Who would have guessed, a 10th century Anglo-Saxon potion for treating styes (infected eyelash follicles), might hold the secret to eradicate “super-bugs”. Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), otherwise known as the antibiotic resistant “super-bug” has stubbornly eluded modern medical cures.
Last year at the University of Nottingham, Dr. Christina Lee – an expert in Old English happened to mention Bald’s Leechbook, a 10th century book of infection remedies kept in the British Library. Knowing styes are caused by Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria, Dr. Lee took great care to duplicate an ancient potion – turning it over to researchers battling MRSA.
Take cropleek and garlic, of both equal quantities, pound them well together… take wine and bullocks gall, mix with the leek… let it stand nine days in the brass vessel…
On their own, onions, garlic red wine and cow bile amount to a hill of beans against antibiotic resistant bacteria. Combine them in precise quantities, ferment for 9 days in a brass pot – you have a thousand year old potion killing over 90% of MRSA bacteria in infected mice.
Given resources and a little time, modern applications of an ancient bacterial remedy seem poised to tackle dreaded “super-bugs”. Remarkable as that might be, consider 10th century men of science. Ponder their path along trial and error’s treacherous slopes. Before concepts of bacteria, let alone antibiotics. In a time of sin, divine retribution and blood letting – folklore, not science cured affliction. In all honesty – that alone blows my mind.