One of the duties of the lady of the castle was to ensure the planting and harvesting of the herb garden each year. Without a proper supply of herbs, the inhabitants of the castle may not last through a harsh winter. I thought you might find it interesting to learn which herbs she found most important and their uses. Most of these "castle" herbs are still available today and can be grown year-round in your garden or in pots on your kitchen windowsill.
Basil, Coriander, Curry, Chives, Garlic, Lavender, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, and Winter Savory. Chives, Garlic, some types of Oregano, and Winter Savory were often able to continue to grow through winter conditions. These herbs were used to give flavor to meals, used as a tea and often hid the taste of rancid meat.
Citron, Lavender, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Parsley, Rosemary, and Sage were used to freshen the air. Lavender, Rosemary, and Citron kept fleas and moths away. They were often used in sachets and as deodorants during months when bathing was not an option.
Boneset, Dandelion, Feverfew, Garlic, Goosegrass, Lavender, Peppermint, Sage, Self-heal, Tansy, and Willowbark.
Dandelion was used as a purgative and diuretic, Self-heal, Feverfew and Willowbark for fever and pain and Goosegrass, and Boneset were used for breaks, cuts, and lesions.
Often, these herbs would be mixed with a bit of fat and applied topically or ground and used in poultices. Of course, you can always buy them predried or capsuled and ready to use from herb retailers, such as Mountain Rose Herbs.
Thyme was commonly used to treat various ailments, from flu to epileptic seizures. During the middle ages, people mixed thyme with lavender in equal amounts and sprinkled on the floors of churches to get rid of any unwanted odors. Moreover, thyme was also used in making a poultice and applied to areas of the body to heal wounds and prevent infections.
Visit The Captains Lady's The Tiny Medieval Garden board on Pinterest for some fascinating ideas on how to create your very own medieval garden and ways to use your herbs for natural healing.
Artwork: My Sweet Rose by John W. Waterhouse with a sepia overlay.
If you have never heard of Thieves oil it probably sounds like some hokey snake oil treatment sold back in the day and you'd be half right. It was sold as a treatment, but there is nothing hokey about it. It actually works to fight off viruses. In fact, some believe it was the only treatment that worked to keep folks from contracting the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) in the 14th century.
Thieves oil was created by a handful of spice merchants who became thieves after the plague crashed the economy. They used the oil as a rub on their bodies and under their noses in order to be able to rob the diseased and the dead without becoming sick themselves.
In the old world, Thieves oil was actually made by creating herbal infusions, vinegar and tinctures with fresh or dried herbs, which takes a little longer to make, but can still be made today. It was often made in large batches in advance for cold and flu season epidemics. When needed immediately a stove top method for infusing the herbs could be used.
There are a variety of recipes for making old world Thieves oil. Each seems to claim authenticity. I'm inclined to believe it this is because Thieves oil was made from, either, fresh or dried herbs that were available according to the area one lived in, as well as the season of the year and economic status.
Here are just a few of the ingredients I've discovered along the way from various old world recipes. not all were used in every recipe.
The herbs and spices were placed in a jar, topped with oil or vinegar (not both) and sealed tightly. It was stored in a cool, dark place and shaken gently to turn the herbs once every day for two weeks. Then, strained well and bottled up.
After the infusion period, Thieves oil was taken by mouth (1 teaspoon every day) and applied to face, hands, body and feet for, both, prevention and healing.
Modern Day Thieves Oil
You can make your own modern day Thieves oil with, either, fresh herbs or essential oils (or both).
Many modern day Thieves oils contain only essential oils of Clove, Cinnamon, Lemon, Eucalyptus and Rosemary measured out equally. If you prefer, you can certainly start out with this very basic and potent recipe and get very good results for warding off bacteria, fungi, and viruses, including Herpes Simplex Virus. But, do your research.
After 3 days of non-stop, extensive researching, I realized some of the sources out there are, at best, dubious.
Photograph courtesy of Weebly.com with a sepia overlay.
