I’ve been pondering the Bubonic Plague (bacterial) and Spanish Flu (viral) and wondering why the death rates were so darn high; why was people’s natural or innate immunity so low? What the heck happened to all the herbalists during these outbreaks? They would have had effective medicines, so why the completely unchecked spread across the Middle East and Europe? It’s like the flu/plague came to town and humans had no resistance to these microbes whatsoever – and no effective treatments once infected.
OR had herbalists and doctors (ALL medicine at that time was herbal) already been culled by events like the Spanish Inquisition? So there was a severe and widespread lack of trained medicine women, doctors, herbalists? …or what??
So I embarked on a research bender to find answers. The first thing I realized is there is very little documentation (that I could find) on the village healer. Lots on the predominantly male herbalist/doctor/monk. But where is the data on the local medicine woman/healer – the one who figures so prominently in folk stories, myths, and historical novels? That village herbalist who was later referred to as a witch… where is the hard data on her role and knowledge, where is the compendium of her remedies from the 7th to 13th Century? (If you know, please post in the Comments section!)
There is also lots of information on using mouldy bread, and other substances that would have produced Penicillin, being used to treat infection as early as 1500 BC in Egypt and 1000 BC in China (mouldy soy beans). In fact, residues of tetracyclin (an actinomycete antibiotic) have been found in the bones of Sudanese Nubia people in 40 AD – likely from mouldy grains. So we know this knowledge and so much more was intact during the Middle Ages (5th – 15th Century). Every herbal tradition also has potent anti-virals (wild oregano oil anyone?), although modern medicine has none. So why are the Black Death and Spanish Flu presented as unchecked massacres, with no resistance or treatment?
I’m going to start by outlining the herbal/medical knowledge during this period, to trace the body of knowledge available. Remember that words like ‘doctor’, ‘physic’, ‘medicine’ etc ALL refer to herbalism, as all treatments during this period were entirely natural.
I wonder how much the authors of these medical compendiums pulled from the generational wisdom of village herbalists? The local medicine woman or village healer/herbalist was likely apprenticed from a long line of healers, in an oral tradition (not written). But as men (HIStory) rarely credited women in their records, we’ll likely never know how much of this knowledge originated with the village herbalist, hedge witch, or medicine woman.
But regardless, as many of these village herbalists were women, any kind of religious or pagan purging may have wiped out a large portion of the only people trained in anti-viral and anti-bacterial protocols. Let’s take a look…
Note: All of the herbal history below is compiled and excerpted/quoted from:
A History of Herbalism for Herbalists – Part 1 (most quoted source)
Moulds in Folk Medicine
Plague’s Contribution to the Spanish Inquisition
Herbalism – A History
Early Medieval Medicine in Europe
*scroll down if you want to skip the herbal history and get to the plagues…
A brief history of herbal healing
“Medieval European physicians (physics) based their medical care mainly upon the teachings of Galen of Pergamum (born c. a.d. 130 in what is now Bergama, Turkey). Galen’s writings were prolific, and were based upon the relationship among the body’s four humors, or bodily fluids (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile), and the four elements of external nature (earth, air, fire, and water). Galen taught that illness stems from an imbalance of the humors and the elements, and that restoring this balance would effect a cure. Galen described over 300 pharmaceutical remedies (mostly herbal concoctions), utilized bloodletting (phlebotomy), and depicted disease as an individual susceptibility rather than a general affectation. Galen’s writings remained the dominant influence in medicine for almost a thousand years.
Pandonios Dioscorides (77AD) was for the next 1500 years revered as the ultimate authority on plants equally in both the Eastern Arab Empire and Western Europe. Dioscorides wanted to produce a decent field guide to plants useful in medicine and wanted a way of retrieving easily the kind of information he required to treat his patients.
The rulers of Jundi Shapur welcomed an international crowd of Greek, Persian, Jewish, and Hindu scholars. This convergence created the greatest center of medical teaching in the Islamic world for hundreds of years. People of all creeds worked together in peace, as nowhere else in the world.
