Mix Your Milk With My Cocoa What?
Whether we are comfortable with the idea or not, we’ve been using the lactation of other mammals to our advantage for years. Humans have been known to consume cow milk, goat milk, buffalo milk, sheep milk, yak milk and even horse milk. It seems that milking other animals isn’t a new or strange concept.
With that being said, a new study published about Tasmanian Devil’s milk in Nature Journal Scientific Reports, shows that science has once again nudged the line of normalcy for our benefit. The study showed that peptides found in Tasmanian Devil milk have the potential to eliminate lethal, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, called superbugs, that have developed due to the overuse of antibiotics.
It is believed that these peptides are present due to the nature and environment of Tasmanian Devil development. Baby Tasmanian Devils, called imps (not a plug for our IMPS whatsoever), are born into their mom’s bacteria riddled pouches just after a few weeks of development. At this stage, they resemble semi-translucent pink jelly beans and are acutely vulnerable to their new pathogen-heavy world. Thankfully for them, even at this jelly bean stage, their need to feed saves them. Due to consumption of milk, they absorb those super peptides which help them fight off their potentially deadly roommates. I bet some of our readers can relate to the roommate part.
This ability is what has scientists scrambling to milk probably the grossest marsupial ever. Divinely designed to help the imps, these peptides could be used as a cure for superbugs. Tests have already shown that their milk has been successful in killing MRSA and Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus.
While these discoveries are obviously good for us, there are some other hidden benefits to Tasmanian Devil as well. They are currently considered endangered animals and their new scientific importance could spur efforts of preservation and breeding. In the long run, it could also benefit other marsupials whose birth and development processes are similar to those of the Tasmanian Devil.
Despite the impressive and promising studies, there won’t be anybody treated with Tasmanian Devil milk, or the milk of any other marsupial, anytime soon. So if you come down with a terrible superbug don’t book a plane to Australia in search for some lactating Tasmanian Devils. Unless, of course, you want to see the “dead” Great Barrier Reef.
Marilu DeSimone is a second-year who advocates for the healing properties of yak milk.