Is it possible that eating wild honey created from the pollen of certain types of flowers can make a person feel a bit “under the influence”?
In this article, we look into the effects of rhododendron pollen in the medicinal honey called “deli bal” frequently found in regions of the Black Sea.
Watch as a group quest to “hunt” mad honey with members of a tribe in Nepal to find out!
Learn more about hallucinogenic or “mad” honey by reading up on Rhododendron’s and their honey contributing properties.
Interested in trying rhododendron honey? Although different than those produced in Turkey and Nepal, Fabrizio’s family in Italy collects honey from rhododendron flowers for those interested in a try!
Learn more about Hallucinogenic Honey
The story of “hallucinogenic honey” starts in Turkey. It is a dark, reddish honey, known as deli bal in Turkey. It contains an ingredient from rhododendron nectar called grayanotoxin, which is a natural neurotoxin. In small quantities, it brings on light-headedness and sometimes, hallucinations.
In the 1700s, the Black Sea region traded this potent produce with Europe, where the honey was infused with drinks to give boozers a greater high than alcohol could deliver. Wow!
Remember Absinthe and its famous wormwood infused properties…
When over-imbibed, however, the honey can cause low blood pressure and irregularities in the heartbeat that bring on nausea, numbness, blurred vision, fainting, potent hallucinations, seizures, and even death, in rare cases.
Nowadays, cases of mad honey poisoning crop up every few years—oftentimes in travelers who have visited Turkey.
Check out this song inspired by “mad honey”
If there are rhododendrons everywhere, why is mad honey found only in Turkey?
Mad honey is most common in the region fringing the Black Sea — the biggest honey-producing region in Turkey. Yet, it is produced from rhododendrons, and these plants grow in vast areas, all over the world!
Though, there are more than 700 different species of rhododendron in the world, only two or three include grayanotoxin in their nectars. (says Dr. Süleyman Turedi, who studies deli bal’s effects, doctor at the Karadeniz Technical University School of Medicine in Trabzon, Turkey.): Rhododendron ponticum and Rhododendron luteum.
The mountains around the Black Sea provide the perfect habitat for these flowers to grow in monocrop-like swaths. Bees arrive in these fields, where there are no other flowers, so no other nectar gets mixed in. It results a pure, potent honey.
Why are the Turks producing it?
Because they are using it as medicine.
Hallucinogenic or “mad” honey is used in the indigenous Black Sea area to treat hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and some different stomach diseases. And, some people use deli bal to improve their sexual performance.”
The honey is taken in small amounts, sometimes boiled in milk, and consumed just before breakfast. This means it is considered medicine and taken likewise, not on toast or with tea.
Is it legal?
It is legal in Turkey. And we can also find it over the internet. Hallucinogenic honey is expensive and hard to be sure it’s the real thing. The beekeepers who produce it typically only sell it in a closed circle.
After how much mad honey are we poisoned?
If anybody eats more than 1 spoonful of hallucinogenic honey including grayanotoxin, is at risk of mad honey poisoning! And if we refer to fresh honey, than we should eat even less than 1 teaspoon.
“Many plants of the Ericaceae family, Rhododendron, Pieris, Agarista and Kalmia, contain diterpene grayanotoxins. Consuming the honey made from these plats may result in intoxication specifically characterized by dizziness, hypotension and atrial-ventricular block.
Symptoms are caused by an inability to inactivate neural sodium ion channels resulting in continuous increased vagal tone.
Grayanotoxin containing products are currently sold online, which may pose an increasing risk. In humans, intoxication is rarely lethal, in contrast to cattle and pet poisoning cases.
Scientific evidence for the medicinal properties of grayanotoxin containing preparations, such as honey or herbal preparation in use in folk medicine, is scarce, and such use may even be harmful.” (according to www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Want to learn more about honey’s medicinal uses, check out Honey in Ayurveda.
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