By David South, Blue Sky Bulletin (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia), Issue 10, February-March 1999
Horse mare’s milk, drunk by Mongolians for centuries, has been proven by a team of women scientists to be as healthy as many Mongolians believe. In a UNDP-funded project, women scientists from Mongolia, China and South Korea are exploring new ways to generate income through science. A joint Mongolian/Korean team confirmed the national wisdom of using mare’s milk for treating stomach and intestine inflammations, as well as tuberculosis, liver diseases and cancer. They say the frothy white milk is packed with nutrients and vitamins.
The UNDP-funded Subregional Project of Northeast Asian Countries on Gender Equality through Science and Technology started last March. A team of Mongolian women scientists in the project made the discovery when they explored the bio-chemical composition and immunological activity of Mongolian mare’s milk.
Mongolians have used mare’s milk as part of the traditional diet for centuries. During holidays many urban Mongolians drop in on their rural relatives for a drink of the elixir, saying it will help them to alleviate stress and to heal some chronic diseases. There are even cases of foreign tourists believing mare’s milk is the elixir of life, and will make them younger.
The researchers confirmed that the drying process of mare’s milk does not adversely affect its nutritional value, including proteins, lipids, vitamins, lactose and fatty acids. The mare’s milk was processed using spray drying and lyophilise methods. The research is making it possible to better preserve mare’s milk in the off-season.
The main goal of the project is to find new ways to generate income for poor women. In the case of mare’s milk, rural women will be able to turn to local manufacturers who can preserve the milk. The researchers say the South Koreans expressed keen interest in producing dry diet from mare’s milk.
The Blue Sky Bulletin newsletter provided timely and valuable updates on Mongolia in the late 1990s. In particular, it was able to highlight urgent health needs for a population undergoing extreme crisis resulting from food supply disruptions, loss of income, social distress (alcoholism, family breakdown etc.), sexually transmitted diseases, and extreme weather. Stories from the newsletter have been cited in many journals and books since 2000, and the high quality of its contributers is evident in their scholarship and career success since. An example is below:
Poor Nutrition Taking its Toll on the Health of Mongolians By Jacinda Mawson
Rickets very prevalent in Mongolia – 1998
Prevalence of rickets in Mongolia
Asia Pacific J Clin Nutr (1998) 7(3/4): 325-328
U Tserendolgor1 MD email@example.com, JT Mawson2 MA, AC MacDonald3 MSc and M Oyunbileg1 MD, PhD
“The high prevalence of rickets in Mongolian children is a serious public health concern. In addition to the adverse effects on growth, development and immune function, it is probably indicative of widespread subclinical vitamin D deficiency.”
Another beverage was catching the interest of Mongolians in the late 1990s: beer.
From The Far Eastern Economic Review, February 18, 1999
A New Brew: As Mongolia changes under the influence of economic reforms, the country’s elite are trading fermented mare’s milk and vodka for a new status symbol: beer
Story by Jill Lawless
Photo by David South
Jill Lawless has two websites about her book, Wild East: Travels in the New Mongolia.
More of Jill Lawless‘ journalism for The Far Eastern Economic Review here: https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Far_Eastern_Economic_Review/SkuvAAAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=david%20south,%20Mongolian%20rock
Like our content? Help contribute to the costs of keeping it online.
ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.
© David South Consulting 2023