Pulque : A Potential Cancer Treatment?

Scientists from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) and the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Nutrition and Environment (INRAE) in France have obtained an international patent (1) for the discovery of lactic acid bacteria (2) from pulque (3).

  1. joint international patent and INRAE WO 2019/234076 A1
  2. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are a group of bacteria which play a significant role in a variety of fermentation processes. These bacteria are capable of converting carbohydrate substrates into organic acids (mainly lactic acid) and producing a wide range of metabolites. Due to their properties, LAB are widely used as starter cultures, as probiotics, and as microbial cell factories.
  3. Pulque is a beverage that has been prepared in Mexico since pre-Hispanic times from the fermented sap (aguamiel) of more than 30 taxa of Agave. See Posts Pulque; Pulque Production; Mayahuel and the Cenzton Totochtin and Medicinal Qualities of Pulque for further information.

Researchers María Elena Sánchez Pardo, from the National School of Biological Sciences (ENCB), Edgar Torres Maravilla, a graduate of the ENCB, Luis Bermúdez Humarán, a graduate of the Autonomous University of Nuevo León and Director of Research at INRAE, as well as Langella Philipe from INRAE isolated and examined 20 strains of bacteria from freeze dried xaxtle (1).

  1. Xaxtle consists of the sediments accumulated during the fermentation of the pulque.  It has also interestingly enough been used as a leavening (raising) agent in artisanal bread-making in Mexico. See Posts Medicinal Qualities of Pulque and Pulque as a Cooking Ingredient.

Dr. Bermúdez Humarán began the study of the probiotic potential of the lactic acid bacteria contained in this drink. A collaboration around the study of these probiotics derived from studies on Mexican fermented beverages by both the IPN and the Institut National de Recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement (INRAE) in France.

Other strains of probiotics found in pulque (and the regions they come from).
(Torres-Maravilla etal 2016)

It was discovered that the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus brevis (1) isolated from the xaxtle inhibits the proliferation of colon cancer cells by up to 40 percent. This is not the only bacterium in the sediment that was found to have beneficial effects on the bowel. The Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis strain was noted as having a potential effect for treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

  1.  Lactobacillus brevis LBH1073 bacterium is endemic to Nanacamilpa, an area in Tlaxcala State.

The Municipality of Nanacamilpa de Mariano Arista is one of the 60 municipalities into which the Mexican state of Tlaxcala is divided , its head is the City of Nanacamilpa which is located in the west of the state. Every year the municipality of Nanacamilpa, Tlaxcala, celebrates its most important festival, the patronal feast around the day of San José, their patron saint.

In addition to being a festival in honour of San José, it is also a pulque fair. The artisanal production of pulque is an important cultural industry in this area and this festival promotes the work of these producers.

and of course Mayahuel is an important figure.

Otras reinas del pulque at the fiesta.

Researchers María Elena Sánchez Pardo, from the National School of Biological Sciences (ENCB), Edgar Torres Maravilla, a graduate of the ENCB

It was stated that the xaxtle extract “has a similar effect to the drug 5-fluorouracil”; however, it does not harm healthy cells.

Fluorouracil (5-FU), sold under the brand name Adrucil (among others), is a cytotoxic (1) chemotherapy medication used to treat cancer. it is given by intravenous injection for the treatment of colorectal cancer, oesophageal cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer. Fluorouracil is contraindicated in patients who are severely debilitated and in patients with bone marrow suppression due to either radiotherapy or chemotherapy. It is likewise contraindicated in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

  1. toxic to living cells.

It appears that if we look deep enough that there are herbal and nutritional options for the treatment of even the most insidious of diseases and that can potentially replace some of the most toxic medicines favoured by allopathic practitioners (1). Medicines such as fluorouracil, although they may have medicinal utility, they are most definitely poisons, regardless of dose (2) and we realistically should view them as we now view both lead and mercury (3) which were once considered valuable allopathic medicines (4).

