Medicinal red honey from Nepal
Very rare and very popular, this honey is harvested on the walls of mountains up to a hundred meters high, in particularly difficult and dangerous conditions, by Nepalese "honey hunters", using rudimentary equipment .
It is not an ordinary honey to spread, but a honey known for its medicinal properties, to be taken in small quantity (a half to a teaspoon maximum a day), because otherwise, it can be toxic, even hallucinogenic.
Quantities VERY limited by its rarity. Most of the time the tribes keep it because the harvests are not enough for all. It is a truly exceptional product.
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According to some sources, honey from flowers of some rhododendrons of Asian origin would cause intestinal disorders. Indeed, the plant contains in its leaves a highly emetic glucoside. Thus Xenophon (430 - 355 BC) described in the Anabase the bizarre behavior of Greek soldiers, the Ten Thousand, having collected the honey of a village surrounded by rhododendrons. All who ate them lost their reason, vomited, had diarrhea, and lost their strength. Those who had eaten little were simply drunk. Nobody died, however: at the end of twenty-four hours the Greeks regained their senses, and four days later they again stood up.
Four centuries later, the same misadventure happened to the armies of Pompey: Pliny the Elder reports that troops were victims of a honey that drives crazy.
In the eighteenth century, a French botanist, Pitton de Tournefort, reports this peculiarity.
The rhododendron concerned was Rhododendron ponticum, or perhaps Rhododendron luteum (= Azalea pontica). Later, it was recognized that honey from this azalea had slightly hallucinogenic and laxative effects. Rhododendron ponticum, which causes digestive disorders, contains andromedotoxin (diterpene alcohol), rhododendron of the Alps (Rhododendron ferrugineum), arbutin, aricoline and rhodoxanthine. These two rhododendrons are considered as plants of medium toxicity, which provoke vomiting, various digestive disorders, nervous, respiratory and cardiovascular disorders.
Consumed in small quantities it brings relaxation and well-being. In apitherapy, rhododendron honey is recommended for patients undergoing chemotherapy: the consumption of one spoon a day significantly reduces the side effects of cancer treatments. The body being subjected to a natural toxin (in light daily dose) produces antibodies and automatically strengthens its immune defenses.