On April 30th, 2015 we learned about

New medical breakthroughs from 1,000 years ago

Modern medicine may soon be taking a page from medieval leechbooks after a thousand-year-old prescription proved to be highly effective at battling Staphylococcus aureus, bacteria known for being very difficult to fight with modern antibotics.  The bacteria, also called golden staph, is a serious problem for hospitals and nursing homes, and so any new (or very old) method for treating it would be welcome.

A tincture for more than just balancing humors

The medieval recipe for treating similarly described symptoms was garlic, leek, wine and bovine bile salts, mixed and soaked for 9 days in a brass vessel. None of these ingredients were terribly shocking, as each one is known to somehow to inhibit the damage from bacterial infections. Garlic can block bacteria from damaging tissue. Copper can kill bacteria outright. The surprise came in just how well these things came together to fight the golden staph.

After nine days, the mixture had killed the bacteria that had been on the leeks and garlic. The recipe couldn’t even be considered an exact reproduction, thanks to possible changes in the plants makeup over the last thousand years, the use of copper bars instead of a brass vessel, etc. But it was apparently close enough, and follow-up tests with infected mouse skin proved to be 90% effective. Even cultures that were allowed to grow into biofilms, which are like a tough, outer layer on the colony that protects the bacteria from antibiotics, were affected.

Obviously, this has researchers hoping that Bald’s Leechbook, and other tomes like it, will have more lost cures worth reproducing. It’s hard to know, since they were written at a time before their authors even knew what pathogens they were hoping to cure their patients of.

Source: Doctors kill golden staph using a 1,000-year-old remedy by Michelle Starr, CNET

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