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|Posted: Wed May 06, 2015 12:02 am Post subject: World of Science: Medieval medicine fights MRSA
|Scientists are Brewing Medieval Potions to Fight Hospital Superbugs
Maddie Stone 5/01/15 2:00pm
|Last month, a microbiology lab in Nottingham, England made international headlines when it unearthed a substance that kills methicillin-resistant staph, one of the deadliest superbugs of modern times. The most astounding part about the find? It was a 1,000-year-old Viking potion.
“This is something we never, ever expected,” said Christina Lee, the Viking scholar at the University of Nottingham who translated the recipe from Old English. “When this tested positive against MRSA, we were just bowled over.”
Bald’s eye salve, intended to vanquish a stye, was discovered in Bald’s Leechbook, an Old English medical primer that hails from 9th century England. The recipe, which claimed to be “the best leechdom” in existence, caught the eye of Freya Harrison, a microbiologist at the University of Nottingham who moonlights as an Anglo-Saxon warrior on the weekends, as a member of the UK’s oldest and largest Viking reenactment society.
“This all kinda started from me being a big nerd,” Harrison told me over Skype. “When I met Christina, she was eager to talk with a microbiologist, because she has an interest in the history of infection. One of the things she had always wanted to do was test some of these medieval remedies out, to see whether they actually work.”
Together with microbiologist Steve Diggle, the three pooled resources to begin the “AncientBiotics” project, which would identify promising Anglo-Saxon remedies and test their medicinal value using modern science. They never expected their first attempt at replicating a medieval potion would be such a roaring success.
“To be honest, I didn’t think anything would come of this,” Diggle, whose interests lie in bacterial communication and evolution, told me over Skype. “For me, one of the most interesting aspects is asking whether this was a true scientific attempt at a recipe for treating an infection. If so, that completely changes our perspective on Anglo-Saxon medicine.”
. . .
While some of these remedies reek of BS (one, for instance, describes pounding a charred wolf’s skull to a powder and applying it to sore joints), many require nothing outlandish at all, and what’s more, contain ingredients that are know today to have antimicrobial properties. Early on in their discussions, it became clear to Harrison and Diggle that some of these recipes might have potential.
“If you think of woad dyeing, and you actually look at the process involved, it was quite complex,” Harrison said. (Woad, a flowering plant from the Caucuses that produces a vivid blue pigment, was a staple dye throughout Europe during the Viking age.) “You needed very specific redox chemistry to get the desired result. If you look at steel making technology, that didn’t get any better until the industrial revolution. Now, if people could make those things through empirical research, why couldn’t they have put combinations of ingredients together and found medicines that actually worked?”
Full Story: http://gizmodo.com/scientists-are-brewing-medieval-potions-to-fight-hospit-1700656325
In other news homeopathy is still 100% bullshit
...if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there.