A 1,000-year-old treatment for eye infections could hold the key to killing antibiotic-resistant superbugs, experts have said. Scientists recreated a 9th Century Anglo-Saxon remedy using garlic, wine, onion and part of a cow’s stomach. They were “astonished” to find it almost completely wiped out Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus — or staph — because it’s resistant to some commonly used antibiotics. The remedy was found in Bald’s Leechbook – an old English manuscript containing instructions on various treatments held in the British Library.
The recipe, which dates from the 9th century, calls for two species of Allium that includes garlic, onion, and leek, as well as wine and oxgall, or bile from the stomach of a cow. The paper reports that the recipe specifically calls for the mixture to be brewed in a brass vessel, purified through a strainer, and left to sit for nine days before use.
The scientists found the remedy killed up to 90% of MRSA bacteria and believe it is the effect of the recipe rather than one single ingredient.
Dr Freya Harrison said 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’d like to make your own “Bald’s Eye Salve”:
You might have a little trouble sourcing cow stomach bile but substitute some rennet (used in cheese making) and see what happens!
- Equal amounts garlic and onion finely chopped and crushed to a smooth consistency.
- 25 ml English wine (from vineyard in Glastonbury)
- Dissolve bovine salts in distilled water
- Add ingredients together and keep chilled for 9 days at 4C
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