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Medieval Medicine for Modern Infections

Medieval Medicine for Modern Infections

Lecture by Erin Connelly

Given at the Library of Congress on March 7, 2017

Excerpt: In summary, the Ancientbiotics team tests the efficacy of medieval medicines for modern infections. And I’m going to be talking about a successful pilot study on a 1000-year-old recipe known as Bald’s Eyesalve, which turned out to be a potent anti-staphylococcal agent. Its repeatedly killed Staph aureus biofilms in vitro and it killed methicillin resistant Staph aureus or MRSA in a mouse chronic wound model. Now because this pilot study occurred in 2015, we’ll also be talking about current and future research plans of which there are many. Now, I’m going to be presenting scientific evidence from the pilot study, but I speak to you today as a medievalist and although this research does hold implications for present day drug discovery. It also raises very interesting questions about the methodology of medieval practitioners. And for a long time, the Middle Ages, medieval medicine has been dismissed as irrelvant, overly superstitious, a time of gathering information solely to gather together information.

We’re all familiar with the term dark ages, labeling the period as unenlightened by science or reason. However, recent scholarship may show that there is more methodology to the medicines of medieval practitioners and further inquiry may show that their medicines were more than just placebos or palliative aids but actual antibiotics being used long before the advent of modern infection control.

Learn more from the webcast at the Library of Congress

You can follow Erin Connelly on Twitter @efconnelly

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