Ancient history

Lactobacillus bulgaricus – the first all natural probiotic in the World

Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Thracians and Bulgarians

Historical data show that Lactobacillus bulgaricus has been known to the Thracians, who inhabited the present-day Bulgarian lands more than 7-8 thousand years ago. One of the achievements of the Thracian civilization is lactic acid fermentation. Thracian revolution in feeding is a precondition for the development of the Thracian civilization, that laid the foundations of the European civilization.

Genetic studies of mitochondrial DNA of the modern inhabitants of Bulgaria, conducted by European scientists, show that Bulgarians are direct descendants of the Thracians.

Lactobacillus bulgaricus and the Thracian civilization

Thracians were known as inventors of new technologies, as Thracian civilization covers the whole spectrum of human activities – feeding, belief, treatment, processing of metals, weapons and construction. The oldest processed gold in the world, found in the Varna necropolis, dating back 7000 years, is Thracian.

The word yoghurt is Thracian. „Yoghu“ means hard, solid, and „rt“ means milk. The secret of lactic acid fermentation is not only a subject of ancient mythology and philosophy but also of modern scientific research. Ancient Thracians learned the secret of yoghurt and wine from the Homer’s teacher – Aristaeus. Aristaeus is a mythical figure of antiquity, born and died in Thrace. Even then, people believed that he is a descendant of Atlanteans (Diodorus Siculus – 39 BC). In the Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient world Suda from X century he is defined as a Apollo’s son and Orpheus’ brother. Aristaeus taught people many useful things such as fermentation of olives, milk, wine, treatment of diseases with herbs.

The oldest authentic written records of human history for the use of lactic acid fermentation are from the Father of history Herodotus (484 – 425 BC). During his tour of Thracian lands he wrote that the Thracians prepared special fermented dairy foods which are gift from Gods.

National Geographic Magazine from August 2008 sais that during archaeological excavations in the area around the Black Sea prof. Richard Evershed from the University of Bristol found more than 2200 ceramic vessels dating back to 9000 years. They found in them organic remnants of lactic acid products.

Thracian soldiers, healers and Lactobacillus bulgaricus

In “The Iliad” Homer describes the Thracian king Rhesus, participant in the Trojan War (1193-1183 BC) as follows:

“I saw with my own eyes his magnificent horses,
unlike any others, of great height, whiter than snow,
as fast as the stormy wind! Gold and silver adorn
his shining chariot, his golden wondrous weapon
unsuited for a mortal but only for the immortal and
ever living gods.”

Spartacus (71 BC), who heads the largest slave revolt against Rome, is a Thracian warrior from Maedi tribe that inhabited the valley of the Strymon River in present-day Bulgaria.

Before battles the Thracian warriors drank fermented milk mixed with horse blood which gave them a great strength and endurance (Publius Vergilius – 70 BC – 19 AD). Thracians ate mainly non-breathing food – fermented milk, honey, bread and wine (Euripides 480 – 406 BC).

The Thracian healers mixed fermented milk with herbal extracts and honey. They steeped linen cloths in these mixtures. They dried them up in winter in the cold and used them as bandages for wounds. They made water infusions with these linen cloths and gave them to people and animals in cases of diarrhea.

The warriors of the Thracian cavalry of Alexander the Great (356 – 323 BC) were tall people with blond hair and blue eyes who ate fermented dairy products. Their medics used the linen cloths to bandage wounds.

Lactobacillus bulgaricus – basis of the modern study of probiotics

Diplomatic correspondence from 1544 is preserved where Francis I of France asked the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire to send him a master healer to cure his severe diarrhea. At that time Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire. The military doctor sent from the Sultan brought to Paris yoghurt and the famous linen cloths soaked with Lactobacillus bulgaricus. The French king recovered for several months.

Ancient Greek philosopher Thales (II century BC) wrote that the Thracians were centenarians because they eat mainly fermented dairy products, honey and bread.

2000 years later, in the begining of 20 century, the basis of the modern study of probiotics is laid by the Russian scientist Ilya Mechnikoff – Nobel Laureate, a headmaster of the Pasteur Institute in Paris. In his theory “Of Longevity and Rejuvenation of Man” he wrote that the long and healthy life of the Bulgarian peasants is a result of every day consumption of fermented milk and other lactic acid products, produced in Bulgaria. At that time Bulgaria had the most centenarians per capita (4‰), less cancer and low morbidity.

Prof. Mechnikoff wrote “Our aging is a disease that should be treated like any other disease”. He found out that putrefactive processes develop in the large intestine, accompanied by formation of toxins that are absorbed by the body. That causes auto-intoxication which damages the internal organs. Mechnikoff found out that this harmful effect can be eliminated by permanent settlement of lactobacilli and recommended daily consumption of lactic acid products. In 1905 the Bulgarian doctor St. Grigorov discovered Lactobacillus bulgaricus in these diary products.