Sunday, November 2, 2008

Random Entry on Airag and Mare's milk

So while dealing with the inevitable result of airag drinking, I found myself wondering about the origins of the "pee like a racehorse" phrase. (That was probably too descriptive for those blessed with active imagination.)
The popular notion of incontinent racehorses seems to have roots in the late 1970s, when trainers began the widespread use of diuretics like Lasix (furosemide). Lasix inhibits the absorption of sodium and draws water into the bladder. This causes the horse to excrete more fluids, which could, in theory, make a horse lighter on its feet and faster on the track. Depending on the dose, a Lasix treatment could cause a horse to move several gallons of urine within an hour, which could translate to a quick drop of 10 pounds from a horse's body weight before a race. Read the article here
On the subject of airag or kumis, Wikipedia has this to say:
During fermentation, the lactose in mare's milk is converted into lactic acid, ethanol, and carbon dioxide, and the milk becomes an accessible source of nutrition for people who are lactose intolerant.
Before fermentation, mare's milk has almost 40% more lactose than cow's milk
According to one modern source, "unfermented mare's milk is generally not drunk", because it is a strong laxative.Varro's On Agriculture, from the 1st century BC, also mentions this: "as a laxative the best is mare's milk, then donkey's milk, cow's milk, and finally goat's milk..."(and, validating Varro's observations, goat's milk has even less); drinking six ounces (190 ml) a day would be enough to give a lactose-intolerant person severe intestinal symptoms. [Source]
Funnily enough, Mongolians consider the digestive crisis sometimes caused by airag a cleansing process, as opposed to an expression of their lactose intolerance.

On the subject of mare's milk,  Monenzyme, a Mongolian company, is producing cosmetic products such as day / night cream, that contain mare's milk as the active ingredient. According to them, the composition of mare's milk makes it an ideal nourishing agent for human skin. I remember when we were kids, we were told to apply airag to our skins before playing in the sun and also to apply airag to sunburnt skin afterwards.