Ancient recipes for simple honey mead, the elixir of the gods, might end up overcoming a challenge even more daunting than efforts Odin was fabled to have accomplished to bring the coveted alcoholic beverage home to Asgard.
In Viking folklore, Odin was said to have done the work of 18 men and transformed into a farm-hand, a worm, a handsome seducer, and an eagle all for the love of honey mead, but that’s nothing compared to the struggle of humankind as it learns how to survive in a post-antibiotic era, a time when our heavily relied upon antibiotics have been rendered about as useful as Loki.While it’s not just Vikings that have heralded mead as a drink of the gods, it is scientists in Sweden who are claiming that the fermented mix of honey and water could fight against one of humankind’s biggest threats, according to Business Insider.
Lund University researcher Tobias Olofsson says that the ancient recipes for plain honey mead could end up curing chronically infected wounds that antibiotics have not been able to treat.
“Mead is an alcoholic drink made with just honey and water, and it was regarded as the drink of the gods and you could become immortal or sustain a better health if you drank it. It was drunk by the Vikings for example and other cultures such as the Mayas, the Egyptians, and it was a drink that was regarded as a very beneficial drink.”
The special ingredient in mead that Swedish scientists say is key to fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria — the same ingredient that gives the beverage its beloved taste — is honey. In 2014, Olofsson and Alejandra Vasquez figured out that lactic-acid bacteria found in honeybees’ stomachs can cure chronic wounds when mixed with honey. According to Olofsson and Vasquez, these bacteria can kill all human pathogens they tested, most importantly, the bacteria could kill even the antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
Teaming with a brewery, they concocted a new brew based on an ancient recipe. Honey Hunter’s Elixir uses all 13 honeybee lactic-acid bacteria and the wild yeasts from honey to bring mankind the mead of our ancestors, which had always been fabled to bestow good health, if not immortality.
The difference between Honey Hunter’s Elixir and commercially available mead is similar to the difference between table honey and locally sourced raw honey. The scientists say that honey used in today’s mead brews do not contain the beneficial bacteria because the mixture of honey and water is sterilized before industrial wine yeast is added. The sterilization, they say, kills off the honey’s wild yeast and critical bacteria. One drink of this new, ancient honey mead, the researchers say, contains 100 billion living and collaborating lactic-acid bacteria. They say that drinking Honey Hunter’s Elixir can get our weakened guts back into shape and prevent antibiotic-resistant infections.
“Well, we’ve seen in our research that the honey bees actually add great flora of lactic-acid bacteria in honey, so the mead, when produced, is actually fermented by these lactic-acid bacteria together with wild yeasts and the lactic-acid bacteria can really kill off all the dangerous pathogens that are even resistant against antibiotics. So our thinking is that the mead, when you consume the mead, these (antibacterial substances in) lactic-acid bacteria in the drink can actually be transferred to your blood and help you when you are infected with dangerous bacteria or promote health, preventing infections.”
Of course, the team isn’t just accepting the earlier research — research subjects are being tested to verify earlier findings and current theories.
“We will have volunteers drinking this drink and measure different parameters to see if the compounds the bacteria produce could end up in the blood system and for that to cause a prevention or a cure for infections,” Vasquez explained.
Most assuredly, it wasn’t difficult to find volunteers for the ancient, plain honey mead research.
The short film by Nadim Elazzeh explains the predicament the Swedish researchers have found themselves in, even though they may have developed a simple product that could bring lifesaving bacteria to millions of people suffering from antibiotic-resistant infections.
“Despite their fantastic results, the small research team that Alejandra and Tobias run, has found it difficult to make themselves seen and heard, with funding instead going to large research groups with well-known research scientists and large contact networks. As things stand today, lots of Alejandra’s and Tobias’ projects operate unfunded with these research scientists’ fervent commitment being the only driver.”
Perhaps in a couple thousand years, humankind will tell legends about the brave heroes Olofsson and Vasquez, who challenged the emperor giants on earth and helped save humanity. For now, though, the duo and their team are fighting for mere acknowledgement of their research. Living Antibiotics is currently offering samples of the researchers’ amazing mead, Honey Hunter’s Elixir, on its IndieGogo crowdfunding page, which stresses the Swedish scientists’ desires to raise awareness of the powers of the folk medicine, go against the conventional pharmaceutical industry, give back to the people as a social enterprise/assistance company, and create a fund for developing countries facing antibiotic resistance.