Lots of you love honey (some vegans ‘yes’, some vegans ‘no’) and there are plenty of famous hives from the White House to Google to Emilio Estevez’s backyard vineyard. But did you know that honey can also be turned into a form of biological warfare and as a not-so-recommended sexual aide?
Bees, naturally, consume nectar from flowers to build up their honey stores – using the sweet stuff to support the colony and keep their intense energy levels buzzing. Of course, that also means sometimes gathering nectar from the flowers of toxic plants. In the Middle East, where rhododendrons grow wild and en masse, this often leads to the creation of something called “Mad Honey”.
This version of what’s often dubbed as the world’s “most perfect food”, can land you in the hospital. Basically, when bees visit a rhododendron flower, they’re also picking up grayanotoxins that work as a sort of viagra on your system. Besides increased blood flow to your “nether regions”, you’ll also experience “excessive salivation, perspiration, vomiting, dizziness, weakness and paresthesia (pins and needles).
In a recent case, a couple in the Middle East was recently admitted to a Turkish hospital suffering from symptoms of confusion, chest pain, low blood pressure and slowed heartbeat. A doctor found that both had experienced a mild heart attack – and later discovered that they had each consumed only a tablespoon of “Mad Honey” to aide in sexual performance. According to another site, a team of scientists from Gazi University in Turkey reported that between 2002 and 2008, 21 cases of mad honey poisoning were treated at their hospital.
“Local beekeepers ranked sexual performance enhancement as the most common reason for therapeutic mad honey consumption in men aged 41 through 60 years,” the report stated.
Of course, it’s not just sex that mad honey has been used for – but also as a weapon to destroy entire armies. Back in 67 B.C., King Mithradates IV harvested honey combs tainted with the essence of rhododendron and left them in the path of an advancing Roman army commanded by Pompey the Great. The soliders consumed the sticky treat, doubled-over in agony for 24 hours, and were later wiped out by Mithradates.
With that in mind, this holiday season, please stick to the regular stuff.