How Good Is Mead For Your Health?

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Somi Igbene, PhD, ANutr
Written by Aparna Mallampalli, BEd (Biological Sciences), MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition

The benefits of mead are thought to come from its honey content. This traditional alcoholic beverage, also called honey wine, is usually consumed for its sweet taste. But is mead really beneficial? Does the honey it contains offer any effective benefit? Here, we further understand what science says about mead, how to make it, and its potential health benefits and side effects. Read on.

What Is Mead?

Mead is a traditional alcoholic beverage with an alcoholic percentage ranging from 8% and 18%. It is generally prepared by the alcoholic fermentation of diluted honey by using yeast. It is popular in Eastern Europe, and is also widely consumed in England, Germany, Ethiopia, and South Africa.

Mead is believed to be the oldest consumed alcohol by humans, even before wine. In many places, mead is still homemade and is especially believed to have many therapeutic properties. Read to know more about the history of mead.

History Of Mead

Mead is believed to have a history of over 8000 years. It is said to have been created on the Island of Crete. Some also claim that it was first founded in China around the 7th millennium BCE. Mead was also mentioned in the Sanskrit Rig-Veda.

Mead is thought to have been invented accidentally when honey and water were mixed. Today, mead is found in many ancient cultures of different countries. It is available in different types, and we will explore them below.

Types Of Mead

  • Show Mead: It is the simplest form of mead that contains honey, water, and yeast. It is a basic mead variety without any add-ons.
  • Melomel Mead: This mead contains fruits such as raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries in addition to honey, water, and yeast. It is also used as a food preservative.
  • Sparkling Mead: It is a carbonated mead variety with some extra honey added. This extra honey is added before bottling the mead.
  • Pyment Mead: This mead contains grapes or grape juice. Its alcohol percentage also varies slightly.
  • Cyser Mead: This mead is generally fermented with apple juice instead of water. It tastes slightly sweeter because of the apple juice. It is among the most commonly manufactured and consumed mead varieties.

Continue reading to know more about the health benefits of mead.

Does Drinking Mead Offer Any Health Benefits?

Mead may offer the following health benefits.

1. May Offer Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Inflammation is the body’s basic response to external stimuli. This process helps the body get rid of any external pathogens. The results of such a reaction may include redness, itching, and pain. Honey has anti-inflammatory properties that effectively inhibit the cells that cause inflammation (1).

2. May Help Manage Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Honey is believed to ease respiratory tract infections. It is the most common home remedy used to treat cough and cold. Research suggests that honey can effectively manage upper respiratory tract infections (2). Its antimicrobial properties may also have a role to play in this regard.

3. May Help Manage Gastrointestinal Diseases

Studies state that honey may help manage gastrointestinal issues like gastritis, duodenitis, and gastric ulceration (3). The pathogens that cause these diseases adhere to the intestinal epithelium. Honey can effectively stop this adherence and may prevent disease.

Further research also states that honey can keep bacteria from adhering to the intestinal epithelial cells (4).

These are the few important benefits of mead. While you can purchase it from a local store, preparing it at home is always better. We tell you how in the next section.

How To Make Honey Mead At Home?

What You Need

  • 2 liters of water
  • 500 grams of honey
  • 5 grams of mead yeast
  • 2 large containers with airlocks
  • 100 grams of raisins


  1. Slightly warm the water and add honey to it.
  2. Mix thoroughly in the container for uniformity.
  3. Add mead yeast and the raisins in the honey-water mixture.
  4. Fit the airlock to the container without any gap.
  5. The yeast will turn the sugar into CO2 and alcohol. The airlock ensures no external contaminants enter.
  6. This first fermentation may take 2 weeks to a month. This process is dependent on the temperature, quality of yeast, and recipe.
  7. You can see tiny bubbles in the recipe. You can consider the first fermentation finished when the bubbling stops.
  8. Transfer this mixture into the second container, leaving the sediment behind.
  9. Seal the airlock and store it in a clean, dark place for 2 months.
  10. Bottle the recipe and label it after 2 months.

Preparing mead is simple and consuming it may offer some benefits. However, excess mead intake may also cause adverse effects.

Risks Of Excess Mead Consumption

1. May Cause Diarrhea

Anecdotal evidence suggests that excessive consumption of mead may cause diarrhea as it contains honey. The sugar content in honey may cause loose stools if consumed in excess.

2. May Cause Diabetes Complications

Research suggests that intake of honey may elevate glycated hemoglobin levels, which may cause diabetes complications (5) Those with diabetes must practice caution while consuming mead.

3. May Cause Liver Damage

Research states that even moderate alcohol consumption is linked to liver damage. Mead generally contains 12-20 % of alcohol, which can negatively affect liver health (6).

Direct research on mead is lacking. You may consult your doctor for further clarification.

The benefits of mead can be attributed to the honey in it. This honey wine has anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps manage upper respiratory tract infections and combat gastrointestinal issues like gastric ulceration, duodenitis, and gastritis. Mead can also be prepared at home easily with simple ingredients. Although mead consumption is considered safe, having it in excess quantities may trigger diarrhea, aggravate diabetes complications, and cause liver damage because of the alcohol present in it. Therefore, its moderate consumption is advised to reap its benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is mead healthier than wine?

Yes, mead is comparatively healthier than wine. Mead contains honey that may offer certain health benefits.

Is mead stronger than beer?

Yes, mead is stronger than beer as it has a slightly more alcoholic percentage than beer. While beer contains 4 to 5 % alcohol, mead contains 8 to 18% alcohol. Mead also tastes stronger than beer.

Why is mead not popular?

Mead is lesser-known when compared to other alcoholic drinks. One reason could be its price. Mead is relatively expensive. Also, honey, mead’s main constituent, is losing its quality due to adulteration.

Where can you get good mead?

Check out your local wineries. Refrain from buying mead that is thick and syrupy. You may also prepare your own mead at home.

Key Takeaways

  • Mead is a popular alcoholic beverage with an alcoholic content ranging between 8% and 18%. It is typically made by the alcoholic fermentation of diluted honey with yeast.
  • Mead may offer anti-inflammatory benefits, help manage upper respiratory tract infections, and help treat gastrointestinal issues.
  • To make honey mead at home, all you need is 2 liters of water, 500 grams of honey, 5 grams of mead yeast, 2 large containers with airlocks, and 100 grams of raisins.
  • However, excessive mead consumption can result in side effects such as diarrhea, diabetes complications, and a deterioration of liver health.


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  1. Honey as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Its Molecular Mechanisms of Action
  2. Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  3. Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review
  4. Inhibition effect of honey on the adherence of Salmonella to intestinal epithelial cells in vitro
  5. Effects of natural honey consumption in diabetic patients: an 8-week randomized clinical trial
  6. Alcoholic Liver Disease
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Dr. Somi Igbene

(PhD, MSc (Human Nutrition), ANutr)
Somi is a biomedical scientist, a registered nutritionist (ANutr), and a nutritional therapist. She helps her clients reverse prediabetes, lower... more