Natural healing in Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzellerland is famous for being a place of healing. People from all over Switzerland and neighbouring countries have sought sanatoria, canton-approved doctors of natural medicine and especially healers in the area for more than 200 years. The whey cures and health spas from the 19th century and the remedies of Johannes Künzle (1857-1945) and Alfred Vogel (1902-1996), pioneers of herbal medicine, are legendary. Native healers like Babetter Oertle-Alder (1884-1975) in Urnäsch and Karolina Schefer-Sigrist (1891-1976) in Teufen also enjoyed an excellent reputation. The liberal legislation has been the main draw to the area for doctors of natural medicine. The law still being liberal today, it attracts healers and therapists from other cantons and neighbouring countries, and these people shape healing practices and integrative medicine in the canton. Today new arrivals are screened by a modern and demanding professional examination and by the obligation of authorization. In 2016 there were 251 registered healers in Appenzell Ausserrhoden, who, still today, are permitted to hand out remedies and “house specialities” which are exclusively registered in this canton. At the moment the list includes approximately 700 medicinal remedies and 623 house specialities that are prepared in chemists, pharmacies and healing practices (with a special permit) and which may only be dispensed from the healer’s own practice.

Detailed description


Oral expressions
Traditional craftsmanship



Michael Lambek: The Cares of Alice Alder. Recuperating Kinship and History in Switzerland. In: Ghosts of Memory. Essays on Remembrance and Relatedness. Ed. Janet Carsten. Malden/ Massachusetts, 2007, p. 218-240

Obacht Kultur. Das Kulturblatt für Appenzell Ausserrhoden no. 9. Ed. Amt für Kultur, Appenzell Ausserrhoden. Herisau, 2011

Peter Witschi: Appenzell Ausserrhoden. Entwicklung und Strukturen einer Heillandschaft. In: Schweizerisches Archiv für Volkskunde 89. Basel, 1993, p. 3-22

Peter Witschi: Geschichte einer Heillandschaft. In: Kräuter und Kräfte. Heilen im Appenzellerland. Herisau, 1995, p. 13-46

Peter Witschi: Frauen im Gesundheitswesen von Appenzell Ausserrhoden. In: FrauenLeben Appenzell. Ed. Renate Bräuniger. Herisau, 1999, p. 544-556



Naturärzte Vereinigung der Schweiz

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