Miroslaw Mastej, MD, PhD
International Miroslaw Mastej, MD – runs his own clinic “Dr. Mastej Clinic” in Jasło in Poland, EU and promotes healthy life-style habits in order to maintain body in good health. Interested in our environment and diet impact on the body functions, biochemistry and immunology, including allergy, asthma and air pollution. More information you may find at: www.mastej.pl.
A lot of scientific research show that 30-40 % of people from Western countries are allergic to something. It is common knowledge that the situation was different in the past. Nowadays, allergies are typical for all age groups: adults, teenagers and children, for women and men. It also doesn’t matter where you live, whether in cities or in the countryside, whether you are rich or poor. Everyone can suffer from allergies. These days, people even suffer from allergies caused by nature, like pollen or food. We didn’t use to have such allergies in the past. It’s easy to understand that chemical substances are not good for people, but we still cannot explain why 30-40 % of population suffer from allergies. Maybe we should take a closer look at medicine again and analyze everything from scratch, going back to our historical heritage of hundreds or even thousands of years?
Live one hundred years with Doctor Hildegard!
It’s not possible to “process” the whole history of medicine but let’s recall a few important characters to sketch the background for our heroine – Doctor Hildegard.
Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician (460 B.C. – 370 B.C) left us his work called Corpus Hippocrateum. These are seventy books (some of them were written by his students or as some scientists think even by other authors some time later).
His work has become a canon Roman doctors, with the most famous one – Galen (130A.D. – 200 A.D.). Galen’s teachings have also survived in writing. Both provided the basis of medical universities, medical practices and hospital services for hundreds of years.
Doctor Hildegard (1098-1179) also used this knowledge. She not only used it, she also asked questions and searched for answers, which modified Hippocratic approach. She organized the knowledge, she based the knowledge on facts, she did some research and further observations and she drew conclusions. Thanks to her work, medicine was no longer based just on coincidences or on believes in the supernatural powers. This is Doctor Hildegard‘s legacy.
However, Hildegard didn‘t sever medicine from spirituality, like people did it in 20th century. All her medicine is full of faith in the influence of the psyche, mind, our emotions and our spirituality on being healthy or sick.
By the end of the year 2000, there was only space for genes, receptors and chemistry in the contemporary medicine. After the year 2000 the situation changed. Doctors and scientists are surprised to hear the news coming straight from the quantum physics (the absolute TOP of the contemporary science) that you cannot explain our health and sickness using only the chemistry as we know it. When we go deeper, to the lower level in our understanding, we reach quanta, energy and laws discovered by Einstein and Planck among others. On this level of quantum physics, scientists and quantum doctors begin to take further steps in medicine. Quantum medicine seems to be still a fledgling discipline but there are already effective devices to explore quantum phenomena. These are methods that go far beyond the classical pharmacy, that is chemistry, that enter the quantum level… that is actually Doctor Hildegard’s level. Perhaps her legacy is something more than her three works. Perhaps there is more advice for doctors how to treat their patients, hidden in Hildegard’s theological or mystical texts or maybe in her very spiritual music works that put listeners into trans and influence their state of mind (those who listened to her music know what I’m talking about). I am not to judge it, as I am still processing Hildegard not only as a doctor but also as a doctor of the Church and a holy mystic. As a composer of popular music? Ladies and Gentlemen, you would be surprised what would Doctor Hildegard achieve if she lived now. Who would she be? A women’s icon, the Nobel prize winner, pop star, the next Einstein or maybe even better?
Below I present the most interesting and the most practical „discoveries“ from Doctor Hildegard‘s works that I have found in the available literature. The readers must remember that only ‘Causae et Curae’ (her most important medical work) and ‘Physica’ (about medicines) are the primary sources of knowledge. Both are translated in English and are available for readers. There is also the third book describing medicines derived from animals or produced with animal products (for example venoms, honey derivatives, propolis). Today it may seem less practical to use but I’m sure that you can find something interesting there as well.
A Summary of Doctor Hildegard’s pieces of health advice by Miroslaw Mastej MD:
Treat food as medicine
Human beings are built from specific molecules, that is why they need a variety of food ingredients. It’s also important to achieve balance and moderation, we need to eat only as many nutrients as we need. We shouldn’t eat too much and we can’t eat to little. Most of our health problems (up to 80%) are caused because we eat too many of some ingredients, whereas we lack others. So, when you fall sick, the first thing you should do, is to analyze your meals and modify them properly in terms of quality and quantity.
Use natural remedies to stay healthy and to cure yourself when unhealthy
First, try to modify your diet, and only if it doesn’t help, then search for herbal medicines, minerals or medicine coming from animals (maybe there is no need to harm any animals, let it be, for example honey). You must always look for natural ways to stay healthy.
