The 7 Herbs heritage of Bertrand Heidelberger

“Since I am in good health, but do not know the hour of death and have passed the age of 80, I am not writing out of selfishness or greed, but in the interest of humanity, I do not want to take my experience and knowledge with me to the grave but make it available to the world as a testament.”

Bertrand Heidelberger

Bertrand Heidelberger (* 15.02.1845, + after 1925) has left us the legacy of his more than 50 years of experience in the field of natural medicine. In his youth he fell seriously ill. He also suffered from intestinal disorders. In 1905, he was diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes. He had an operation on his right eye. The operation failed and Bertrand Heidelberger was blind in his right eye for the rest of his life.

His own history of suffering led him to do his own research into natural medicine. He discovered that illnesses often manifested themselves at a young age. He gained crucial insights from his children. He suspected that many illnesses were caused by too much and viscous mucus. From this he concluded that the cause of many illnesses must lie in a reduced salivary and thyroid function. He found relief from the bitter herbs. Today, the special composition of his vitalising herbal mixture can be found in the 7 herbs.

Seven effective herbs from controlled organic cultivation

Heidelberger’s 7 Herbs consists of seven herbs from controlled organic cultivation, which are mixed in a special ratio: wormwood, yarrow, juniper, fennel, aniseed, caraway seeds, burnet. The herbs are professionally grown, cared for and harvested and carefully processed. This ensures they have maximum effect. Go for it and stay healthy.

The good news: you can get used to a bitter taste. Be brave and gradually start to include more bitter tastes in your diet on a regular basis. Heidelberger’s 7 Herbs is ideal for this, as a tea or as a powder – completely without alcohol. The intake of bitter substances and other self-prescribed herbal remedies can never replace a doctor, but can helps prevent illnesses, so that we do not need a doctor in the first place.

We wish you good health!

“The powder promotes healthy saliva and a healthy thyroid, removes dangerous mucus from the stomach and kidneys, and keeps the blood pure and fresh. It disinfects everything in the bowels, so that wind and faeces no longer smell bad. It promotes defecation and destroys the mucus that can cause metabolic diseases, hernias, haemorrhoids, cancer, eye diseases, blindness and the diseases associated with them”.

Bertrand Heidelberger

Medicinal plants – the oldest medicine

A history as old as mankind

The history of herbs is probably as old as the history of mankind. For most of the history of mankind, our ancestors had no medicines other than plants. Because they could not explain the cycle of nature in any other way, people attributed supernatural powers to plants and saw spirits and gods in them. Plants were not just food or medicines. Healers used plant poisons to intoxicate themselves during their rituals, in the hope of gaining knowledge through trance and hallucination.

It is clear that in the early history of mankind, herbs formed an integral part of everyday life. In the case of the mummy known as Ötzi, various herbs were found which the man carried with him in his quiver during his life, some 5,000 years ago. When man started to write, he also recorded what he knew about certain plants in writing. Some of the earliest records of medicinal plants from the ancient Chinese, Indian and Egyptian civilisations have survived to this day.

One of the oldest descriptions of laurel, caraway seeds and thyme is found on a 5,000-year-old Sumerian clay tablet. The Papyrus Ebers from ancient Egypt is about 3,500 years old and is one of the oldest surviving texts today. It is also the oldest text in the field of medicine. The 20m long scroll contains 877 medicinal plant recipes and descriptions of, for example, anise, caraway seeds, linseed, hemp and monk’s pepper.

Traditional Chinese medicine can look back on an equally long history. The indigenous peoples of North and South America also knew which plant to use for which purpose. In these regions, this knowledge was almost exclusively passed on orally.

Although medicine in the different cultures differs greatly, there are amazing similarities in the assessment of individual herbs and their effectiveness. For example, plants containing bitter substances have always been used to relieve digestive disorders. Native American shamans, for example, have always used the bark of the South American condurango bush and Indian and Chinese healers have always used the rootstock of calamus or turmeric.

Ancient scholars lay the foundation for modern day pharmacology

Hippocrates of Kos (ca. 460 – 370 BC) was already a celebrity during his lifetime and is considered the founder of scientific medicine. The Corpus Hippocraticum, which contains about 60 writings, was compiled by him. It contains detailed instructions for the use of herbal medicines. Theophrastus (ca. 380 – 286 BC), a student of Aristotle, is considered the father of botany. In his work The History of Plants, he described around 455 medicinal plants and their effects.

Around 78 AD, just over 300 years later, Pedanios Dioscorides wrote his five-volume medical encyclopaedia, which set the trend for all other books on medicines until the 16th century: De Materia Medica. In it, the ancient physician describes about 800 herbal, animal and mineral remedies and 4,000 medicinal applications. Most of these statements about the effects of plants, which are based on experience, are still valid today and have been scientifically verified. Dioscorides also introduced a classification of medicinal plants for the first time. In 512, a beautifully illustrated copy was produced of the part of De Materia Medica that only contained plants. Those interested can admire this historical document in the Deutsche Museum in Munich.

