Fermented tonic beverages confer the same benefits as fermented foods, but each food and beverage is different because of the substrate (initial food source). Fermented alcoholic and psychoactive beverages have traditionally been used not only socially, but also medicinally, to enhance human function, in spiritual and ceremonial contexts, and for alteration and expansion of human consciousness.
The production and consumption of fermented foods is a form of symbiosis: the micro-organisms involved in the fermentation process cannot produce carbohydrates from sunlight, water and carbon-dioxide as plants do - like animals, they require something to feed upon. In the case of human directed fermentation, we provide this feeding substrate so that the desired micro-organisms may feed, grow, and multiply. In return, they provide us with alcoholic beverages and vinegars, sourdough and other breads, and a vast array of food and beverage items of enhanced digestibility and nutritional value. Probiotic micro-organisms have an even more intimate connection with us – they inhabit our mouths and digestive tracts where they help us to maintain good health and vitality.
Buhner, Stephen Harrod (1998) Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation. Boulder CO, Siris Books.
Steinkraus, K. H., Ed. (1995) Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods. New York, Marcel Dekker, Inc.