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What are the Effects of Absinthe?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated: Jan 29, 2024

It is believed that one of the effects of absinthe is hallucination, though this theory provokes a great deal of controversy. Some scientists do not believe that absinthe itself can cause any kind of hallucination. Instead, they claim that many absinthe manufacturers used to add chemicals to the alcohol in order to make the liquid appear green in color; absinthe is naturally amber in color. Thus, these chemicals, not the actual alcohol, may have caused hallucinations, since they were often composed of various poisons.

Then again, many other scientists believe that the effects of absinthe are hallucinogenic due to the herbs inside of absinthe. This theory is based upon the notion that absinthe contains both stimulants and depressants, causing a person to feel out of balance. Whether or not one of the effects of absinthe is hallucination remains to be proven, though it is widely believe that people who consume a great amount of absinthe may suffer from delusion.

In fact, during the 1860s those people who drank absinthe regularly were thought to suffer from "absinthism," which was seen as a condition far worse than alcoholism. Those who suffered adverse effects of absinthe may have done so for a reason that has very little to do with the actual ingredients contained in a bottle of absinthe. Since absinthe is traditionally served by pouring the alcohol over a cube of sugar, this drink is far sweeter than most other alcohols. Therefore, some speculate that, due to its sweet flavor, those who drank absinthe consumed more of this alcohol than any other solely due to its sweet taste.

While absinthe was banned from many countries following a few studies as to the negative effects of absinthe, the drink is available in almost every country today. The main different between absinthe that is sold in modern times and absinthe that was sold during the 1800s is that modern absinthe must adhere to strict governmental regulations. Thus, poisons and other additives cannot be added to a bottle of absinthe in order to enhance the color of the liquid.

Some countries have limits as to how much thujone, the active chemical inside of absinthe, any liquor can contain. This is why absinthe purchased in Europe may be far stronger than absinthe purchased in Canada. Even though the actual effects of absinthe remain largely unknown, the glowing green alcohol that once spawned absinthism is still popular around the world today.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Logicfest — On Jan 15, 2015

This may be legal for sale again in the United States, but good luck finding any absinthe alcohol outside of major cities. The ban on absinthe in the U.S. was lifted fairly recently and it has yet to gain in popularity like it once did.

By Melonlity — On Jan 14, 2015

Do you mean to tell me that modern science hasn't evolved to the point where we can accurately measure the effects of absinthe alcohol? That is pretty incredible stuff.

As for hallucinations, how about the fact that absinthe is so blasted high in alcohol and people tend to drink a lot of it during one sitting. That, after all, is why you have those absinthe fountains and everything else. The drink is traditionally a potent shot of liquor for those who like to drink. Suck enough high proof alcohol down and you'd better believe you will hallucinate a bit.

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