Bees that feed on one particular flower don't only produce delicious honey; they also produce hallucinogenic honey that makes people trip out.
This hallucinogenic "mad honey," as it's called, is produced in Turkey near the Black Sea. It comes from honeybees that feast upon rhododendron flowers, a toxic plant known for being highly lethal. In ancient times, contact with this plant could knock out an entire army. And, when bees drink from it, they pass its intoxicating side effects on into their honey.
Don't get too excited – the toxins produced by the plant aren't anything to mess with. And, while you might get high from this honey, the other effects aren't so sweet.
The honey – called mad honey by its producers – is a product of bees pollinating a dangerous flower. Rhododendron nectar includes grayanotoxin, a natural neurotoxin that causes light headedness and hallucinations. Not all rhododendrons produce this neurotoxin – but a majority of the ones in Turkey do, which makes the location a leading supplier.
Bee keepers will haul their bee hives into fields of these flowers, letting the bees feast for days before extracting the honey. The grayanotoxin doesn't hurt the bees, and they pass it through to the honey. The honey is usually taken in relatively small amounts and is used like other honey products.
People in Turkey have been making his "mad honey" since Medieval times for both good and bad uses. Too much mad honey can result in some serious health problems, as many Roman soldiers found out all too well in 67 BCE. The army was passing through the area when they feasted on some mad honey, which, of course, was placed strategically along the pathway by reigning King Mithridates. They all fell into an intoxicated stupor and were slaughtered by Mithridates's men.
In the 18th century, Turkish people started producing it for sale. In modern times, mad honey is produced almost exclusively in the province of Trabzon. Trabzon has proven to be a destination for foodie tourists looking to get a sampling of the mad honey. Other regions – including parts of Nepal – are also known for producing mad honey. You can even buy it online.
A lot of Turkish natives use mad honey as a holistic medicine. It has been used to treat stomach aches, sexual impotency, and diabetes. As previously stated, the honey is also used as a hallucinogenic drug. But experts say the combination of the compounds isn't the best on your body, and, if you're looking for hallucinogens, these aren't the safest.
Taking the honey has rarely resulted in death, but it has caused panic attacks, low blood pressure, and chest pains.