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A reassessment of the efficacy of Anglo-Saxon medicine

  • Barbara Brennessel, Michael D.C. Drout and Robyn Gravel

Laboratory in vitro testing of various remedies from the Old English Leechbooks and Lacnunga does not support previous assertions that Anglo-Saxon medical remedies would have been efficacious. For example, the remedy for a stye in the eye takes ingredients that individually have anti-bacterial properties and compounds them into a mixture with no effect on common bacteria. We conclude that Anglo-Saxon remedies were not likely to have cured the ailments for which they were prescribed and that researchers, rather than asserting the probable prowess of the Anglo-Saxon læce, should instead focus on what people in the time period believed would have helped them.

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Anglo-Saxon England
  • ISSN: 0263-6751
  • EISSN: 1474-0532
  • URL: /core/journals/anglo-saxon-england
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