Herbal Psychedelics – Rhododendron ponticum and Mad Honey Disease

Toxicity of Rhododendron
From Countrysideinfo.co.UK

Potentially toxic chemicals, particularly ‘free’ phenols, and diterpenes, occur in significant quantities in the tissues of plants of Rhododendron species. Diterpenes, known as grayanotoxins, occur in the leaves, flowers and nectar of Rhododendrons. These differ from species to species. Not all species produce them, although Rhododendron ponticum does.

These toxins make Rhododendron unpalatable to most herbivores. Phenols are most concentrated in the young tissues, such as young emergent leaves and buds. This provides a primary defense against herbivores, before the tissues have acquired the added deterrent of physical toughness found in older tissues. Young emergent leaf buds have the additional protection of a sticky exudate which also contains phenols. This physically discourages small invertebrates from eating the buds, because they get stuck in the exudate. Its poisonous nature must act as a further discouragement.

Grazing animals are discouraged from eating Rhododendron foliage because of its toughness and unpalatability. The unpalatability is learned and cases of poisoning may result in animals such as sheep and cattle if they ingest sufficient quantities because of extreme hunger or inexperience. The general toxicity of Rhododendron to herbivores means that it cannot generally be controlled by grazing.

Cases of human poisoning are also known. Most are caused by the consumption of honey produced from Rhododendron flowers. This is known as ‘Mad Honey Disease’, or ‘Honey Intoxication’. Cases of this have been recorded from as far back as 400 BC. It results in relatively short-lived intestinal and cardiac problems and is rarely fatal. The severity of symptoms depends on the amount of contaminated honey consumed. It is worth thinking carefully about the siting of bee hives if Rhododendron is a prominent feature of the area.”

“Manaslu-Circuit Rhododendron Forest” by Spencer Weart

From the French Wikipedia

“According to some sources , honey from the flowers of some Asian rhododendrons cause intestinal problems. Indeed, in the plant leaves contain a glucoside strongly emetic.  And Xenophon (430-355 BC) described in the Anabasis bizarre behavior of Greek soldiers, Ten Thousand , who scooped the honey of a village surrounded by rhododendrons. All who ate lost reason, vomited, had diarrhea and lost their forces. Those who had eaten were just little drunk. Nobody died, however: after twenty-four hours, the Greeks found themselves the right, and four days later they stood up again.

For a primer in the Greek language click here.

Four centuries later, the same thing happened to the armies of Pompey : Pliny the Elder reports that troops were victims of a honey that crazy.

In the eighteenth century, a French botanist, Pitton de Tournefort , reports this feature .

The question was Rhododendron ponticum . Later, it was recognized that the honey from this azalea effects were slightly hallucinogenic and laxative . The Rhododendron ponticum cause digestive disorders contains the andromédotoxine (diterpene alcohol), the Alpine rhododendron (Rhododendron ferrugineum) arbutin, the aricoline and rhodoxanthin. Both rhododendrons are considered moderately toxic plants that cause vomiting, digestive problems, nerve disorders, respiratory and cardiovascular.”

From ‘The Delphic Bee: Bees and Toxic Honeys as Pointers to Psychoactive and Other Medicinal Plants‘ by Johathan Ott which appeared in Economic Botany 52(3):260-266, 1998  we learn the following: 