While the Arab physicians first familiarized themselves with the works of Hippocrates, Galen and other Greek physicians (many books were found in the library of Byzantium were they where gathering dust), they also were exposed to the medical knowledge of India and China. Scholars, physicians, astronomers, and intellectuals of all branches of knowledge were encouraged to debate, study and write about their work in this benevolent setting.
One of the first pharmacological treatises was composed by Jabir ibn Hayyan (ca. 776), who is considered the father of Arab pharmacy. The Arab pharmacopoeia of the time was extensive, and gave descriptions of the geographical origin, physical properties and methods of application of everything found useful in the cure of disease (plants, minerals, animals, insects and so forth). Arab pharmacists introduced a large number of new drugs (herbs) to clinical practice from around the known world. Some of these were senna, camphor, sandalwood, musk, myrrh, cassia, tamarind, nutmeg, cloves, aconite, ambergris and mercury.
The pharmacists also developed syrups and juleps; the word ‘julep’ comes from both Arabic and Persian languages, meaning a sweet water made from such things as rose water and orange blossom water as means of administering drugs. They were familiar with anesthetic effects of some of the Indian herbs as well that were added to liquids or inhaled.
The Medical Compendium in Seven Books, written by the leading physician Paul of Aegina, is also of particular importance. The compendium was written in the late seventh century AD and remained in use as a standard textbook for 800 years.
In 950 AD, England’s King Alfred commissioned the Leech Book of Bald, which combined the herbal practices of the Celts and Anglo-Saxons with that of the Greco-Romans and Arabs.
Over his lifetime Avicenna (Hakim Ibn Sina) wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived. In particular, 150 of his surviving treatises concentrate on philosophy and 40 of them concentrate on medicine and herbs.
Avicenna is also regarded as a pioneer of aromatherapy because of his invention of steam distillation and extraction of essential oils which he used in his practice. His most profound contribution to medicine was his medical encyclopedia called The Canon of Medicine, originating around 1025 in Persia.
The Canon of Medicine is known for its introduction of systematic experimentation and the study of physiology, the discovery of contagious diseases and sexually transmitted diseases, the introduction of quarantine to limit the spread of infectious diseases, the introduction of experimental medicine, clinical trials, and the idea of a syndrome in the diagnosis of specific diseases. Avicenna hypothesized the existence of microorganisms and classified and described diseases, and outlined their assumed causes. Hygiene, simple and complex medicines, and functions of parts of the body were also covered. He asserted that tuberculosis was contagious, which was later disputed by Europeans, but turned out to be true. He also describes the symptoms and complications of diabetes as well.
I have to remind the reader, when the word ‘medicine’ is used in this text it is the herbal plants, minerals and animal parts that were used. Do not confuse the term medicine with our modern concept of this term. The Canon includes a description of some 760 medicinal plants and the medicine that could be derived from them. At the same time Avicenna laid out the basic rules of clinical drug trials, principles that are still followed today. Avicenna was, in fact, a great herbalist.
During the early Medieval Ages (5th – 9th centuries) in Europe, medicinal knowledge was chiefly based on surviving Greek and Roman text, preserved in monasteries and elsewhere. Ideas about the origin and cure of disease were not, however, purely secular, but were based on a spiritual world view, in which factors such as destiny, sin, astral influences, demons, possession, curses, and will of the gods took greater precedence in causation than any physical cause. One author dubs this the ‘shamanistic complex’ and ‘social consensus.’ The efficacy of cures was similarly bound in the beliefs of patient and doctor rather than empirical evidence, so that physical remedies were often secondary to spiritual intervention.
At this time in Europe, licensed medicine as an independent craft virtually vanished. Those physicians who endured were mostly connected with monasteries and abbeys. But even for them, the generally accepted goal was less to discover causes, or even to heal, than to study the writings of other physicians and comment on their work. In the middle of the seventh century, the Catholic Church banned surgery by monks, because it constituted a danger to their souls. Since nearly all of the surgeons of that era were clerics, the decree effectively ended the practice of surgery in Europe. Critical thinking was not understood nor taught at this time in Europe. (Hippocrates, Aristotle and other Greeks had made great strides in scientific/critical thinking but this was lost to Western Europe during these centuries.) The discussions on illness and life were all theologically based with no or little outside scholarly influence. This was the dark ages of the soul of Europe.
