Blessed Be The Soil
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blessed be the soil

Perhaps it’s fitting that a new lifesaving antibiotic was discovered inside a churchyard. For centuries, maybe longer, people believed the soil at the Sacred Heart Church in Boho, Northern Ireland cured infections. People wrapped small amounts of the soil in cloth and placed it next to an infection such as the skin or even under a pillow for nine days. The soil had to be returned and people still come from all over to use it.

Microbiologists set out to see if there was any truth to this folk remedy. To their amazement, they discovered a unique strain of the bacterium Streptomyces that was producing novel antibiotics. You see, bacteria produce antibiotics in order to fend off other bacteria. Streptomyces in particular, has given us humans eighty percent of the antibiotics we use today, including lifesaving ones against multi-resistant ESKAPE pathogens.

ESKAPE stands for various bacteria that cause six of the top infections you’d find in a hospital that are resistant against multiple antibiotics that kill seventeen million people a year. Scientists learned the curative soil at Boho contained not just one antibiotic, the new Streptomyces species produced perhaps as many as twenty new antibiotics. Even more exciting is that they found seven more Streptomyces species that may make even more new antibiotics. Yes, the soil was returned!

There are other indigenous soil cures in the world. Among them is the soil of Kisameet Bay in Canada. I continue to marvel at the richness of Mother Nature and the answers we find there.

For more information…

A Novel Alkaliphilic Streptomyces Inhibits ESKAPE Pathogens
The global increase in multi-resistant ESKAPE pathogens (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species) has created an urgent need to develop replacement therapies. ESKAPE pathogens are responsible for the top 6 health care-associated infections (HAIs) and many have been identified as priority antibiotic-resistant bacteria...

Ancient Fermanagh cure gets modern makeover
An ancient folk remedy from County Fermanagh could help scientists in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria.According to local belief, the soil from a churchyard in Boho can cure infections. A microbiologist who took samples to see if there was any scientific basis for the cure has made an astonishing discovery...

Fermanagh History
Fermanagh’s abundant water facilitated early settlement, and late stone-age hunter-gatherers lived on fish, fruits and nuts and small animals...

Antibiotics produced by Streptomyces
Streptomyces is a genus of Gram-positive bacteria that grows in various environments, and its shape resembles filamentous fungi. The morphological differentiation of Streptomyces involves the formation of a layer of hyphae that can differentiate into a chain of spores. The most interesting property of Streptomyces is the ability to produce bioactive secondary metabolites, such as antifungals, antivirals, antitumorals, anti-hypertensives, immunosuppressants, and especially antibiotics...