Once upon a time there was a boy born in Wörishofen in Swabia in 1821. His family was so poor that at the age of eleven he had to work in the loom and as a shepherd.
One day he fell ill. Since no one could help him, he thought of something himself. Took ice baths, used herbal remedies, played sports – and recovered. The rest is history – the story of Sebastian Kneipp. What makes him a Sebastian superstar today? We have 7 exciting facts about the health influencer of yesteryear:
1. Curious water doctor
The idea of curing her tuberculosis disease using a DIY method was no accident. Sebastian Kneipp read a lot, took care of herbal medicine – and in 1840 he discovered the book “Teaching the strength and the work of fresh water in the body of people …” by Dr. Johann Siegmund Hahn, who wrote about the healing properties of cold water. Sebastian Kneipp broke into the subject, but was not the first to focus on this method of healing. In Bad Alexandersbad, Franconia, the first cold water installation in Bavaria was founded a few years earlier – the Alexbad.
2. DIY health lesson
What seems strange is actually true: Sebastian Kneipp recovered without ever having studied medicine. He is known to have suffered from a lung disease, probably tuberculosis, since 1944. As medicine was not very advanced at the time, things seemed bad for him. But giving up was out of the question for him. Because he had acquired so much knowledge, he created a personal recovery plan based on the power of water. He took cold baths in the Danube, supplemented by half baths and casts in which he doused himself with cold water, and combined this therapy with exercise.
3. High Five
The concept worked – and Kneipp became healthy. When he was healed, he believed in his methods even more – and developed his concept of holistic health. This is based on five pillars for a balanced lifestyle: the beneficial power of water for health, a balanced diet, the power of medicinal plants, lots of exercise and a balanced lifestyle. Kneipp’s teaching has evolved over the centuries, but the Five Pillars are the foundation – and more relevant than ever. Slogans like mindfulness, sustainability, or healthy living are all the rage on social media for good reason.
The Kneipp shower stimulates circulation and strengthens your immune system.
4. Kneipp in prison – but almost
Sebastian Kneipp didn’t study medicine for a day, but treated thousands of patients. Therefore, in 1853 he got into trouble and received a quackery complaint for treating a cholera maid with hot wraps. He was fined two guilders for “breaches of the ban on couriers”. A year later, two doctors and pharmacists charged him. In court, Kneipp said: “No tenderness or concern, but compassion for the unfortunate” prompted him to seek treatment. The judge then asked him for a remedy for his “rheumatism in the neck”. Kneipp gave him advice – and in the end, the court ruled: “Care for those who don’t get any help or don’t have money and be a helper in need.”
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5. World class? Heritage of the world!
Doctors and pharmacists once berated Sebastian Kneipp like a charlatan, but today they would probably turn pale in shame. Because even UNESCO has decided that the teaching of Kneipp is not a farce, but a cultural heritage. In December 2015, the German commission for UNESCO announced that Kneipp therapy would be included in the national register of intangible cultural heritage as “traditional knowledge and practices according to the teachings of Sebastian Kneipp”.
6. From Franconia to the world
Sebastian Superstar was smart – and started his own brand as early as 1891. At that time he gave Würzburg pharmacist Leonhard Oberhäußer the exclusive right to develop, manufacture and sell pharmaceutical and cosmetic products as well as health foods with the name and the image of Kneipp. The rest is history and the Kneipp® brand was born. Soon teas, tinctures, vegetable juices and powders were sold to customers all over Germany, and after World War II they were supplemented with body care products, bath products and vegetable juices. Today Kneipp GmbH is active in 18 countries, the main location is like 130 years ago in the Franconian wine region.
7. Freshness in Franconia
2021 will be the 200th anniversary of Sebastian Kneipp’s birthday. Today, we know it: his naturopathic treatments are refreshingly topical. Kneipp treatments are therefore part of the offer of many spas and thermal spas of “Health Park Franconia”. They are very important in Bad Berneck, the Kneipp spa resort approved by the State of Franconia. The most famous Kneipp application is the surplace. There are specially designed Kneipp pools in many spas and spa resorts in “Health Park Franconia”.
Many places in Franconia have a special connection with the Swabian “water doctor”. This is the case, for example, with Bad Mergentheim. In 1896 and 1897, Kneipp visited his friend Dr. Soutenu, lectured and treated patients. Today there are several stations along the three kilometer long “Kneipp Active Hiking Trail” where you can get acquainted with the five pillars: the herbal garden, for example, the walking facility on water or the Wolfgang Chapel for a break.
The Kneipp pool in the spa gardens of Bad Mergentheim.
Bad Berneck is the only Kneipp spa in Franconia predestined for a healthy Kneipp holiday. The traditional teaching of Kneipp is very important here. The focus is on the Ölschnitztal spa park with its Kneipp facility, the Kneipp nature trail with sensory path and grass bed, as well as the Kneipp and the “radus” health center. The latter, for example, offers the “Lust for Kneipp – Wellness and Health Week” which combines herbal baths, Kneipp affusions, swimming in place and exercise.
Since exercise is of such elementary importance at Kneipp, Masserberg and Bischofsgrün are also recommendations for a health holiday within the meaning of Kneipp. The climate is particularly mild there, which is why both are recognized as “spa resorts”. With six certified hiking trails with a healing climate, Bischofsgrün also ensures that the body is in motion and the mind is at rest.
Kneipp fun facts
Sebastian Kneipp was 23 when he started first high school class in 1844 – and by far the oldest. His classmates therefore called him “Papa Kneipp”. There’s a Sebastian Kneipp-inspired Playmobil figure: with a plastic watering can, sandals and a white pointed end. There is a traffic light in Bad Nauheim, the figure of which was dedicated to Sebastian Kneipp. The pedestrian traffic light was put into operation for the 200th anniversary. In 1997, on the 100th anniversary of his death, a shrub rose was named after Sebastian Kneipp. This has slightly bowl-shaped creamy white flowers up to 10 centimeters in size.