Uncovered recently in an old manuscript in the British Library was a thousand year old remedy for eye infections that has been proven to kill the superbug MRSA, or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureas, an antibiotic-resistant superbug.
Dr. Christina Lee of the School of English at Nottingham University and an expert on Anglo-Saxon culture recreated the 10th century potion to test its strengths as an antibacterial remedy. The “eyesalve” as it’s called, calls for two species of Allium, which includes garlic, onions and leek, wine, and oxgall, or the bile from a cow’s stomach.
The method of implementation is incredibly specific. It calls for making the topical solution in a brass vessel, straining it to purify, and strictly must be left to sit for nine days before used medicinally. No one expected it to work, but it actually did. When tested, microbiologists were amazed to find that the salve cleared up styes and, incredibly enough, was effective against MRSA.
“We were genuinely astonished at the results of our experiments in the lab,” Dr Lee said of their findings. “We believe modern research into disease can benefit from past responses and knowledge, which is largely contained in non-scientific writings.
“But the potential of these texts to contribute to addressing the challenges cannot be understood without the combined expertise of both the arts and science.”
Dr. Lee translated the cow bile recpie from Bald’s Leechbook, which came in the form of a leatherbound Old English manuscript. The Leechbook is thought to be among the world’s first medical textbooks and contains numerous Anglo-Saxon recipes for medicines, salves, and other types of treatments.
“Medieval leech books and herbaria contain many remedies designed to treat what are clearly bacterial infections, weeping wounds/sores, eye and throat infections, skin conditions such as erysipelas, leprosy and chest infections,” Dr Lee added.
On a personal note, my father passed away in part due to an incurable MRSA infection. Hearing that this remedy actually works is encouraging. Hopefully many lives can be saved.