Naturalia: Natural Healing Techniques
During the High Middle Ages (11th to 13th century), poor health, injury, infection and malnutrition were still a common part of life - familiar and feared, for they almost always ended in suffering and death.
During those Middle Ages, monastery grounds had theire medicinal gardens. Plants were used to express purpose of cheering up melancholy patients. Also, the gardens were used to treat both physical and mental ailments of sickness to those who visited them.
The usage of herbs to calm the senses dates as far back as 2000 BC in ancient Mesopotamia, and around 500 BC, ancient Persians created gardens to soothe the senses by involving beauty, fragrance, flowing water, and cool temperatures. Ancient Egyptian physicians prescribed walks around a garden for patients with mental illness.
Hippocrates is considered the greatest physician of antiquity and some consider him the greatest of modern times as well. Ever stronger currents today point toward a return to Hippocratic principles and wisdom, which Greece had probably adopted from Persia and India, where medical art and surgical science had always been very advanced.
Unani Tibb (“Greek Medicine” in Arabic) is a traditional medical system in South Asia. It dates back to the 11th century and is based on the teachings of Hippocrates and Galen. In this system, health requires balance between the four 'humors' of: blood, mucus, yellow and black bile, as well as the four qualities of heat, cold, moisture and dryness. Illnesses arise through imbalances in these forces, and Unani treatments seek to restore balance. Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine similarly invoke the concept of balance.
By contrast, Western medicine relies in part on the germ theory of disease, which states that invisible microorganisms cause many diseases. The germ theory is a recent discovery that only gained traction in the 1880s through the work of Louis Pasteur. While many this model as given, it is not at all self-evident that invisible microbes exist and can cause illness.
Hildegard of Bingen's medicine holds the balance of discovery and action, to be of equal importance. This concept of unity and balance runs through all of Hildegard’s works, practices and healing techniques. For example, she considered disease a deficit or imbalance, while good health derives from the balance of spirit mind body.
In her primary medical texts, Causae et Curae and Physica, Hildegard expressed her belief that faith contributes to good health and healing.
During the last decade of her life, Hildegard completed two more medical texts, “Liber simplicis medicinae” and “Liber compositae medicinae”. The books catalogued over 280 plants, cross-referenced with their healing uses. Both Causae et Curae and Physica deal with the qualities of nature and man. They include parts physiology, pathology, sexuality, and theology. Causae et Curae emphasized the specific causes of disease along with their corresponding natural treatments while Physica focused on natural science and medicine as a whole.
Herbal gardens and woodland therapies are attracting attention thanks to the increasingly well-documented value of the outdoors for people’s mental health and wellbeing. In fact, research has shown that the flexible nature of gardening allows users to feel empowered in a non-threatening space. it also helps develop nurturing skills and is thought to boost mindfulness, as well as increasing serotonin and dopamine levels.
Hildegard's 6 Golden Rules
- Draw energy from nature’s life force (Viriditas)
- Healthy and balanced nutrition found from food’s healing powers (Subtleties)
- Regenerate strained nerves with healthy sleep and dream regulation
- Finding the harmonious balance between work and leisure
- Detox and purification with regular fasting and sweat bath
- Optimism and strength of psychological defenses, using the 35 subconscious virtues.