Ancient Nubians knew about antibiotics
- Sunday, 07 November 2010 11:19
If you place a sliver of bone from a modern person who’s been on extended doses of tetracyline beneath an ultraviolet microscope, it will glow green. This is because the antibiotic binds with the calcium in the bone and reacts when exposed to UV light. The fact that Nubian mummies also glow green was first discovered by physical anthropologist, Debra Martin, about thirty years ago. Nubians lived in Sudan between around A.D. 350 and A.D. 500. Were they on tetracycline for extended periods of time? Recent research suggests they were, and they got it in their beer. As the soupy grain mixture, the basis for beer, fermented in the open air, it probably collected spores of streptomyces,
soil bacteria from which tetracycline is created. The constant low dose of antibiotic apparently kept ancient Nubians healtheir, too. It appears to have prevented osteoporosis in women, or bone loss, because it suppressed an enzyme that breaks down bone collagen. As well, anthropologist George Armelagos, found that ancient Nubians had lower rates of bone infection than other groups.
For more information on this fascinating find, please read “The Beer that Heals,” in the December, 2010, issue of EARTH magazine (www.earthmagazine.org
Michael and Kathleen