In Germany from 1098-1179 AD/CE Hildegard von Bingen was a German saint who wrote the herbal texts Cause and Cure and Physica. Hildegard was more than just an herbalist of the past, she was also a composer, scientist, scholar, visionary, and a mystic. She truly paved the way for today through weaving the spiritual realm into her work and fostering scientific study of natural history in Germany.
Avicenna’s Canon made its first appearance in Europe by the end of the 12th century, and its impact was dramatic. Copied and recopied, it quickly became the standard European medical reference work. In the last 30 years of the 15th century, just before the European invention of printing, it was issued in 16 editions; in the century that followed more than 20 further editions were printed. From the 12th to the 17th century, its materia medica was the pharmacopoeia of Europe, and as late as 1537 The Canon was still a required textbook at the University of Vienna. This is the true roots of Western European herbalism.
In 1400 AD/CE Platonicus wrote a popular text, Herbarium, which, like other herbals of that time, was originally published only in Latin. There was such a wild demand by the public, hungry for information on native medicinal plants and how to use them, that publishers started publishing herbals in different languages.
Englishman John Gerard was the first noted herbalist to include New World (North American) plants in a European herbal. His impactful text Herball (also known as Generall Historie of Plants) was published in 1597. Although he is cited as the author since he contributed the North American plant additions, the text is largely an English translation of another popular herbal that the Dutch scholar Rembert Dodoens wrote in 1554.”
As you read through this brief history of recorded healing knowledge, you may be astounded at the depth and breadth of effective medicines humans had at their disposal. Humans were not dying en masse through lack of healing tools or medicine. So what happened to all this healing knowledge at the time of the Spanish Flu and Bubonic Plague? And if the knowledge and medicines were still available, why didn’t they work?
Let’s take a look at each of these famous pandemics and see if we can trace the common elements of both and perhaps extrapolate some causative factors…
Bubonic Plague / Black Death
Aside from what was happening with medical/herbal knowledge at the time (see above), what other factors could have influenced or facilitated such a rampant spread of infectious disease?
Once a village became infected with the bubonic plague bacteria (Yersinia pestis) up to 50% of the village would die. It was spread via fleas which traveled on rats, which could then infect cloth and other materials that were often traded among countries or transported on ships.
This particular strain was believed to originate in Mongolia and spread to Europe when some of the Mongolian army got into a fight with some Italian merchants. One of the Mongols died, so the Italians fled by sea to Genoa. The Mongol army followed them and laid siege for a year, but as the army died from Bubonic plague, they threw the bodies of their dead over the city walls, thus infecting the Genoese people. Both groups were decimated by the plague and survivors fled by ship – thus the spread continued.
Poor Hygiene & Crowding
By 1300, there were some 15 cities in Europe with a population of more than 50,000. And the towns and cities were filthy, the streets open sewers; there was no running water and knowledge of hygiene had almost become non-existent. Dung, garbage and animal carcasses were thrown into rivers and ditches, poisoning the water and neighbouring areas.
In 1348 King Edward III attributed the spread of the plague to the garbage and human excrement piled up in London streets and in the Thames River. In 1388 the English Parliament passed the first law requiring people to keep the streets and rivers cleaner.
Throughout Britain, as over much of the European mainland, the population was steadily rising. This rise had been evident from the early eleventh century, and was to continue until around 1300, so that England’s population doubled between c.1086 and c.1300
Weather Events & Famine
Getting back to that population explosion… it was created by a weather event: The Medieval Warm Period which lasted from 950 – 1250 AD/CE. What created this period of regional warming? Possible causes include increased sun activity, decreased volcanic activity, and changes in ocean circulation.
The result of this warm period was a population explosion, reaching levels that were not matched again in some places until the 19th century. In fact, some parts of rural France still have less people today, than there were at the beginning of the 14th century!
This warming and massive population growth was followed by a cold period of severe winters and rainy/cold summers between 1310 – 1330, which then resulted in the Great Famine of 1315 – 1322. Crop failures were not only a problem for human food supply, but low grain and hay production meant very little food for herbivores too.
