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BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 09 December 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1368

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Harvey Marcovitch (, syndication editor
  1. BMJ

Honey can be cardiotoxic

In Turkey, 19 patients who were admitted with nausea, vomiting, fainting, bradycardia, and hypotension had ingested 30-180 g honey several hours previously as a folk remedy for dyspepsia. Apparently Turkish bees are fond of rhododendrons as a source of nectar. Some species of this plant contain grayanotoxin, the cause of the unpleasant symptoms. The toxin binds to cell membrane sodium channels, provoking prolonged depolarisation with resulting enhanced access for calcium. The authors warn that honey poisoning might occur outside Turkey because of an increase in the consumption of imported, unprocessed honey. The diagnosis should be considered in patients with unexplained acute hypotension, bradycardia, or complete atrioventricular block.

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