Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Odd German Way No. 7 - Alternative Medicines

In several occasions, I have noticed that in Germany alternative medicines, like herbal and homeopathic products, are used as, well, 'normal' medicines.

First I thought it was just something our Hebamme (midwife) was into, as she recommended homeopathic medicines for Fräulein's colic and my breast infection. But when I bought some medicines for Fräulein's cold from the pharmacy, I noticed they included some homeopathic ingredients as well.

Before Christmas, I went to the pharmacy to buy some gel for Fräulein to numb the pain caused by teething. After giving me the gel, the pharmacist wanted to introduce all the herbal medicines they had available for teething. I was happy with the gel.

This week Fräulein has had a mild eye infection. According to the doctor, the infection is most likely viral, so he prescribed some eye-drops for her. If those would not help her in 3-4 days, we should go back for a prescription for antibiotics.

A pair of watery eyes

Herr Welle picked up the eye-drops from the pharmacy. After a closer look of the product data sheet, we noticed that it was actually herbal medicine, made of plant called Euphrasia. There isn't much improvement in Fräulein's eyes yet, but I'll need to wait until tomorrow to say for sure, if these drops have worked or not.

I have previously been quite pro-modern-western-medicine type of person, but especially with Fräulein, I am more than happy to accept any 'gentler' medications, if they actually work. Thus, I don't want to give any label of 'good' or 'bad' for this oddity. However, I do remain quite sceptic about alternative medical systems.

But putting aside my own scepticism, I am amazed that these herbal and homeopathic products are sold side-by-side at the pharmacy and doctors prescribe them equally. Yes, the homeopathic system is originally a German invention, but I would have thought that in this country, the lack of scientific evidence of their real efficacy would be valued more.

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