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Natural well-being comes under the spotlight in Lausanne

Natural medicine, organic agriculture and wellness - these are the three main ingredients of the 12th annual Mednat International health fair, which has opened its doors at Lausanne's Beaulieu exhibition and conference centre.

This content was published on March 29, 2000 - 23:03

Natural medicine, organic agriculture and wellness - these are the three main ingredients of the 12th annual Mednat International health fair, which has opened its doors at Lausanne's Beaulieu exhibition and conference centre.

The last decade has seen a tremendous increase in Switzerland in the popularity of traditional approaches to maintaining health, and in organically-grown agricultural products. This is witnessed by the fact that the number of Mednat exhibitors over the years has grown from an initial 80 to 210 this year.

Some 21,000 people are expected to visit the fair before it closes its doors on April 4.

Switzerland is home to several long-established producers of naturally-based medicinal substances, and in recent years the Swiss pharmaceutical giants have also entered the field with alternative products of their own. Switzerland is also the leading Western producer of special Asian preparations such as ginseng.

There is a definite trend in Switzerland towards the use of natural preparations as a first line of treatment for common ailments and conditions. And more and more doctors are prescribing them as part of a "soft medication" trend in Swiss medicine, with the blessing of the Swiss medical establishment and the health insurance societies.

But natural medicine is also a philosophy based on the ancient wisdom: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Indeed, the theme of prevention is much in evidence at Mednat.

Many of the herbal products being promoted at the fair are for this purpose, and a large number of the 150 scheduled lecturers will also deal with the subject.

In the spotlight at this year's Mednat is anthroposophy, a far-reaching holistic approach to health which has its own catalogue of natural remedies and techniques, as well as a system of education, and a philosophy of shape and architecture, exemplified by the anthroposophical community called Goetheanum, located near Basel.

This was the brainchild of the founder of the anthroposophy movement, Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian who spent much of his life in Switzerland.

The term "wellness" has become part of the Swiss vocabulary recently. And here, attention is being called to Switzerland's spas, many of which go back to the days of the Romans. The featured guest at Mednat this year is the newly-renovated spa at Lavey-les-Bains in Canton Vaud, one of the places in Switzerland where "taking the waters" is done in a modern setting.

A meal of organically-grown food washed down with a glass or two of biologically-produced wine, and a good soak at a thermal spa: this is just one of the recipes for good health being featured at the 12th edition of Mednat in Lausanne.

By Bob Zanotti

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