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Hildegard of Bingen's Medicine

Notes from "Hildegard of Bingen's Medicine" by Dr. Wighard Strehlow and Gottfried Hertzka MD. 1988

  • Every disease carries a meaning and purpose.
  • God does not create a disease without a cure, therefore all are curable if you can cure the roots.

Modern medicine has some 6000 diagnoses, Hildegard grouped them all into 80. She saw three categories: Ectodermal, Mesodermal and Endodermal diseases.

Ectodermal Outer Germinal layer. Diseases of the skin, things that hurt (nerve pain) head, eyes, ears teeth, heart, lungs, abdominal organs, sex organs, gout of the big toe. Also inherited illnesses
Mesodermal From middle germinal layer. Connective tissue and vessels Colds, flu, rheumatic and degenerative diseases, diseases of elimination.
Endodermal The inner germinal layer. Serious illnesses Cancer, Jaundice, dropsy and intestinal illness. Can include skin problems or eruptions somewhere other than the point of origin of the illness. A long list of diseases.

Four elements

The four elements work together to make a living organism. Order, balance and harmony are required. (This is much like homeopathy.

In balance we are healthy... when one overpowers the others, it is like a storm or earthquake... damaging the delicate balance causing illness. Treatments are to restore balance.

Hildegard saw everything in religious context. Illness was a form of disharmony, brought by Lucifer and the expulsion of Adam from the Garden of Eden.

Fire the warmth of the body
Water Blood
Air Breath
Earth muscles and bones

The Hildegard Diet

She notes that diseases like cancer and arthritis can be prevented with proper diet.

Breakfast: Hot cereal either spelt or oatmeal. Anything made from flour is good. Avoid cold foods in the morning. Healthy people can skip breakfast, since it increases the appetite. Breakfast is necessary in times of ill health or stamina.

Have a regular rhythm to your meals, this is good for the body.

Drink liquids as you eat, this is important.

Do not start meal with salad or fruit. This will hamper digestion. Best to eat fruits and vegetables interspersed with the main meal rather than before or after.

Fennel in all forms is 100% good for you. If you are eating fried foods, always have fennel with it. She likes fennel seeds.

Pellitory is another favorite of Hildegard.

Avoid heavy foods before sleeping and do not sleep immediately after eating.

Worst things in the modern diet by Hildegard's standards:

  1. Overeating, especially too much beef
  2. Eating raw foods
  3. Improper preparation of foods: canned, over sterilized products
  4. Foods too high in animal fats
  5. Eating foods that are "dry and stripped", that is over processed foods.

Grains: SPELT is best, then oats (Leads to beautiful skin, health and happiness), whole wheat or graham flour, and rye. Barley "injures healthy people, and those with anemia and poor circulation" since it is lacking in some nutrients.

Vegetables: Beans: green, soy or lima, all beans are good. "Fennel makes us happy" and is good for skin and digestion. Celery, chickpeas, pumpkin, watercress, red beets, lettuce, chestnuts, onions, corn-on-the cob, broccoli.

NOTE: I'm wondering about corn on the cob reference here, since this is a food supposedly from the Americas which were discovered some 2 hundred years after Hildegard.

FruitsL Apples, cherries, quince (good for rheumetism and arthritis), red and black currents, grapes, Raspberries, black berries, citrus, Cornel cherries, Melons, dates

Meats; Fish, Poultry, chicken, lamb, Goat (spring and summer), Venison

Hildegard on Anger

In anger a person loses all understanding during an outburst of anger, and destroys every good seed within him/her. No self-respect, nor respect for others, but follows only inner drives.

Anger causes one to speak"I will crush and destroy everything that is in my way. With my sword I strike around me, with my club I blast it all!"

Anger - Black Bile

The eyes

Fire and water. The pupil is the sun, the grey ring around the pupil is the moon. the white is clouds.
  • Blue eyes are most sensitive and influence by air.


Violet Salve is an important remedy. Take violets, press their juice and strain it. (Or buy essential oil). Weigh olive oil to one third weight of the violet juice and an equal part of goat fat. Simmer in a new pot. It will become a salve.
  • 3 parts violet juice, 1 part olive oil, one part goat fat

When you get a wound treat it immediately with European Vervain ( Verbina Officinalis)if it begins to look infected.

