Hildegard’s Healing Plants: From Her Medieval Classic Physica (Beacon Press, 2001)
Hildegard von Bingen, translated by Bruce W. Hozeski
Hildegard’s Healing Plants provides a fun, historical read about many of the medicinal plants that are so popular today. Translated from the “Plant” section of Physica, von Bingen’s classic twelfth-century work, the book contains descriptions of 230 different plants, including grains, vegetables, and herbs. For example, she writes that garlic “. . .is healthier for healthy and sick people to eat it than leeks. It ought to be eaten raw because when it is cooked, it is sour, like spoiled wine. Its juice is temperate and has the right warmth.” Licorice “. . .gives a person a clear voice, makes his or her mind pleasant, and causes clear eyesight. It soothes the stomach for digestion. But it is also beneficial to an insane person if eaten often because it extinguishes the furor in the person’s head.” Other well-known herbs listed include ginger, lavender, aloe, flaxseed, burdock, valerian, mullein, calendula and borage.
Although the book lacks much practical application, we highly recommend it for anyone interested in herbal history and folklore.