“Mad Honey” Sex Is A Bad Idea

By Neuroskeptic | December 15, 2011 7:54 am

A cautionary tale from Turkey – do not eat poison honey to try to spice up your sex life.

“Mad honey” is honey made by bees from the nectar of toxic Rhododendron flowers. In places where wild Rhododendrons grow, including Turkey, it’s a health hazard. The dangers of mad honey were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, and it’s reported that leaving tainted honeycombs in the path of invading armies was a popular military tactic.

2000 years later, some people still haven’t quite got the message. According to a case report from cardiologists Yarlioglues et al, a married couple deliberately ate some mad honey “for reasons of sexual performance”.

After eating one teaspoon per day for a week, they decided to crank it up a notch and ate a full tablespoon of the stuff. But their attempt to heighten their Turkish delight quickly turned sour, as they both suffered symptoms of confusion, chest pain, low blood pressure and slowed heartbeat. After presenting themselves to hospital, doctors discovered that they had both suffered an acute inferior myocardial infarction – a mild heart attack.

It’s not clear whether the sex was a contributing factor.

The randy Rhododendron fans were lucky – following treatment, they both recovered. In fact, the authors say “To our knowledge, no fatal cases of mad-honey poisoning have been reported since ancient Roman times.” However, it seems that some people are still willing to try their luck.

The toxin in mad honey is gryanotoxin. It acts by potentiating the opening of sodium channels, which are found both in the heart and the brain. This may be why it produces a combination of cardiovascular and psychoactive effects.

ResearchBlogging.orgMikail Yarlioglues et al (2011). Mad-Honey Sexual Activity and Acute Inferior Myocardial Infarctions in a Married Couple Texas Heart Institute Journal

CATEGORIZED UNDER: drugs, funny, history, papers
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07109374373698821916 JD

    Just curious – other than by consuming the honey, how would one know whether a particular honeycomb contains wild rhododendron honey?

    • Timothy Leary Byrnes

      Perhaps via labeling?

      • Timothy Leary Byrnes

        Bear in mind that ‘mad honey’ is from 1 specific genus of rhodie 😉

        • Timothy Leary Byrnes

          exclusive 2 Turkey, I believe…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08568163831561012077 Barry

    I have wondered the same thing about Oleander honey.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06647064768789308157 Neuroskeptic

    I don't know about Oleander. But I read somewhere that locals can tell rhododendron honey based on some kind of tingling sensation it causes in the mouth…

  • Roger Bigod

    Sounds like fugu. Does rhododendron honey have the same morbid mystique of courting death?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06683483030413488309 Judith Weingarten

    It's not always clearly labelled as 'mad honey' as Xenophon's army found out to its cost. But its use in small doses as an aphrodisiac was well known in the (learned) ancient world.

    • Timothy Leary Byrnes

      specific genus of rhododendron found exclusively in Turkey I believe…

  • ivana Fulli MD

    Also, rhododendron is the safe diluted component of a very potent homeopathic remedy for scraping and scratching sensation in throat when no antibiotics are needed.

    Also many other ailments like tinnitus, vertigo in bed …

    No poisonous side effect there to be afraid of.

  • Ivana Fulli MD

    Dearest Roger,

    beware that rhododendron is seldom indicated for sorethroat (you have to have worsening of symptoms before thunderstorm and find crossing your ankles the only way to get into sleep etc…

    This is what makes an homeopathic consultation interesting for the clinician -you let people express what relieve and relax them but also what make them ill or nervousetc..- and so conforting for the clients who can realize that some people or circonstances make them worst or that sport do them good.

    it is not to say that water molecules are not able to arrange themselves in order to take inprint of sort of a magnetic traces.

    I just do not know and -to be honest- I admired but wasn't clever and learned enough to evaluate the physicist theory I listen to about it.

    I am just a clinician and I dislike the fact that in GB homeopaths can paractice medecine without a MD!


  • Ivana Fulli MD

    Dearest Roger,

    I meant:

    Relaxing to practice medicine without an MD.

    You do not have any obligation to treat them with homeopathy, allopathy or physiotherapy nor spare time with physical examination since you are not a doctor and the GP -or the specialist has to take responsabilities for you.

    This important point escaped Dr Ben Goldacre who would have employed himself much better had he opposed the non MD homeopath instead of suppressing a good tool to MDs treating patients.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03568933484458942470 Allen B

    Ivana Fulli Maryland:

    I don't see how a glass of water is supposed to cure a sore throat or tenitis.

  • Ivana Fulli MD

    Dearest Allen,

    I can't see how antibiotics work in a viral sorethroat.

    Actually, I am pretty sure they do not work and take the credit of mother nature healing with some side-effects-sometimes very severe

    and an increase of antibiotic resistance in deadly bacteria

    So one can safely say that giving antibiotics for a viral sore throat is killing some clients with strepto pneumoniae at the population scale.

    I can't see why GP are still putting elderly insomniac on benzodiazepines and would like them to take care of the withdrawal.

    I can't see how massively interfering with cognitive abilites of young people with antipsychotics ludicrous prescriptions help educate them

    NB: When a crook, a British citizen named Jeremy Sherr -a non medical qualified person- was asking money in a homeopaths meetings at SPA (Belgium) in order to find in 4 years the homeopathic treatment of AIDS in Africa, I thought he desserve to go to jail. I protested alone and get on the spot my money back for that meeting and never put foot in a homeopaths meeting again.

    The British Minister of health should prevent non MD that nice homeopathic tool.

    If ben Goldacre want to bring jeremy Sherr to justice , he can count on my testifying.

    To refuse to talk with Dr Peter Fisher-physician to his queen I was told – and the head of the former London Homeopathic hospital renamed recently, was not wise neither fair of Ben Goldacre.

    I admire ben Goldacre as much as I despise jeremy Sherr- a nice social person who told publicly that he can sell sand to an arab and snow to an eskimoo.

  • Ivana Fulli MD

    Dearest Allen,

    And placebo effect do exist. homeopathy might be one of the more sophisticated of placebos since often the prescribers believe in it and the client has often made the effort to find an homeopath to relieve him because he believes in homeopthy (family tradition often)or because he is so desperate that he wants to believe.

    Hypocrits clients do exist though and many will not confess to the sceptic that they believe in homeopathy. A client of mine -a doctor- lied blatantly to colleagues telling them that I had hypnotized him to treat a vertigo -the neurologists having been no help -when I had used only causticum in Korsakovian dilution and a very long conversation.

  • Josh

    Sounds like they took too much



No brain. No gain.

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Neuroskeptic is a British neuroscientist who takes a skeptical look at his own field, and beyond. His blog offers a look at the latest developments in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology through a critical lens.


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