Posted by: Jim Lillie
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A form of bacteria present in ancient Irish soils has been found to stop the growth of so-called superbugs.
Researchers examining the soil in Ireland had long believed that the dirt held medicinal qualities, and now they appear to have proof.
The new strain of bacteria was discovered by a research team from Swansea University Medical School. The soil they analyzed comes from the Boho Highlands area of Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. It is located in an area of alkaline grassland where the dirt is believed to hold healing properties.
Science Daily reported that the search for new antibiotics to fight multi-resistance inspired researchers to look for new sources, including folk remedies.
Dr. Gerry Quinn, a member of the research team who previously resided in Boho, County Fermanagh, had knowledge of the area's healing traditions for some years.
The traditional way that the soil had been used in healing was to wrap up a small amount of dirt in a cotton cloth and then apply it to a variety of ailments, such as neck and throat infections. Toothaches were also treated this way.
The area where the dirt is present was once occupied by Druids roughly fifteen centuries ago. Neolithic people lived in the area 4000 years ago.
Professor Paul Dyson of Swansea University Medical School said, "This new strain of bacteria is effective against 4 of the top 6 pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics, including MRSA. Our discovery is an important step forward in the fight against antibiotic resistance."
He added that the results of the team's work indicated that traditional and folklore medicines would be valuable areas of investigation in the quest to find new antibiotics.