Does absinthe actually make people hallucinate?

Answered by Marvin Richey

Absinthe, a highly alcoholic , has a long and intriguing history. It gained popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly among artists and writers, who were drawn to its mystique and rumored hallucinogenic effects. The belief that absinthe can induce hallucinations can be attributed to its main ingredient, wormwood, which contains a compound called thujone.

Thujone has been the subject of much speculation and controversy. It is a psychoactive compound that is also found in other plants such as sage and mugwort. In high doses, thujone can indeed have psychoactive effects, but the amount present in absinthe is highly regulated and typically not enough to cause hallucinations.

The association between absinthe and hallucinations can be traced back to the late 19th century, when absinthe was blamed for a number of social and health issues. This led to a ban on absinthe in many countries, including France, Switzerland, and the United States.

During this time, absinthe was often referred to as the “Green Fairy” or the “Green Muse,” further fueling its reputation as a mind-altering substance. The idea of the “absinthe hallucination” became deeply ingrained in popular culture, perpetuated by works of literature and art that depicted absinthe as a gateway to otherworldly experiences.

However, it is important to note that the ban on absinthe was not solely based on its hallucinogenic properties. Other factors, such as its high content and the perception that it was a threat to public health and morality, played a significant role in the prohibition.

In recent years, scientific studies have shed more light on the effects of thujone and absinthe. Research has shown that thujone, even in high doses, does not actually induce hallucinations. Instead, it can cause mild stimulant effects, similar to those of caffeine. These effects are generally mild and short-lived.

Personal experiences and anecdotes also support the notion that absinthe does not make people hallucinate. Many individuals who have consumed absinthe have reported no hallucinogenic effects, but rather a feeling of heightened alertness and creativity.

It is worth mentioning that absinthe is a highly alcoholic beverage, typically ranging from 45% to 74% alcohol by volume. The high alcohol content alone can have significant effects on perception, mood, and cognition. People may mistakenly attribute any unusual experiences while drinking absinthe to its supposed hallucinogenic properties, when in fact, it is the alcohol itself that is responsible.

Absinthe does not actually make people hallucinate. The belief that it does can be traced back to a combination of historical misconceptions, cultural myths, and the ban on absinthe during the early 20th century. While absinthe contains thujone, a psychoactive compound found in wormwood, the amount present in absinthe is regulated and not sufficient to induce hallucinations. Any perceived hallucinogenic effects are likely the result of other factors, such as the high alcohol content or individual expectations and suggestibility.