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Medieval medicine

A medieval remedy for eye infections found in an old manuscript held by the British Library has been found to kill the superbug MRSA. 

Dr Christina Lee, Associate Professor in Viking Studies, and experts from the Centre for Biomedical Sciences recreated the 10th-century 'potion' for eye infections from Bald's Leechbook, an Old English leatherbound volume to see if the remedy really worked. The results have astounded both scientists and historians alike. 

Recreating a medieval antibiotic 

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

The recipe for the eye salve 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 straining to purify it and leaving the mixture for nine days before use.

The solution has been found to have remarkable effects on MRSA, one of the most antibiotic-resistant bugs. Dr Christina Lee and Dr Freya Harrison explain more about this fascinating piece of research...