Scientists recreated the 1000-year-old treatment using garlic, onion and part of a cow’s stomach.
The researchers were astonished to find that the remedy almost completely wiped out staphylococcus aureus, otherwise known as MSRA.
Found in Bald’s Leechbook – an old English manuscript containing instructions on various medical treatments of the time, held in the British library – the salve could play a big role in the attack on antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Dr Christina Lee, from the University of Nottingham, translated the recipe for the ‘eye-salve’ which includes, onion or leeks, garlic, wine and cow bile.
Equal amounts of garlic and another allium (onion or leek), finely chopped and crushed in a mortar for two minutes.
Add 25ml (0.87 fl oz) of English wine – taken from a historic vineyard near Glastonbury.
Dissolve bovine salts in distilled water, add and then keep chilled for nine days at 4C.
The university’s microbiology team recreated the remedy then tested it on large cultures of MRSA.
In each case they tested the individual ingredients against the bacteria, as well as the salve and a control solution.
The remedy was found to kill up to 90 per cent of the MSRA bacteria. Researchers believe it was the effect of the recipe that worked rather than an individual ingredient.
“A small amount of antibiotic activity” could be present in the eye salve, the researchers said.
“We were absolutely blown away by just how effective the combination of ingredients was,” Dr Freya Harrison, one of the study’s researchers, said.
The groundbreaking findings will be presented at a national microbiology conference.