If your growing season is too rainy and cold, then even if you grow a crop of hay for your livestock, the hay can’t dry properly and so quickly goes mouldy. Animals will either not eat mouldy hay, or they’ll eat it and become sick. A malnourished sheep or cow is also far more susceptible to illness. Infectious disease in animals caused sheep and cattle numbers to fall as much as 80%.
This period was rife with extremely high levels of crime, disease, cannibalism and infanticide. The Bubonic Plague (Black Death) hit soon afterwards in 1347. So people had already been weakened, malnourished and traumatized – again, all factors which create a high susceptibility to disease.
Culling of knowledge
The Spanish Inquisition began in 1215. By the time the Black Death struck Europe in 1347, the Catholics had fully established the Inquisition in Spain, and had actively been persecuting heresy for more than 100 years via fear, torture, and deceit. By the time the Plague diminished around 1350, over 50,000 ‘heretics’ had been killed in the name of the Catholic Church, and many more had converted to Christianity to survive.
One can only speculate as to how many of these ‘heretics’ were medicine women, doctors, village herbalists, etc. But it’s likely they were the majority, because this is what humans do when we’re (a) scared, or (b) trying to control or dominate a population. Look what happened during the most recent witch hunts. Look what’s happened over the last couple of years to our PhD scientists and doctors who opposed the jab narrative.
The Jewish population of Europe was also highly persecuted during the Bubonic plague pandemic of 1347-1350. Keep in mind that Jewish people have always highly valued education, so they would have been another source of useful health information. Through following orthodox tenets, their hygiene was likely far superior to the average citizen. But although other religious groups were pursued, the Jews were accused of both planting and spreading the plague. In Spain, as well as Germany and Italy, Jewish families were marked with distinctive clothing, isolated, and killed, sometimes burned alive.
Then the publication of Malleus Maleficarum — written by two well-respected German Dominicans in 1486 — likely spurred witch mania to go viral. The book, usually translated as “The Hammer of Witches,” was essentially a guide on how to identify, hunt and interrogate witches. Malleus Maleficarum labeled witchcraft as heresy, and quickly became the authority for Protestants and Catholics trying to flush out witches living among them. For more than 100 years, the book sold more copies of any other book in Europe except the Bible.
Painting on the outer wall of Rila Monastery church, Bulgaria
Whenever you have an elite that seeks to limit or repress health options, research, or treatment, humanity as a whole will suffer negative consequences. Unfortunately, this is a recurrent theme on planet earth, and we are in the middle of such oppression now. I have had to go into my health blog and change titles, keywords, and re-word entire sections to avoid censorship. I have information that is only released when one of my readers emails me directly – it is not available in a public space. I have spent the last two decades teaching people with “incurable” diseases how to heal themselves using natural treatments. Most assuredly I am considered a heretic by Big Pharma (which controls medical schools/education, hospitals, most scientific journals, and politics). But without me, 160,000 people and counting would still be suffering, and some of them would be dead.
The Spanish Flu
Now let’s fast-forward to the next big pandemic that strikes fear in people – The Spanish Flu that began in North America in 1918 – just after WW1.
World population at that time was estimated at 1.8 billion. There are conflicting estimates over how many people actually died during the Spanish Flu, but if we take the lowest estimate (17.4 million deaths) that puts the global death rate at 1% of the population. If we take the next estimate of 50 million, then the global death rate was 2.7%.
The Russian Flu pandemic of 1977-78 was caused by the same H1N1 virus that caused the Spanish Flu. But this time, only 700,000 people died worldwide.
And just for comparison, what is the normal average death rate from flu viruses globally as of 2019? 400,000 deaths per year. This is the normal average number of yearly flu deaths, NOT due to a pandemic.
And just like we saw with the Bubonic Plague, in 1918 the Spanish Flu hit a world population of which a very large share was extremely poor – most of the population were undernourished. Again, overcrowding, poor sanitation, and low hygiene standards were also common. The population in many parts of the world had been greatly weakened by World War 1 which spanned 1914-1918. Public resources were small and many countries had just spent a large share of their resources on the war.
