When the literary and scientific worlds collide…

Medieval Medicine for a Modern World??

In a history of English class I’m currently taking, we did some translation from Bald’s Leechbook – a well known piece of medieval literature written in Old English (which looks more like German than English in case you’re wondering).  We had a good laugh at Bald’s remedies – lots of wine, bits of flora and fauna, poultices and if all else failed, wrapping your patient in a blanket, leaving them in a dark room and hoping for the best.  Hey, if the worst came to pass, at least they were already wrapped in a pseudo-shroud right?

Turns out good old Bald and his fellow medieval healers may have really been on to something.  His recipe for treating eye infections was recently tried out in a lab to combat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.  These are the infections that are highly resistant to current antibiotic treatment and can cause serious issues for patients – sometimes even death.

Scientists working with Anglo-Saxon experts were able to actually make the remedy Bald recommends and it was test both on synthetic wounds and wounded mice.  The success rate was a huge 90 percent.  Alone the ingredients did little and diluted the effects were not nearly as successful.  But brewed as Bald suggested, 90 percent of the MRSA was killed. Pretty impressive for a medieval remedy.

Just goes to show that not only are there times and places where our labcoats meet our bookjackets – but that when they do we can expect some pretty fantastic results.


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