Yet another spring snow has blessed us recently here in Colorado covering my blossoming flowers with a gentle blanket of white. While it was cold and blustery outside, I decided to warm my home with the aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves by making a batch of one of my favorite recipes- Joy Cookies. And it never fails….as the smell of spices floated through the air of my home, my two adult daughters appeared and gathered around me in the kitchen. Gone were the feelings of sadness, overwhelm and isolation we were experiencing in this time of sheltering in place, as we enjoyed these delicious cookies together.
Once again, St. Hildegard has touched my life. She’s always an enduring inspiration to me!
In the mid 12th century, St. Hildegard recognized the health benefits of many herbs and spices. It was then that she shared a basic recipe for ancient biscuits or cookies that are commonly called “Hildegardplätzchen” (Hildegard’s Cookies). Today we might call them "Cookies of Joy" as she said they lift any melancholia, open your heart, and bring you a sense of cheerfulness and joy. Certainly something we all could use in these challenging times!
In her book, Physica, St. Hildegard recommended the use of nutmeg for its healing powers and offered the following recipe.
“Nutmeg has great heat and good moderation in its powers. If a person eats nutmeg, it will open up his heart, make his judgment free from obstruction, and give him a good disposition.
Take some nutmeg and an equal weight of cinnamon and a bit of cloves, and pulverize them. Then make small cakes with this and fine whole wheat flour and water. Eat them often. It will calm all bitterness of the heart and mind, open your heart and impaired senses, and make your mind cheerful. It purifies your senses and diminishes all harmful humors in you. It gives good liquid to your blood, and makes you strong.” -Hildegard von Bingen, Physica -1153AD
If we take this seed that was planted by St. Hildegard long ago into our current times within natural medicine, we see that nutmeg is known for many health benefits including the following:
· Supports a Healthy Brain – nutmeg contains myristicin and macelignan, natural organic compounds that have a stimulating effect, supporting focus and concentration and also protecting the brain from degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s
· Eases Pain and Swelling – the essential oil of nutmeg helps to relieve muscular and joint pain resulting from injury, strain, or chronic inflammation such as arthritis
· Improves Circulation – the potassium within nutmeg relaxes blood vessels, controls blood pressure, and improves blood circulation
· Boosts Immune System – the minerals in nutmeg such as potassium, calcium, iron, and manganese help fight against bacteria and disease
· Cures Insomnia – nutmeg has a high content of magnesium, a mineral that reduces nerve tension and supports the feeling of relaxation
Here’s the recipe for St. Hildegard’s Joy Cookies that I use, based on her original ingredients, but adapted to our modern times. I hope you find that they bring you joy within your home during these times of sheltering in place!
The spices of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves have their own unique health benefits that will boost the immune system, reduce tension, and improve mood. The sweet aroma that will arise in your kitchen will certainly bring you a sense of joy and well-being too!
St. Hildegard made many contributions to the field of holistic health and wellness. The wisdom that Hildegard shared about natural healing, nutrition, and healthy living was a seed planted that continued to flourish into the future within the field of natural medicine.
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I was born in London, England, educated in Switzerland, and am fluent in English, German, Spanish, and French. I hold a Doctorate in Ministry Degree and Masters Degrees in Counseling Psychology and Education. Also, I am an accomplished artist and educator. I use all of this and much more when helping others heal their souls.