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The 1,000-Year-Old Once-Secret Medicine That Kills Superbugs

Addressing medical needs is perhaps the most difficult aspect of homesteading and self-sufficiency.

Growing your own pharmacy and learning emergency medical skills are all a good idea. You can now add “learn centuries-old medical remedies” to the list.

An Anglo-Saxon remedy consisting of nothing more than cow stomach bile, onion, garlic and wine can reportedly kill the MRSA superbug, scientists in Great Britain have discovered. The 1,000-year-old mixture, which was used during the medieval era to cure eye infections, was discovered in an old manuscript in a British library.

MRSA is typically resistant to many antibiotics and can often result in death.

Anglo-Saxon expert Dr. Christina Lee of the University of Nottingham mixed up some of the antibacterial remedy from the 9th Century to see if it would really work – and was “astonished” when it did, the BBC reported.

The Bald’s Leechbook containing the Anglo-Saxon remedy is reportedly considered one of the earliest known medical textbooks and contains a multitude of medieval medical advice, including recipes for medicines, salves and treatments.

“We were genuinely astonished at the results of our experiments in the lab. We believe modern research into disease can benefit from past responses and knowledge, which is largely contained in non-scientific writings,” Lee told CBS, noting that the cures “were developed well before the modern understanding of germ theory.”

Even though the British scientists say the medieval MRSA cures works, they still don’t completely understand how or why it is so successful. Their enhanced testing found that no single ingredient had a “discernable effect” on the deadly MRSA superbug. Instead, it’s the combination of all three.

A brass pot is used to brew the superbug remedy. Once mixed together, the MRSA cure is strained in order to purify the concoction. After the medieval eye salve remedy has been left to sit for nine days, it is ready to use, according to the instructions.

“We thought that Bald’s eye salve might show a small amount of antibiotic activity, because each of the ingredients has been shown by other researchers to have some effect on bacteria in the lab,” microbiologist Freya Harrison told CBS. “Copper and bile salts can kill bacteria, and the garlic family of plants make chemicals that interfere with the bacteria’s ability to damage infected tissues.”

After seeing the test results, they “were absolutely blown away by just how effective the combination of ingredients was.”

The same book includes other potential cures.

“Medieval leech books and herbaria contain many remedies designed to treat what are clearly bacterial infections, weeping wounds/sores, eye and throat infections, skin conditions such as erysipelas, leprosy and chest infections,” Lee said.

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