Strengthening health after Hildegard von Bingen

In the footsteps of Hildegard von Bingen one can walk everywhere, especially in Rhineland-Palatinate: She was born in Bermersheim near Alzey in 1098. And in 1179 she died in the monastery of Rupertsberg near Bingen as abbess. In between lay a long and fulfilling life, in which she made a name for herself with two books: the "Physika", in English: Naturkunde, and the "Causae et curae", in English: causes and healing methods.

The books reflected the concrete curative knowledge of their time. In addition, Hildegard has many independent thoughts and observations. For the early Middle Ages, when women's erudition was not taken for granted, this is a remarkable achievement.

Hildegard von Bingen is the first German natural scientist. It was rediscovered in the seventies by the doctor Gottfried Hertzka and the non-medical practitioner Wighard Strehlow. The two coined the term "Hildegard medicine". To this day, parts of Hildegard medicine are still up to date. Hildegard urged above all to a moderate lifestyle and adequate personal hygiene, such as regular dental care. However, other ideas are disproved. But let us take a closer look at Hildegard's observations and teachings.

Hildegard von Bingen developed a kind of pathology in her book "Causes and Healing Methods". It is strongly based on the views of its time, according to which the whole world is made up of four elements. "They are: fire, air, water and earth. These four elements are so closely intertwined and interconnected that none of them can be separated from the other." That's what Hildegard says.

But she also recognized that physical suffering and the thoughts and psyche of a person belong together. And that's revolutionary. Even in this day and age. Because in our medicine we still make a very strong distinction between body and mind. And this despite the fact that many modern studies have shown that we can strongly influence the function of the organs and our healing process with our thoughts. Hildegard von Bingen already knew that. According to their observation, physical suffering can cause mental illness. And vice versa, psychological defects can cause physical damage.

Her second scientific book - Natural History - is an early pharmacopoeia. Here she describes 230 herbs, 63 trees, many stones, fish, birds, reptiles.

Hildegard medicine, as it has been taught since the 1970s, is based on five pillars:

Pillar 1: Remedies can be found everywhere in nature

According to Hildegard, healing powers can be found in plants, gems, minerals and animals. Some tips are still relevant today. For example, she recommended a warm brew of sage, lovage and fennel for coughs.

Other tips are outdated. The diamond, for example, works against "cobwebs and snake venom, against lethargy and lunar addiction, protects the house from thieves and gives its wearer efficiency, understanding and wisdom in speech". Especially against Hildegard's gemstone science the orthodox medicine resists.

2nd pillar: Healthy nutrition is crucial for health

Under a moderate and balanced meal Hildegard understood above all the grain spelt. Herbs and spices as well as celery, sweet chestnut and fennel are also included. Hildegard, on the other hand, saw poor eating habits and an unhealthy diet as causes of illnesses. From today's perspective, this is more topical than ever.

Pillar 3: Rejection procedure

In the Middle Ages, rejection methods such as bloodletting and cupping were popular. This helped Hildegard to cleanse the organism from pathogenic influences. But she also criticized the frequent bleeding. However, she recommended fasting, hot water and sweating baths. From today's point of view still current.

Pillar 4: Regular lifestyle

Adherence to rules and rhythms, the alternation of rest and activity are important for a healthy life and for today's time valuable tips on how to avoid stress. However, Hildegard said that man should give himself these rules.

5th column: spiritual cleansing

In order to get and stay healthy again, the whole person has to be involved. Love and hope have healing powers. 35 vices confronted Hildegard with 35 virtues. People are to gradually dismantle vices and promote virtues. This succeeds with music, prayer and meditation.

Conclusion: Hildegard von Bingen has drawn an astonishingly conclusive and holistic picture of the human being and its causes of illness. Much of this is still relevant today. However, under the slogan Hildegard medicine also much charlatanism is driven. Thus, there are no approved special Hildegard drugs. Many medicinal plants and cosmetics are available in every pharmacy without the addition "Hildegard", but then in tested quality. It can be life-threatening if you trust in Hildegard medicine instead of going to the doctor for prolonged illnesses.

On the other hand, we can still learn a lot from Hildegard von Bingen. Especially her conviction that our thoughts and our way of life have an important influence on our health is very valuable.

Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany

Text: Dr. Beatrice Wagner, Editor: Birgit Kahl