Sunday, April 5, 2009

Maria Treben, a Catholic herbalist

Maria Treben is one of Europe's most famous 20th century herbalists.

She wrote the book, Health Through God's Pharmacy which was hughly successful. It was translated into 20 different languages and sold over 10million copies.

When I read Maria's book, I see that it is simple, consise and it gives laypeople the confidence to use the 'natural pharmacy' - herbs, that God has given to us. Her second book, Cures is full of testimonies and simple, herbal recipes.

What forges a person's path in life, where their life becomes an example and inspiration to many?

Usually it is their own personal experiences that effect them profoundly.

In Maria's case she states that as a child her mother was an enthusiastic follower of the Catholic priest herbalist, Kneipp. Maria's mother set the example in raising and forming her children in the natural way. Maria also cites two experiences she witnessed as a child, that impressed upon her deeply. The healing of two mothers with leukaemia through the use of herbs.

As an adult Maria herself, had a serious brush with ill health after being imprisoned in a refugee camp in WWII. She had suffered typhoid fever and was left with serious intestinal problems. It was through this health crisis that she was given an ancient elixir called Swedish Bitters, that she would be forever connected to:

"It sounds almost like a fairy tale, but it is true. As a refugee from the German speaking area of Czechoslovakia, I became ill with typhoid fever in a camp in Bavaria, caused by contaminated meat and, through it, came jaundice and an obstruction in the intestines. I spent more than 6 months in hospital and when my husband got my mother, my mother-in-law, our child and myself to Austria, I was a young but sick woman. At night I was hit by terrible pain that shot through my body like a sword. In these moments I could neither sit nor stand, walk nor lie down; at the same time I vomited and had diarrhea. I was a helpless bundle of misery. These were afterpains of the typhoid fever which sometimes can go on for years, as the doctor said. One day a woman brought me a small bottle containing a dark brown, strong smelling liquid. She had heard of my illness and wanted to help. The Swedish Bitters had relieved her of a serious complaint. Accompanying it was a transcript of an "old manuscript" in which was explained, in 46 points, how these drops heal every illness. The recipe came from the writings of a well know Swedish physician. As stated, all members of his family had reached an unusually old age. These drops according to point 43 heal "plague boils and swellings even if already in the throat". I put the bottle in the medicine chest. I just did not believe that these modest drops could give me back my health, since the doctor could not even help me. Soon I changed my mind. As I sat in front of a large basket of ripe pears which needed to be used up straight away, I had another attack. As I had been told that these Swedish drops could be used externally as well, I did not hesitate for long and applied them as a compress on the abdomen, put a small plastic bag over the compress and then my girdle and continued my work. A wonderful warm feeling spread through my body. Suddenly, it felt as if with one movement of the hand, everything morbid in my body was pulled out. I assure you that with this single compress which I had on the whole day, all complaints of the preceding months disappeared, never to return." -Maria Treben.

From that point on, Maria devoted her life to the study of herbs and their health-giving properties. There is also a religious connection to her story as well. Maria believed that Our Lady, to whom she had great devotion, was in someway guiding her in her herbal knowledge, through her motherly intercession:

"In 1961 my dear mother died and since then I have the distinct feeling of being pushed into herbalism. Gradually I acquired knowledge and experience. It was as if I was guided by a higher power. The Virgin Mary, especially, helper of the sick, was showing me the way. My trust in Her, prayers said before an old wonderful painting of Her, which I acquired in a strange way, have always helped, when I was in doubt."

In my home I have been guided by Maria's advice and knowledge. I use many of the herbs that she loved. Swedish Bitters is a essential product in our medicine cabinet. We use it for cuts, wounds, abcesses, insect bites and stings and much, MUCH more. My husband is now devoted to it, he has experienced many positive results. We use it externally and internally.

Maria's books are a great place to start if you have never used herbs before, her main book is Health Through God's Pharmacy is well worn here. I think Maria sums things well in her preface for this book when she says:

"So I endeavour to not only show you the herbs and their medicinal properties, but above all the omnipotence of a Creator in whose hands we exist. In sickness, we look for His help and comfort and use the humble herbs He has provided; it is He who guides us, so we may live according to His will."


molly said...

YOu beat me to this post....good for you:)
You did a much better job than I was planning, you always do.

Anne (aussieannie) said...

Oh please blog on her anyway Molly, everyone's prespective and experience is always different, I'd love to hear your personal thoughts and her story needs to travel far and wide through many people.

Nancy said...

All I can say is...thank you, thank you, thank you! I look forward to reading her books.

little sparrow , florasita , sticklady , strong tree woman said...

Thank You Anne I do not have her book yet maybe for Easter gift to self ;-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love Maria Treben's books! So very inspiring!

Dagmar said...

Big hello to you,
didn´t know, that Maria Treben is famous also abroad:-)
If there are any questions about her, just ask me, I am leading a herbal blog in Germany and I might also translate it for you into english. I know Maria Trebens herbal receipts from beginning of my childhood. My grandfather was the One who brewed the famous "Schwedenbitter" (the swedish essence). I am very pleased about it. Very very kind regards from Berlin
Dagmar Judith

Reconciled Heart said...

Hello from Texas, USA!! Thank you for this post. I am studying herbal healing, and really appreciate this post. I am a new blogger, and look forward to reading more of your blog!

divinemercylover1 said...

Hello from the USA. Your site is wonderful and expresses a divine uniqueness to our faith. You have inspire my wife and I to try a blog. You and your family have so much to offer the Church, the world, and to Our Mother and Our Lord. Peace of God Always Be With You!