Celebrating 100 years of the Buchinger method in 2020, the Buchinger Wilhelmi wellness clinic was founded by Dr Otto Buchinger who was a medical doctor, philosopher and pioneer of medical fasting. The team today comprises seven doctors who span an array of specialisms from rheumatology to naturopathy, homeopathy to diabetes, as well as massage therapists, counsellors, nutritionists and personal trainers, who all help empower individuals to push their ‘reset’ button.
- In 1935, Buchinger published the pioneering “The Therapeutic Fasting Cure”, which is still in print today
- In 2019, Buchinger Wilhelmi published the world’s largest scientific study on therapeutic fasting.
- Other recent studies analyse the effects of fasting on blood pressure, antioxidant levels and liver fat accumulation.
- In 2020, the family-owned clinic entered its fourth generation of management with Leonard Wilhelmi
After 100 years of the world-renowned Buchinger method, we look back at how it was founded and how far the now fourth-generation family-owned Buchinger Wilhelmi clinic has come, becoming the world’s leading experts in therapeutic fasting and integrative medicine.
Who was Dr Otto Buchinger?
Dr. Otto Buchinger was a doctor, philosopher, and pioneer of medical fasting. Born in 1878 in Darmstadt, Germany, he later studied medicine, was awarded a doctorate and spent the First World War as a naval doctor until he was forced to retire early as an ‘invalid’ due to severe rheumatoid polyarthritis.
The Founding of the Buchinger Method
Suffering severely from rheumatoid polyarthritis, Dr. Buchinger felt a huge psychological strain from the powerlessness of conventional Western medicine which led him to consider alternative forms of treatment. In 1919, he started fasting with Dr. Riedlin in Freiburg, who prescribed fasting therapy following traditional methods. It was a resounding success which Buchinger claimed saved his life, which he then devoted to developing a method for a medically-sound fasting therapy.
As a doctor, Buchinger focused on all aspects of holistic medicine. He was a spiritual person, fascinated with the correlation between the body’s emotional and physical self-healing powers. As the founder of medical therapeutic fasting, he combined the two to create a holistic form of therapy – Buchinger therapeutic fasting – which he successfully applied and continued to develop from 1920 in his own fasting clinic, Kurheim Dr. Otto Buchinger in Witzenhausen.
In 1935, Buchinger published his most important work, “The Therapeutic Fasting Cure”, which is still in print today. In it, the “pioneer of fasting” systematically described fasting physiology and the diseases that are considered fasting indications. In 1953, Dr. Otto Buchinger was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit for his pioneering work.
In the same year, Dr. Buchinger set up the now world-renowned Buchinger Wilhelmi clinic Überlingen on Lake Constance with his daughter Maria and son-in-law Helmut Wilhelmi. Throughout his lifetime, Dr. Buchinger remained dedicated to regular fasts, which he believes gave him strength for a long, healthy and active life, in which he achieved a great deal, before he died in 1966 aged 88 years old.
Dr. Otto Buchinger was succeeded by Dr. Heinz Fahrner and Dr. Hellmut Lützner as well as Dr. Gisela Falzone and Dr. Karl Spiesske. Both Dr. Fahrner and Dr. Lützner published numerous articles in naturopathic and medical journals. They were followed by a further generation of doctors with Dr. Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo in Überlingen and Dr. José Manuel Garcia-Verdugo in Marbella, who developed the well-known programme as we know it today.
In 2020, the family-owned clinic entered its fourth generation of management with Leonard Wilhelmi, Dr. Buchinger’s great-grandson, taking it into its next era. His father, Raimund Wilhlemi, remains in the family business as President of the group and Chairman of the Advisory Board
Today, Leonard’s mother, Dr. Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo, is Head of Research and Medicine at Buchinger Wilhelmi and is considered one of the most esteemed fasting experts worldwide. Dr. Wilhelmi de Toledo has dedicated many years to enhancing and scientifically documenting fasting therapy and integrative medicine, has published multiple academic publications on fasting and has created long-lasting international partnerships with prestigious clinics and universities worldwide.
The team today comprises several doctors and highly experienced professionals who span an array of specialisms from rheumatology to naturopathy, homeopathy to diabetes, as well as massage therapists, counsellors, nutritionists and personal trainers, who all help empower individuals to push their ‘reset’ button.
Buchinger Wilhelmi’s research department, led by Dr. Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo, is currently working on several major studies. In early 2019, the world’s largest scientific study to date on the effectiveness of Buchinger therapeutic fasting was published. It observed a total of 1,422 fasting subjects and revealed that according to the Buchinger method, therapeutic fasting is safe, therapeutically effective and promotes physical and emotional wellbeing. Other recent studies include how periodic fasting can reduce abnormal fat accumulation on the liver, and thus can prevent liver cirrhosis; how long-term fasting can reduce blood pressure; and how ten-day fasting can improve antioxidant levels in the body.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Buchinger Wilhelmi created an Immunity programme aiming to strengthen both body and mind, with the specific target of reducing the main risk factors for severe cases of coronavirus and chronic disease (such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, liver disorders), and to boost the immune system.
Recent fasting visits appear to be delivering surprising results in those suffering from Long Covid. So far, the clinic has seen patients leave the clinic with a tangible reduction in symptoms with a number returning home symptom-free. Using methods constantly adapted in cooperation with university research centres, the expert medical team at Buchinger Wilhelmi are examining the ability to target individual symptoms of Long Covid, which can include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, problems with memory and concentration, heart palpitations, dizziness and insomnia, and to reduce the risk factors for developing the chronic condition.
Buchinger Wilhelmi (0049 7551 8070; buchinger-wilhelmi.com) offers 10-day fasting programmes from £2,340 per person. The price includes two consultations with a doctor, daily nurse checkups, food/drink, fasting provisions and daily activities.
Shorter, non-fasting stays are also available from £218 per night. 3- and 7-night health-focused breaks are also bookable.