The Loh Down On Science

Ribit!

Do old wives' tales hold water?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying, sometimes they hold milk!

See, long before you could stick your milk in the fridge, some Russians had a unique way of keeping milk from spoiling. They’d drop a live frog into the milk bucket!

Fun, sure, but did it work? We don't know for sure, but recent analysis by Albert Lebedev from Moscow State University suggests why it might have.  

Lebedev and colleagues checked out the skin secretions of Russian brown frogs. These secretions are the animals' main defenses against bacteria and microbes.

It turns out frog "slime" is made of short protein chains that have both antibacterial and antifungal properties. It may be these properties that were keeping Russian milk fresh.

A previous study found 21 substances with medicinal or antibiotic properties. But Lebedev's research turned up 76 more. Some of these worked as well as prescription drugs at fighting Salmonella and Staphylococcus bacteria.

So, if you have a frog in your throat, it may be a good thing. Bacteria has croaked! Sorry.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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