- Japanese Society of Animal Science
- 日本畜産学会報 (ISSN:1346907X)
- vol.1, pp.103-121, 1924
The poisoning in man due to the "narcotic honey, " as they call it, which is produced in summer or early in autumn in certain mountainous regions of central and northern parts of Japan has frequently been reported. The pure poisonous honey is light-coloured and has no peculiar odor, but a spoonful of it may give one a peculiar pungent, acrid taste, and if swallowed, it causes coughs, and stimulates the stomach. The severity of poisoning varies somewhat with individuals and the amount taken. The principal symptoms are retching, vomiting, (diarrhea in rare cases), headache, palpitation followed by general depression, relaxation or looseness of voluntary muscles, ataxia when highly intoxicated, weakened heart beat, coldness of extremities, slight spasm, dilatation of pupil, exaggerated kneejerk. The patients may generally recover from the attack in several hours or in a few days; there has been no cases leading to death.<br>The minimal fatal dose of the sample from Sado-island in the rabbit, when injected subcutaneously, is 3.5gm. per kgm. of body weight; in the mouse it is 20gm. The principal symptoms in the mouse are restlessness, vomiting action, salivation, paralysis of hind body, projected eyes etc, leading to death.<br>The source of the poisonous honey produced in these parts mentioned has remained quite unknown and the bee-keepers there have always been embarrassed. Having studied the chief source of the poison since 1921, it has been proved that the main poisoning substance exists in some composition from the nectar of <i>Tripetaleia paniculata</i>, Sieb. et Zucc., "<i>Hotsutsuji</i>, " which is distributed on the hills or mountains in such localities as Naganoken, Iwateken, Sado-island in Niigataken, etc. The following data will be enough to explain the reason why the plant referred to can be determined as the chief source of the poisoning honey.<br>1. The poisonous honey in these localities is produced from summer to the beginning of autumn, in this season the plants also bloom.<br>2. The plants are generally found in abundance in the localities where cases of the poisoning often take place.<br>3. The nectar is found in the bottom of the flowers; bees are seen visiting them.<br>4. The pollens of this plant, trichotomous in shape and about 40μ in diameter, have been found in the samples from Sado-island and Iwateken, but none in other ones. The scarcity of the pollens in the samples is probadly due to the fact that the stamens and pollens of this plant are prematured before the flowers bloom and the bees can visit them without being spoiled by the pollens.<br>5. The poisonous honey is produced at intervals in one and the same locality; this fact is in fair agreement with the intermittent flowering of the <i>Tripetaleia</i>-shrubs.<br>6. The poisonous substances adsorbed by animal-charcoal are extracted with alcohol in an almost pure form. There are at least two poisonous substances in the honey, crystalline und amorphus. The same substances are also contained in the alcohol extract of flower and of leaves of <i>Tripetaleia</i>, The poisonous nature can not be destroyed by heating at 100°C in an hour.<br>7. As no trace of nitrogen is to be found in the poisonus substances of the honey, it cannot be considered that the poisonous property of it originates from some ingredients of such plants as <i>Aconitum. Datura</i>, etc. which bloom in summer and contain alkaloids as poisonous matters.<br>It is, however, fortunate that the poisonous honey is produced only in the summer season, and thus beekeepers would collect the honey just. after or before the main honey-flow in spring or autumn, and also that <i>Tripetaleia</i> grows only in the mountainous regions of limited localities, where a few dwellers or migratory beekeepers only maintain their bee-colonies.