-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- It's a sweet treat, but too
much of a certain type of honey triggered a dangerous irregular
heartbeat in a Turkish father and son, according to a new
So-called "mad honey poisoning" is very rare but can happen,
experts say. In this case, the pair consumed too much honey made
from the pollen of rhododendrons, which can cause heart rhythm
The case involved a 68-year-old man and his 27-year-old son in
Turkey who were admitted to a hospital emergency department at the
same time with symptoms of vomiting and dizziness. Doctors
determined that both of them had heart rhythm problems.
Both men reported that their breakfasts over the previous three
days had included large amounts of honey from the Black Sea region
of Turkey. This led doctors to consider that the men could be
suffering from "mad honey poisoning."
The condition can occur after people eat honey contaminated with
grayanotoxin, a chemical contained in nectar from the Rhododendron
luteum. Grayanotoxin has a harmful effect on the heart.
Mad honey poisoning typically lasts no more than 24 hours. The
symptoms of the two men in the study resolved without the need for
any medications. An analysis of the honey they consumed showed that
it did contain pollen from the two Rhododendron species.
The study was to be presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of
the European Society of Cardiology in Athens, Greece.
Mad honey poisoning occurs most frequently in people who have
consumed honey from the Black Sea region of Turkey, a major
beekeeping area that is also the native habitat of
However, the possibility of mad honey poisoning should always be
considered in any previously health person who arrives at hospital
with unexplained heart rhythm problems, said study author Dr. Ugur
Turk, of Central Hospital in Izmir, Turkey.
"The dissemination of honey around the world means that physicians anywhere may be faced with honey poisoning," Turk said in a cardiology society news release. He said that anyone who buys honey from Turkey should first consume a small amount and leave it a few days before eating any more in order to determine if they experience any problems.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about
grayanotoxin and mad honey poisoning.
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