Bees are amazing little creatures with their annoying little buzz and itchy sting. These notorious suckers are hard workers who give up their whole life to create one of nature’s best creations, honey. Honey is not only glorious to look at with its golden color, but it tastes amazing. In addition, honey is known to have lots of health benefits too.
Okay, enough about the obvious greatness of honey. Let us talk about something much more interesting about honey. Do you know about mad honey or exclusively mad honey in Nepal?
Deep inside, the stunning mountain brews a rare delicacy by the hardworking bees called the Mad Honey of Nepal. Local people often use this bizarre creation during their spiritual rituals and for various medicinal properties. Slightly redder in color than other normal kinds of honey, mad honey has achieved its reputation.
So, are you intrigued yet, and do you wish to know more about this unique type of honey? If yes, read this article as we talk about almost everything you need to know about the world-famous mad honey of Nepal.
Okay, what is the mad honey of Nepal?
Rare and very hard to get, the mad honey of Nepal is different from other naturally made fluids. Many people say that although Nepal’s mad honey is comparatively more bitter than other honey, the same people also gush about the brilliant effect of the mad honey.
Apis dorsata laboriosa is the type of bee that produces this special type of honey. These bees are also the world’s biggest bees. This type of bee usually gets its nectar from the beautiful Rhododendron flowers, the national flower of Nepal. The Rhododendron flower is the one providing grayanotoxin, a renowned neurotoxin.
Grayanotoxin is the chemical component in the mad honey Nepal responsible for creating the dizzy effect after consuming it. So, whenever Apis dorsata laboriosa bees feed on the Rhododendron flowers, the neurotoxin gets transferred to the honey they make, making the honey have all the psychoactive effects it is known for.
The bees responsible for producing mad honey mainly only feed on Rhododendrons since they dominate the ecosystem of the place. The chances of their neurotoxin, grayanotoxin, reaching the honey is high. Thus, this type of honey is said to be mad honey.
We have already established that grayanotoxin is responsible for giving the mad honey its reputation for being “mad.” If we take a deeper dive into understanding how grayanotoxin works, we can read an excerpt from Justin Brower’s famous blog known as Nature’s Poisons, where he writes:
“Grayanotoxins exert their toxicity by binding to sodium ion channels on cell membranes and preventing them from closing quickly, like aconitine. The result is a state of depolarization in which sodium ions are freely flowing into the cells, and calcium influx is on the rise.”
So, consuming mad honey can cause salivation, sweating, and nausea. However, there is a piece of good news, too: these symptoms usually die out after 24 hours. For example, a man who suffered from mad honey poisoning became okay after a 24-hour window.
Finding out the exact amount of mad honey that could lead up to death depends upon the person consuming it. The 2018 RSC Report again states that:
“Consumption of about 15-30 g mad honey leads to intoxication, and symptoms appear after half to 4 [hours]. The level of intoxication depends not only on the amount of mad honey consumed but also on the grayanotoxin concentration in the honey and the season of production. According to Ozhan et al., consuming one teaspoon of mad honey may lead to poisoning.”
Therefore, it is safe to say that it is rare to die from mad honey poisoning. Also, there has not been a single modern-day record of a human dying from consuming mad honey. But animals in the past have died because of it.
Is the mad honey legal?
The mad honey is completely legal in Nepal. Anyone can produce, sell, and export mad honey from Nepal. However, mad honey is banned in South Korea. The South Korean government banned mad honey in 2005 because of the rising issues of illegal imports and direct purchases of mad honey from Nepal by South Korean travelers.
However, although mad honey is legal in almost all states except South Korea, it is always wise to check its legal status before purchasing it.
Moving on, what are the steps of extracting mad honey from Nepal?
Every good thing in this world is hard to get, and the same goes for the extraction process of Nepal, mad honey. Do you remember that mad honey is made when a bee feeds on rhododendron flowers? Yes, one more fun fact about the rhododendron flower is that it grows in areas with higher altitudes, usually 1,500 meters or 4,921.26 feet to 5,000 meters or 16,404.2 feet above sea level.
So, the honeycombs where you will find the mad honey will usually be at a difficult place where it is almost unreachable. It kind of seems like God is testing the level of work we are willing to obtain this honey. Usually, honeycombs are on a cliff near the mountains, so if you want to harvest mad honey, you must be ready to climb a dangerous cliff with little or no safety.