  • Put clean linen on the wound, then place boiled leaves of the plant on the linen (not the water) or bundle the leaves in linen, tie the top, then boil the entire thing, then place on the wound. Change when the bag dries out.


  • Linseed oil works well on any burns... even radiation burns. It "draws the excess heat out"

Take three teaspoons of whole linseed ( Linem usitatissimum) boiled in 2 cups (.5 liter) of water. Cook until water becomes slimy like jelly. It will foam heavily. Then strain, so you have only the water. Use Linen cloth - the material is important here - soaked in the warm water and place on the burn. Change when the cloth dries or becomes unpleasantly cold.


Rheumatism and gout indicated to Hildegard a struggle for life, with fear or with a disturbance of metabolism through overeating and drinking. Hildegard called it Paralyse catarrh or Gutta

Rheumatism includes all sorts of irritation or disease of joints and connective tissue.

Rebalancing the body and hormones needs to be done.

  • gout is caused by too much wine
  • joint problems caused by imbalance of body fluids dyskrasie, imbakance of 4 elements
  • ginger cookies helpful

 Healing forces of the four elements
 Curative value in proper food and drink
 Power of life itself through exercise and rest
 Restoration of health through sleeping and waking
 Regeneration through elimination and secretion
 Healing force found in Christian Virtues

The gold cure is recommended (see below). gold is warm, and like element air

Arthritic ointment: vermouth and deer fat rubbed into painful area in front of a fire made from elm wood.

  • 4 parts vermouth , 2 parts deer fat, 2 parts deer marrow and mix into salve.

another cure:

  • eat quince in any form.
  • sleep on badger fur, make slippers or shoes from them.
    • author claims he has seen this actually help - with the slippers, in just a few hours to increase circulation in feet.
  • pain killer: Pulverize and strain curled mint, add wine and drink. Mint tonic is one of her strongest pain killers. Take small sherry glass full 3x a day.
  • exercise without strainépain
  • hot bath:

Hildegard on Cancer

Hildegard saw cancer as a disease caused emotions. That these emotions could alter what we now say is alters the body on a molecular level.

She saw the importance of treating cancer in its earliest stages, must as we do now.

  • cancer is one of Hildegard's 24 elemental origin illnesses - that is - a destruction of one or more of the four elements, causing a deep rearrangement of the human body and rearranges it.
  • Her theory holds - as cancer originates in the core of cells, an alteration in the nucleus.
  • chronic hopelessness, desperation, doubt, world weariness, pessimistic sadness with the world. (Newer research seems to agree)
  • She saw cancer as a disease of the whole body, requiring a whole body cure.
  • She saw excess burping and hiccups as a precursor sign of cancer.

"Most cancer patients are lovable persons, cooperative and helpful, flexible and self-sacrificing They acknowledge religion and authority and are prepared to ake their place in society and carry responsibility. Nevertheless, they are not able to master the crises in their lives, so that through the loss of a mateor goal they collapse with laming fatigue, doubt and chronic hopelessness. Their life is marked by frustration, inner emptiness and aimlessness"

Childhood experiences: Disturbances in early childhood are repressed as unresolved conflicts in the subconscious. - lack of warmth from one or both parents, divorce or loss of a parent. These unresolved patterns are repeated in adulthood and when there is a loss or grand disappointment this can lead to a severe life crisis and old wounds break out. This pain is silently swallowed and powers of resistance by weaken and cancer break out."

Modern research shows that hope, joy and affection strengthen the immune system. while hopelessness, fear and doubt stimulate hormone production in the CNS (Cortisol, insulin, histamine) Weakening the resistance and immune system.

Yarrow Treatment for Cancer

Before cancer surgery: take yarrow (sneezewort: Achillea millifolium). Three days before the operation take three pinches of yarrow powder daily, first in fennel tea, later in warm wine or heart wine. After operation, continue the same amount for 8 more days. This helps stop any metastasis from the operation. Promotes healing.

Drink yarrow in warm water when any internal problems from things like surgery or cancer.


honeywine-vinegar extract made from eel gall, ginger, long pepper, basil, ivory powder and powdered vulture beak (vulture should have died by accident, not disease). Hildegard had to wait four years to get vulture beak.

