Herbs and seasonings

In order to ensure excellent digestion, Saint Hildegard recommends cooking with certain herbs and and seasonings, as some help to eliminate black bile while others have a special effect.

Hyssop: “Frequent use of hyssop purges the body of the unhealthy and fetid scum of humors, much in the same way as heat in a pot has the scum of whatever is cooking rise to the surface.   Hyssop is good in all dishes. It is more useful cooked and ground into a powder than raw.  Added as a flavouring to food, it revitalises the liver and cleanses the lungs to a certain degree.”  Hyssop is a perennial and can be planted in the garden.  One can also find ground hyssop in health food stores.

He who coughs, has liver problems, or has oppressed lungs has but to eat hyssop with meats or fat and his health will improve.  But a note of caution : if hyssop is taken alone, only with water or wine, it will do more harm than good.

Galingale (wild root) Alpina officinalis

Galingale grows in China, Indonesia, India and Thailand. Galingale is a member of the ginger family and like ginger, galingale is a stimulant. It is, by its nature, warm but not hot/spicy.  It works to purify the blood and its qualities as a vasodilator are good for the heart. “Galingale is totally warm , there is nothing cold in its nature, and it has many good qualities”, writes Hildegard. It can be purchased at Oriental grocery stores.

Gound African Pyrethrum (anthemis)

Immunitary defense, transportation of oxygen and acido-basic equilibrium are part of the vital functions of the blood. In order to sustain these functions, Saint Hildegard advises the use of pyrethrum which promotes « good blood, a good digestion and a clear mind.  It also allows for a better assimilation of vitamins and minerals.  Its use: in cooking spelt or other foods or for sprinkling on prepared dishes.

Ground Serpolet (wild thyme)

“It has a purifying effect and gives a beautiful complexion”.  Its use: in cooking spelt or vegetables, meat and fish or for sprinkling on prepared dishes.

The SPICES that Saint Hildegard calls spices that bring joy are: cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  In order to always have some on hand, one can mix some in a small glass container (use plastic containers as little as possible!): one part ground nutmeg (preferably organic), one part ground cinnamon (preferably organic) and 1/4 part ground cloves (preferably organic).  One can sprinkle some on yogourt, homemade fruit salad, dessert crepes, or incorporate this combination of spices into  the dough when making muffins, cookies, cakes (carrot cake for example).

Cinnamon is »by its nature very warm, very energetic and contains a certain humidity, but its warmth is so strong that it eliminates the humidity », says Hildegard.  « Whoever eats it will reduce bad humors and replace them with good humors. »

The clove-tree (cloves) is « extremely warm and contains a certain humidity that gives it gentleness, much like the moist gentleness of honey. »

Nutmeg : possesses »a great warmth and a happy equilibrium in its properties.  He who eats nutmeg opens his heart, purifies his senses and thereby gains good dispositions. »

Take a nutmeg kernel, an equal weight of cinnamon and a little bit of cloves, reduce this into a powder.  With this powder, some flour and a little water, make small cookies and eat them often: this preparation « mellows the bitterness of the body and spirit, opens the heart, sharpens dulled senses, gladens the soul, purifies the senses, diminishes noxious humours, brings good juice to the blood and fortifies ».

OTHER SPICES recommended by Saint Hildegard:

Cumin is by nature »dry and of moderate heat ».Hildegard says that »no matter how it is eaten, it is good and useful for a healthy person to since it furnishes a good disposition and moderates the temperature of one who is too hot ». However it is not recomended to those who are ill, especially not for those with heart problems, as it does not completely warm the heart which must always be warm.

If one wishes to eat cooked or baked cheese without digestive pain, add a little bit of cumin and eat it as such.

Parsley is « of robust nature and contains more warmth than cold; it grows because of the presence of wind and humidity.  It is better and more useful when it is used raw than cooked.  When it is eaten, it helps to reduce minor fevers. However, it tends to make the spirit heavy. »

Pepper is « clearly warm and dry by nature and contains a bubbling strength. If taken in abundance, it is harmful and may provoke pleurisy, destroy all inherent  humors and give rise to the production of bad ones ».

Sage is « by nature warm and dry.  It grows because of the warmth of the sun rather than because of the moisture of the earth.  It is useful against lazy humors since it is dry.  It is good to eat, raw or cooked, for it appeases those who suffer from harmful humors ».  Sage has traditionally been associated with longevity and with a reputation for restoring failing memory. It is useful as a digesive stimulant and for increasing circulation.

Cooked dill « aids digestion and suppresses numbness of the digestive  process ».

SPICES that are not recommended:

Ginger is « very  warm and diffuses itself easily.  A healthy and fat man has no interest in eating some, because it renders him stupid, ignorant, tepid and lewd.

Remedy against fatigue: if one is dry and weakened, grind ginger into powder and take a little bit, diluted in a liquid, on an empty stomach..  One can at the same time eat some with bread and this will improve one’s state.  But once one feels better, one must not eat any more, lest one could suffer some damage ».

Chervil is of a « dry nature, and it grows, not from the strength of the air nor the moisture of the earth, but in small air currents, before the rise of the fertile heat of summer.  It is neverthelsees more hot  than cold and its heat is very healthful.  It is sometimes classified among the useless plants, because if eaten, it provokes vapours in man’s head.  It is not good to eat either raw or cooked, but is useful for certain medications and heals ulcer wounds ».