Wednesday, April 1, 2015

9th c. eye balm fights modern antibiotic-resistant super bugs

Illuminated manuscripts aren't just for historical and literature research, or to look good on your library shelves or in an exhibit case. An eye balm from "a 9th century Anglo-Saxon remedy using onion, garlic and part of a cow's stomach" has been found to be 90% effective in fighting antibiotic-resistant super bugs. The recipe is in " Bald's Leechbook - an old English manuscript containing instructions on various treatments held in the British Library." First an Anglo-Saxon specialist translated the recipe and then scientists from the University of Nottingham mixed it.  Here's the modernized version of the recipe:

"Equal amounts of garlic and another allium (onion or leek), finely chopped and crushed in a mortar for two minutes.
Add 25ml (0.87 fl oz) of English wine - taken from a historic vineyard near Glastonbury.
Dissolve bovine salts in distilled water, add and then keep chilled for nine days at 4C."

Scientists are amazed at how effective the recipe is against modern illness. Who knows how well it worked for the eyes. Healers then tried various things and observed, a form of scientific observation still used today. Of course they also believed in witches and bleeding people to set their humors right, so you have to consider that as well. I wonder if the modern scientists will try other recipes. How wonderful that someone wrote it down and that someone who read it tried it again for another purpose.

Read more about it here http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-32117815

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