Bear Filmed Tripping on Hallucinogenic 'Mad Honey'

Video footage has emerged of a bear cub in Turkey that was seemingly intoxicated after reportedly consuming excessive amounts of a substance known as "mad honey," which has psychoactive properties.

Turkish media outlet dokuz8haber shared a clip of the animal on Twitter. The brown bear is seen sitting in the back of a pickup truck, seemingly in distress.

The outlet reported that the bear consumed the honey, or "deli bal" as it is known in Turkish, from beehives in the Yığılca district of Düzce, a province in northwestern Turkey located on the country's Black Sea coast.

According to dokuz8haber, Turkish forestry officials subsequently picked up the bear and placed the animal in the back of the pickup where the video was filmed.

In the video, the bear appears to be confused and in a drunk-like state and also seems to be having difficulty breathing.

The bear eventually passed out and was taken for veterinary treatment. The cub, who has been named "Balkız," is now in "good health" and will be released back into the wild as soon as possible, according to the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Mad honey—which has a bitter, sharp taste and can irritate the throat—differs from normal honey because it contains neurotoxins called grayanotoxins that can cause intoxication or poisoning once consumed. Hence the name.

The grayanotoxins are generally found in rhododendron plants, which bees visit in some parts of the world, extracting nectar and pollen from the flowers. The honey the bees produce after visiting these plants also contains the neurotoxins.

Consuming mad honey in small quantities can produce feelings of lightheadedness, euphoria and even hallucinations, according to Texas A&M University anthropologist and honey expert Vaughn Bryant. However, consuming too much of the substance can have a variety of adverse effects.

A bear after consuming mad honey
The brown bear cub after consuming "mad honey." This substance has psychoactive properties and can produce a variety of adverse effects. Republic of Turkey Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

These include cardiac disorders and respiratory issues, as well as such symptoms as dizziness, blurred vision, double vision, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, headaches, sweating or excessive perspiration, burning or prickling sensations in the extremities, impaired consciousness, convulsions, excessive salivation, poor muscle control, an inability to stand and general weakness, according to a study published in the journal RSC Advances.

While the ingestion of mad honey can lead to irregular heartbeats, which can be life-threatening, and other serious symptoms, fatalities resulting from the consumption of the substance are very rare. Generally, people recover well after intoxication, although in some cases patients may require hospital treatment.

Without treatment, the signs of mad honey poisoning may last for about a day. However, patients may need several more days to completely recover.

Mad honey has long been used as an aphrodisiac or for enhancing sexual performance, as well as a folk remedy for treating gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension, diabetes, flu, abdominal pain, arthritis, various viral infections and skin problems, among other health problems.

The honey, which is the most expensive in the world, has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and antimicrobial properties, research shows.

The origins of mad honey can be traced back to Turkey's Black Sea region or Nepal, and its use goes back centuries.

Ancient Athenian military commander and historian Xenophon reported mad honey poisoning in 401 B.C.—among the earliest records of this substance. It was also reportedly used by King Mithradates IV, the ruler of the Kingdom of Pontus in northern Anatolia, as a weapon against the Roman army of Pompey the Great in 67 B.C.

"The Persians gathered pots full of local honey and left them for the Roman troops to find," Bryant said in a Texas A&M press release. "They ate the honey, became disoriented and couldn't fight. The Persian army returned and killed over 1,000 Roman troops with few losses of their own."

Mad honey is still consumed in parts of the world today, including Nepal, China, Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Austria, Germany and Brazil. But the honey is most commonly found in Turkey's Black Sea region.

Mad honey poisoning is most frequently reported in Turkey, Korea and Nepal, according to the study.

Newsweek contacted the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry for comment.