Medieval Medicine Seems Barbaric, But Somehow, It Sometimes Works Today
When you think of the Medieval period, you probably don”t think of effective medicine. This is fair, as a lot of remedies around this time involved things like leeches and astrology (and much worse). Yet people living back then knew more than you might think, and even they couldn”t have guessed that one of their homespun remedies for eye infections might aid in wiping out a terrible disease 1,000 years later.
The Middle Ages usually call to mind the “bring out yer dead” scene from Monty Python. Yet historians point out that for all its flaws, the thousand-year time period was full of advancements.
In the 900s, someone wrote a book called Bald”s Leechbook. (“Leech” was a term for a doctor in those times, mainly because of the leeches they used.) It”s one of the earliest known Anglo-Saxon medicinal books, and it contains a recipe for curing eye infections.
Why would they bother? Well, due to rampant use of antibiotics, bacterial strains are becoming more resistant and harder to treat, so scientists are looking to alternatives.
Below is an overview of the project with the researchers involved. You can even hear some of the original text read in Old English!
Historians and scientists teamed up to translate the recipe and test out this concoctionand the results were astonishing. They found that Bald”s eye salve, as the potion is now known, was able to kill 90% of MRSA, including advanced, hard-to-kill colonies.
Researchers believe something is happening with how the ingredients react to the brass container, though they”re still not sure exactly what. Bald”s Leechbook was written in a time well before people understood germs or bacteria, so most of their practices were simply the result of trial and error. Needless to say, modern researchers are astonished by this find.
(via Crowdfunder, Medievalists)
More research still needs to be conducted, so the team at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. (who call themselves the AncientBiotics team) have started a Crowdfunder to raise money for the project. Check out their video explaining the project below, and consider supporting their efforts to put an end to MRSA for good.