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What Is Hallucinogenic Honey?

Hallucinogenic honey is one of the world’s oldest naturally occurring mind-expanding substances. Created by a certain species of bee in a specific region of the world, its existence is nearly miraculous.

This magic honey, however, isn’t a perfect wonder drug. When taken in high amounts, it can make you sick and possibly even kill you.

Are you ready to learn more about this strange intoxicant? 

Let’s explore!

What Is Hallucinogenic Honey?

Hallucinogenic honey is produced by the world’s largest honey bee, Apis laboriosa, native to Nepal and parts of Turkey. The bees pollinate specific native rhododendron flowers and return to their hives. The result is a deep red, bitter honey with psychoactive effects, often called “mad honey.” 

The flowers contain grayanotoxin, a poison that affects the nervous system. When the bees ingest the nectar, their honey retains a small amount of the neurotoxin. And the concentration increases over time as the liquid evaporates from the honey.

Grayanotoxin has hallucinogenic properties and small amounts of can make a person lightheaded, dizzy, and euphoric. Many users describe a pleasant body high, similar to that of marijuana. 

Larger doses, however, can cause loss of consciousness, vomiting, hallucinations, seizures, and even death.

Hallucinogenic honey is difficult to harvest. Bees build their nests close to the plants, which grow at high elevation. The hives frequently appear on cliffs and mountains. Harvesters must climb to physically taxing and dangerous heights to get to the honey, earning it another nickname: “cliff honey.”

But there’s quite a payoff for folks willing to find mad honey. Because of its benefits, it’s a profitable product. One pound of the stuff sells for $60 to $180 in various parts of Asia.

Women eating Mad Honey from a pot
Hallucinogenic honey is not like your standard store bought honey.

The Benefits of Hallucinogenic Honey

People in many parts of the world use hallucinogenic honey for healing purposes. Residents of the Black Sea region use it to treat ailments such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and sore throat. The honey has been used in Turkish traditional medicine for centuries. It’s also used similarly in Nepal.

Scientifically speaking, there’s evidence that suggests mad honey is helpful. In fact, a study in the Journal of Agriculture and Environment found that grayanotoxins may decrease blood pressure and stabilize glucose levels.

The problem, however, is that the toxin levels can vary from batch to batch. One jar of honey might be much stronger or weaker than another.

A high dose of hallucinogenic honey may result in poisoning. Most cases of mad honey poisoning occur when a person ingests a large quantity hoping to achieve a dramatic effect. 

This is a common experience among middle-aged men in northeast Asia who use honey as an aphrodisiac. Some also believe the honey can cure erectile dysfunction.

Pro Tip: Instead of snacking on honey while on the trail, try out these 7 Best Hiking Snacks instead.

What Are the Side Effects of Mad Honey?

In addition to its medicinal uses, the positive side effects of mad honey are widely known. People have eaten mad honey as a recreational drug for centuries. Even famous historical figures such as Aristotle indulged in the intoxicant.

David Campara, a writer for VICE, documented the work of Nepalese honey hunters in 2016. After consuming a couple of teaspoons, he described its pleasant effects. “I felt like my body was cooling down, starting from the back of my head and down through my torso. A deep, icy hot feeling settled in my stomach and lasted for several hours.” 

Campara said the honey was delicious and imparted a pleasant buzz, even causing some hunters to fall asleep. 

Despite these positive qualities, hallucinogenic honey can cause a bad trip for those who consume too much. After all, they don’t call it “poisoning” for nothing!

Bee eating from honey comb
Only try mad honey if you’re ready for a unique trip.

Can Hallucinogenic Honey Kill You?

Mad honey’s active ingredient is grayanotoxin. And what’s a toxin? It’s poison, and eating or drinking one can cause negative side effects. 

High doses of grayanotoxin may cause nausea, blurred vision, dizziness, and shifts in blood pressure. Rarer but more serious symptoms can include tachycardia, seizures, and even temporary paralysis.

Despite these unpleasant effects, mad honey is rarely fatal in humans. According to a 2018 study on mad honey published in RSC Advances, “no fatalities have been reported in modern medical literature, excluding a few in the 1800s.” 

Supportive care is usually all that’s needed to help someone suffering from grayanotoxin poisoning. In severe cases, medications like atropine are prescribed to help reverse the toxin’s harmful effects.

The good news is that the impact of grayanotoxin poisoning only lasts 24 hours or less. But because its potency varies from batch to batch, hallucinogenic honey is difficult to dose correctly. How can someone know whether they’re taking a safe amount?

Honeycomb and honey on plate
Always follow the recommended dose on the jar of the hallucinogenic honey.

What Is a Safe Dose of Mad Honey?

Every person’s body is different, and no two people will have the same experience with any psychoactive substance. If you decide to try mad honey for yourself, make sure to follow the maker’s directions.

One company called Himalayan Honey claims that they test their product to ensure each batch’s strength is consistent. Another business called The Mad Honey encourages customers to perform a skin allergy test before trying their product. 

Both companies advise users to begin with one tablespoon and wait a minimum of two hours before eating more. As with any intoxicant, moderation and caution are critical to personal safety.

Pro Tip: Prefer booze over hallucinogens? Visit these Mississippi Wineries That Are Actually Good.

Can I Buy Hallucinogenic Honey in the USA?

Currently, no federal law prohibits the sale or consumption of mad honey in the U.S. The substance is relatively easy to attain online. However, this also means it isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or any other federal entity. This places the burden of personal responsibility and safety directly on the consumer.

The Mad Honey is one manufacturer that ships to the U.S. Their products range from $59 to $194. Other manufacturers, including Himalayan Honey, sell their products on Amazon. Himalayan Honey’s products range from $45 to $65.

Is Using Hallucinogenic Honey Worth It?

Hallucinogenic honey has a long, fascinating history. From its earliest traditional uses to its many modern applications, there’s nothing else on earth like this strange intoxicant. 

The substance certainly seems to have scientifically-backed medical benefits. But stories of mad honey poisoning are concerning and should give potential users pause.

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