Medieval James Himself

Medieval James Himself
Guide at Ozark Medieval Fortress

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Medieval Use of Herbs

“What were the main herbs used in the Middle Ages?”  A person could talk or write for hours answering this question.  Like the Native Americans, people in Medieval Europe used herbs A LOT.  I make two important points about herbs: first, the herbs were used for food, textile dyes and medicine, and second , it was an area of expertise where women excelled and were actually given credit for their knowledge.  Late in the Middle Ages, however, it backfired on some women because of the change in attitude to equate herbalists with witches.  At the Ozark June24Medieval Fortress, the main herbs grown and used have been: basil in several forms, lavender, sage and rosemary.  Many herbs are also gathered from the wild.  For me the most interesting Medieval herb is lavender. Lavender is a flea repellant and in the Middle Ages when peasants slept on the floor with the dogs, fleas were common.  Garlic is the other herb that I find impressive.  It was used in the ancient world, especially Egypt and was known as a key to good health.  The Romans did not like the smell and during the time of the Empire, garlic became a poor person’s herb.  That attitude carried over into the Middle Ages when nobles didn’t use it, but the peasants relied on it.  I guess I’m a commoner, because I believe in garlic, take it daily, and therefore, have not had a cold or flu in years. On the other hand, I benefit from modern garlic which is odorless.  Garlic has been shown to have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-parasitic properties.  The Russians used it in WWII instead of penicillin.  I get my garlic tablets from  People in the Middle Ages were not stupid and their herb use was handed down from generation to generation.  Charlemagne, King of the Franks, ordered all monasteries in the kingdom to plant healing herb gardens.  Pictured is Trela, Ozark Medieval Fortress guide, Native American and herbalist.

1 comment:

  1. Another well know anti-bacterial, anti-viral material used since the Egyptians is honey!