One of the most famous herbalists of all time was a Medieval nun named Saint Hildegard of Bingen.
From the confines of her cloister, she gained an incredible amount of medical wisdom. This happened despite the fact she had little or no communication with any physician. Cloistered nuns, in general, do not have visitors.
In most religious communities, especially back then, a strict rule of silence was observed. The nuns did not speak much, even among themselves.
So this vast amount of medical knowledge, according to Saint Hildegard, was communicated directly to her from Heaven.
Saint Hildegard of Bingen Writings
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Hildegard compiled her medical revelations in a book called Physicas, which has since been greatly condensed by a modern medical doctor and a pharmacist. Their book is known as Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine. This is a compilation of her remedies. Although she recommended a number of medicinal herbs for a wide range of conditions, her favorite was fennel.
After reading this book a couple of years ago, I decided to start incorporating organic fennel seed in my cooking. Occasionally, I’ve also made a special type of fennel tea with organic honey and other herbs. It’s delicious, and I use it when I have indigestion.
I love how the Internet has made it much easier to learn about this remarkable woman, now a Canonized saint who’s also been declared a Doctor of the Church. This title is reserved for someone who’s demonstrated remarkable holiness and wisdom during their lifetime.
Saint Hildegard and Herbs
Saint Hildegard believed fennel was good for everyone. She prescribed it for everything from the cold or flu, for which she advised people to drink fennel tea.
She recommended fennel for heart problems, for which she prescribed a special “heart juice” that contained fennel, licorice, sugar and honey. This was to be taken with heart pills and heart powder, all made from natural ingredients. She believed that worrying about heart attacks was capable of causing one.
Hildegard of Bingen Herbalist
However, I do need to stress that I’m not a doctor and I’m not recommending that anyone use fennel to address a condition as serious as heart disease. So if you have any health concerns, please discuss them with a physician. This article is not intended as medical advice, and I’m not making any claims that fennel will solve your health problems. Instead, I’m just sharing interesting historical information.
Saint Hildegard von Bingen Diet
Digestion was another area where Saint Hildegard found great uses for fennel. She also believed this herb had the ability to elevate our mood and to improve our complexion.
Saint Hildegard’s medical approach was that fennel was one of the plants created by God that is good for everyone, no matter what ails them. She recommended that people consume fennel as a spice, or in a tea, or in any form, to strengthen and to sustain the body.
Fennel also has the ability to stop heartburn and indigestion. It is also indispensable in the treatment of bad breath, or halitosis, according to the authors of Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine.
Hildegard of Bingen Cause and Cure
In addition, fennel is a key ingredient in Saint Hildegard’s “honey wine,” which she believed could arrest and reverse a condition the authors, Dr. Wighard Strehlow and Dr. Gottfried Hertzka, MD, refer to as “precancer.” This is a general malaise that comes about from negative emotions and an unhealthy lifestyle, and, if allowed to progress, can spiral out of control into a full-blown malignancy.
In Saint Hildegard’s translated book, written by these two medical experts, they noted that she mentioned a number of other remedies and approaches to medically intervene, when one’s health begins to decline.
Hildegard of Bingen Healing Plants
Saint Hildegard was a big fan of fennel, which she considered good for everyone. But in her book, she pointed to a number of other favorite remedies. Let me note that I’m not claiming any of her remedies will solve your health problems. But she did, apparently, have a few other favorite remedies, which include:
Lavender – This plant is what Saint Hildegard used to make lavender flowering wine. She considered this a good liver remedy. She also believed lavender “refreshes and releases the spirit.” I would have to agree. Lavender essential oil is one of my favorite natural relaxation and sleep remedies. Oftentimes, at night, I sprinkle a few drops of this aromatic on a tissue and keep it near my pillow.
Cumin – Saint Hilegard believed this spice made it easier to digest cheese. Cumin is one of the spices I use when I mix fennel with honey, and either eat it plain or put it in a tea to relieve indigestion. I also add cumin to soups, stews and chili. Here’s the brand of organic cumin powder I use.
Cinnamon – This is one of the ingredients in Saint Hildegard’s “Nerve Cookies,” designed to strengthen the nerves and lighten a “heavy heart.” In our house, we use real Ceylon cinnamon instead of cassia, a related spice that contains a chemical that can damage the liver. Most “cinnamon” sold in the United States is really cassia.
White Pepper – Saint Hildegard also prescribed a “honeywine extract” as a health tonic. This included white pepper. I was initially surprised that white pepper was available in Medieval Germany, but then I remembered the spice trade. Anyway, if white pepper isn’t available in your local grocery store, you can order it online.
Rosemary – This common kitchen spice was also used and recommended by Hildegard.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not meant to diagnose‚ treat or cure any disease or medical condition. Women who are pregnant, nursing or may be pregnant should not use herbal remedies, unless instructed to do so by a healthcare professional.