Now we will talk about Mad Honey here, but this is not to be confused with Magic Mushroom Honey, which we talk about here. When bees consume pollen from rhododendron flowers, the resulting honey possesses potent hallucinogenic properties. This unique honey is known as mad honey, characterized by its reddish color and slightly bitter taste. Certain species of rhododendrons, such as Rhododendron luteum and Rhododendron ponticum, contain grayanotoxin, a substance that can elicit intense physiological reactions in both humans and animals. The effects of mad honey consumption vary depending on the quantity ingested, ranging from hallucinations and a slower heartbeat to temporary paralysis and even unconsciousness.
It's worth noting that there have been no reported modern fatalities resulting from the consumption of mad honey. However, the process of gathering this honey can be perilous. Rhododendrons thrive at high altitudes, and the bees responsible for producing mad honey often build their nests on sheer cliffs. In places like Nepal, honey hunters undertake treacherous vertical climbs, enduring stings from massive bees, all in the pursuit of harvesting mad honey.
Yet, partaking in this honey can be an unpleasant endeavor as well. One of the earliest accounts of mad honey, documented by Xenophon of Athens, a disciple of Socrates, recounts the experience of Greek soldiers in 401 B.C. During their travels through Turkey, they consumed honey pilfered from beehives along their route. Shortly after ingestion, they experienced vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, and even inability to stand. Astonishingly, they recovered by the following day, similar to the experiences described by modern consumers who indulge in excessive amounts of mad honey. In 69 B.C., an incident was recorded wherein Pompey the Great's army fell victim to a literal "honeytrap" in the same region. Local forces strategically placed honey along the marching path, leading to the massacre of the intoxicated soldiers.
Mad honey serves purposes beyond culinary exploration. Turkey and Nepal, recognized as the primary producers of mad honey, have long employed it for medicinal purposes. Presently, it is promoted as a remedy for hypertension, a source of increased energy, and even a sweet alternative to Viagra.
Consequently, mad honey holds a prestigious position among the most expensive honeys worldwide, commanding prices of $60 to $80 per pound on Asian black markets, many of which have stringent anti-drug laws in place.