Herpes has existed for thousands of years, but only more recently (the past 100 years or so) understood. I was first formally recognized by Hippocrates (460 to 370 BCE), who wrote about the symptoms of herpes, particularly the lesions.
The name herpes is taken from an old, Greek term, herpein, which stands for 'creeping or latent', as in creeping across the skin. Tiberius, emperor from AD 14 to 37, outlawed kissing as a means to put an end to this unsightly creeping across the flesh. Absolutely no one was to kiss at public gatherings.
Aulus Celsus, who wrote on matters pertaining to health in approximately this same time period advised herpes blisters be cauterized with a red-hot iron.
Shakespeare refers to cold sores in scene IV of Romeo & Juliet when he describes blisters 'o'er ladies lips'. it was believed sweetmeats (confections) could give you herpes. But then, it was also believed a fairy, Queen Mab, could do the same by spelling a person.
In the 18th century, the French categorized this 'creeping or latent' atrocity as a disease associated with the work of prostitutes.
Herpes is actually Herpes is a family of DNA viruses called Herpesviridae. The family consists of Alphaherpesviridae, Betaherpesviridae, and Gammaherpesviridae, which cause HSV-1 (cold sores) and HSV-2 (genital herpes), genital warts, chicken pox, shingles, and the Epstein-Barr virus (mononucleosis). These viruses tend not to leave their hosts and often cause recurring infections. When inactive they reside dormant in their host. To remain dormant is considered ‘in remission’. There is no cure for Herpes Simplex Virus, but you can put herpes in remission.
According to Don Ward Hackett, when a herpes virus initially enters a skin, or epithelial, cell, it begins shedding its outer layers, releasing viral proteins to perform their functions, but a small subset of viral proteins remains bound to the DNA-filled capsid, a protein shell that holds the DNA that will turn the cell into a herpes virus factory.
Herpes viruses tend not to leave their hosts and often cause recurring infections. When the herpes virus is inactive they reside dormant in their host (you). To remain dormant is considered ‘in remission’. There is no cure for Herpes Simplex Virus, but you can put herpes in remission. I don't know about you, but that thought makes me smile.
In the 9th century the emperor, Charlemagne, order Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) planted in all monastery apothecary gardens. In medieval times Lemon Balm was used for digestion, sleeplessness, wounds, and anxiety. Wine infused with Lemon Balm was used to treat fevers. It was also used to flavor foods and crushed leaves treated wounds and bites. The Arabs used it as a remedy for heart conditions, depression and to clear the mind.
In the early 17th century Carmelite nuns (France) produced a type of water using Lemon Balm, which was called Eau de Melissa de Carmes, which was known to have curative powers. The herb helps to relieve insomnia, anxiety, depression, hysteria, migraines, ADD, and certain viruses, including Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). Lemon Balm contains antiviral properties. A research study conducted in Germany revealed Lemon Balm shortened the duration of cold sore (HSV-1) breakouts by half.
It might interest you to know that fish, such as salmon, Japanese eel, catfish, and koi, can also contract herpes virus (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).
To learn how to put herpes in remission naturally, see The Online Course.
Photograph courtesy of Weebly.com with sepia overlay.
Plague by definition is considered a disease caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria, which has been with us for centuries and has a high fatality rate. In medieval Europe, it was known as the Black Death, which wiped out 60% of the population and left areas of the world blank of footprints.
Many people are under the impression that the Black Death (the Bubonic Plague) is a thing of the past. This isn't true. It still exists in certain parts of the world. Yersinia pestis is transmitted by fleas that, typically, feed on infected rodents. Symptoms appear within 2-6 days after the disease is contracted and effect humans in three different ways.
Bubonic (the most common form) ~ Infected lymph nodes (called buboes). A headache, enlarged lymph nodes, chills, fever, and weakness. Over 90% of all people survive as long as antibiotics are given promptly. Without proper treatment it can become the Black Death; the Septicemic form (see directly below).
