Grayanotoxin - Turkish mad honey and third-degree heart block

  • also called andromedotoxin, acetylandromedol, and rhodotoxin by science people who can't seem to agree on one name (seriously, form a committee and get this sorted out, science people! I don't indirectly pay for some of your research for nothing, you know! I want clarity!)
  • sublimely synthesized by a considerable number of plants belonging to the family Ericaceae, in particular, several of those of the genus Rhododendron
  • is occasionally found in honey from Turkey (especially around the Black Sea) as a result of bees collecting nectar from certain species of Rhododendron that grow in the area
    • this honey is called 'mad honey' ('deli bal' in Turkish) and people have been reporting that it makes them puke since 401 BCE
    • mad honey is still a common source of food poisoning in Turkey, likely because it is also used as an alternative medicine AND there is an increasing demand for 'natural' products
    • the locals can apparently tell when the honey is poisonous, as it causes a burning sensation in the throat following consumption
  • binds to and inhibits the closing of (i.e. persistently activates) sodium channels, causing excitable tissues (muscle and nerve) to become overexcited (due to sustained depolarization)
    • this can lead to things like muscle weakness, puking, excess sweating and salivating, and in cases of more severe poisoning, potentially life-ending heart problems like third-degree atrioventricular (AV) block as well as seizures and hypotension
Gunduz A, Turedi S, Uzun H, Topbas M. Mad honey poisoning. Am J Emerg Med. 2006 Sep;24(5):595-8.

1 chemically inspired comments:

R2K said...

: )