Besides having the coolest name ever, Hildegard von Bingen was a writer, a scientist, a healer, a composer, a visionary mystic, and a saint who lived in 12th-century Germany. She founded two monasteries and invented a language. Hildegard's life and list of accomplishments is long and involved, but Atlas Obscura focuses on her work with medicinal food and herbs.
Hildegard subscribed to the Latin medical theory of balancing bodily humors that was prominent in her time, with elements of astrology and theology added. She advocated for bleeding and using precious stones in healing. But she prepared medicines according to the practice that (mostly women) healers always used of going with what works, and learned the benefits of natural ingredients she grew in her garden. Hildegard also advised boiling water before drinking to prevent disease. Medical historian and physician Victoria Sweet tells us,
“More of her cures worked than didn’t,” Sweet says, noting that many of her herbal remedies are as timeless as those within traditional Chinese medicine.
But the culmination of the article is the cookie recipe Hildegard left us. She made cookies prescribed for various ailments: ginger for constipation, licorice for nausea, and cinnamon and cloves for joy. You can't argue with cookies for joy, no matter what the flavor. Her cookies for joy are easy to make, and if you swap out molasses for honey, ginger for nutmeg, and add some leavening, it would be the same as the gingersnaps I made last week. Find that recipe and an overview of Hildegard's medical practices at Atlas Obscura. -via a comment at Metafilter