Doctor Hildegard mentions, for example spring blood letting out. The aim of this act is to purify your body from toxins. Today, it is quite hard to do and generally it is rather an old-fashioned method, but I do encourage you to donate blood to hospitals. Actually, it is also bloodletting in a sense, and it is totally safe, as a lot of research shows, we can easily donate up to 500 ml blood a year. In fact, the data show that longtime donors are generally healthier that people, who don’t donate blood.
Sleep as much as your organism needs
Modern research in human physiology show that proteins are reconstructed in the phase of deep sleep. That’s the influence of somatropin and melatonin. The condition is that our sleep must be deep. Of course, it must be also long enough. The proper time varies depending on our age. Babies need longer sleep because they mature. Adults need about 8 hours of sleep. When we feel sleepy, we are weakened. It means that some proteins just didn’t manage to get renewed. That is why when we are recovering after a serious illness, we should just let our organisms to sleep and rebuild the missing proteins.
Move, exercise (don’t grow slack!)
We should exercise in a proper way, too. The intensity of exercises should be suitable for our age. Movement makes blood and lymph circulate in the skeletal muscles but also in our lungs, intestines, liver, kidneys and almost all our organs and tissues. Only continuously flowing blood and lymph can ‘take and rinse’ delinquent metabolites and deliver oxygen, energy substances and other elements necessary to reconstruct our organism.
The lack of movement means stasis, retention of free radicals, acidification of the organism, cell aging, greater risk of infection and slow removal of damaged cells, including tumor cells. Movement means health for our body and soul (mind). It can be explained nowadays by a few physiological changes, for example by the increased production of some hormones (endorphins) or activation of the relevant parts of our nervous system. Well, Doctor Hildegard observed these phenomena, though, as I suppose, she didn’t know what the endorphins were. Nowadays, we can’t say anything new, we can just explain why and how movement affects our health.
Divide your time between work and relaxation in a reasonable way (pray and work)
Our bodies have a special structure, composition and as a result specific performance. It means that we can’t work, whether physically or intellectually, without rest. Our cells just can as much as they can and then you must get some rest. In the Middle Ages, there was a popular rule 8+8+8 (work + sleep + pray). Of course, if you didn’t want to pray for 8 hours, you can relax instead. But be careful, if you work intellectually for 8 hours, you won’t relax, if you spend the next 8 hours working by the computer or playing chess. You should rather relax doing some physical exercises, like fitness, running, going for a walk or just doing some things at home or in the garden are the best options. On the other hand, if you have a heavy and monotonous physical work, you should relax in intellectual way. Your body should relax, while your brain is going crazy – reading, playing bridge, doing crosswords, watching a good movie or listening to music.
Cleanse your body with bath, sauna, bowel cleansing, bloodletting, cupping or kidney massage
No matter how much you try, with age we gather a lot of waste products of metabolism in our tissues. Therefore, Doctor Hildegard recommends body cleansing. Nowadays, the term ‘detox’ has become popular. It is the same thing. Our organism excretes waste products mostly through kidneys (with urine), also in sweat, exhaled air but also through our liver (with bile) to intestines and then in stool. You should remember that stool does not only consist of unabsorbed food, it also contains a lot of waste products from blood.
Doctor Hildegard was right that regular defecation is a great way to cleanse our body. Otherwise, these waste substances are absorbed into the blood again and then they must find another way to get out, for example through kidney or lungs. A good example of this phenomenon is the absorption of intestinal gases into the blood if we don’t let go of the winds freely. The fermentation gases (methane and sulphur dioxide) get into the blood from large intestine and then kidneys, lungs or liver must deal with them.
Another thing that Doctor Hildegard strongly recommended is sauna. The reason behind is simple. We expel a lot of toxins with our sweat. When we have a cold or flu sweating is our body‘s defensive reaction which helps us to rid of toxins or viruses. Poland is not one of the countries where sauna is very popular. But in other European countries, like Russia or Finland (Russian banya or Finnish sauna) are part of their culture and people who use them are certainly healthier than those who don‘t.
Doctor Hildegard also emphasized the benefits of bloodletting. Nowadays, we use this method quite rarely, but it is not banned or illegal. Why should we bloodlet once a year? There are some medical reasons why bloodletting is good for us. First, it is totally harmless to get rid of about 500ml blood out of the 6-8 liters that we have in our bodies. By doing so, we get rid of some toxins and plasma that we no longer need. Secondly, our bone marrow must rebuild white and red cells which we lost within a few days. Water and components of plasma must be rebuilt too, which means they must be clean and proper. The number of “toxins“, which stays in the body after bloodletting will be proportionally diluted in the renewed amount of blood. That is why we observe the decrease of cholesterol or uric acid concentration after bloodletting. Besides losing about 500 ml of blood is stressful for our organism, that is why it mobilizes our defense mechanisms. We don’t need to waste our blood; we can give it to hospitals.
