The Nature Doctor
Alfred Vogel had the heart of an explorer and the foresight of a scientist; he kept diaries of all of his experiences. These hand written, often tattered journals, are now priceless to us as they bring us back to the beginning of natural therapies that are now popular world-wide.
One of the most memorable accounts was of his trip to the USA in the early 1950s. Several pages deal with his visit to Florida's Everglades where one particular plant - the dwarf palm - caught his fancy. Scuba diving off the islands round the Florida Keys, he found the area "vast...the sea is a marvel, filled with colour and beauty and harvest still untapped. I have seen many palm-like shrubs that do not seem to be exactly the same. One I saw resembles a tiny palm I had seen in Texas, which Mexicans called Texas Palmetto." He learned that these 'dwarf palms' were to be found in the Evergaldes!
"I was headed for the Everglades - a place I have dreamed of visiting since I was a boy. The contrast with Switzerland is indescribable; everything is marshlike. The humidity is daunting. In some areas it is like walking into a door; as you pass the threshold of warm wet air, it wraps around you like one of the local snakes. It is an eerie place; the sun blazes yet you feel as though it is dark, shrouded by the thick brush in the forest". He and his guide went in search of these dwarf palms, first by the glider boat and then on foot. "It took about an hour and a half to reach our destination. The thick brush opened, almost miraculously, into a clearing where baby palms resided in a world of their own. Oddly, the ground seemed slightly elevated, with thicker marsh around the perimeters of the growth area".
Back in Switzerland
"As usual, I had taken clippings from many specimens during my expedition. I have yet to classify many from these little palms that the Indians and Mexicans call Saw Palmetto. I notice that when I crush the big seeds, there is a fatty texture to the juice; it mixes well with alcohol. Perhaps, because it reminds me of the male fern, I have a preconceived notion that it is a 'male' oriented plant; perhaps for urinary conditions, because of the many channels on the leaves and inside the shoots...my theory will have to be tested on myself and on my patients, but I will reserve this tiny palm for such purposes as male afflictions".
In later years, Alfred Vogel used Saw Palmetto extract to treat prostate conditions in his patients. He used it straight or, for infections of the urethra, with Echinacea extract. He also made a tincture that contained Saw Palmetto berries and Echinacea as a general remedy for urethral infections and prostatic conditions with great success, as well as using Saw Palmetto in homeopathic dilution in certain special cases.
From his journals, it is evident that Saw Palmetto become one of Alfred Vogel's favourite plants and he used it for afflictions of the male urogenital system with great success for many years!