Raw Honey Almost Killed Me!!!!

by matt
(seattle)

If the bees get into azaleas or rhododendrons their pollen will contain grayanotoxin and you may die from it. It happened to me a few days ago. Thanks to unknowing bee keepers at the farmers market!!! I guess it's back to the processed stuff for me. Symptoms include but are not limited to, irregular heart beat, low blood pressure, loss of muscle control (including arms and bowels),numbness,extreme nausea and vomiting for 24 hours straight, and a costly visit to the ER.


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Hi Matt,

Sorry that happened to you, but I appreciate you going to the trouble of warning others. I've never encountered this, or known anyone who has, but it's true that honey from rhododendrons (and also mountain laurel) should be avoided.

However, the fact that the honey was raw had nothing to do with the symptoms you experienced. Grayanotoxin is present in the nectar of these plants, so filtering out the pollen and heating the honey would not diminish the harmful effects of the honey.

But when you buy processed honey, you're most likely buying honey that was blended from lots of different beekeepers (although that's not a certainty). So if there happens to be any 'bad' honey, its effects are greatly diluted.

Buying from an individual beekeeper does increase the likelihood that the honey was from just a few sources -- or even one.

It's a risk people should be aware of (just like the potential risk of infant botulism, and again, I appreciate you bringing this to the attention of honey consumers.

For anyone who would like more info, you can go here to read what the FDA has to say about this.

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Aug 20, 2011
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Mammals vs. Insect
by: Anonymous

Interesting. If bees are not toxic-ized, probably bees are not mammals. Are bears dead by eating those honey as they are mammals also?

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I'm sure that bears would be effected by the honey, too. Bears do eat honey, but in spite of their reputation as honey lovers, when they raid a hive they're after the brood more than the honey.

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