Most mad honey honeycombs are 3,500 meters or 11,482.94 feet above sea level and 300 meters or 984.252 feet above ground level.
Mostly Gurungs, an indigenous group native to Nepal, is responsible for extracting mad honey from the gorgeous mountains of Nepal. The Gurungs immensely believe in the spiritual and mystical powers of the mad honey. They use it to treat many body problems, making their mental and physical functioning fit, and also use it as a source of an aphrodisiac.
Often people who extract the honeycombs are well-trained, skilled, and, most importantly, lion-hearted and are responsible for this dangerous task. And they use only handmade ladders and ropes to extract the honeycombs found in the daring cliff walls. Using locally made ropes and ladders, honey collectors usually endanger their lives while extracting the mad honey.
The process of taking away the honeycombs from the environment of angry bees while ensuring that you don’t fall is heart-stopping. So, these brave people often have a profound understanding of bees’ behavior and their surroundings to reduce their chance of getting hurt.
Also, the person responsible for extracting mad honey follows a certain pattern before they go for their task. First, they hold a community meeting with the veteran honey hunters, decide who will go for the task, and soak their ladder with water. Then they set a holy day for the mad honey extraction usually done by religious leaders. Usually, Tuesdays are considered a good day for honey hunting, while Wednesdays are often avoided.
After setting a day, they perform religious rituals for the success of their honey-extracting process by offering fruits and flowers to God. This process might also include animal sacrifice. The mad honey retrieval process is often seen as a learning experience where elders teach the younger ones the art of extracting this magical honey.
However, don’t get fazed if you experience the extraction process of mad honey. People who do the dirty work are often seen with a smile while doing so, as they believe in the mystical power of the mad honey to a great extent.
You can view the process of extracting mad honey in this video.
So, what effects does mad honey produce after consuming it?
Well, if you eat mad honey in a reasonable amount, the effect you will notice will be euphoric, making you want to reach out for more. But don’t because overconsumption of this delicacy is dangerous.
If you eat this honey in a small amount, you will feel dizzy, light-headed, feelings of relaxation, and euphoric. Also, once the honey touches your tongue, it washes you with warmth and soothes your inner core.
To give an example of how it feels after consuming mad honey, we can look at this excerpt from The Rooster, which Will Brendza gave:
“Within 40ish minutes, I could feel the honey creeping up on me. The back of my head started to tingle like I was getting a scalp massage. Then, from within, I felt a warmth around my heart, in my chest and abdomen. Things slowed down a little, and my state of mind became tranquil. By the time we left the restaurant, I was feeling good and strange.”
“There are no visuals, though. The high is very much a bodily one and a mental one; a warm and relaxed sensation more like a sedative than your conventional psychedelic.”
However, eating it in large quantities may result in loss of consciousness, seizures, vomiting, hallucinations, and in the worst case, even death. But death from mad honey is rare but should be considered for personal safety.
What are the health benefits of mad honey?
Although no hard-proven scientific evidence of any health benefits of mad honey, it is still madly popular. Any honey is eaten for its anti-inflammatory property, and mad honey is no different.
People consume mad honey to alleviate signs of hypertension, improve digestion, and reduce joint pains. Many also claim that this miracle helps relieve mental stresses by providing them with a temporary escape from their anxieties. It can also help one sleep.
Locally Nepali individuals have used mad honey for diabetes, sexual dysfunction, arthritis, and skin infections.
Many people have also attested to seeing colors more clearly and vividly after consuming mad honey. In addition, mad honey can increase your concentration level, make you focus more, and makes your senses more aware of your surroundings.
Further, mad honey from Nepal is also widely popular for increasing tactile pleasure. So, many people also use it as a substitute for Viagra and swear by it for its aphrodisiac properties. They often use it to increase their performance and fight against sexual diseases.
Mad honey is also rich in vitamins such as Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Vitamin C, and other micronutrients such as calcium, amino acid, etc. Therefore, it also helps to make your immunity system strong.
To understand the medicinal benefits of mad honey, we can read this portion from research published on RSC Advances in 2018, which states that:
“Mad honey has been commonly used as an aphrodisiac (sexual stimulant), in alternative therapy for gastrointestinal disorders (peptic ulcer disease, dyspepsia, and gastritis), and for hypertension for a long time.”