Xenophon’s 4th century B.C. Anabasis (IV, VII, 20) described psychoactive honey-poisoning during the ‘Retreat of the Ten Thousand’ in the ill-starred expedition of Cyrus. Countless soldiers in the Greek army, encamped near Trebizonde in Asia Minor, ate liberally of honey found there, “lost their senses and vomited,” and “resembled drunken persons.” Pliny (XXI, XLV) described madness-inducing honey from this area as meli mcenomenon (‘mad honey’), and also mentioned (XXI, XLVI) a medicinal honey from Crete, miraculum mellis or ‘wondrous honey’ (Halliday 1922; Ransome 1937). The 6th-8th century B.C. Homeric Hymn to Hermes referred to melissai or bee-oracles from Delphi’s Mt. Parnassos, who could prophesy only after ingesting melichloron or ‘green honey’, perhaps a reference to Pliny’s ‘mad honey’.   It was conjectured that these bee-oracles were the Pythia, hence psychotropic honey could have been a catalyst for the mantic utterances of the Delphic Bees (Mayor 1995). It is thought the source of meli menomenon was Rhododendron ponticum L., which contains toxic glucosides called andromedotoxins or grayanotoxins (Krause 1926; Plugge 1891; Wood, et al. 1954), found in other species of Ericacee, notably Kalmia latifolia L., another plant whose honey has provoked poisonings (Howes 1949; Jones 1947). Grayanotoxins occur in North American toxic honeys, presumably from K. latifolia (Scott, Coldwell, and Wiberg 1971). Frequent honey poisonings in Japan (Kohanawa 1957; Tokuda and Sumita 1925) were traced to ericaceous Tripetaleia paniculata Sieb. et Zucc., and grayanotoxins were found in these honeys (Tsuchiya et al. 1977). Another toxic glucoside, ericolin, is known from ericaceous Ledum palustre L., and from honeys derived from this plant, which caused human poisonings (Kozlova 1957;Palmer-Jones 1965).  Both L. palustre and L. hypoleucum Kam. are used as shamanic inebriants by Tungusic tribes of Siberia (Brekhman and Sam 1967); while ‘Labrador tea’, L. groenlandicum Oeder of the Kwakiutl Indians is said to have ‘narcotic properties’ (Turner and Bell 1973). Similarly, the well-known ericaceous kinnikinnick, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Sprenger, is smoked as an inebriant by Kwakiutl and other North American Indians (Ott 1993; Turner and Bell 1973), pointing to possible content of ericolin or grayanotoxins.

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Panini Office, Allahabad [1914]

INTRODUCTION.

There exists at present a good deal of misconception with regard to the practices of the Haṭha Yoga. People easily believe in the stories told by those who themselves [...] Read more →

The Master of Hounds

Photo Caption: The Marquis of Zetland, KC, PC – otherwise known as Lawrence Dundas Son of: John Charles Dundas and: Margaret Matilda Talbot born: Friday 16 August 1844 died: Monday 11 March 1929 at Aske Hall Occupation: M.P. for Richmond Viceroy of Ireland Vice Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Lord – in – Waiting [...] Read more →

Catholic Religious Orders

Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the mendicant Order of Friars Minor, as painted by El Greco.

Catholic religious order

Catholic religious orders are one of two types of religious institutes (‘Religious Institutes’, cf. canons 573–746), the major form of consecrated life in the Roman Catholic Church. They are organizations of laity [...] Read more →

The Snipe

THE SNIPE, from the Shooter’s Guide by B. Thomas – 1811

AFTER having given a particular description of the woodcock, it will only. be necessary to observe, that the plumage and shape of the snipe is much the same ; and indeed its habits and manners sets bear a great [...] Read more →

Vitruvius Ten Books on Architecture

VITRUVIUS

The Ten Books on Architecture

TRANSLATED By MORRIS HICKY MORGAN, PH.D., LL.D. LATE PROFESSOR OF CLASSICAL PHILOLOGY

IN HARVARD UNIVERSITY WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND ORIGINAL DESINGS PREPARED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF HERBERT LANGFORD WARREN, A.M.

NELSON ROBINSON JR. PROFESSOR OF ARCHITECTURE IN HARVARD [...] Read more →

The Fowling Piece – Part I

THE FOWLING PIECE, from the Shooter’s Guide by B. Thomas – 1811.

I AM perfectly aware that a large volume might be written on this subject; but, as my intention is to give only such information and instruction as is necessary for the sportsman, I shall forbear introducing any extraneous [...] Read more →

A Few Wine Recipes

EIGHTEEN GALLONS is here give as a STANDARD for all the following Recipes, it being the most convenient size cask to Families. See A General Process for Making Wine

If, however, only half the quantity of Wine is to be made, it is but to divide the portions of [...] Read more →

Gold and Economic Freedom

by Alan Greenspan, 1967

An almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions. They seem to sense-perhaps more clearly and subtly than many consistent defenders of laissez-faire — that gold and economic freedom are inseparable, that the gold standard is an instrument [...] Read more →

Clairvoyance and Occult Powers

Vishnu as the Cosmic Man (Vishvarupa) Opaque watercolour on paper – Jaipur, Rajasthan c. 1800-50

 

CLAIRVOYANCE AND OCCULT POWERS

By Swami Panchadasi

Copyright, 1916

By Advanced Thought Pub. Co. Chicago, Il

INTRODUCTION.