Are we beginning to see a pattern here?
- attacks, repression and murder of many people who would have been trained in natural medicine
Spanish Inquisition 1478 – 1834
Salem Witch Trials 1692 – 1736
(Total deaths estimated to be around 100,000)
American Indian genocide 1622-1830 (10 million killed – 66% of First Nations population)
- combined with malnutrition (famine)
- very poor hygiene (decaying flesh and feces in streets and water supply)
- overcrowding (poor air quality)
- unpredictable or disastrous weather events
- war (such a little word for such a huge terrible disaster)
Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the human immune system would understand how the synergy of all these elements created a greatly increased susceptibility to disease.
Exceeding the ecosystem
Which brings me to the next element in this exploration… Humans are not not separate from the animal or natural world. We ARE animals (mammals), we live intimately intertwined with all the elements of nature – where does all our food and water come from? Without either we are dead.
What have we seen occur throughout the natural world when a species exceeds the carrying capacity of its ecosystem? There are multiple forces in nature that bring that species back into balance. These mechanisms range from volcanoes, earthquakes and other weather events, to famine, infectious and parasitic disease, drought, infertility, and predator increase.
Most scientists have the arrogance to presume that human animals are exempt from the laws of nature. At the very least, they argue that we are exempt from predator increase, because we are the apex predator. Yes. In that we kill ourselves, and each other – throughout history.
We have classified pathogenic microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi) as ‘disease’. But could they also be classed as ‘predator’? Predators are one of the balancing forces of nature that culls a species that would destroy the ecosystem if left unchecked. We are mammals. We are part of the cycle of life, the cycles of nature. Unless you leave the planet permanently, you are not exempt from this interlinked, interdependent ecosystem – that has sustained life and diversity for thousands of years.
We have placed all our attention – both medically and politically – on seeking to destroy pathogenic microorganisms. Except that bacteria and viruses were here looooong before we arrived and they will be here long after we leave. They can survive any weather event, atmospheric shift (no oxygen, no problem), temperature shift, comet striking the earth, fire, flood, drought, reversal in earth polarity, etc. etc. Bacteria are highly intelligent, capable of group communication and strategy, and can mutate extremely quickly to survive any drug, poison, toxin, explosive we throw at them.
Do antibiotic drugs work? Yes, for a time, and then the bacteria mutate and they don’t work anymore. Modern medicine has no anti-viral drugs of notable efficacy. Although a number of potent natural anti-virals exist. And of course, viruses can, and do, mutate continually.
But examine once again the REASONS the Bubonic Plague and the Spanish Flu arose and were able to cull so many humans:
Attacks, repression and murder of many people who would have been trained in natural medicine, combined with malnutrition (famine), very poor hygiene (decaying flesh and feces in streets and water supply), overcrowding (poor air quality). Along with traumatizing weather and war events.
Sound familiar? If you look around our world today, how many humans are currently in this situation?
7,000 people per day are dying of starvation (malnutrition, famine). A large percentage of people in the affluent West are actually clinically malnourished – although they appear obese. Anyone living in a city, relying on refrigeration and trucking/transport has only a 3-day supply of food in grocery stores, in the event of power outage, or a weather event that takes out transport routes, or political sanctions, or war.
We currently have millions of animals caged/tortured in factory farms (for our drug and hormone-tainted food supply) that are spewing feces and decaying flesh into our water supply and polluting the air so badly people living in the region cannot open their windows. The overcrowding and poor air quality in most major cities is so extreme that citizens are often advised not to go outside. And now we have an increasing number of weather events, with unusual warming or cold periods.
And yet, when we have even a mini-flu pandemic like SARS, Covid, Swine Flu, what do we focus on? Experimental drug treatments! The political and mainstream media education (propaganda) all focus on the pathogen – those wily lifeforms that preceded us and will survive us.
We do not examine history and glean any lessons from past pandemics (other than quarantine – which is almost impossible in overcrowded cities). We do not look at our actions, nor our role within this ecosystem, we do not examine our own bioterrain; what exactly is making me susceptible to infection (culling) and what would render me an unattractive place for this pathogen to hang out?
