Rice Beer From North East of India Has Therapeutic Value

Researchers from the Jorhat-based College of Home Science (CHS)’s department of food and nutrition, Assam Agricultural University (AAU) and the Tamil Nadu-based Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (IICPT) have found antioxidant activity in rice beer samples in the laboratory reproted TOI.

A Naga elder sipping rice beer from a bamboo container while others looked on. Image: mapsofindia.com
A Naga elder sipping rice beer from a bamboo container while others looked on. Image: mapsofindia.com

“The antioxidant activity in the rice beer samples was most likely caused by the presence of phenolic acids, polyphenols and flavonoids from various indigenous herbs used in the preparation of the starter culture cake. These compounds are known to inhibit the oxidative mechanism that are responsible for many disorders and diseases in humans such as infections, diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s diseases, AIDS and so on,” their research paper stated.

The researchers have pointed out that besides being consumed as a beverage by different tribes in the region, rice beer is also traditionally used for therapeutic purposes. They highlighted some traditional therapeutic use of rice beer by the Karbi community of Assam, which uses the brew called Hor Acho to cure dysentery and pharyngitis.

Rice Beer is very popular in north east part of India and other tibal areas across India, it’s brewed locally, popularly known as Apang in Arunachal Pradesh and Hadia or Handia in other regions. The report further recommends rice beer can be a successful business model, on similiar lines of Japanees Rice Beer.

rajkumar1220 / Flickr CC Attribution license
rajkumar1220 / Flickr CC Attribution license

A detailed research conducted by on Munda Women in Keonjhar District, Orissa by Nirupama Satpathy and Rashmi Ranjan Satpathy has more interesting facts and describes business aspect of Rice Beer.

Tribals take Handia as an important drink at breakfast, lunch and dinner. One can manage for 10 to 15 days without any other food. During the summer season, Handia saves the body from sunstroke. By drinking Handia, the tribals become more energetic during work. Similarly, in cold, it keeps the body warm.

It also compensates for the deficiency of food for as much as 10 to 15 days for tribal people who cannot get even one meal a day. Handia is regarded as a supplementary food for tribals.

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