What is mad honey?

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Mad honey is a rare type of honey produced by bees that feed on specific species of rhododendron plants, which contain a neurotoxin called grayanotoxin. This toxin can cause various effects on humans when consumed, such as light-headedness, hallucinations, and in some cases, more severe symptoms like seizures, loss of consciousness, and respiratory distress. Mad honey is most commonly found in the mountainous regions of Nepal and the Black Sea region of Turkey. It has been used traditionally for its perceived medicinal benefits, such as treating gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and as an aphrodisiac. However, consuming too much mad honey can lead to grayanotoxin poisoning, which can cause dangerous decreases in blood pressure and heart rate, among other symptoms15.
how is mad honey produced

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Mad honey is a unique type of honey produced by bees that feed on specific species of rhododendron plants, which grow in mountainous regions like those surrounding the Black Sea and the Himalayas of Nepal13. The honey is collected by the world's largest honey bee, Apis dorsata laboriosa, and contains grayanotoxins, which are responsible for its psychedelic effects13. The process of mad honey production begins with the bees feeding on the nectar and pollen of rhododendron plants. When rhododendrons dominate the flora in a particular area, bees are more likely to produce mad honey due to the scarcity of other types of plants to feed on. As a result, they consume more grayanotoxins, leading to the production of especially pure mad honey1. The harvesting of mad honey is a dangerous and daring process, often carried out by the Gurung tribesmen in Nepal23. These honey harvesters, also known as the Gurungs, climb high cliffs where the bees build their combs, using nothing but intricately woven, delicate ladder ropes4. Before the honey harvesters embark on their journey, they perform a ritual to worship their bee spirit, which they believe helps them conquer the bees3. Once the honeycombs are collected, the next step is to process and filter the honey to make it clean3. The potency of mad honey depends on the month of harvesting, and slight changes in the honey's color, flavor, and aroma can occur depending on the season in which it is harvested3. Mad honey is known for its physiological effects. In lower doses, it can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and euphoria, while higher doses can lead to hallucinations, vomiting, loss of consciousness, seizures, and in rare cases, death1. Despite these potential risks, mad honey is still harvested and sold today, though it's illegal in some nations1. It is used for various purposes, including recreational, medicinal, and even military purposes15.
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