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Toxin in absinthe makes neurons run wild

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4:45pm, September 24, 2002

In the late 20th century, espressos and caffe lattes became available on every urban street corner. In late 19th-century Paris, absinthe was the favored drink of artists and writers. Some say addiction to the emerald-green liqueur drove Vincent Van Gogh to take his own life. Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Pablo Picasso all painted absinthe drinkers, capturing both the drink's popularity and its dark side.

They found that the toxin, alpha-thujone, blocks brain receptors for gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. Without access to GABA, a natural inhibitor of nerve impulses, neurons fire too easily and their signaling goes out of control.

"This paper is very important because it gives the biochemical mechanis

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