No matter why you consume mad honey, it will always make you feel light and warm.
But we would like to point out that one should only use mad honey as an alternative to any modern medicine if prescribed by a doctor or other health professional.
However, consuming too much of this honey and introducing your body to a high amount of grayanotoxin can cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, which may also be fatal.
So, how can I safely consume mad honey?
You can consume a teaspoon of mad honey daily to get its effect eventually. Remember, everything takes time, so to see the effect of mad honey, you must be patient. Consuming mad honey on a daily basis can slowly heal your wounds and provide you with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
But eating mad honey is a matter of tolerance too. While starting to consume it with a teaspoon is usually a good idea, you can increase your dosage, too. Later after you feel that you can handle more, you can increase to one to even two tablespoons of this splendid honey.
However, always listen to your body and only consume how much you can handle it.
Can you tell me more about the history of mad honey?
Although it might feel like the concept of mad honey is new, it is not. What if we tell you that the history of mad honey has been for centuries? The existence of mad honey for centuries might be because of the presence of mad honey in Turkey too. So, people living around the Black Sea have been using mad honey since 401 BCE.
Sounds bonkers, doesn’t it?
Shreds of evidence suggest that Greek soldiers who were in the city of Trabzon discovered mad honey in Turkey. After they tasted the mad honey, Xenophon, a renowned philosopher and a Greek military leader, ate the honey and said:
“The number of bee-hives was extraordinary, and all the soldiers that ate of the combs, lost their senses, vomited, and were affected with purging, and none of them were able to stand upright; such as had eaten only a little were like men greatly intoxicated, and such as had eaten much were like mad-men, and some like persons at the point of death.”
“They lay upon the ground, in consequence, in great numbers, as if there had been a defeat; and there was general dejection. The next day no one of them was found dead; and they recovered their senses about the same hour that they had lost them on the preceding day; and on the third and fourth days they got up as if after having taken physic.”
After the Greeks soaked themselves in the beauty of mad honey, the Romans were the ones who talked about mad honey. The year was 67 BCE, and while the Greeks sang songs about the pleasures they received after eating mad honey, the Romans weren’t as lucky as the Greeks.
When the Romans were fighting against King Mithridates of Pontus and his Persian army, they came face to face with mad honey. However, there was one thing that the Romans didn’t know, the mad honey was intentionally used as a bioweapon by the Persians to defeat their Roman counterparts.
To understand more about Romans defeat after consuming mad honey, we can take reference from this press release which was given by Vaughn Bryant, who is also a professor at Texas A&M University in the Anthropology department:
“The Persians gathered pots full of local honey and left them for the Roman troops to find. They ate the honey, became disoriented, and couldn’t fight. The Persian army returned and killed over 1,000 Roman troops with few losses of their own.”
But after the whole ordeal, mad honey is now used for health and mental benefits and effects rather than a bioweapon. In fact, people around Turkey and the Black Sea who had access to the use of mad honey consumed a teaspoon of the honey by either putting it in milk or on its own. This was done either for health benefits or only for enjoyment only.
Then when the 18th century came, there was a whole new face of the mad honey. As the mad honey was being traded to the Europeans, they used it to put into their drinks to reduce the effect of mad honey to a certain extent.
Where can I find mad honey from Nepal?
Well, after reading the many benefits of mad honey, are you now interested in getting some of your own?
If so, then do not worry. You can get authentic mad honey from Nepal easily. Also, you can skip the rigorous process of extracting honey from the high altitudes of Nepal but can order and enjoy these delicacies from the comfort of your home.
The usual price range for real mad honey from Nepal ranges from USD 80 to 140, depending upon the size and quantity.
You can scour many websites and get the real mad honey. Websites like:
Provide you with the best quality mad honey from Nepal.
Also, The Mad Honey and Mad Honey have free worldwide shipping.
So, there you have it, folks, everything that you possibly need to know about the mad honey of Nepal. Ultimately, it is just a matter of personal choice to consume or not to consume mad honey.
However, we recommend that you at least give it one shot. Also, if you come to Nepal, witnessing the extraction of mad honey from Nepal can be an equally profound adventure, with or without consuming it.