Alfred Vogel - Pioneer in Natural Health
By the end of the 20th century, Alfred Vogel was renowned throughout continental Europe as a naturopath. However, his work as a pioneer of natural health is less well known in the UK, although more and more people are moving towards a lifestyle which is based, however unwittingly, on his philosophy of living in harmony with Nature.
Alfred Vogel was born just at the start of the twentieth century to a Swiss family with a deep knowledge and understanding of the benefits that Nature could bring in supporting wellbeing. Even as a small boy he began to learn about the wonders of Nature from his father and grandmother in particular.
His fascination with herbs continued into his early manhood so that, in 1923 when Vogel was 21, he had established a health store in Basel, where he soon gained a reputation for the excellence of his products and his helpfulness in advising people how to cope with day to day life. To learn more about plants and what made them so effective as remedies, Alfred Vogel created for himself a small laboratory – there he began developing remedies. He was aided in this work by his fascination, lifelong, with the writings of the many notable herbalists of the past and his extensive library of herbals is lovingly maintained at Teufen.
In 1929 he first published his Das Neue Leben (A Fresh Start) to disseminate his knowledge and understanding of the world of herbs. Now known as Gesundheits-Nachrichten (Health News), it is still published monthly in German. Healthy Way, developed to help people lead a healthy way of life, is a derivative of Vogel’s first magazine.
By the mid 1930s he had decided to move to the Appenzell region of Switzerland, where he would be allowed to practise as a herbalist and naturopath. Here he found Hätschen, the beautiful hillside house that was to become his residential clinic and indeed his home for many years. There during the late 1930s and 1940s he expanded further his knowledge and understanding of herbs and their effectiveness in treating those who came to him for help. He also began writing a major work, first published in 1952 as Der Kleine Doktor (The Nature Doctor). He regularly revised and updated the content of that publication and it is now available worldwide in its original German, in English and in at least ten other languages.
In the fertile gardens at Teufen he began to cultivate a range of medicinal herbs, without ever having recourse to chemical fertilisers or herbicides. Vogel’s garden provided him with the ideal opportunity to study his herbs throughout their development and to note the effect on his patients of remedies made directly from whole fresh plants using a process of maceration in alcohol. He had always firmly believed that the world of Nature offered everything that was needed to help people maintain their wellbeing: good fresh air, sunshine, water, wholesome foods and myriad medicinal plants that would supply supportive remedies in case of illness.
Even as the magic bullet of the antibiotics was coming to prominence on the battlefields of Europe, Alfred Vogel assiduously worked with his plants and his tinctures to ensure that an older, gentler form of medicine would remain an option for the post war generation and for the many generations that would follow.
During the 1950s his reputation continued to grow, but he had another challenge in mind. He began to travel, to learn from the indigenous peoples of other continents about the plant remedies that they had used for generations, such as Echinacea. He soon found that he was no longer able to treat all who wished to benefit from his remedies nor indeed to tend and harvest a sufficient quantity of plants to meet the growing demand. So, at an age when most men would have been considering retirement, he began a new venture – the creation of the fresh herb tincture manufacturer, Bioforce, which would follow his precepts of organically cultivating whole fresh herbs that could be turned into effective tinctures within a few hours of harvesting.
As well as being deeply involved in all aspects of Bioforce throughout the remainder of his life, Vogel continued to learn from others throughout the world, to write, to lecture and, most important, to follow his own deeply ingrained belief that well-being depended most of all on living in harmony with Nature.