The Vikings may have had the answer to fighting superbugs resistant to antibiotics, and it's all in what they drank. Studies show that mead, also known as the drink of the gods, may have given the ancient warriors an edge by boosting their immune systems naturally in a world where infections were the number one cause of death.
Mead, as a drink for the gods, is mentioned in Greek myths as well as Norse mythology where the god Odin was said to have gained his strength because he drank mead as a suckling baby. Vikings also believed that when they died honorable deaths and reached Valhalla, they would be rewarded with mead.
But what was this superpower-giving drink that was all over the ancient world? The main ingredient in the concoction is honey.
Extensive studies have shown that honey has been used since the ancient times as a natural and potent antibacterial microbe that can promote wound-healing. According to a study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, it can also hinder the growth of microbes and antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cause life-threatening infections in humans.
With an “eternal shelf life,” honey has been touted as nature's very own power medicine that humans have been cultivating even in prehistoric times.
In an interview with Gizmodo, mead and honey winemaker Ken Schramm said that humans have known the medicinal qualities of honey for thousands of years.
“I personally believe humans have known how to ferment honeys since they left Africa,” he said.
Although no one knows exactly how humans discovered the sweet and healing properties of honey and learned to cultivate it into mead, it is clear that our ancestors across all cultures knew that honey was indeed a life-giving and preserving nectar of the gods.
This is yet another reason for modern humans to do what they can to help the worldwide dwindling population of bees.
The mead that the Vikings drank became the main focus of a research study led by microbiologist Tobias Olofsson from Lund University in Sweden. He says that this ancient elixir, combined with modern science, can be the answer in a world full of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
In a 2014 study he published in the International Wound Journal, Olofsson found that the most medicinal part of honey, “lactic acid bacteria,” or LAB multiplied from 100 million per gram of honey into 100 billion per gram of mead in the fermenting process.
Currently, Olofsson is in the process of obtaining grants to further his clinical studies into mead and its medicinal qualities. In the meantime, he has also started brewing traditional honey wine that does not sterilize all the LAB out of the drink before bottling. He hopes to have his Odin-strength, life-preserving, drink of the gods, probiotic elixirs on the shelves in Sweden later this year.
Photo : Hans Splinter | Flickr