By Victor Luckerson
March 31, 2015
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

A 10th-century medicine that was originally used to treat eye infections may also be able to cure staph infections.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham recreated an ancient potion recipe from Bald’s Leechbook, one of the oldest medical texts in existence. By following the recipe steps precisely, including using a wine from a thousand-year-old vineyard, researchers developed a medicine that was found to kill 90% of MRSA bacteria in mice. MRSA is a particularly hard-to-treat bacterial infection resistant to many modern antibiotics.

“When we got the first results we were just utterly dumbfounded,” microbiologist Freya Harrison told CNN. “We did not see this coming at all.”

Researchers aren’t yet sure exactly why the ancient potion is so effective. The odd mixture of ingredients—onion, garlic, wine and cow stomach bile—may create a new molecule when combined or they may be separately killing off different parts of the bacterial infection.

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