Blog Post

Vogel Herbal Remedies Aren't Afraid of Real Science

Alfred Vogel with purple coneflowers, source of Echinacea Alfred Vogel with purple coneflowers, source of Echinacea

AL asks: "Could you advise me if A.Vogel Bioforce products for flu and many other healings are ok for Catholics?”

Herbal remedies are permitted for use by Catholics, except those that are used to treat life-threatening or contagious conditions. In these cases, they can be used, but it must be in conjunction with conventional (i.e., scientifically valid) medicine.

The good news about A. Vogel products is that the company, which provides natural remedies, invests heavily in scientific studies. While this hasn’t resulted in any breakthroughs in medicine, it is genuinely refreshing to hear of a company that at least tries to back up its claims.

The company gets its name from the Swiss-born Alfred Vogel (1902 – 1996) who was considered to be one of the early pioneers of natural health remedies. He started out running a health food store in  Switzerland in 1923 and eventually began to create remedies out of fresh plants that he provided to his customers. Vogel was convinced that a healthy life begins with a healthy diet and proper nutrition, but also stressed the need to have a deep respect and sympathy for the sacredness of all life.

Over the course of his 90 years of life, he wrote a monthly magazine entitled Health News as well as his most famous work, The Nature Doctor. He also traveled extensively and studied the plants and herbs of the world. In fact, it was a visit to the U.S. and Native American Sioux Indians where he was first introduced to the purple coneflower, a traditional medicine of the Sioux that is better known as Echinacea. Vogel took seeds back to Switzerland and began to grow the plants and produce Echinacea for consumption in Europe.

In 1963, he founded Bioforce, the company that sells his products to this day.

In addition to Echinacea, the company also sells a variety of herbal remedies, dietary supplements and food products aimed at treating everything from thyroid conditions and kidney problems to managing stress and allergy symptoms.

But do they work?

No better or worse than other herbal products in laboratory tests – but at least A. Vogel recognizes the importance of working in conjunction with established science.

He recently received an award from American Botanical Society (ABC) in which his company received high praise for their commitment to legitimate testing of their products.

“Bioforce is a rare company in the global herbal community,” said ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal. “The company employs the highest quality levels of sustainable farming practices while embracing the rich traditions of European herbal medicine, combining it with modern scientific research. These concepts—sustainability, tradition, and research—are at the core of the company’s ethics and practices. Bioforce’s continued investment in research is consistent with Prof. Varro Tyler’s wish that all herb companies dedicate a portion of their revenues to researching the mechanisms and/or the efficacy of their botanical product.”

To date, they have conducted at least 36 scientific studies on their products, the majority of which were published in scientific, peer-reviewed journals.

Some of those studies have been criticized for flaws, such as one study trying to prove that Echinacea protects against colds, which used Bioforce products, but was so poorly written it was difficult to assess the conclusions.

The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa also forced the company to stop advertising that their Neuroforce product was an excellent tonic for the central nervous system, and that its Multi-force Alkaline Powder product relieves a long list of ailments including gout and kidney and gall stones.

A believer in the value of supplements and good nutrition myself, I would always favor a company that takes science seriously over those that provide nothing more than testimonials or heavily biased studies that are essentially useless.