A 1000-Year-Old Anti-Bacterial Recipe is Reopening the Battle of the Books

The antibiotic-resistant super bacteria known as MRSA have met their match in a 1000-year-old home remedy reconstructed from a recipe in the Anglo-Saxon tome Bald’s Leechbook:

Scientists recreated a 9th Century Anglo-Saxon remedy using onion, garlic and part of a cow’s stomach.

They were “astonished” to find it almost completely wiped out methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, otherwise known as MRSA. . . .

They found the remedy killed up to 90% of MRSA bacteria and believe it is the effect of the recipe rather than one single ingredient.

Dr Freya Harrison said the team thought the eye salve might show a “small amount of antibiotic activity.”

“But we were absolutely blown away by just how effective the combination of ingredients was,” she said.

I’m sure they were blown away. In our modern arrogance, we have forgotten the fact that ancient wisdom once far outstripped our own (and might still in many areas). In fact, it wasn’t until the last two or three hundred years that modern man has assumed his own learning is superior to the wisdom of the ancients.

This conflict, between ancient and modern learning, reached its climax at the end of the 17th century in what has since become known then as “the Battle of the Books,” (because of a satire written by Jonathan Swift). The Battle of the Books was the scholarly quarrel on whether ancient or modern learning was superior.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you that this quarrel was decisively settled on the side of the moderns, especially after uniformitarian anthropology made it seem like our ancient forefathers were just a few generations removed from monkeys.

But this “new” discovery just might open up the Battle of the Books again. The ancients apparently didn’t even know germ theory. Yet they had a remedy that is more effective against superbugs than anything we have available. So perhaps they knew more than we have ever given them credit. So let’s reopen the Battle of the Books. God knows we could exercise a little humility.