The clinic’s philosophy is based on three elements: therapeutic fasting, integrative medicine and spiritual inspiration. It is the ‘hunger method’ devised by Doctor Otto Buchinger in 1920
Fasting mobilizes the energy stored in the fatty tissue of the human body. The metabolism switches from glucose to fat and ketone consumption, causing many beneficial effects. In January of this year, the Buchinger Wilhelmi clinic in Uberlingen presented the first published scientific study that demonstrates the effectiveness of the therapeutic fasting method. The clinic’s philosophy is based on three elements: therapeutic fasting, integrative medicine and spiritual inspiration. This hunger method, devised by Doctor Otto Buchinger in 1920, is a holistic program for body, mind and soul, which aims to redirect the metabolism towards spiritual nourishment.
Fasting. On the hill, over Lake Constance. There’s always a ‘lake view’ when fasting is on the cards. Two possible interpretations: somewhere to drown your sorrows (and yourself) or to find inner peace. Let’s go with the latter. I was afraid I would be hungry, but I wasn’t. Just to begin with, I was not allowed to fast, because that program requires a minimum of five to a maximum of thirty days, under medical supervision—to prevent age-related diseases and for the treatment of chronic metabolic problems, including surplus weight. You consume 200 to 300 calories a day—apple peel tea, vegetable broth and juices. Non-breakfast, non-lunch and non-dinner companions consume their liquid meals in a lounge that looks like a private home—carpet, sofas, lamps and books. Windows overlooking the gardens. For those choosing the relaxation program—I was only there for three days—it is like staying in an organic gourmet restaurant. There is no menu to choose from, you never consume more than 1200 calories. You end your ‘meal’ with a chicory non-coffee. You never sit alone at the table or with the same people as the previous meal.
‘When you fast, the body feels good but the soul is often hungry’, said Dr. Buchinger. This is the principle at the base of the clinic’s success. There is no time to be hungry. From 7.30 am to 7.30 pm, every half hour sees the start of new activity. You can choose from nineteen physiotherapy practices, thirteen kinds of European-style massages and seven Asian versions, eleven hydrotherapy options. Meditation, yoga lessons, Zumba, water gym, exercises with apparatus, Feldenkrais, warm-up exercises, sauna, pool, workshops and seminars. At 2.00 pm you get two hours off “for good behavior” and take a walk in the forest.
Crunching the numbers: the Buchinger Wilhelmi clinic in Uberlingen has 120 beds, 8 doctors and 300 employees, which means an assistant-patient ratio of 2 to 1. Not eating is expensive. A stay in a junior suite goes from 654 euros a day, up to 19.012 euros for a whole month of non-food.
Wilhelm-Beck-Straße 27, Überlingen, Germany