Microbiologists have been amazed to find a 1000 year old Anglo-Saxon remedy has the power to kill antibiotic-resistant MRSA.
The British Library in London holds an old leather-bound volume that is known as Bald’s Leechbook, that experts say is one of the world’s earliest medical manuscripts.
Bald’s Leechbook contains not only medical advice, but also recipes for various medicines, treatments and ointments, including one for a salve that was used to treat eye infections. It is this eye ointment that proved to kill antibiotic-resistant MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
Scientists at Nottingham University made four separate batches of the salve using fresh ingredients – garlic, onion, wine and cow bile – as well as a control treatment using the same quantity of distilled water and brass sheeting to mimic the brewing container but without the vegetable compounds. The salve was then strained and left to set for 9 days before testing commenced.
“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…” the medieval recipe instructs.
None of the individual ingredients alone had any measurable effect, but when combined according to the recipe, the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) populations of bacteria, were almost totally obliterated – only about one bacterial cell in a thousand survived.