In preparing this series of lessons for students of [...] Read more →

Country Cabbage and Pea Soup

Add the following ingredients to a four or six quart crock pot, salt & pepper to taste keeping in mind that salt pork is just that, cover with water and cook on high till it boils, then cut back to low for four or five hours. A slow cooker works well, I [...] Read more →

The Real Time Piece Gentleman and the Digital Watch Vault

Paul Thorpe, Brighton, U.K.

The YouTube watch collecting world is rather tight-knit and small, but growing, as watches became a highly coveted commodity during the recent world-wide pandemic and fueled an explosion of online watch channels.

There is one name many know, The Time Piece Gentleman. This name for me [...] Read more →

Of the Room and Furniture

Crewe Hall Dining Room

 

THE transient tenure that most of us have in our dwellings, and the absorbing nature of the struggle that most of us have to make to win the necessary provisions of life, prevent our encouraging the manufacture of well-wrought furniture.

We mean to outgrow [...] Read more →

Blackberry Wine

BLACKBERRY WINE

5 gallons of blackberries 5 pound bag of sugar

Fill a pair of empty five gallon buckets half way with hot soapy water and a ¼ cup of vinegar. Wash thoroughly and rinse.

Fill one bucket with two and one half gallons of blackberries and crush with [...] Read more →

44 Berkeley Square

The Clermont Club

Reprint from London Bisnow/UK

At £23M, its sale is not the biggest property deal in the world. But the Clermont Club casino in Berkeley Square in London could lay claim to being the most significant address in modern finance — it is where the concept of what is today [...] Read more →

Artist Methods

Como dome facade – Pliny the Elder – Photo by Wolfgang Sauber

Work in Progress…

THE VARNISHES.

Every substance may be considered as a varnish, which, when applied to the surface of a solid body, gives it a permanent lustre. Drying oil, thickened by exposure to the sun’s heat or [...] Read more →

The Stock Exchange Specialist

New York Stock Exchange Floor September 26,1963

The Specialist as a member of a stock exchange has two functions.’ He must execute orders which other members of an exchange may leave with him when the current market price is away from the price of the orders. By executing these orders on behalf [...] Read more →

The Perfect Salad Dressing

The following recipes are from a small booklet entitled 500 Delicious Salads that was published for the Culinary Arts Institute in 1940 by Consolidated Book Publishers, Inc. 153 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill.

If you have been looking for a way to lighten up your salads and be free of [...] Read more →

Arsenic and Old Lace

What is follows is an historical article that appeared in The Hartford Courant in 1916 about the arsenic murders carried out by Mrs. Archer-Gilligan. This story is the basis for the 1944 Hollywood film “Arsenic and Old Lace” starring Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane and directed by Frank Capra. The [...] Read more →

List of the 60 Franklin Library Signed Limited Editions

The following highly collectible Franklin Library Signed Editions were published between 1977 and 1982. They are all fully leather bound with beautiful covers and contain gorgeous and rich silk moire endpapers. Signatures are protected by unattached tissue inserts.

The values listed are average prices that were sought by [...] Read more →

The Hoochie Coochie Hex

From Dr. Marvel’s 1929 book entitled Hoodoo for the Common Man, we find his infamous Hoochie Coochie Hex.

What follows is a verbatim transcription of the text:

The Hoochie Coochie Hex should not be used in conjunction with any other Hexes. This can lead to [...] Read more →

Cocillana Syrup Compound

Guarea guidonia

Recipe

5 Per Cent Alcohol 8-24 Grain – Heroin Hydrochloride 120 Minims – Tincture Euphorbia Pilulifera 120 Minims – Syrup Wild Lettuce 40 Minims – Tincture Cocillana 24 Minims – Syrup Squill Compound 8 Gram – Ca(s)ecarin (P, D, & Co.) 8-100 Grain Menthol

Dose – One-half to one fluidrams (2 to [...] Read more →

David Starkey: Britain’s Last Great Historian

Dr. David Starkey, the UK’s premiere historian, speaks to the modern and fleeting notion of “cancel culture”. Starkey’s brilliance is unparalleled and it has become quite obvious to the world’s remaining Western scholars willing to stand on intellectual integrity that a few so-called “Woke Intellectuals” most certainly cannot undermine [...] Read more →