fun. :)

 

Ok, so TheGreenOne just basically said this, but i'll still post it. Interesting bit about the NTP. Although it's hard to predict what the government and FDA will say, considering the exposure average people already get it wouldn't seem like thujone in herbs is of a high enough concentration to be dangerous.

 

 

To add to that. Multiple sources* show that although Sage (Salvia officinalis L.) has a variable thujone content it often has an equal or higher concentration of thujone than wormwood. In some samples thujone is almost half of the essential oils from sage.

 

Not only is the sage plant on the FDA's "SUBSTANCES GENERALLY RECOGNIZED AS SAFE" (previously linked) but the Essential oils of Sage are on the FDA's "SUBSTANCES GENERALLY RECOGNIZED AS SAFE" list.

 

 

 

*Wormwood, Alpha-thujone 1750ppm Beta-thujone 1750ppm (DUKE1992A)

http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/duke/farmacy2.pl?119

Sage, Alpha-thujone 200 - 10,172 ppm Beta-thujone 200 - 9,968 ppm (BML JAD)

http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/duke/farmacy2.pl?888

 

Wormwood, Essential oil 18%-44% AB-Thujone.

sage, Essential oil 42.5%-55% AB-thujone.

http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntpweb/printFrien...BDF8436F2A8C51F

 

Sage, High concentration of thujone is 39-44% of its essential oils

http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi/j.../jf981170m.html

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It would be easier to allow thujone in a few herbs than to announce a wide change in some basic cooking ingredients. Less of a public embarrassment that they got something wrong. There also aren't large amounts of anise based drink producers lobbying them to keep absinthe illegal.

 

But when it comes to the government, anything is possible. I can just see the cooks on the food network talking about their favorite clandestine shipper of cooking herbs.

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Let's see them yank sage, rosemary and thyme off the shelves; all just to justify keeping absinthe illegal.  It wouldn't surprise me.

 

 

NTP works slowly, sometimes quite slowly. Now that they have agreed to abide by OMB's Peer Review Guidelines, I expect that their pace will slow even further. So I don't think any herbs will be pulled off the GRASS list in the foreseeable future. Instead, the ongoing NTP research provides FDA a reason (excuse) not to act on the inconsistency of their treatment of A.A. and sage.

 

Two items that are worth noting,

 

1) NTP is concerned not just about consumer ingestion of thujone but also industrial exposure (an OSHA issue) since "Tens of thousands of workers are also potentially exposed to Dalmatian sage oil and cedarleaf oil, both of which contain a high concentration of thujone."

 

Overall NTP notes that "Although thujone is banned in some food additives, potential for widespread consumer and worker exposure remains."

 

2) NTP does recognize that "Thujone-containing plant oils are used as flavoring substances in the alcoholic drink industry."

 

Of course, there is still the issue of Thujone and TSCA....

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No, just the Toxic Substances Control Act; 15 U.S.C. s/s 2601 et seq. (1976) aka Public Law 94-469. The law requires EPA to "establish a test protocol testing procedure for any drug that may present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment, to require 90 days notice when any manufacturer is planning to manufacture or import a new drug, to prescribe rules for the distribution or use of a chemical substance deemed an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment, and to require the revision of inadequate quality control procedures."

 

Alpha-thujone is listed on EPA's TSCA inventory.

 

There days I think I should have been a lawyer...then I sober up.

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Let's see them yank sage, rosemary and thyme off the shelves; all just to justify keeping absinthe illegal.  It wouldn't surprise me.

 

Hell, sage even smells like cannabis sativa when it's burned.

 

I'm surprised it's still legal.

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It doesn't smell like any I've ever...  um... read about...  being burned.

 

Oh well, maybe that shop owner in Cape Cod lied to me when he claimed that's what he was burning as incense, back in '97! ;)

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Hmm, I tried putting "thujone" into the first link, but got no wormwood. Sage, Greek Sage, and Tarragon topped the list, but no other Artemisias were listed.

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I originally did that too until I discovered that the database search function isn't that smart. Some sources only tested for thujone others tested for specifically Alpha and Beta. If you search for Alpha-thujone or beta-thujone you will get a much larger list, including Artemesia species.

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Speaking of, how long should it take to germinate A.A. seeds? I seem to be having trouble. By the way I am only growing them for their beautiful decorative properties.

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It would be easier to allow thujone in a few herbs than to announce a wide change in some basic cooking ingredients.  Less of a public embarrassment that they got something wrong.  There also aren't large amounts of anise based drink producers lobbying them to keep absinthe illegal.

 

But when it comes to the government, anything is possible.  I can just see the cooks on the food network talking about their favorite clandestine shipper of cooking herbs.

 

 

I think the issue is that unless there is a lot of pressure from voters, no one in government wants to be associated with anything that can possibly be construed "soft on drugs," such as by legalizing an alcoholic drink with a reputation (accurate or not) as a dangerious drug.

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I've got A.a. growing in my garden for the first time. Attractive, but not nearly as "showy" as the "Powis Castle". Both wonderfully fragrant when "handled". Given this is my first growing season, should I expect them to survive the winter and return? I've grown plants from cuttings before, including air-layering difficult specimens. I take it these are fairly easy?

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Has anyone ever tried an absinthe coloured/flavored at least partially with Powis Castle wormwood? I visited my folks in Bisbee, AZ last week and they have the stuff growing all over the place. Its aroma is very nice, which leads me to think that any Absinthe that contains it would be pretty yummy.

Attached are images of the Powis Castle and another type of Artemisia growing there that I can't recall the name of currently (it is commonly used in Mexican cooking; it's the one with more lavendar-like leaves).

post-71-1130796922_thumb.jpg

post-71-1130796939_thumb.jpg

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Powis Castle is listed as a possible (probable) hybrid between A absinthium and A arborescens. It is used as an ornamental because it is easier to control than other artemisias.

Although it has a fragrance that is similar to Absinthium, it never flowers. This is probably why it is unsuitable for absinthe making.

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