Nowadays, few patients and doctors remember about this method and yet it is so easy. I find it hard to believe that we do it so rarely. It is also good to know that most blood donors are healthier than people who don’t donate their blood! Eh, Doctor Hildegard, you would certainly get the Nobel Prize for this. Cupping has a similar impact on our body. It mobilizes the circulatory system (lymph and blood, they are interconnected) to more intense circulation. In this way, our kidneys, liver, lungs or just the area where we have the cupping done are cleansed.
Change your attitude towards the world, people and nature. Be positive. Be generous and friendly in a selfless way. Don’t count on reciprocity, it will happen naturally when you don’t expect it. It doesn’t mean that you must give away everything you have, just find the positive side of life.
This point is the hardest to explain but we can actually write the whole book about it. Modern research in psychology, neurobiology, neurophysiology and psychiatry show the connection between the mind and the body. For example, neurolinguistic programming, placebo effect research, as well as prayer and meditation show that our mind has a positive or negative influence on organs, cells and generally how our organism works.
So, toxic relationships with neighbors, family, schoolmates or colleagues can have a real, negative effect on our health. And vice versa – a positive relation with people will have a positive effect on the body. When we repair our bad relationship with the environment, we will also improve our health. Without a doubt, countries where peace, good social relationships and general safety are on a high level, people enjoy good health and live longer.
All these seven points can be discussed in more detail. How to prepare nutritional meals, Prepare nutritional meals, plans of actions, change our lifestyle etc. In my opinion, we have to apply all seven pieces of advice to use Hildegard‘s tips to the fullest. A selective approach isn’t enough.
Point number 7 seems to be the hardest to use in a medical sense. Hildegard didn’t write about it separately in her three books. Formally she came up with six rules of a healthy life. But I decided it deserves to be mentioned separately and it is obvious for me that rule number 7 results from all her works in general. Considering the contemporary definition of health as psycho-physical-socio-spiritual well-being (WHO) point number 7 deserves to be fully implemented. In other words, bloodletting, diets and fasting and so on aren’t enough if we have problems with our psyche and emotions.
Surprisingly enough, nowadays, we can explain it very precisely, thanks to the knowledge we have about stress pathophysiology, stress factors or stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline). Of course, Doctor Hildegard didn’t know anything about these things. Still, contemporary research confirms a lot of her observations are true!
Her food recommendations are mostly based on spelt – almost gluten-free grains. In her times, spelt was the most basic type of wheat. Except for spelt, the diet she recommends is full of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and rarely fish and meat (mostly poultry and venison). What would Doctor Hildegard say if she saw farm meat these days – disaster! When we look at her rules, we need to admit that we haven’t created anything new for 800 years!
Obviously, she doesn’t recommend carbohydrates (fructose or fructose glucose syrup – which didn’t exist in her times of course, but which are now the most harmful substances to our health). For obvious reasons, she doesn’t mention fizzy drinks, sweetened juice with long-term shelf life, desserts or snacks in plastic boxes with bisphenol A.
But we do have honey, butter, olives, wine, green salads with seasonal plants. She mentions onions, garlic, parsley and fennel – simple, easily accessible food. Unfortunately, nowadays, this type of food is no competition for highly processed food advertised in the media.
It’s time to listen to Doctor Hildegard. It’s one more reason – this kind of food is hypoallergenic. Food recommended by her is devoid of chemistry, so also allergens. That is why, 30-40 % of people should immediately start the diet she recommends. Of course, we should make sure we eat food without pesticides, herbicides and GMO.
With a little initiative we can find a cheaper way to get healthy food. For example, we can have our own plot of land or we can do shopping at a local market everyday, instead of buying food in supermarkets once a week. Doctor Hildegard didn’t foresee that we would have a fridge in the future, so, of course, she recommended fresh food. We need to remember that every kind of food loses its freshness when we keep it in a fridge. Most people don’t check if some things in their fridge haven’t gone off or become moldy. Unfortunately, one rotten product infects other products. It is a huge source of allergens for people allergic to mushrooms. A fridge only slows down the growth of fungi.
Although, contemporary medicine has obviously achieved noticeable success, Doctor Hildegard’s recommendations are worth trying out. Everyone will find something interesting for themselves. It is good to read her books and her original texts.