Septicemic (the second most common and known as the Black Death) ~ And infection of the blood. Fever, chills, abdominal pain, weakness, shock and tissue bleeding (skin tissues appear black from the bleeding). 70-80% of all people survive with proper treatment.
Pneumonic (currently very rare) ~ Lung infection. All the typical signs of pneumonia, such as chills, fever, chest pain, shortness of breath, as well as coughing (sometimes coughing up blood), nausea/vomiting and diarrhea. This form leads to a quick death without rapid treatment.
So, how do you remedy plague? There are natural remedies, of course, but if you have the means of seeing a medical doctor that should be your first choice. Don't be stupid. Plague is nothing to experiment or toy with.
When it comes to plague a multi-treatment approach based on current symptoms, as well as using treatments to prevent other symptoms from occurring, should go into force. Remedying plagues is a time-sensitive issue. Meaning, the sooner you seek treatment the better chance of recovery.
There are certain herbs that are anti-viral and anti-bacterial, such as Oregano, which works as well, if not better, than penicillin. There are also some herbs that work better as essential oils that can help to kill off plague in some instances, but all herbs and oils must be organic and used in proper dosages so do your homework.
Artwork: Color Thy Soul by Margaret Bernadine Hall Fantine with sepia overlay.
Mermaids are popular all over the world. Christopher Columbus and Henry Hudson both wrote detailed entries in their ship's logs about their encounters with mermaids. Merfolk have been spotted in China, Japan, Korea, Hawaii, the South Pacific Islands, Denmark, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and Iceland. Japan says you gain mortality without aging by eating the flesh of a Ningyo. And, the Syrenka has been the symbol of Warsaw since the 14th Century.
Mermaids and mermen appear human in form from the waist on up and a fish from the waist on down. They have smaller sex organs than humans. The lower body, appearing to have scales, is actually very smooth and their tails are iridescent, which causes them to shimmer and sparkle in the water. There are, reportedly, greenish, white, and black skinned merfolk. Some appear to be blue but this is likely related to the reflection of light on scales. Those merfolk that are grey are thought to be aged or feeble. Some even have two tails rather than one.
Mermaids are said to be beautiful, having ageless beauty, although some resources say they are not as beautiful as some have reported. Perhaps they were speaking of the males. Mermen tend to be uglier than females and can be quite wild and scary.
A Mermaid is a mammal. Her lungs are able to breathe both the air from the sky and the oxygen from water. In fact, mermaids and mermen can be on land for a while, if they choose, before swimming back out to sea.
Mermaids give birth as other mammals do. Merbabies learn to swim immediately, but are often carried encircled in the mother's arms as she glides through the water. As they mature, they often grasp on to their mothers hair or tail fin to be pulled along, especially when they are tired. Mermaids can live to be over 300 years old and then dissolve into sea foam.
Humans, especially men, are attracted to the song of the mermaid. If a mermaid falls in love with a human male she will go to great lengths to show him how much she loves him. If he returns her love, she may live forever as a mortal and give birth to a mortal child. If not, she is doomed to watch the land babies from the shore.
Yes. Mermaids do sleep. Mermen snore, while females do not, as they are more sensitive to water disturbances that air bubbles cause, and all merfolk dream.
Mermaids live in underwater castles and coral caves. They often travel great distances and sleep over in underwater shelves, and coves. They have even been known to visit lakes, rivers and swamps. During their travels, they collect treasures, such as seashells, pearls, and anything that has been lost at sea. They take them home for useful purposes and souvenirs.
The personality of merfolk differs between male and female. Mermen don't care much for humans and avoid them. Too bad, as they are able to cure sickness, grant wishes and lift curses. Mermaids have a tendency to be innocently vain, loving their own images. Mermaids often warn sailors of a coming storm or disaster. They, like the mermen, are able to offer cures to sicknesses, but often expect something in return for their favors, often feeling slighted if they are not rewarded. In this case, they may provoke a storm or curse a ship so that sailors will fall into the ravaging sea or ground their ships. Not realizing her own physical strength, she may squeeze a drowning victim too hard and cause his death. Sometimes, mermaids forget that humans can't breathe underwater. While carrying him home in order to help him, he loses his life to the sea.
