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Traditional European Medicine: Hildegard von Bingen and beyond
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Molecular and Morphological Pathology.
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2011 (English)In: Trace elements and electrolytes, ISSN 0946-2104, Vol. 28, no 3, 150-155 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The term Traditional European Medicine (TEM) was coined analogous to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In the German-speaking areas, the so called Hildegard Medicine (HM) is very popular and according to a national survey, about 3% of German residents believe in HM. Their thoughts of unity and holistic care are based on the belief that cure and salvation are only possible in the devotion to God, who is the "great healer". Disease is an imbalance and health a balance of the soul. Her works are written in Latin and a visionary language and are therefore not intended for use by laymen. They are difficult to understand and leave a lot of room for interpretation. The currently popular term "Hildegard Medicine" cannot be found in her original writings. About 30 years ago, the ideas of Hildegard von Bingen have been readdressed by two physicians, Gottfried Hertzka and Wighard Strehlow. They are suggesting the drugs as well as Hildegard's dietary recommendations as an appropriate medical healing system for today. Hertzka and Strehlow follow a highly commercialized attempt while suggesting that the medical recommendations by Hildegard are of divine origin. This, however, cannot be true as the medical texts compiled by Hildegard are not relying on her visionary experiences as do their religious treatises. In conclusion, HM represents a typical example of current complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Thus, one should state that the actual importance of the remarkable person Hildegard must not be seen as a recommendation for today's therapy but in the fact that she compiled medieval medical knowledge. Under the name of HM, poorly defined overpriced preparations are distributed. Treatment following the principles of HM for serious or malignant disorders is strongly discouraged.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 28, no 3, 150-155 p.
Keyword [en]
traditional European Medicine (TEM), Hippocrates, Hildegard von Bingen, folk medicine, Hildegard Medicine
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-156217DOI: 10.5414/TEP28150ISI: 000292125500003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-156217DiVA: diva2:431495
Available from: 2011-07-20 Created: 2011-07-18 Last updated: 2011-07-20Bibliographically approved

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