Experts said that a millennium – old treatment for eye infections could be the key to killing antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs.’
How is this possible?
Enthusiastic experts from the University’s microbiology team made it possible through recreating a 9th century- Anglo-Saxon remedy using these ingredients:
2. Onion or leeks
4. Cow bile
They were mesmerized to see that this old folk’s ‘jumble’ almost completely wiped out Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA. The remedy was read in the Bald’s Leechbook – which is an old English manuscript containing instructions on various treatments and it is held in the British Library.
The Leechbook is one of the earliest examples of what might loosely be called a ‘medical textbook.’
It seems that the Anglo-Saxon physicians may actually have practiced something pretty close to the modern scientific method, with its emphasis on observation and experimentation. Hence, Bald’s Leechbook could hold some important lessons for our modern-day ‘battle’ with anti-microbial resistance.
The Anglo-Saxon expert Dr. Christina Lee, from the University of Nottingham, translated the recipe titled Bald’s Eye Salve. Dr. Lee said that there are many similar medieval books with treatments for what appear to be bacterial infections. She also said that this could suggest people were carrying out detailed scientific studies centuries before bacteria were microscopy-discovered.
The team’s findings will be presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for General Microbiology, in Birmingham.
The recipe, which dates from the far ninth century, calls for 2 species of Allium that includes:
Garlic, onion (or leek), plus wine and oxgall (or bile from the stomach of a cow). The paper reports that the recipe specifically instructs the mixture to be brewed in a brass vessel, then nicely purified through a strainer, and finally left to sit 9 days before first use.
In each case, they tested the individual ingredients against the bacteria, as well as the remedy and a control solution. The scientists’ founding confirmed that the remedy killed up to 90% of MRSA bacteria, which persuaded them that it is the effect of the recipe as a whole rather than one single constituent in it.
The medical doctor Freya Harrison said that, before the experiment was done, the team thought the eye salve might show a “small amount of antibiotic activity”. “But we were absolutely blown away by just how effective the combination of ingredients was,” she said.
In case you would like to make your own “Bald’s Eye Salve” and see its effectiveness here it is:
Bald’s Eye Salve Recipe
• Equal amounts of garlic and another allium (onion or leek) finely chopped and crushed (in a mortar) for 2 minutes to a smooth consistency
• 25 ml (0.87 fl oz) of English wine (taken from a historic vineyard near Glastonbury)
Dissolve bovine salts in distilled water, add the ingredients, and mix together well. Keep the mixture chilled for whole 9 days at 4 degrees C. Apply where needed.
Note: You might have a “little trouble” finding the cow stomach bile, but you can easily substitute some rennet (used in cheese making) and see what happens!