10th Century Anglo-Saxon Potion Cures MRSA

March 24, 2018 at 4:04 pm

A thousand-year-old concoction of onion, garlic, wine and cow stomach bile could hold the key to killing antibiotic-resistant superbugs, experts say

Scientists have discovered a cure for MRSA in a medieval herbal remedy book kept in the British Library.

Anglo-Saxon expert Christina Lee, from the University of Nottingham, translated an old English recipe for an “eye salve” from Bald’s Leechbook, one of the oldest medical texts on Earth:

  • Equal amounts of garlic and another allium (onion or leek), finely chopped and crushed in a mortar for two minutes.
  • Add 25ml of English wine – taken from a 1000-year-old vineyard near Glastonbury.
  • Dissolve bovine salts in distilled water, add and then keep chilled for nine days at 4C.

Experts from the university’s microbiology team recreated the recipe and tested it on large cultures of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

“We were absolutely blown away by just how effective the combination of ingredients was,” said microbiologist Freya Harrison.

The remedy killed up to 90% of the bacteria.

Testing each of the ingredients individually against MRSA, the researchers found it was the effect of the recipe rather than one single ingredient.

Lee said there are several medieval books with treatments for what sound like bacterial infections, written centuries before bacteria were discovered.