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It’s unlikely that Mad Honey appears on any of our ‘Top 10 narcotics’ lists, i doubt that even the police have ever had to deal with an early morning mad honey drug bust after a tip off that a large stash of mad honey is being delivered to the local health food shop. But it IS a thing and people risk their lives to procure it.

Psychedelic drugs come in a whole range of different forms, but did you know that certain types of honey (known as “mad honey”) can cleanse the doors of perception? Nepal’s Gurung people – who live mostly in small villages in the vast Annapurna mountain ranges – risk their lives hunting for this certain type of wild honey which has natural psychoactive and hallucinogenic properties, and how they do it is explored in the documentary above which outlines the accounts of the mad honey hunters as they go in search of their latest buzz bounty.

Getting to the honey is a mission in itself, not only are the hives situated on sheer-faced cliffs that have taken the lives of many hunters, they also have to avoid getting stung too. But the reward is the fresh hallucinogenic nectar, which is used for medicinal purposes as well as for recreational drug use.

The Origins Of Mad Honey

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“Mad honey” has an active ingredient in it called grayanotoxin and, as well as in Nepal along with Japan, Brazil, United States, and British Columbia, it’s also found, and cultivated, in the rhododendrons and azaleas of Turkey’s Black Sea region where it is known as “deli bal”. In this region the honey was once used in warfare as a poison, but has also been used historically as a drug.

In the 5th century BC, Xenophon wrote about the effects of the mad honey in his chronicle, Anabasis. In 401 BC, Xenophon and his Greek army were in retreat from Babylon. When they arrived near Trabzon, they were enchanted by the area with its fresh fish readily available as well as woods that were filled with beehives. All was not as tranquil there as it seemed at first.

Xenophon recounted, “All the soldiers who ate of the honeycombs lost their senses, seized with vomiting and purging, none of them being able to stand on their legs. Those who ate but a little were like men very drunk, and those who ate much like madmen, and some like dying persons. In this condition, great numbers lay on the ground, as if there had been a defeat. The next day, none of them died, but recovered their senses about the same hour as they were seized; and the third and fourth day, they go up as if they had taken a strong potion.” (via)

Small doses of mad honey bring about a hallucinogenic state and this is what the Nepalese farmers use it for.

The Risks Of Harvesting Mad Honey

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Mad Honey Hunters Of Nepal - 10.

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