A 10th century remedy holds promise for curing modern-day MRSA

Photo courtesy of NIAID/NIH

SAN DIEGO, April 7, 2015 — The World Health Organization reports that the threat of antibiotic resistant infections to the global community is of epic proportions, describing the phenomenon as the “post-antibiotic era.” This situation has led scientists to search for new – and old – cures for virulent infections.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a strain of staph bacteria which has become resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Infecting more than two million worldwide, MRSA claims more than 23,000 lives each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Patients often contract MRSA from health care settings, including in-patient or out-patient hospitalization and nursing home stays.

Exposure to MRSA can also happen in community settings such as schools, gymnasiums, crowded living conditions, and through direct contact with health care and child care workers.

MRSA spreads from person to person through direct physical contact, indirect contact via exposure to contaminated physical objects, and airborne exposure via coughs or sneezes.

It is estimated that approximately 30% of the general population are unwitting carriers. These are individuals who carry the bacteria though they themselves do not have an active infection.

New FDA approved antibiotics such as Dalvance, Vancomycin and others promise hope for treating MRSA.
Yet ancient wisdom is also proving effective against MRSA. Imagine the excitement of British scientists who recently discovered a 10th century potion for an eye salve which has been found to be highly effective in killing MRSA.

Photo courtesy of public domain
Photo courtesy of public domain

An old world Anglo-Saxon recipe for eye salve was discovered in a 1,000-year-old healing arts manuscript, Bald’s Leechbook, found in the British Library.

After translation of the recipe by Anglo-Saxon expert Dr. Christina Lee from the University of Nottingham, researchers for the university’s department undertook to recreate it.

The ancient eye salve consists entirely of natural substances which include the following ingredients published in VitalSigns:

  • Two species of Allium (*garlic and onion or leek)
  • Wine
  • Oxgall (bile from a cow’s stomach)

*Garlic is considered a natural form of antibiotic

Bald’s provided ratios to use for each of the ingredients, and specified the use of a brass vessel in which to contain them.

Instructions were provided for specific brewing techniques, the length of time to allow the brew to be left standing, and the method by which to strain the potion through cloth.

“Efforts to replicate the recipe exactly, including finding wine from a vineyard known to have existed in the ninth century,” were meticulously made, says Steve Diggle, associate professor of sociomicrobiology at the university.

The ancient potion was then tested, first on large cultures of MRSA, then on artificial wound infections in collagen plugs, then finally on infected mouse wounds to determine its effectiveness against MRSA.

Researchers were astounded by the results, as it was successful in killing MRSA bacteria 90% of the time.

Dr. Freya Harrison, a university microbiologist commented on their unexpected success when she said, “We thought Bald’s salve might show a small amount of antibiotic activity…We tested in difficult conditions…we let our artificial ‘infections’ grow…But unlike many modern antibiotics, Bald’s eye salve has the power to breach their defenses (biofilms).”

There is an emergent need not only to acknowledge the wisdom found in ancient health texts, but also to better utilize the gifts found in Mother Nature, allowing people to work together harmoniously to ensure man’s ability to survive the coming “post-antibiotic era.”

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.

In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.

Copyright © 2015 by At Your Home Familycare

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Laurie Edwards-Tate
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today. Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service. Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home. Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. Follow Laurie and AYHF at www.atyourhomefamilycare.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/atyourhomefamilycare, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare