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Medieval remedy for bacterial infection

Wednesday July 29th 2020

A medical remedy from the Middle Ages, based on onion, garlic and wine, may be effective against a range of harmful bacteria, British researchers have reported.

The remedy, known as Bald's eyesalve, was previously found by researchers at the University of Nottingham, UK, to be beneficial for MRSA infection. Now a team at the University of Warwick, UK, have examined its effects on other bacteria, as more antimicrobials are needed due to growing antibiotic resistance.

Bald's eyesalve is a mixture of onion, garlic, wine, and bile salts. Dr Freya Harrison and the “AncientBiotics” research team found it effective against a range of gram-negative and gram-positive wound pathogens in plankton cells in the lab.

They then tested it against a number of pathogens grown as biofilms, including Staphylococcus aureus, a common cause of skin infections including abscesses, respiratory infections such as sinusitis, and food poisoning.

The team explain that biofilms are multicellular bacteria which are hard to treat. Their work is published in Scientific Reports today (28 July).

Dr Harrison said: "We have shown that a medieval remedy made from onion, garlic, wine, and bile can kill a range of problematic bacteria grown both planktonically and as biofilms. Because the mixture did not cause much damage to human cells in the lab, or to mice, we could potentially develop a safe and effective antibacterial treatment from the remedy.

"Most antibiotics that we use today are derived from natural compounds, but our work highlights the need to explore not only single compounds but mixtures of natural products for treating biofilm infections.

“We think that future discovery of antibiotics from natural products could be enhanced by studying combinations of ingredients, rather than single plants or compounds. In this first instance, we think this combination could suggest new treatments for infected wounds, such as diabetic foot and leg ulcers."

Furner-Pardoe, J. et al. Anti-biofilm efficacy of a medieval treatment for bacterial infection requires the combination of multiple ingredients. Scientific Reports 28 July 2020; doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-69273-8v

Tags: Alternative Therapy | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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