We all know that beer tastes good, some of us know that it's good for you, but I bet you didn't know about this story by John Roach in National Geographic News.
Anthropologist George Armelagos from Emory University found traces of the antibiotic tetracycline in ancient Nubian bones. The bones dated between A.D. 350 and 550 and were found in present day Sudan, south of Egypt along the Nile river. Today tetracycline is used to treat ailments ranging from acne flare-ups to urinary tract infections. But the antibiotic only came into commercial use around 50 years ago. So how did tetracycline get into the Nubian bones?
Armelagos looked at how the ancient Nubians used grain and come across a recipe for beer. Now this was not exactly BBC's Pale Ale or even Budweiser, it was more like a thick sour gruel. The Nubians stored their grain used to make this beer in mud bins. It was then most likely, contaminated with streptomycedes, a soil bacteria that produces tetracycline. The Nubians would drink the gruel and probably allowed their children to eat what grain was left at the bottom of the vat. Traces of tetracycline have been found in more than 90 percent of the bones Armelagos' team has examined, including those of 2 year old children. The Nubians would have consumed the beer because it was tastier than the grain itself, and then noticed that people fared better and felt better by drinking the beer rather than eating the grain.
Armelagos said that there is a whole series of Egyptian pharmacopoeias (medicine books) that percribe beer for certain ailments. The ancient Egyptians and Nubians used beer as a gum disease treatment, a dressing for wounds, and even an anal fumigant (a vaporborne pesticide to treat diseases of the anus.)
This is all very interesting, but we at Bluegrass Brewing Co. are not advocating beer colonics, nor are we liable for any mishaps that result from said procedure.
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