INSIGHTS | 22. Alpinia Galanga & Heart Disease
Almost 1000 years after Ayurvedic, Islamic and Western Medieval traditions, we are still rediscovering the use and benefits of this member of the ginger family.
Recently, I took a trip to the local public library (crazy, I know) and began looking for books exploring lost medical practices from a forgotten time.
One of the books that caught my attention was Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine, by Drs. Wighard Strehlow and Gottfried Hertzka.
Strehlow and Hertzka are practicing physicians, while Strehlow runs the Hildegard Center in Allensbach, Germany. From what I can gather, they seem to be one of the few people devoted enough to extract medical wisdom from the teachings of Saint Hildegard.
In their book, they describe many of the teachings they have successfully incorporated into their own medical practice.
Foreword from David Frawley:
Systems which organize medicines and disease according to prime elements, energies, and biological humors reflect the language of nature and are more effective in transmitting nature’s healing power.
Such systems did exist in ancient and medieval Western medicine. Though once common, their traces have largely been eradicated and discredited by allopathic medicine.
Now that the limitations of allopathy are clear to many of us, the validity of these traditional systems is again becoming apparent.
Who was Hildegard?
Hildegard of Bingen was a 12th-century mystic primarily concerned with our relationship with the Divine. She was a polymath from Germany who had achieved Sainthood.
Hildegard used the four-element and four-humor system, derived from the same Galenic principles which gave rise to both Islamic and Ayurvedic medical practices.
By bringing us back to this organic model, her knowledge can help Western herbal medicine return itself to an equal level of sophistication with the Eastern systems that are becoming popular today.
In this book, Strehlow and Hertzka have consolidated Hildegard’s approach to health by organ system and even include sections on cancer, dreams, and fasting.
Strehlow and Hertzka appropriately contrast the approach of modern medicine to more ancient & sophisticated schools of thought on the role of the heart and the ways in which it can become a source of illness.
One of the largest studies from which the NIH derives ‘knowledge’ about heart disease is the Framingham Study. From this study, modern medicine has derived ‘risk factors’ for cardiovascular disease:
High blood pressure
Smoking, alcohol and drug use
Thus, the modern approach to reducing heart disease is by controlling these risk factors.
High blood pressure? There’s a pill for that.
High cholesterol? There’s a pill for that.
Obesity? There’s a pill for that. If that doesn’t work, we can always cut out all the fat in your body or cut out pieces of your stomach so there is less room for food. Barbarism.
The learned physician will recognize that these so called ‘risk factors’ have risk factors of their own. More commonly referred to as underlying or root causes.