Hildegard’s Viriditas, or “life force”, lies at the heart of her nutritional therapy. Food provides each organism with fundamental energy and healing power. Proper nutrition, in the form of healing grains, fruits, and vegetables can prevent the need for pills and elixirs later on.
Hildegard’s Nutritional Therapy
The tenants of Hildegard medicine follow intuition, thereby reducing the noise among the thousands of competing nutritional theories. Above all, Hildegard’s approach is one we can apply on our own, at home every day, rather than adopting costly external methodologies motivated by economic incentives.
A healthy lifestyle accompanied by a healthy diet is easy to implement with the right knowledge and discipline. Those who wish to find good health first need the discipline to take matters into their own hands. No institutions or self-appointed experts can provide guarantees for lasting health and wellness – and no one knows better than you how your body works.
Our choice of foods cannot be left to chance, nor can the habits we develop over our lifetime be left to idle in the currents of modern convenience. Adopting simple diet principles based on a balanced and healthy diet can prevent many serious illnesses, but can also help you live a more rich and vibrant life.
What is the benchmark for a healthy diet? Although Hildegard of Bingen never wrote a formal cookbook, her life’s work offers practical advice on nutritional and natural healing. Hildegard relied on a universal subtlety principle, based on healing powers hidden in certain foods.
Informally, through her various texts, Hildegard described over three hundred recipes and treatments, which have shown to treat of a variety of ailments from cardiovascular disease, to gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, skin diseases, allergies, and nervous disorders.
At the center of Hildegard’s nutritional therapy is the ancient grain spelt, which we explore extensively on this site, at some of the following pages.
Hildegard’s writings describe the appropriate balance of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices, with an understanding that balancing these elements occupy the same level of importance as vitamins, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. From this perspective, the eight hundred year-old nutritional therapy of Saint Hildegard appears relevant, and even fashionable today.
As compared to other full-fledged natural diet regimes, Hildegard’s nutritional therapy offers a clear picture of the healing power contained within certain fruits and vegetables. In addition, she provides no-nonsense advice about the correct use of medicinal herbs, and the healing influence of certain meats and fish.
The Hildegard kitchen is as simple as it is ingenious: insofar as it is possible, we can prevent or heal most diet-related ailments through a diet focused on Spelt.
Throughout Hildegard’s extensive work, we have summarized 6 basic rules for a healthy life, to prevent or cure persistent ailments. These are also known as Hildegard’s 6 pillars or columns.
- Remedies are found everywhere in nature
- Apply balance to diet and nutrition
- Find equilibrium in motion and rest
- Find a consistent sleep / wake rhythm
- Discipline in discharge and detoxification
- Make space for mental cleansing
Hildegard of Bingen memorialized her healing techniques in one of the first western medical texts, culminating in “Causae et Curae” and “Physica“. In those tomes, Hildegard emphasized the importance of treating the whole person, with equal focus on spirit, mind, and body.
Hildegard believed disease arises in the absence of harmony with the divine and nature. And for her, the cause of disease originates from a dearth of good qualities and virtues.
As part of her principle of nutrition, Hildegard of Bingen described four Latin principles as the basis for good lifestyle and vitality: subtlety, viriditas, discreto, and ratio. The Hildegard healing doctrine derives from the perspective of holistic healing and represents an expression of man’s complete interconnectivity with nature.
The Hildegard Healing Doctrine
Subtlety refers to the beneficial qualities a certain food has for human consumption. Nutrition is regarded as an essential pillar for well-being. Within Hildegard of Bingen’s nutritional teachings, individual foods and herbs are described in detail along with their use in preserving or regaining health.
Hildegard of Bingen divided foods into different categories and described their effects on people. Hildegard’s subtlety involves identifying the unique qualities inherent in any food and noting the influence on people.
With the term Viriditas, Hildegard of Bingen meant to describe a fundamental force in nature and the cosmos that binds people with animals, minerals, and plants.
A greening power, as Hildegard described it, exists in all things and is the basis for all healing. Greening power exists as a symbol of prosperity and vitality, with plants blooming, growing, germinating and bearing fruit.
We lose our greening power through monotony and stress in everyday life. However, we quickly restore and preserve it through prolonged time and movement in nature.
For Hildegard of Bingen, the term Discretio means the “right balance” or “measure”. In our modern society, we are often overcome by the persistent urge to demand more of everything. For the individual, discretion can mean identifying the appropriate balance and measure of all things.
Each of us must ask ourselves whether we can feel the appropriate measure both physically and spiritually. Otherwise the moral boundaries of our endeavor may be questionable. Hildegard’s way is to live such that we are at ease with ourselves.
Hildegard’s use of the term Ratio is often equated with the word of “reason”. A more appropriate description involves terms like clarity, rationalism, or insight. Ratio is the gift of insight we possess to perceive the truth in matters we confront in our lives; such perception requires critical thinking.
Ratio discredits manipulation and rewards our self-respect and dignity.