The Healing Spice that inspired St. Hildegard’s Joy Cookies
St. Hildegard made many contributions to the field of holistic health and wellness. The wisdom that she shared about natural healing, nutrition, and healthy living was a seed planted that now flourishes within the field of natural medicine.
In the mid 12th century, St. Hildegard recognized the health benefits of many herbs and spices and shared a basic recipe for biscuits or cookies that are commonly called “Hildegardplätzchen” (Hildegard’s Cookies). Today we might call them “Joy Cookies as she says they lift any melancholia, open your heart, and bring you a sense of cheerfulness and joy.
In her book, Physica, St. Hildegard recommended the use of nutmeg for its healing powers and offered the following recipe.
“Nutmeg has great heat and good moderation in its powers.  If a person eats nutmeg, it will open up their heart, make their judgment free from obstruction, and give them a good disposition.  Take some nutmeg and an equal weight of cinnamon and a bit of cloves, and pulverize them.  Then make small cakes with this and fine whole wheat flour and water.  Eat them often.  It will calm all bitterness of the heart and mind, open your heart and impaired senses, and make your mind cheerful.  It purifies your senses and diminishes all harmful humors in you.  It gives good liquid to your blood, and makes you strong.”  – St. Hildegard von Bingen, Physica -1153AD

If we take this seed that was planted by St. Hildegard long ago into our current times within natural medicine, we see that nutmeg is known for many health benefits including the following:

  • Supports a Healthy Brain – nutmeg contains myristicin and macelignan, natural organic compounds that have a stimulating effect, supporting focus and concentration and also protecting the brain from degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s
  • Eases Pain and Swelling – the essential oil of nutmeg helps to relieve muscular and joint pain resulting from injury, strain, or chronic inflammation such as arthritis
  • Improves Circulation – the potassium within nutmeg relaxes blood vessels, controls blood pressure, and improves blood circulation
  • Boosts Immune System – the minerals in nutmeg such as potassium, calcium, iron, and manganese help fight against bacteria and disease
  • Cures Insomnia – nutmeg has a high content of magnesium, a mineral that reduces nerve tension and supports the feeling of relaxation

Here’s a recipe for St. Hildegard’s cookies that I’ll share, based on her original ingredients, but adapted to our modern times. Enjoy!


​The spice of nutmeg along with cinnamon, and cloves, all have their own health benefits that will support mental functions such as concentration, boost immune system and blood circulation, increase vitality, reduce tension, and improve mood.  This will promote a sense of joy and ease in daily life and a good night’s sleep. Something we all would appreciate!

St. Hildegard’s Cookies

¾ cups butter
1 1/2 c. coconut sugar
1 egg, beaten
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
optional: 1 cup chopped almonds

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and mix well.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add to the creamed mixture.
  3. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.
  4. Remove, roll out on a floured surface and cut with cookie cutters.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes.

(Based on a recipe from here which was adapted from the original book, Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine by Dr. Wighard Strehlow and Gottfried Hertzka, MD)

The sweet aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves that arise in your kitchen will also bring a sense of joy and well-being!  Enjoy and also don’t forget St. Hildegard’s view of moderation – finding balance in your activities and in your enjoyment of food.
We’ll try St. Hildegard’s Cookies of Joy, along with other healing recipes and remedies, in my upcoming classes, Healing with St. Hildegard, starting in April. Sign-up here to join us.