THE ONE WHO INSPIRED ME
Maurice Mességué (14 December 1921-16 June 2017) was a French herbalist and author of several best-selling books on herbal medicine . In his autobiography he claims to have treated, among others, Winston Churchill, Chancellor Adenauer of Germany, and the future Pope John XXIII.
ALL STARTED THANKS TO MY ASTHMA ATTACKS . . .
“It was 1979 – I was 15 – when I first heard about Maurice Mességué, the French herbalist who began practicing in earnest in 1947, a time when there were virtually no herbalists in North America: I started studying herbalism but didn't know it would become my passion and profession in the future ......
At that time I was suffering with asthma : I was allergic to almost everything (mainly dust , perfume and cigarette smoke) and had frequent severe asthma attack s at nights. One of the best allergologists in Europe happened to be in Rome, so after various tests he prescribed me vaccination that we had to order from Milan. After one of my school mates told me she had sever asthma attacks the first times after vaccination, I was so scared that I asked my mom to send the vaccine back to Milan....
At that time I was exploring the benefits of eucalyptus for respiratory problems and started to treat my asthma with daily herb teas.
One day I was having a walk with my mother in downtown Rome and we went to a bookstore (close to Via Nazionale). . . . She realized I had a strong and deep passion for plants and their benefits for health so she bought for me, as a present , Messegue's biography. She believed in me and that I was serious in pursuing my passion for herbs. I read it and I was so fascinated by his life and work ethic: it was one of the most beautiful books I have ever read ….. Since then he became my “role model” and precious source of inspiration…. it was then I firmly decided to follow in his footsteps”.
Grazie mamma! Merci Maurice!
– Stefania Borrelli –
In 1971 Mességué was elected the Mayor of Fleurance, a small town in southwestern France and home to his retail herbal store. He continued to serve as the chief magistrate until 1989.
Italy hosts five different spa and wellness centers that give treatments based on Mességué’s methods.
"But I can promise you one thing-you won’t find the slightest trace of any chemicals. My herbs have grown free in their chosen soil, where nature intended them to grow. They were happy plants, and that’s important. When you’re happy you’re at your best." Maurice Mességué
MAURICE MESSEGUE'S BIOGRAPHY
Born in 1921 in southwestern France, Mességué learned to use plants to heal ailments from his father who had learned it from his grandmother and so on down their ancestral line. His father, Camille Mességué seems to have been a naturalist. He was known for several miles around (a great deal of distance before modern transportation) as a healer and helped a couple people a month with their various ills. He never accepted money for his herbal treatments.
Mességué recounts his first lesson on herbal baths from his father. He was just a young boy and was having trouble with sleeping. His parents laid out a large copper basin and filled it with linden (Tilia sp.) infused water. Maurice likens the deep sleep following a linden bath as a “drug induced sleep”.
To heal people Camille Mességué used about forty different plants, hot water and laughter. He harvested and prepared all of the plants himself taking great care to harvest at the appropriate times. He preferred harvests during times of the new moon. His father died when he was 11. Plants were his only solace, he harvested them, made teas from them and kept them near him to remind him of his heritage.
In his youth Mességué never imagined himself taking up his father’s healing methods and certainly never imagined it would be his career. His father never took money for his treatments.
He survived the war efforts and in 1945 found himself as a teacher at a school in Bergerac, France. One day he came across a student who was suffering from a severe stomach ache. He gave him plants as a poultice and the next day the student was well again. Overtime he became known as a healer amongst his students. The students shared their “cures” with their parents and before long Mességué was seeing 15 patients a week.
Upon learning of his administrations, the principle of the school was enraged and accused him of taking advantage of the parents. He ordered him to quit his herbal consultations at once. Mességué was outraged, especially since he hadn’t charged for any of his advice or herbs. He promptly left Bergerac and headed to Nice to take up his calling as a healer. He chose this town because an old friend of his father’s, who was also a doctor, resided there.
Becoming an Herbalist
Mességué headed to Nice his head filled with exciting ideas. He would find his father’s friend and ask him for referrals. He would be in practice in no time! Upon meeting with the doctor shortly after arrival he was immediately rebuked. The doctor warned him he would be crazy to try to set up shop without a diploma. At this point in time Mességué had no understanding that one needed to be a doctor or have a diploma in order to help people. In two years time he would become very familiar with the legalities of practice.
Undeterred Mességué found lodgings in Nice and had business cards made up, which he promptly posted to the front door of his residence naively thinking he would be booming with business in no time. Months went by with not one patient and when his money grew short he got desperate.
Not having money for food Mességué asked a homeless beggar for tips on getting free meals. The man took him to a soup kitchen. While eating his soup Mességué noticed the man was covered in dry eczema which he constantly itched. Mességué offered to treat him, but the man refused. Finally Mességué, knowing the man’s affinity for wine, said he would give him a bottle of wine every time he came to his apartment for a treatment (hand and foot baths). The man agreed and soon, the eczema was gone. Nuns, who had previously taken care of the man, noticed the incredible improvement in his skin and began to start seeing Mességué for their own illnesses. Word of mouth quickly spread and he found himself with more patients than he could deal with.
Throughout his book Messegue claims to have treated the richest and most glamorous people of the times while also seeing a third of his clientele for free. From King Farouk of Egypt, to poet Jean Cocteau to high ranking political figures including Winston Churchill Mességué was constantly amazed that a son of a peasant spent time with such celebrities.
Mességué’s rise to fame did not go unnoticed. His first court case was April 28, 1949 where he was charged with practicing medicine without a license. The defense was only allowed to call 28 out of the 50 witnesses to speak in support of Mességué. He was found guilty. The trial and ruling came as a strong emotional blow to Mességué, but he barely had time to notice. The next day there were hundreds of people waiting in line to see him.
Mességué continued to practice herbalism despite the French government’s persistent opposition. He went to court over 20 times, was found guilty multiple times and had the cases dismissed a few times. Through each case he continued to raise a growing number of support. By his last court case he said there were 20,000 letters of written to the judge in his favor.
Although he had strong words for some of the practices within the medical establishment, Mességué did not denounce western medicine on the whole. He very much wanted to be accepted by the doctors and to be considered one of their colleagues.
while Mességué claims to have witnessed many miraculous cures he is quick to state that it is the power that God put in the plants that heals, not him.
Mességué practiced herbalism from 1947 on and saw tens of thousands of patients.
In 1958 Maurice Mességué created the Wild Herbs Laboratories which later became the Mességué Laboratories. It was the first herbal business to be strictly “organic” and denounce any use of pesticides. In 1971 Mességué was elected the Mayor of Fleurance, a small town in southwestern France and home to his retail herbal store. He continued to serve as the chief magistrate until 1989.
In 1994 he created the Institute of Maurice Mességué to continue his work.
Italy hosts five different spa and wellness centers which give treatments based on Mességué’s methods including hand and foot baths and his dietary regimens. They are called the Centres de cure Maurice Mességué. One of these is run by his son, Marc Mességué.
Mességué died on June 16th 2017, at the age of 95.
“I began to realize just how dangerous medicine can be, and when I hear of babies being treated for eczema with shots of cortisone, or year-old infants being given barbiturates, I have no hesitation in calling it criminal folly”.
Of People and Plants: The Autobiography of Europe’s Most Celebrated Healer
Health Secrets of Plants and Herbs