“God put good wine on the earth for us to drink . . . and pretty women for us to look at.” Who said this? You will never guess this one in a zillion years unless you’ve read Of Men and Plants by Maurice Messegue.
Maurice was a natural healer who practiced in France during the 1950s. He had many famous patients including the singer Mistinguett, politicians, philosophers, and anyone who came to his door in need. He learned about plants from his father and often his method of prescribing treatments would be foot and hand baths.
His book is not only a a description of how learning about plants and sharing his knowledge with others changed his life and theirs, it’s also a fascinating biography of a man who lived in southern France during World War II and the post war era.
He describes how the Germans didn’t particularly like his ‘subversive’ use of plants. He had been rounded up with others at a train platform. When it was time to board the train, he did so, by walking in one door and out the other side onto the tracks.
Thus began has particpation with the ‘Maquis’ or the French Resistance.
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Any participants involved in this week’s marathon – or later in the year, the Tour de France will want to read what he has to say about treating athletes participating in the Tour de France of 1953: “On every Tour de France, you see men collapsing at the roadside, doubling up with pain, complaining of stomach ache, as if they had been poisoned. And indeed they are, though not by some criminal hand slipping actual venom into their food or drink. The victim has merely drunk or swallowed enough of the chemicals in our air, our diet, to add up to a systemic poisoning that finally twists his gut and knocks his legs out from under him.”
One of the athletes he treated answered this way when asked if he believed in the power of plants: “Certainly more than I believe in all those drugs their shoving into me.” (This was in 1953!).
Of Men and plants by Maurice Messegue 1973 Macmillan New York 343 pages.