It’s not often, but then again, who knows for sure, that a saint leads us to herbs.

Hildegard of Bingen, a German mystic of the 12th century, devoted to promoting our relationship with the Divine, was also a gifted healer, primarily using the four-element and four-humor system dating back to the ancient Greeks to practice medicine and learn the art of healing.

The four humors and the elements they serve are:

Blood              –  Air

Phlegm           –  Water

Yellow bile     – Fire

Black Bile       – Earth

Humors, or vital fluids, are present in the bloodstream. The proper balance and purity of them is essential to good health. The ancient Greeks believed these four humors were responsible for good health, all of which originated in the gut. This leads us to Hildegard’s favorite herb – fennel. Imagine, if we had such healing mystics among us today, holed up in their cosmic laboratories, communing with the Divine on a daily basis, securing heavenly wisdom about all the wonders of the herbs growing and the ways yet discovered how they can help us?   Oh wait, we do…present-day healing mystics aren’t showcased, and in some cases are publicly castrated and outcast as kooks or misfits while those who would have us believe that good health can be obtained through a vat of chemicals and a needle are heralded as angelic swami’s.   A time machine would be welcomed at times.

Hildegard had a “happy mixture” consisting of fennel tablets, seeds or tea taken three times a day. Fennel seeds are 100 per cent good for your health, she notes, supporting healthy skin color, good digestion and a pleasant body odor among a host of other benefits.

I have taken fennel fairly religiously for the past couple of years. Unable to pick my physical temperament pre-birth, I was born with a very temperamental stomach. I have tried all sorts of different remedies to quell my sour stomach. From pharmeucutical concoctions prior to my discovery of herbs and natural remedies – to peppermint, chamomile other herbs – all take a back seat to the benefits fennel has provided me. Granted, I eat as organically as possible and take other wonderful herbs but have seen that every time there has been a period of fennel abstinence, my sour stomach comes back.

Fennels’ interesting history includes the Romans using it for its savory edible roots.   Medieval types, spooked by witchcraft and the evil of the day, hung it over doors to ward off the spirits roaming about.   Longfellow and Milton even wrote of its’ wonderful qualities in poems. In stark contrast to the offerings today of squeamish practitioners of music and art who leave us depressed, running for a vodka tonic and good cigarette to fend off the deadness from their “art”…but that’s for another dispatch.

The most active vitamin in Fennel is vitamin C.   Joint degeneration, inflammation and arthritis are a few of the unpleasant issues fennel can play an active role in treating.   Other important vitamins and minerals in fennel combat high blood pressure. Cholesterol build-up is limited, water is absorbed in the gut and carcinogens eliminated from the colon by this licorice scented herb.

As all herbs, fennel is another wonderful gift from the Divine, promulgated by a wise and masterly mystic hundreds of years ago.   Now, if only the mystics living among us could be showcased as Hildegard was, think of the remedies they’ve discovered waiting to be shared with us.