A brown bear cub got high by consuming excessive amount of 'mad honey'

A brown bear cub got all the hallucinogenics
Nergis Firtina
A brown bear cub
A brown bear cub

GomezDavid/IStock 

  • A brown bear cub has been intoxicated after eating lots of "mad honey."
  • Mad honey is a type of rhododendron honey, and it can have hallucinogenic effects on the consumer.
  • A small spoonful eaten or taken is enough to induce a mildly hallucinogenic or euphoric state.

According to The Guardian, a disoriented bear cub was found affected by "mad honey" in Turkey's northwestern city Düzce. It is thought that the brown bear cub that was found last Thursday ate too much mad honey and was therefore intoxicated and got high.

The afflicted bear was brought to a vet, where she was treated. Officials said the animal was in good condition and would probably be released into the wild in the coming days. Turkish officials also made an open call to find the bear cub's name.

Mad honey, or “deli bal” in Turkish, is produced in small quantities by beekeepers in the Kaçkar mountains above the Black Sea, the only place in the world. Mad honey is also known to produce a potent neurotoxin called grayanotoxin. Rhododendron, which grows in the foothills of the Himalayas, also has the same effect.

Why is mad honey that effective?

Mad honey is obtained from the flowers of white rhododendron and Caucasian rhododendron. The substance becomes toxic because the bees overeat these plants and produce honey in this way. Also known as 'bal tutması' (honey sick) in Turkish, this product causes poisoning and hallucinogenic effects when consumed in excess.

The grayanotoxin substance in bitter honey causes poisoning. Its symptoms are heart rhythm disorder, burning in the throat, redness of the skin and eyes, nausea, vomiting, itching in the mouth and nose, increased salivation, blurred vision or temporary blindness, headache, and dizziness, diarrhea, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness. After consuming a spoonful of honey, its effects usually appear within 1-1.5 hours. Mild effects resolve spontaneously within 24 hours without the need for medical intervention.

Mad honey poisoning can cause death if medical intervention is not done. After the medical description of mad honey in 1983, no death cases were encountered. The majority of mad honey poisonings in recent years are seen in Turkey.

Used as a chemical weapon

Mad honey poisoning was recorded for the first time in history by Xenophon. Xenophon noted the complaints of 10 thousand Greek soldiers returning from the war with the Persians of diarrhea, vomiting, and confusion. The incident in which 10,000 Greek soldiers were poisoned suggests that the first chemical weapon in history was bitter honey. According to Xenophon, the people who used mad honey as a chemical weapon against the Greeks during the Southern Colchis War were the Colchians.

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