Scientists in Sweden say that mead - the age-old beverage made of honey and water - could help in the fight against antibiotic resistance. Jim Drury reports.
The word Elixir means medicinal potion.....Swedish scientist Tobias Olofsson says his new alcoholic drink Honey Hunter's Elixir is just that. It's a new type of mead - a honey-based brew dubbed 'the drink of the Gods' by Vikings. But Oloffson has a secret ingredient - 13 lactic acid bacteria found in the honeystomach of honeybees. Alongside Lund University colleague Alejanda Vasquez, Olofsson revealed last year that the bacteria contained antibiotic properties. He says Elixir could have wide ranging health benefits. SOUNDBITE (English) LUND UNIVERSITY RESEARCHER, TOBIAS OLOFSSON (PRON: OH-LOFF-SON) SAYING: "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 anti-biotics. So our thinking is that the mead, when you consume the mead, these 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." In lab tests the bacteria killed all human pathogens it came up against. The pair already sell H13, a honey containing the bacteria. By contrast, commercial honey is sterilised during production. Vasquez hopes Elixir will be shown to improve our health. SOUNDBITE (English) LUND UNIVERSITY RESEARCHER ALEJANDRA VASQUEZ SAYING: "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." Scientists world-wide are seeking new ways to combat the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. Its makers say Honey Hunter's Elixir could be part of the answer and have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Finding an alcoholic drink that both raises the spirits and keeps you healthy has long seemed a fantasy. And if Elixir proves to be that elusive tipple, drinkers everywhere will happily toast its success.