Medieval Herb Gardens and Medieval Gardening
The use of herbs as a part of medieval medicine dates back to antiquity. They were often used for healing the body. Many of them are used today, but have been around for centuries. During the Middle Ages, people believed that four distinct “humours” existed: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. If you had an illness, you were likely to consult a physician who could restore the balance of these humours.
Monasteries were well known for their herb gardens and traded with other monasteries for exotic plants and seeds. In addition, most monasteries had separate gardens dedicated to medicinal plants. The serving plan of St. Gall monastery in 1390 C.E. shows a garden solely for medicinal herbs. In the middle ages, doctors didn’t practice medicine, and their patients were often confined to hospices. During this time, the clergy of monasteries devoted a lot of time to cultivating and harvesting these herbs.
Most of these herbs were used in teas, salves, and drinks, depending on the region. They often derived their roots from a pre-Christian belief system and were therefore considered to be safe. Moreover, herbal remedies were attributed to the action of humours and were based on the medieval Christian doctrine of signatures, which stated that everything has a signature that reveals its origin and purpose. In this way, the effects of a medicinal herb were thought to be miraculous and healing for the afflicted.
Many of the plants that were used in medieval medicine contained active herbal ingredients. For example, willow bark was used to relieve pain in the Middle Ages, which is similar to the salicylic acid that is used to make aspirin today. Psychic plants, such as echinacea, were also kept in monasteries, and many people kept them for protection. Some of the most popular herbs for medieval medicine include hyssop and thyme, as well as lavender.
Herbs used in medieval medicine were generally grown in three categories, but some were grown solely for their aesthetic value. Herbs were used for both medicinal and ornamental purposes. The medicinal properties of these plants were not known until the 1500s. During this time, draughts contained various herbs such as echinacea and mint. The apothecary in towns and villages would also provide people with a variety of herbal medicines.
Herbs in medieval medicine were used for treating various ailments, from fever to paralysis. Because they were grown and used for cooking and for medicinal purposes, many of the herbs are still used today as a part of home remedies. You can grow herbs for medicinal purposes in your garden or kitchen. A simple harvest is all you need. Just make sure to keep them in a dark, dry place with ample air circulation. Some herbs look the same when dried.