This treatment is used in homeopathic dilutions, D6, D12, D30 = 6 drops in heart wine. continue for 4-6 weeks while following Spelt diet. Avoid "the kitchen poisons": strawberries, peaches, plums, leeks, animal protein, nightshade plants liek potatoes, tomatoes and green peppers.

  • Eel weakens cancer virus
  • warmth of Vinegar dissolves them
  • dryness of ivory dries them
  • Vulture beak kills them (Cold and poisoned through many kids of carcasses)

Vulture was used for 4000 years as a remedy.


  • Bloodletting to reduce inflammation anywhere in the body.
  • Duckeweed elixer
  • Detoxification

Breast cancer

Hildegard has a separate chapter for breast cancer.
  • Breast cysts are considered "pre cancer" and are treated with violet salve. Take violets, press out the juice and strain through a cloth. add olive oil, one-third weight of the juice and take just as much billy goat fat as violet juice. Boil evenerthing in a clean pot and prepare salve. Spread salve all over, including near the cancer and on all sores. For headaches, put salve on forehead.

Duckweed elixer

Make a honeywine extract with Cinnamon, ginger, white pepper, sage, fennel, rue, tormentil (potentilla tormentilla), field mustard (sinapis arvensis), wild bedstraw (galium aparine). Add to duckweed (lemna minor). Take 20 ml (a sherry glass) before breakfast and before bed.
  • Ginger, Tormentil and bedstraw strengthen the immune system
  • Vegetarian diet recommended for pre-cancer

Foods for happiness

This shows foods Hildegard recommends to counteract black bile or melancholy.

Spelt as hot cereal in the morning
Flax seeds (Psyllium) 1 Tablespoon over food 3x per day
Pellitory 2-3 pinches as a spice
Nerve Cookies 3-5 a day (recipe below)
Oatmeal hot cereal
Fennel 3x a day as tablets (modern), fennel in tea, chew fennel seeds
Savory 2-3 pinches as a spice
Licorice 2-3 pinches as a spice
Hyssop 2-3 pinches as a spice or fresh leaves
Quenched wine (recipe below)
Fennel tincture 1-3x per day, rub on forehead, temples, chest and pit of stomach (solar plexus)
Arum Tonic (Arum maculatum) for severe depression 1-3x per day
Primrose bandage a bouquet of Primrose flowers to the chest. bandage to the heart like a compress, keep in place overnight
Rue chew one leaf after eating
Chalcedony, Sardonyx Worn against the skin, or put in your mouth for a while, energizes 5 senses, sharpens intellect. Blue chalcedony is most effective " no one who carries this stone on his skin can be put to anger, even if the anger is justified."

Hildegard mentions that answering "Why are you here?" or "what is bothering you?" begins to help a patient.

Nerve cookies

Improve mood and mind. Recipe by Hildegard

 1.5 c butter
 3 c brown sugar
 2 eggs well beaten
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 6 cups flour
 2.5 tsp cinnamon
 2.5 tsp nutmeg
 .5 tsp cloves
 1 cup ground or chopped almonds (optional)

  1. Cream shortening and sugar together.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in another bowl
  3. Add to creamed mixture
  4. Mix thoroughly, kneading as necessary to mix all the flour.
  5. Make into rolls, then refrigerate until cold
  6. Slice rolls into thin cookies
  7. bake at 375 F
  8. Makes 300 cookies

Quenched Wine

Quenching reduces the alcohol content of the wine (does not get rid of all alcohol)

 1 glass best wine you have
 heat to boiling in a pan
 Put aside 1/2 c of cold water
 When bubble surface on the wine, pour in water in one swift motion
 Pour back into glass and sip 

Gold cure

Gold paste and gold cookies are a two day cure to be taken once a year to ward off ills. (too much gold taken internally can cause real problems so do some research before trying this one.

Day One

make gold paste from .6 gram of pure gold powder, 1 tablespoon of spelt flour, 1 tsp of water taken half hour before breakfast.

Day Two

Make as before, but bake. Eat gold cookie half hour before breakfast.

Miscellaneous notes

  • Black bile in medieval times was the equivalent of the modern idea of "suppressed emotions".
  • Galengal was a remedy for arthritic pain.
  • Diet is more important than any drug. The places we live, the places and state of soil and water used to cultivate the plants can make a difference as well.
  • Balance of diet important.

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Last edited May 15, 2011 (history)

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