  1. Allopathic medicine is also called allopathy. It’s a health system in which medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals are licensed to practice and treat symptoms and diseases. The word “allopathic” comes from the Greek “allos” — meaning “opposite” — and “pathos” — meaning “to suffer.” This word was coined by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in the 1800s (who is also responsible for the creation of the healing modality known as Homoeopathy). It roughly refers to treating a symptom with its opposite, as is often done in mainstream medicine. For example, constipation might be treated with a laxative. The medical website I got this definition from also states “Other types or approaches to medicine are referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), or integrative medicine. Alternative approaches by definition require stopping of all western medicine.” This is complete bullshit. Medicine is medicine. If it causes healing then it is medicine. To call them “alternative” or “complementary” is derogatory and insulting. A true holistic practitioner will work with both doctors and allopathic medications (although we do prefer not to have to use poisons such the one being discussed now) and in some (many) parts of the world herbal medicine (and other modalities such as homoeopathy, acupuncture, bodywork and energetic medicinal practices) may be the ONLY medicine available to the locals, and here of course I refer to those countries considered “Third World”. Allopathic medicine is the medicine of privilege although the knowledge of it is far from being the actual knowledge of truth.
  2. “The dose makes the poison” (Latin: dosis sola facit venenum ‘only the dose makes the poison’) is an adage intended to indicate a basic principle of toxicology. It is credited to Paracelsus who expressed the classic toxicology maxim “All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison.” This is often condensed to: “The dose makes the poison” or in Latin, “Sola dosis facit venenum”. It means that a substance can produce the harmful effect associated with its toxic properties only if it reaches a susceptible biological system within the body in a high enough concentration
  3. both of which are highly toxic heavy metals
  4. See Post Empacho for more info on the medicinal use of both lead and mercury (and the warnings against it)


  • Colunga-GarcíaMarín, P.; Torres-García, I.; Casas, A.; Figueredo Urbina, C.J.; Rangel-Landa, S.;
    Delgado-Lemus, A.; Vargas, O.; Cabrera-Toledo, D.; Zizumbo-Villarreal, D.; Aguirre-Dugua, X.; et al. (2017)
    Los agaves y las prácticas mesoamericanas de aprovechamiento, manejo y domesticación [Agaves and
    Mesoamerican practices of exploitation, management and domestication]. In Domesticación en el Continente
    Americano; Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México: Morelia, Mexico.
  • D Álvarez-Ríos, G., Figueredo-Urbina, C. J., & Casas, A. (2020). Physical, Chemical, and Microbiological Characteristics of Pulque: Management of a Fermented Beverage in Michoacán, Mexico. Foods, 9(3), 361.
  • Escalante, Adelfo & Rodriguez, Maria & Martinez, Alfredo & Lopez Munguia, Agustin & Bolívar, Francisco & Gosset, Guillermo. (2004). Characterization of bacterial diversity in Pulque , a traditional Mexican alcoholic fermented beverage, as determined by 16S rDNA analysis. FEMS microbiology letters. 235. 273-9. 10.1016/j.femsle.2004.04.045.
  • Escalante, A., López Soto, D. R., Velázquez Gutiérrez, J. E., Giles-Gómez, M., Bolívar, F., & López-Munguía, A. (2016). Pulque, a Traditional Mexican Alcoholic Fermented Beverage: Historical, Microbiological, and Technical Aspects. Frontiers in microbiology, 7, 1026. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2016.01026
  • “Fluorouracil 50 mg/ml Injection – Summary of Product Characteristics”. electronic Medicines Compendium. Hospira UK Ltd. 24 August 2011. https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/3791/smpc#gref
  • IPN (Instituto Politécnico Nacional) Press Release 2020 : https://www.ipn.mx/imageninstitucional/comunicados/ver-comunicado.html?y=2021&n=97
  • Torres-Maravilla, Edgar; Lenoir, Marion; Mayorga-Reyes, Lino; Allain, Thibault; Sokol, Harry; Langella, Philippe; Sánchez-Pardo, María E.; Bermúdez-Humarán, Luis G. (2016). Identification of novel anti-inflammatory probiotic strains isolated from pulque. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 100(1), 385–396. doi:10.1007/s00253-015-7049-4

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