At the same time, Pliny the Elder (25 – 79 AD) compiled everything that was known in his time about the effectiveness of plants in 37 volumes of the Historia naturalis. The similarity with Dioscorides’ work is probably due to the fact that both drew on the same sources. The Historia naturalis were of great importance for the development of the natural sciences.

Finally, Claudios Galen from Pergamum (129 – 211 AD) continued the work of his predecessors and developed his system known as Galensimus. Galen attributed certain qualities to the plants: on the one hand, the basic qualities such as hot or cold, moist or dry; on the other hand, the gustatory quality such as bitter, salty, sweet or sour and finally the effect, e.g. laxative, emetic, etc. He also developed the four humours doctrine in which the body fluids blood, mucus, yellow and black bile play a prominent role. According to this doctrine, if these fluids are not distributed in the body in a balanced way this will result in illness. Each of the fluids was assigned to one of the four elements fire, earth, air and water, which makes the imbalance even more vivid.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the medical knowledge of antiquity was largely lost. It is estimated that in total only 10% of the literature from antiquity survived, as herbal medicine largely disappeared over time. As a result of Christianisation, diseases and illnesses were seen as a punishment from God or as witchcraft, and healing was mainly sought in blessings and prayers. The natural beliefs of pagan peoples were demonised, banned and persecuted.

Monasteries as bastions of medicine and medicinal plants in the Middle Ages

Charlemagne (748 – 814), King of the Franks, made a decisive contribution to the revival of herbal medicine with his Capitulare de villis decree. He ordered the cultivation of medicinal and vegetable plants in monastery gardens as well as in public and farm gardens. The Capitulare list includes 73 plant species, useful plants such as vegetables and medicinal herbs as well as 16 different varieties of fruit trees. The list includes both indigenous and Mediterranean plants, such as anise, cumin, parsley, rosemary, sage, fennel, etc. The only copy of the Capitulare de villis probably dates from the 930s or 940s and is currently in the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel.

In the 8th century, Benedictine monks from Italy moved to Central Europe. When they founded monasteries, they laid out symmetrical monastery gardens based on the Roman model. The monks brought many medicinal herbs from their homeland with them. Many of them are still recognised today by their Latin names: salvia became sage, thymus became thyme and lavendula became lavender. The cultivation of vegetables, fruit and medicinal herbs in Benedictine monasteries also fulfilled the requirement of being as self-sufficient as possible.

The Lorscher Arzneibuch is one of the most famous medical writings of the Middle Ages. It was written around 795 in the Lorsch monastery in Worms and is the oldest surviving German-language manuscript on medicinal plants and monastic medicine of the time.

Walahfridus Strabo (809-849), Abbot of the Benedictine abbey in Reichenau, describes 23 medicinal plants in verse for the first time in his didactic poem Hortulus (the garden). Strabo’s work is still considered a literary and botanical masterpiece. Hildegard von Bingen (1098 – 1179), a Benedictine Abbess, describes more than two hundred plants in her works Physica and Causae et Curae. Hildegard von Bingen’s medical writings are a mixture of folklore experiences, traditions from classical antiquity and Benedictine traditions. She and her work are still known to many today.

In the Middle Ages, it was mainly nuns and monks that worked as doctors and pharmacists. They were of great importance for the medical care of the population. In the late Middle Ages, the universities that were founded in many places, including Germany, dismissed the clergy from the medical profession. From then on, they trained the doctors. Pharmacy became a subject in its own right alongside medicine.

The spread of medicinal herbology in modern times and plants from the New World

The invention of the printing press in the middle of the 15th century made the knowledge of medicinal plants accessible to a wider public. Herbal books were the most widely read books after the Bible at this time. Hieronymus Bock, a clergyman who also practised medicine, committed his knowledge to paper in 1539 in the Kreütterbuch. Leonhart Fuchs, professor of medicine at the University of Tübingen, published an illustrated book on plants, the Historia stirpium, in Latin in 1532. The German translation was published a year later as New Kreüterbuch.

The discovery of the American continent and the sea route to India brought numerous new plants to Europe, such as cinchona bark, cola nut or fallow root.

Herbalists were persecuted as witches

Throughout the centuries it was fairly common for ordinary people in Central Europe, especially women, to be herbalists, so herbology was not just restricted to monasteries and universities. The ancient knowledge of the Germanic people about herbs, their customs and rites, was passed on from generation to generation for centuries. The herb women were mainly consulted for women’s ailments; they acted as midwives and doctors. The Church saw the activities of these women as blasphemy and an undesirable pagan cult, as well as in competition with the church and state. Tens of thousands of these women, who understood the healing powers of herbs, were cruelly persecuted and innocently burned at the stake as a result. It is a difficult and complex chapter in our history.

Modern synthetic medicines replace healing by plants

The rapid development of chemistry in the 19th and 20th centuries increasingly pushed traditional herbal medicine into the background. Today, phytopharmaceuticals and homeopathic medicines account for 31% of over-the-counter medicines (source: Bundesverband der Arzneimittelhersteller e.V.: Der Arzneimittelmarkt in Deutschland – Zahlen und Fakten, 2017). Only about 250 plants are still used medicinally today. In the meantime, however, phytotherapy is experiencing a renaissance. Surveys show that many patients prefer to be treated with natural remedies.