Naturopathy in Switzerland

Switzerland has one of the world’s highest densities of medical practitioners, and the level of health care is world class. In addition, this country is the home of one of the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical industries, headquartered in the northwestern city of Basel on the Rhine River.

But not far away – in the village of Arisdorf in the Canton (state) of Basel Country – is a man who practices the art of “natural medicine”, also known as “alternative”, “complementary”, “folk”, or “naturopathic” medicine. He’s Ueli Bürgi, a past president of the Swiss Homeopathy Society, and who has been in practice for decades.

Switzerland has a long and rich natural medicine tradition, especially in the field of herbal remedies. Ueli Bürgi is one of some 300 naturopaths in Switzerland who are officially licensed or controlled by cantonal authorities to provide alternative medical care for the large and growing number of Swiss who prefer a “softer” form of health care than that provided by orthodox medicine.

Although there is pressure from a wide segment of the public for complementary medicine to be covered by conventional medical insurance plans, in most cases, those who prefer to go to a naturopath have to pay for an additional, alternative medical policy – or pay for treatment themselves, of course.

Bob Zanotti paid a visit to his old friend, Ueli, for a chat about the state of alternative medicine in this country.