Researchers in Britain and the U.S. have found that a medieval concoction meant to treat eye infections also has the ability to kill the MRSA superbug.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the recipe, which dates from the 10th century, calls for two species of Allium -- a scientific type that includes garlic, onion, and leek -- as well as wine and oxgall, or bile from the stomach of a cow.
The paper reports that the recipe specifically calls for the mixture to be brewed in a brass vessel, purified through a strainer, and left to sit for nine days before use.
Dr. Christina Lee, a professor at the School of English at Nottingham University, recreated the treatment to see if it could work as a modern-day remedy. To her surprise, it not only cleared up styes, but also worked effectively against the potentially deadly superbug.
The Telegraph reports that the mixture killed about 999 of 1,000 MRSA bacterial cells present in mice wounds. Dr. Kendra Rumbaugh of Texas Tech University, told the Telegraph that the 1,000-year-old remedy worked "as good, if not better than" traditional antibiotics.
However, scientists still aren't sure why the remedy is so effective. Further experimentation showed that no single ingredient had a discernable effect on the superbug, leading researchers to believe that the particular combination of ingredients and brewing method hold the key.
The Nottingham researchers are seeking additional funding to test the method on humans.