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Medieval potion made from onions, garlic, wine and bile from a cow's stomach 'can kill hospital superbugs'

OWoN: We can't kill hospital super-bugs, but a potion created 1,000 years ago can.

The garlic-based 'potion', listed in a thousand-year-old Anglo-Saxon manuscript, has been found to kill off the MRSA superbug

Medieval potion made from onions, garlic, wine and bile from a cow's stomach 'can kill hospital superbugs'

  • Bald's eyesalve is a 10th century brew used by Anglo Saxons to treat styes
  • Scientists found it killed 90% of bacteria on scraps of MRSA-infected skin
  • Ingredients had little effects unless they were brought together in a mix
  • Brewing method - using a brass vessel - was also found to be important

Mail Online
By Madlen Davies
30 March 2015

A thousand year-old potion made out of onions, garlic, wine and bile from a cow's stomach can kill hospital superbugs, scientists claim.

The potent 10th century brew - used by Anglo Saxons to treat a stye (an abscess on the eyelid) destroyed 90 per cent of the bacteria on scraps of skin taken from mice with MRSA.

Interestingly, the ingredients had little effect unless they were all brought together into the concoction, the study by Nottingham University researchers found.

Nottingham University microbiologists Dr Freya Harrison and Dr Steve Diggle with the garlic-based 'potion'

The ancient remedy, called Bald's eyesalve, originates from a manuscript in Bald's Leechbook - an Old English leatherbound volume in the British Library.

The Leechbook is widely thought of as one of the earliest known medical textbooks and contains Anglo-Saxon medical advice and recipes for medicines, salves and treatments.

After using the solution on lab animals with MRSA - one of the most antibiotic-resistant bugs costing modern health services billions - the researchers described their results as 'astonishing.'

Associate Professor Dr Christina Lee, of the University of Nottingham, said: 'Medieval leech books and herbaria contain many remedies designed to treat what are clearly bacterial infections - weeping wounds and sores, eye and throat infections, skin conditions such as the erysipelas rash, leprosy and chest infections.


A strain of the hospital superbug MRSA can be carried by pets and livestock, say scientists who have found evidence the infection can pass from animals to humans.

Researchers at Cambridge University have found two separate cases where people were infected with the strain of infection, and livestock were found to be the cause.

And genetic tests show cats and dogs have the same strain of the bacterium as people.

It means MRSA could spread between animals at veterinary clinics in a similar way to hospital infections.

But scientists at the university moved to reassure pet owners, adding there is very little risk of them falling ill as a result of an infection passed from their pets.

It comes after cats passed TB to humans for the first time in an outbreak in Newbury, Berkshire last year, feared to have been caused by badgers.

Two people from the same household were treated for bovine tuberculosis after they caught the disease from their kitten.
'Given these remedies were developed well before the modern understanding of germ theory, this poses two questions.

'How systematic was the development of these remedies and how effective were these remedies against the likely causative species of bacteria?

'Answering these questions will greatly improve our understanding of medieval scholarship and medical empiricism and may reveal new ways of treating serious bacterial infections that continue to cause illness and death.'

The Anglo Saxon expert came up with the idea of trying out the recipe.

It describes a very specific method of making the solution, including the use of a brass vessel to brew it in, a strainer to purify it and an instruction to leave the mixture for nine days before use.

She enlisted the help of microbiologists who believe the potion's bacteria-killing effect is not due to a single ingredient but the combination used, brewing methods and container material.

Further research is planned to investigate how and why this works.

Dr Lee said: '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.

'But the potential of these texts to contribute to addressing the challenges cannot be understood without the combined expertise of both the arts and science.'

The garlic family of plants make chemicals than interfere with bacteria's ability to damage infected tissues. But researchers found all the ingredients together created the best result

The scientists made four separate batches of the remedy using fresh ingredients each time as well as a control treatment using the same quantity of distilled water and brass sheet to mimic the brewing container but without the vegetable compounds.

The remedy was tested on cultures of the commonly found - and hard to treat - bacteria Staphylococcus aureus in both synthetic wounds and in infected wounds in mice.

None of the individual ingredients alone had any measurable effect, but when combined according to the recipe, the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) populations of bacteria, were almost totally obliterated.

Only about one bacterial cell in a thousand survived.

Microbiologist Dr Freya Harrison, also of the University of Nottingham, said: 'We thought Bald's eyesalve 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.

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.

'But we were absolutely blown away by just how effective the combination of ingredients was.

'We tested it in difficult conditions too; we let our artificial "infections" grow into dense, mature populations called "biofilms", where the individual cells bunch together and make a sticky coating that makes it hard for antibiotics to reach them.

'But unlike many modern antibiotics, Bald's eye salve has the power to breach these defences.'

The findings were presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for General Microbiology in Birmingham.



  1. Thank you mother earth and those who found this to bring it forward for all to use.

  2. Another Recipe for SuperBugs, Barber Bug etc

    5 Onions (violet in color or Galmi onions)
    3 Garlic Heads (violet in color or violet garlic)
    1.10 lbs of pure honey (500 grams weighted in a scale)

    Blend everything and put in a glass jar wrapped in aluminum foil in the refrigerator. Take 1 teaspoon 3 times a day.


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