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Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science
There is no doubt that what excites me the most is watching much of today’s scientific research pointing in the direction of what our ancestors already knew. And while the 5000-year-old system of Ayurveda is my personal fascination, many ancient cultures had volumes of wisdom to offer the world, and modern science backs many of these ancient cultures’ practices as well.
In a recent report about to be presented in the annual conference of The Society for General Microbiology in the UK, a 10th-century Anglo-Saxon recipe for infections is being touted. While the recipe is very unorthodox, it outperformed some of the western drugs against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (1,2)
Dug out of an Old English Medical textbook, the recipe was used to cure eye infections way back in the Dark Ages. Dr. Christina Lee of the University of Nottingham told microbiologists about the recipe found in Bald’s Leechbook, (3) which contained forgotten Anglo-Saxon remedies that were over a thousand years old. (1,2)
The Anglo-Saxon recipe was made up of onion, wine, garlic and bile taken from a cow’s stomach. It was tested on mice for the treatment of one of today’s most virulent, flesh-eating, and deadly hard-to-treat infections, MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. (1,2) Antibiotics employed for treating normal staph infections do not work in treating MRSA due to a strain of staph bacteria that has developed resistance to the normal antibiotics. (5) There is an estimated number of 75,309 people in the United States alone that have MRSA infections, which means that there are a lot of people that this ancient remedy could potentially help. (6)
The original recipe in Bald’s Leechbook was for an eye infection, or stye, which is commonly caused by a staph infection. (3) Researchers tested the recipe on MRSA, one of the most difficult of staph infections to treat. To their surprise, it was 90% effective. This was much more effective than modern-day antibiotics. (1,2)
When they tested the recipe’s ingredients individually, they were ineffective against MRSA; but when all the ingredients were mixed together, they outperformed today’s gold standard for MRSA – an antibiotic called Vancomycin. (1,2,4) Here again, we see ancient wisdom being employed in today’s scientific world. Incredibly simple ingredients were combined to boost the potency and effectiveness of the recipe. At LifeSpa, we also employ these principles by combining herbs in our formulas to glean more potency and increase absorption rates.
Other time-honored manuscripts have held the keys to unearthing modern remedies as well. For instance, ancient Chinese medical texts led to the discovery of the drug artemisinin, which wards off malaria. (2)
While scientists remain dumbfounded by this experiment, it is just another example of how much we can learn when we attempt to prove ancient wisdom with modern science. I believe that if something has been practiced for thousands of years and is still relevant today, there must be something to it.
Today, if we only draw our conclusion from the western scientific model, we are often misled. It seems results often depend on who funded the study or how it was done and a host of other variables. Science alone can prove the value of something without value or the use of something for the incorrect application.
Our goal at LifeSpa is to find therapeutic pearls of wisdom that have passed the test of time and now are backed by modern science. When we have both, I think we have something really special. This is the mission at LifeSpa, so please join us for more of these pearls and share the ancient wisdom proven by modern science with your friends.
How do you incorporate ancient practices and ways of being into your modern, daily life?
- Ker, N. R. Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon, Oxford: 1957, Reprint with addenda 1990. Item 264.