How Dirty Dishes And Stale Bread Saved The World


Home Remedies - Facts or Quacks?

That's what I recently asked myself. Myths and legends often have their basis in a grain of truth. So I wondered if home remedies, alternative treatments, and folklore cures might also be based on truth. A little research provided some astounding results!

He Was No Martha Stewart

In fact, Alexander Fleming had no housekeeping skills whatsoever. During the early 1900s, Petri dishes, beakers, and test tubes were piled around his lab like dirty dishes in a bachelor's sink. That may be appropriate, because he was studying the growth of bacteria and molds. I'm sure he had no trouble getting either of those to grow in his lab. I'm not sure how he kept his experiments separate.

Cashing In On Some Bread

Fortunately, there was at least one experiment that got contaminated. He discovered that a mold growth called Penicillium (because the cells are pencil-shaped) had killed the bacteria he was culturing in one of his test dishes. The Penicillium mold is often found on bread. He was able to isolate the chemicals in the mold which killed the bacteria, which are now known as penicillins.

A Miracle Cure Is Born

The antibiotic effects of penicillin, and its cousin cephalosporin, proved to be a great aid to the medical community in fighting bacterial illnesses and diseases. Over the years these molecules have been enhanced to help them fight bacteria which had become resistant. Penicillin is still saving lives today, simply because Al Fleming was a slob. Thankfully, he was smart enough to notice his mistake and understand what it meant.

Eating moldy bread isn't going to cure your illness. Instead, you might need a shot of penicillin to fight the effects of your ill-advised snack!


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