Herbal Cold Remedies by Hildegard of Bingen (Part II)

Previously, we presented Hildegard’s 3 Herbal Cold Remedies representing some of the age-old formulas Hildegard recommended for preventing and treating colds. We highlighted one such remedy, Hildegard’s Duckweed Elixer, which she recommended as a preventative regimen starting in early autumn before the dry winds (and the accompanying cold season) begin.

herbal cold remedies

As we find ourselves squarely in winter’s grip, we thought we would research Hildegard’s remedies for flu-like symptoms and infections. It never hurts to know more ways to hold off those winter bugs and Hildegard’s perspective is always enlightening.

BlackBerry bramble drink/elixir

“The bramble bush, where blackberries grow, is more warm than cold… But, if someone suffers pain in the lungs, and has a chest cough, he takes Bertram (Feverfew), with a little less bramble, less hyssop than bramble, add even less oregano than all of these. Add honey, and cook it thoroughly in good wine. Then strain it through a piece of cloth, drink it moderately after eating.  After the person is full of food, let them drink more of this wine. Do this often, and the lung will regain health and the mucus is removed from the breast…”

Hildegard’s medieval formulas are not always clear. Unfortunately, Hildegard relies on relative units of measurement, which complicates matters in practice. Though this medieval recipe is difficult to understand, and tricky to apply, the resulting mixture serves as an excellent expectorant, which is unique in naturopathy.

herbal cold remedies

This blackberry bramble elixir addresses cold and flu symptoms, such as coughing, bronchitis, mucus build-up, inflammation of the lung tissue, inflammation of the mucous membrane, and sinus infections.  Consider this drink for any minor condition leading to the build-up of mucus and associated inflammation.

Despite Hildegard’s seemingly complicated medieval instructions, preparation is quite simple, as follows:

Prepare on stovetop in teakettle or saucepan. Add all ingredients to 1 L of wine. Heat on medium for five minutes, avoiding a hard boil. Strain. Store in an airtight glass container in a cool dark place. Can be refrigerated, if preferred.


1 liqueur glass (1.5 ounces) 3 times daily, after meals. For children, consider as much as one ½ to 2 teaspoons, depending on the age. This elixir actually tastes very pleasant. In Germany, this drink is available in pre-prepared bottles.

herbal cold remedies

Bertram or Feverfew (Anacyclus purethrum) is a Hildegard medicinal herb that bears additional mention.

Bertram is an ancient medicinal plant, originating from North Africa. It resembles Chamomille in both appearance and manner of growth; however its flavor preserves a mild variation of spicy. Bertram or Feverfew is a favorite in all of Hildegard medicine.

Bertram / Feverfew role in the BlackBerry drink

The essential oils of Feverfew prevent cramping, and possess anti-inflammatory properties. These natural compounds also serve as an expectorant promoting relief from mucus, and congestion.

According to Hildegard, “Bertram reduces bad juices, and multiplies the good in human blood, and makes a clear mind. For a patient who is physically run down, Bertram brings back his strength. It leaves nothing in humans undigested, and it prepares the body for good digestion when eaten diligently.”

In other words, Hildegard believed in Feverfew to preserve vitality and bolster immune defense in the body. Feverfew also has antiviral properties. Due to its unique essential oils, Feverfew protects the body against microbial attacks, and is effective in fighting bronchial conditions.

Feverfew is particularly effective for stomach bugs and digestive disorders. Hildegard would have also recommended it for “sins of diet”, such as too much animal protein and cheese.

Masterwort (Peucedanum or Imperatoria ostruthium)

“The Masterwort is warm and beneficial against fevers. If any person has any kind of fever, let them take Masterwort and pound it moderately. Once it has been pounded or shredded, let them pour a half a glass of wine over it, and let is stand overnight. In the morning, let them add wine to it and drink it, fasting. Do this for three to five days; they will be cured.“ –

herbal cold remedies

According to Hildegard von Bingen, Masterwort is a cure-all for fevers. It can be used for virtually any illness accompanied by high fevers, including bacterial conditions, the flu, pneumonia, tonsillitis, childhood sickness.

When a high fever accompanies illness, medical attention may be necessary, particularly in young children. For seasonal colds in adults, however, having Masterwort handy is a great way to apply an old German tradition passed down from Hildegard to help with uncomfortable symptoms like aches and fever.

Masterwort Preparation

Mix 1 Tablespoon Masterwort with ½ cup wine in the evening, let it stand overnight, and consume in the morning. Every evening repeat the preparation process.

The dosage is as follows: drink the wine and Masterwort mixture throughout the day, before meals. For children, consider modifying the dosage to teaspoon or dropper size.

Hildegard Inspired 3 Day Fever Diet

Should you have the misfortune of catching a seasonal cold with an accompanying fever, a Hildegard-inspired approach to relieving the symptoms and rebuilding your immune system may include a fast coupled with some of her natural cold remedies. We’ve outlined it here.

  • Day 1: This is a day of absolute fasting. Ideally, eat nothing, but perhaps unsweetened fennel tea. Depending on the patient’s desire, some spelt crispbread may also be appropriate.
  • Day 2: This is a day for spelt broth soup with some salt and parsley. Depending on appetite, you may also consider spelt-spätzle or noodles. Take as much spelt crispbread as you like, along with tea. Prepare cooked apple slices (not applesauce), cooked in plenty of water. Drink the water afterward.
  • Day 3: Consider chicken broth with some chicken in moderation. Take this meal along with plenty of fennel tea. You may also consider moderate amounts of cooked wine, or “diluted wine”, which may be prepared by boiling wine, and adding water.
herbal cold remedies

Fennel Tea is prepared out of seeds

This dietary restriction does not weaken the body, but rather improves efficacy to handle illness more efficiently, because the body may focus all of its energy on its defenses rather that digestion. Some of the oldest wisdom against fever, and yet the hardest to implement, give your body ample time to rest.  Spend time in bed until the fever lifts, this might mean 2 days.

herbal cold remedies


On the margin, Masterwort does a whole lot more than just reduce fevers. Its essential oils have strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects and it strengthens the immune system. The bitter compounds stimulate the appetite and improve digestion. The bioflavonoids have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body (particularly for lung conditions, coughing, respiratory, and gastro-intestinal conditions).

Hildegard’s suggestion for Preventing the flu and strengthen the defenses

If you have been lucky enough to avoid a seasonal cold thus far, you are doing great. But the cold season can linger well into the spring, so we’ve gathered some additional preventative measures from Hildegard’s remedies.

Galangal water (Galangal in raspberry water)

As a brief primer, we’ll answer the question, what is Galangal (Alpina officinarum) after all? It originates from the family of ginger plants from Malaysia and like its well-known relative, it has a spicy flavor and warming effect on the body. In fact, Galangal is used mainly in cardiovascular conditions in Hildegard medicine, but is also ideal for colds due to its warmth and spice.

herbal cold remedies


Galangal water is a refreshing way to keep your warmth and energy up during the cold season. It is simple to prepare. Just dissolve 1-2 Galangal tablets or 1-3 TSP of Galangal powder in a glass of raspberry water (made with real, not artificial, raspberry syrup, of course) and add a drizzle of lemon juice. Take this daily as a wonderful measure to increase your physical defenses in the autumn and winter.

If you already suffer from flu-like infection and you are beginning the process of convalescence, this is an ideal drink to combat your fever, along with fennel tea.

Healthy Hildegard wishes you a wonderful and healthy Easter Season.