Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs No Match for Ancient Irish Soil
Researchers studying the properties of a particular soil in Ireland found it effectively treated four of the top six antibiotic-resistant superbugs scientists estimate could lead to millions of deaths in coming years — a problem the World Health Organization described as “‘one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.” And as it just so happens, the location of this soil was once home to the legendary, ancient Druids.
This “new” strain of bacteria found in the townland of Toneel North in Boho, County Fermanagh was given the name Streptomyces sp. myrophorea, though its potent medicinal properties have been known to locals for some time, and likely to those inhabiting the area as far back as 4,000 years ago.
Before discovering its profound antibiotic properties, scientists considered the soil to be an ethnopharmacological medicine, a.k.a. a folk cure – something locals swore by, but of which nothing was known by mainstream medicine. And now that its curative functions have been officially documented, the science community may start to shift its outlook toward similar folk cures.
“Our results show that folklore and traditional medicines are worth investigating in the search for new antibiotics. Scientists, historians and archaeologists can all have something to contribute to this task. It seems that part of the answer to this very modern problem might lie in the wisdom of the past,” one of the paper’s co-authors, Prof. Paul Dyson of Swansea University, said.
The antibiotic properties of the soil were found to treat bacteria including:
- Acinetobacter baumannii
- Enterococcus faecium
- Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Klebsiella pneumoniae
Locals have long used the dirt to treat toothaches and other infections by placing soil wrapped in cloth by their heads or near an infection at bedtime. The soil would be left for nine nights before returning it to where it was originally found — a seemingly superstitious remedy the average scientist might have scoffed at in the past.
Researchers involved in the study said they found documentation of the soil’s therapeutic properties dating back to 1815, though they recognized it was an area once home to the storied Druids. It was even a significant place for Neolithic people living in the area centuries prior — the same people who created the fascinating engravings on the megalithic Reyfad Stones.
The precise mechanisms behind the soil’s treatment of these superbugs is still unclear, though scientists are working quickly to find them, while also seeing what other bugs and ailments it could be effective against.
“We will now concentrate on the purification and identification of these antibiotics. We have also discovered additional antibacterial organisms from the same soil cure which may cover a broader spectrum of multi-resistant pathogens,” Dyson said.
And now that this discovery, once thought tantamount to an old wives’ remedy, has heralded a major lifesaving scientific breakthrough, maybe scientists will pay more attention to the millennia-old wisdom of eastern and alternative medicines.
Learn more about antibiotic-resistant superbugs and potential remedies in the documentary Resistance:
10 Highest Radiation Cell Phones & How to Protect Yourself
Cell phones have become ubiquitous pieces of technology in our lives. About 96% of Americans now own at least one cellular device, if not multiple. And while we’re constantly reassured that these devices are physically safe and pose no risk of harm, cell phones and smartphones do give off a certain amount of radiation. In fact, when looking at the fine print of any cell phone user manual, you should find a warning telling you to keep your phone at least two inches away from your body at all times to avoid radiation exposure.
These potentially harmful radiation levels are measured in units called SARs, or the Specific Absorption Rate of the radiofrequency energy emitted by a device.
Is Cell Phone Radiation Dangerous?
Could your cell phone use be giving your body unhealthy amounts of radiation? Mobile phones use electromagnetic radiation in the microwave range. Other digital wireless systems, such as data communication networks, produce similar radiation.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2011, mobile phones were classified as Group 2B – possibly carcinogenic (not Group 2A – probably carcinogenic). That means there “could be some risk” of carcinogenicity, so additional research into the long-term, heavy use of smartphones needs to be conducted. However, with 5 billion cell phone users worldwide (260 million alone in the U.S.) answers should probably come sooner than later.
Although no conclusive evidence has been produced, some experts, like Dr. George Carlo, former chief scientist of the cell phone industry’s $28 million safety research project, believes we could be on the verge of a major health crisis. Specifically, he believes the world could be on the precipice of 500,000 brain and other cancer cases annually, because of the proliferation – and rising power – of cell phones and smartphones.
Some health ailments that experts have already theoretically attributed to high cell phone use include increased headaches, high blood pressure, earlier onset of Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Additionally, concern for men’s health regarding cell phones has made international headlines. A meta-analysis of ten past studies, led by researchers at the University of Exeter, U.K., found a small but consistent drop in sperm quality if the men had been exposed to mobile phone radiation. While researchers found no link between mobile phone radiation and an actual drop in fertility rates, the finding could contribute to understanding the global — and still unexplained — drop in sperm count.