Maybe, just maybe, there’s space in our paradigm to assume responsibility for our role and our consequences for exceeding/exhausting our ecosystem?
What can we do?
The element I have noticed most strongly, and the cause of so much fear, is the average person’s lack of healing knowledge and tools.
This is the crucial factor that everyone can address, starting today! This is the one glaring point of difference between past pandemics and our current situation. For the first time in history, everyone has instant access to potent healing knowledge and instruction. We no longer have to rely exclusively on the local healer, doctor, herbalist. Each of us can be our own doctor, and potent natural medicines are widely available (stock up!). Even if Big Pharma manages to ban natural medicine, you can access detailed instructions online, on how to grow and produce your own powerful anti-virals and anti-bacterials, like wild oregano oil.
Jini’s Basic Medicine Bag
Here’s what’s in my Basic Medicine Bag – this has allowed me to treat every wound, bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic occurrence. I have these 15 products on hand, in my medicine bag, at all times:
- Wild oregano oil
- Comfrey salve
- Potassium iodide (or Lugol’s iodine)
- DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide – from tree bark)
- Zinc oxide powder
- Atom-sized zinc, magnesium, Bone Matrix
- Colloidal silver
- Hydrogen peroxide (food grade)
- Aloe vera
- Cocoa butter
- Castor oil
- MultiAbsorb Immune Booster
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin C (ascorbate, buffered, or liposomal form)
- Natren probiotics
- Medical-grade Nebulizer
That’s not overwhelming is it? All instructions for using these natural substances are given in my Home Remedies section. Just look up your ailment or symptom and follow the instructions – it’s all free. It’s that simple to begin shifting your paradigm and taking your power back.
p.s. I use these same substances to treat almost everything that happens with my herd of 11 horses, 2 cats and 2 dogs. My combined vet bill over the last 7 years was less than $500 – if you own horses, you’ll know how remarkable that is.
For acute, emergency, or surgical treatment, modern medicine is great! Car accident, broken leg, heart attack – for sure, get to a hospital. And imagine if all of us were fluent in natural medicine and only had to use the medical system/hospitals for acute events… there would also be no fear of pandemic overwhelm.
The other big point of difference, in light of the unusual weather events (warming and cooling periods) that greatly reduced food production and resulted in malnutrition and famine in the past, is that today, we can all grow food indoors! For the first time in history, most humans live in weather-controlled homes where we can easily grow enough food to feed our family.
Many of us could even keep chickens in our basement, with a run out to the yard if we had to! An apartment block could keep chickens on their roof, or in their communal space, if they wanted to. We would eat less quantity, but far more nutrient-dense food, which would strengthen our innate immune system.
Get a UV light panel or indoor growing system today and get started. Even an apartment balcony can grow enough food to feed a family – there really is no excuse. YouTube has tons of free instructional videos, and companies selling indoor growing systems can also provide you with detailed instructions.
We do not need to be terrified of microorganisms. If we have an understanding of what creates susceptibility to infection – of what makes a human a good home for a pathogenic virus or bacteria – we can take action to prevent those conditions from occurring.
You literally cannot stop a virus from spreading through a population, but that virus doesn’t need to damage or kill you if you have a good immune system. The power over whether you’re susceptible, or not, is in your own hands. And even if you are highly susceptible, like my own father – smoker, drinker, diabetic, heart disease, 84 years old – if you have access to potent natural medicine, positive energy/thoughts, and nutritious food, you may still survive just fine.
https://planetherbs.com/research-center/history-articles/a-history-of-herbalism-for-herbalists-part-1-how-the-arabs-saved-greek-sciences/ (BEST source and most quoted)
https://www.bristol.ac.uk/Depts/History/bristolrecordsociety/publications/BA09594-1transcription.pdf (see pg 23)
Spanish flu data and text quoted from:
[photo]- Painting on the outer wall of Rila Monastery church, Bulgaria, condemning ‘magicians and healers’ as servants of the devil. Photo by imagesfrombulgaria.com