Scientists Uncover Ancient Remedy That Might Just Cure An Antibiotic-Resistant Superbug

Garlic and cow bile are just a few ingredients in this surprisingly effective 10th century potion.

"Bald's Leechbook" image via wikimedia commons

Garlic, leek, and bile from a cow’s stomach all sound like things you’d find bubbling in the witches’ cauldron during the opening moments of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In fact, they’re all part of an ancient remedy used by the Anglo-Saxons in the dark ages to help cure infected eyelash glands, referred to as styes. The concoction and others like it were all recorded in “Bald's Leechbook,” a 10th century compendium whose very name should tell you the overall level of medical sophistication we’re dealing with here.

Now, one thousand years after being written down, the odorous stye-curing recipe has been resurrected by University of Nottingham microbiologist Freya Harrison, with the help of Anglo-Saxon scholar Christina Lee, as part of “Antibiotics From The Medieval Medicine Cabinet,” an ongoing study which explores ancient texts for remedies to combat modern diseases. Amazingly, the potion was not only able to be recreated, but has demonstrated an incredible ability to combat Staphylococcus aureus, or as it's more commonly known: the highly antibiotic-resistant hospital superbug, MRSA.

Explains a release put out by the University of Nottingham:

The recipe calls for two species of Allium (garlic and onion or leek), wine and oxgall (bile from a cow’s stomach). It describes a very specific method of making the topical solution including the use of a brass vessel to brew it in, a straining to purify it, and an instruction to leave the mixture for nine days before use.

While unable to precisely duplicate the recipe due to changes in plant life over the last millenia, the Nottingham researchers approximated as best they could. Once the potion was complete, the microbiologists running the experiment were “genuinely astonished" when their remedy proved to be 90% effective at eliminating MRSA in infected lab mice.

“The big challenge,” explained researcher Steve Diggle in New Scientist, ”is trying to figure out why that combination works.” The recipe, it seems, is fairly temperamental, having reportedly failed to achieve any beneficial results in a similar experiment which took place in 2005. The key seems to be allowing the ingredients, which have little effectiveness on their own, to interact in proper proportion, for an exact length of time, before administering the potion to an infection.

The researchers have already blasted past a £1,000 crowdfunding goal for hiring a summer lab associate to help expedite research on the “Anglo-Saxon antibiotic.” Considering the team estimates S. aureus costs the United States alone nearly $10 billion in hospital admissions and treatment, a thousand pounds seems like a small price to help develop what looks like could be a particularly effective method of treatment.

Here’s doctors Harrison, Lee, and their colleagues, explaining more about their research:

via Honor Africans / Twitter

The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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