Merfolk have many friends and a strong social network. Among their friends are the Sirens, Harpies, Nereids, Oceanides, Dryads, Selkies, Sea People, and Water Fairies. I am sure there are even more creatures they consider friends, such as dolphins, whales, manatees, dugongs, and serenia. They often play and exercise together.
The merfolk diet consists of sea lettuce, seaweed, algae, and other sea vegetables. Occasionally, they'll eat a fish or two, but most are against this just as many humans are against eating red meat. When on land, they often search for nuts, berries (and other fruits), plants, and roots. If they are really hungry they may opt for an egg or two. They are not fond of grains and never eat animals or birds.
How do merfolk exercise? For merfolk it is important to increase upper body and back strength in order to age more gracefully. There's nothing worse than a case of dropsy for a Mermaid. Mermaids should exercise moderately, longer, and more frequent routines than mermen, who benefit from exercising shorter, fewer and more intense routines. They swim and do water aerobics, of course, perform water sports and engage in Mermaid Pilates (There is such a thing!). As humans, we can mimic these activities and add others, such as scuba diving, kayaking, and beach-walking.
Mermaids, especially merchildren, often have pets, such as hermit crabs, snails, toads, and an occasional dragonfly, which are treated with love and allowed to roam freely. Of course, the very young must be taught to keep their pets out of their mouths.
See the Captains Lady's The Mermaid Diet. It's suitable for everyone in the entire family.
And, if you are into mermaids, you won't want to miss The Captains Lady's The Art of Mermaidism board on Pinterest.
Artwork: The Mermaid by John W. Waterhouse with a sepia overlay and ripple-effect.
In the middle ages, the Empirics were the largest group of health care providers in Europe. Empirics, who were called so by the rather prejudiced university-trained doctors of the time, were the healers who relied on their experience in providing cures (what worked and what didn't seem to), rather than classical medical training. They were more commonly called healers, wise men, or wise women who often relied heavily on traditional home remedies, prayers, and incantations.
There's very little evidence as to how these healers were trained (most were illiterate), but it is generally assumed they either trained under someone medically trained or learned from things they picked up along the way.
There are very few references to Empirics, except perhaps a smattering of court records where either their skills were not up to par or they were so up to par that jealous medical doctors would fine or jail them for not having a license to practice. To me, this sounds similar to modern day practices (the divide between the medical and holistic communities, as well as the inability for any health practitioner to say they can 'cure' anything) and is probably what brought on witch hunts, in my opinion.
Aside from the Empirics, there were other practitioners in the middle ages, such as monks and nuns who studied in libraries and tended to patients, daughters of physicians or surgeons who were trained by a parent (although daughters were banned from medical practice until the 14th century) and were only able to offer services privately, never publicly, and noble women who were basically in the same category as the daughters, but who were expected to take care of their families, close relatives and friends. Then, there were also the apothecaries.
While Empirics gathered herbs for treatments, apothecaries were those who provided medical substances for doctors, such as pearls, gold, spices, and sugar. Why sugar? Sugar was used in making syrups and sugar pills for the wealthy. The apothecary didn't just buy and sell, he created pastes, salves, tonics, and pills as per the doctor's instructions. Some of these were available over the counter, while others only by prescription. Most apothecaries learned their trade through an apprenticeship and were often subject to periodic inspection, as some were found to be diagnosing and remedying ailments entirely on their own, which, of course, was not allowed. This would be like someone in today's world working for a pharmacy and selling drugs out of the back door.
