From home remedies to house doctors: 10 fun facts about health in Germany

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04:23 mins.
Have you ever heard of "Biowetter" or homeopathic "Globuli"? Rachel Stewart examines the German approach to health.

Rachel is on a mission to investigate the idiosyncrasies of daily life in Germany. Every two weeks she explores a new topic — from beer to nudity to complicated grammar — and heads out to get some tips from the Germans themselves.

Rachel moved from the UK to Germany in 2016. As a relative newcomer she casts a fresh eye over German clichés and shares her experiences of settling into German life. You'll find more from Meet the Germans on YouTube or at


Feeling ill? Try a German folk remedy to get well

Don't get cold feet!

Often, the first sign of illness is cold feet, which is why socks and slippers play such a vital role in the German wardrobe. "Germans struggle enormously with the concept of 'naked feet,'" Australian writer Liv Hambrett noted in her book, "What I Know about Germans." Whether wool socks can combat a virus or if they simply serve as a placebo for fending off a fever's chills remains to be seen.

Feeling ill? Try a German folk remedy to get well

Sweating it out

The German answer to many of life's problems can be found in the sauna; the steam baths and hot cabins are said to be strengthen the immune system when used in the proper order. While it's not recommended to go in if you have a fever, the German Sauna Organization says the sauna can actually help a cold as the shift from hot to cold increases circulation in the mucus membranes.

Feeling ill? Try a German folk remedy to get well

Feel the heat

In keeping with the advice to never allow the body to get cold, for stomach ailments or muscle aches, doctors will often advise a day spent cuddling with a hot water bottle in bed. Some say the increased circulation brought on by the heat eases bloating and indigestion. Just make sure the top is screwed on tight to prevent burns.

Feeling ill? Try a German folk remedy to get well

Some like it hot

Ginger has long played a role in ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine; it's been recognized for its powers to curb nausea and motion sickness. In Germany, ginger is also often brewed into a tea - cut into cubes and plopped into boiling water. The stinging effect it has as it slides down your throat is said to relieve soreness brought on by a cold.

Feeling ill? Try a German folk remedy to get well

You are what you eat

While Koreans believe in the health-inducing properties of kim chi, fermented cabbage, Germans find sauerkraut a must-eat for staying healthy. Loaded with vitamin C and flavonoids, the popular dish is said to be a virus-fighting powerhouse and unsurpassed digestive aid to be consumed throughout the year to fend off germs. However, eating it is perhaps a better option than bathing in it.

Feeling ill? Try a German folk remedy to get well

Healing herbs

Ginger isn't the only spice that Germans brew in hot water and call tea. Depending on your ailment, you may be told to drink sage, oregano, peppermint, fennel, chamomile or an herbal tea to ease your pain. It may taste like licking a medicine cabinet, but at the very least, the time spent sipping tea can relax one enough to feel better momentarily. "Gute Besserung" - get well soon!

Feeling ill? Try a German folk remedy to get well

Hot lemon

Lemons and other citrus fruits are packed full of vitamin C. Even though the vitamin hasn't been proven to prevent colds, drinking lemon juice with hot water sooths sore throats and is a good detoxer. If the simple beverage is too sour for you, add a spoonful of honey.

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