Back to Middle Age to re-discover some medicinal treatments

Balds Leechbook caps

The long medieval period extends in the West over nearly a millennium and gradually enriched its knowledge in the medical field. Admired by the Greeks, Egyptian medicine made reference in Western medicine for millennia. Medical papyri mention over seven hundred healing substances, plant, animal, mineral, composing over a thousand remedies often associated with incantations to various deities. Hippocrates himself admired the Egyptians and took some of their drug forms mentioned in his “Aphorisms of Corpus Hippocratumwhose principles will be part of medical studies until the eighteenth century. In parallel with a medicine that is somehow proven, cohabits a risky medicine, offering a dangerous number of treatments and drugs that could not be more incongruous.

Garlic, onion, wine, a medieval recipe to overcome resistant bacteria. A feared bacteria for its resistance to treatment, Staphylococcus aureus, could be overcome through a medieval remedy. This is the amazing discovery of a British research team. To eradicate an antibiotic-resistant super-bacteria, five ingredients are enough: garlic, onion, wine, copper and bile of cow! A millennium old English manuscript seems to contain the solution against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Scanning electron micrograph of a human neutrophil ingesting MRSA (artificial colours)

The researchers behind this discovery presented their amazing results at the annual meeting of the Society for General Microbiology, held in Birmingham (UK) from 30 March to 2 April.

Wile some experts of ancient English litterature translate a book of remedies 10 centuries old, a team of microbiologists test them in the laboratory. “The book of cures and medieval herbals contain many remedies developed to deal with what are clearly bacterial infections, suppurating wounds, eye or throat infections, skin diseases such as leprosy and lung infections” says Dr. Christina Lee, responsible for the translation of manuscripts.

The 10th-century “eyesalve” remedy was discovered at the British Library in a leather-bound volume of Bald’s Leechbook, widely considered to be one of the earliest known medical textbooks in the world. It contains such a “potionagainst the stye, an infection of the eye caused by a bacteria known as the Staphylococcus. The recipe combines two species of Allium (garlic and onion or leek), copper, wine and cow bile and must left for 9 days. “When we replicated the laboratory recipe, I was not expecting anything,” said Dr. Steve Diggle, who participated in the research. “When we discovered that it could actually destroy biofilms of MRSA, I was really surprised. »

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.

“We chose this recipe in Bald’s Leechbook because it contains ingredients such as garlic that are currently investigated by other researchers on their potential antibiotic effectiveness,” Christina Lee said.

The ingredients alone by themselves do not actually act against the bacteria. But the recipe needs to be brewed in a brass vesseland as said in the book. Then the “patch” helped to destroy the MRSA population in the mice. Only about one bacteria over a thousand survived after treatment. This was as good or better” than traditional antibiotics. On the four trials carried out, four was successful. It remains to determine how this ancient treatment acts on bacteria. The most likely hypothesis is that by attacking on several fronts, weakening that way the bacteria allowing then the human body to destroy it. The Nottingham research team is now waiting for additional fundings to expand the research and eventually carry out trials on human patients.

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