Diagnostic and remedy techniques were often related to blood and urine according to the smell, color, or even taste. Diet was an extremely important part of medicine in the middle-ages and foods were prescribed according to the "4 humours". Often, bleeding and cautery were used. Wine was used to clean wounds and then bandages applied. Herbs that were in supply were used, as well as some more bizarre substances like bird or pig ‘poop’. Surgery was not used, unless there was no other course, whether there was anesthetic or not and, more often than not, these were performed by barbers and executioners who knew something of anatomy. Mental illness was considered caused by a physical condition or by supernatural forces and were 'cured' through, again, the 4 humors. other remedies already described in this blog, or by exorcism.
Midwives (nurses), which were to work only under the supervision of a physician. They were often given the responsibility of handling gynecological and obstetric care of other women and to perform cesarean births, as the physician found this kind of work distasteful. As a result, many poorer women had only the help of the midwives (nurses), while the nobler patients had, both, doctor and nurse.
And, last, but not least, monks and nuns carried out the responsibility of doctoring and nursing in monasteries.
If you are interested, I offer a glimpse at what it was like to be a medieval practitioner on Medieval Health Practices Pinterest board.
Artwork: Isabella and the Pot of Basil by William Holman Hunt with a sepia overlay.
Mari J. Dionne ~ CHP, CLC
"The older I get the more sure I am that one's thoughts create one's reality. They say home is where the heart is but I have found it is the mind that that determines where one's heart resides."
Forgotten English Health Terms
Fish-Whole - as sound as a fish or healthy
Blind Cupid - the backside
Accoucheur - a male mid-wife
Kingsevil - a disease or swelling of the cervical lymph nodes
Valitudinary - subject to sickness; crazy
Chime-Child -a child born on Sunday who was immune to witchcraft, could see ghosts, and was a natural healer
Periblepsis - a delirious stare of the eyes
Wormland - churchyard
Green-Sickness - a disease incident to virgins; sickly paleness, with green tint of complexion
Tissek or Tissicky Cough - a tickling faint cough
Multiplying Medicine - an elixer of the alchemists, used in making and multiplying gold
Peat-Reek-Whisky - highland whiskey, distilled over peat fires
Belly-Brussen - a distended stomach or having a protuberant stomach
Oint - to smear with an unctuous substance (usually having to do with painting or disguising something)
Farbed-Up - confused
Nyctobasis - somnambulism; to walk in one's sleep
Roozles - wretchedness of mind and body
Coolth - coolness (opposite of warmth)
Pharmacopolist - an apothecary
Laver - to wash (before dinner)
Gothicism - to be rude or rudeness
Desuetude - lack of use
Splay the Bream - to cut up that fish
Doctor of Skill - a physician
Dendranthoplology - the theory that man sprang from trees
Fash - to care, to trouble one's self, anxiety
Satisfy Colon - to satisfy one's hunger
Neurasthenia - debility or impairment of the nerves
Trollibags - the intestines
Cothish - faint, sickly, ailing
Fogo - a disagreeable stink, stench, or smell
With Squirrel - pregnant
Pottinger - a cook, apothecary, druggist (Scotland)
Pomster - a quack doctor; to treat illness without knowledge or skill
Bleflummery - vain imaginings
Venefice - a practice of poisoning
Weaponsalve - a salve that was supposed to cure the wound by applying it to the weapon that caused it
Overset - to recover from mental shock
Fordolked - wounded
Wamblecropped - humiliated
Peffle - in a nervous state
Measondue - a hospital or poor house
Dead-Nip - a blue mark on the body not caused by an injury or any known cause...sometimes called a witch's nip
Sadly On - expressing that a person is ill or in a bad way
Whirligigs or Tallywags - testicles
Betwattled - to be surprised, confounded, out of one’s senses
Bone Box - the mouth
Dicked in the Nob - silly, crazed
Head Rails - teeth
Hickey - tipsy, hiccupping
Knowledge box - a term for the head
Sugar stick - the virile member
Pimpish - Dainty in the matter of food (taking in small quantities)
Witchify - to bewitch
Naufrage - shipwreck
Artwork & Photography Credits
Side Bar: Pen & Ink, Old Door, and Star (iStock.com ~ All rights reserved.) with sepia overlays.