The medieval remedy for superbugs that works better than modern antibiotics

Recently, the government has declared another permanent “war,” this time, against superbugs. Especially MRSA—the drug-resistant bacteria that kills over 5,000 Americans a year.1

But just like the feds’ misguided war on cancer, this new battle is unwinnable if the only weapon is modern mainstream medicine. In fact, it turns out that a 10th century British medical textbook may hold a key in the superbug skirmish.  And, of course, this medieval remedy is simple, natural, and has nothing to do with big pharma.

I’ll tell you all about it in a minute, but first let’s look at why it’s a strategic error to fight MRSA and other superbugs with drugs.

Why we have superbugs in the first place

One of the generals in the war against superbugs is National Institutes of Health lifer Dr. Anthony Fauci, who played a prominent role in the lamestream media during last year’s Ebola scare. Like any war, this one is guaranteed to waste billions of taxpayer dollars while creating more lifetime, publicly subsidized careers for political scientists and media darlings.

You see, nature always manages to keep up with—and eventually surpass—the latest technological tricks that mankind devises.  And that’s certainly the case with superbugs. Every new, expensive, and often toxic antibiotic just causes nasty bacteria to mutate into new, dangerous, drug-resistant strains.

So by flooding the environment with antibiotics, mainstream medicine has created the perfect environment for superbugs. One where simple natural selection operates on an accelerating scale to create ever more superbugs.

It is a vicious cycle. With vicious results for patients, especially in hospitals where superbugs flourish.

A tale of garlic, leeks, and cow bile

Of course, British researchers probably weren’t thinking about any of these problems when they recently stumbled across a medieval remedy for MRSA. They just thought it would be fun to translate one of the world’s first medical textbooks—Bald’s Leechbook—from Old English. And while they were at it, they decided to try out one of its eye-salve recipes.

I recently had an experience like that myself. I worked with two biomedical scientists who are native Arabic speakers to create the first translation directly into English of Avicenna’s (Ibn Sina) 10th century Canon of Medicine.  Like Bald’s Leechbook, the Canon is also a marvel of ancient knowledge and wisdom about health and healing that still holds true today. In fact, you can find my co-authored translation, Avicenna’s Medicine, at

It sounds like translating Bald’s Leechbook would be easier because it is, after all, English. But let me tell you—Old English is no simple trick. Check out one of the earliest and most famous epics in Old English—“The Wanderer”—which begins, “Oft him an-haga are’ ybedith metodes mildse…stirrum mit handum rim-cealed sae…wadan wraec lastas…wyrd bith full arae.”

(In case you were wondering, the translation is: “Often the lone-dweller abides for the mercy of God, until he must stir with his hands (swim) the rhyme-cold (icy) sea-way to return to the land of his forbears. Fate is fully inevitable.” This probably describes the journey from England, across the North Sea, to the ancient Norse Lands of Scandinavia.)

But back to the modern-day Brits. The simple eye salve potion the researchers found in Bald’s Leechbook consists of garlic, onion or leek, wine, and ox gall (bile taken from a cow’s gastrointestinal system or biliary tree).

The ingredients are mixed together and brewed in a brass vessel. After sitting for nine days, the mixture is strained through a cloth (which would probably have been coarse linen in those days).

Of course, the antibiotic properties of onion and garlic are well known. Swallowing a clove of garlic to stop a sore throat from coming on has also been known since ancient times in England—and is still effective.

So it’s not a huge surprise that when the researchers tested their medieval eye salve in a microbiology lab, this ancient concoction killed 90 percent of resistant MRSA bacteria. Just to make sure, they made three more batches of the recipe and it worked. Every time.

While I don’t suggest you try to treat MRSA this way, hopefully the researchers’ experiment will spur interest in natural, effective ways to wage the “war on superbugs.”

And government science bureaucrats might want to take a look at some of the other recipes in Bald’s Leechbook. There are potions for everything from headaches to ulcers.

The ancient medical text even proposes the following remedy for mental health: “In case a man be a lunatic, take skin of a mereswine or porpoise, work it into a whip, swinge the man therewith, soon he will be well. Amen.”

Let’s hope that recipe definitely makes its way to Washington, DC.



1 MRSA Fast Facts.