Buchinger Wilhelmi draws on 100 Years of clinical experience to create novel programmes
Many details are still to be understood about the coronavirus, its effects and how it can be treated. As vaccines advance and the relaxing of restrictions in Europe is discussed, concerns remain regarding “long Covid” or PSCS (Post-SARS-CoV-2 Syndrome); little is known about possible therapy and prevention of the long-term effects experienced by certain persons weeks or months after their initial Covid infection.
The multidisciplinary fasting programme  offered by the Buchinger Wilhelmi clinics on Lake Constance, Germany, and in Marbella, Spain, might offer solutions to overcome PSCS. The programme was initiated more than 100 years ago by Dr Otto Buchinger, a medical doctor, philosopher and pioneer of therapeutic fasting, and developed by four generations of physicians, researchers and family members. The Buchinger Wilhelmi programme is today scientifically based on several studies published in well-known medical journals [1-8].
A special programme adapted to today’s pandemic situation aims to improve the most frequent symptoms of PSCS: extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain, problems with memory and concentration, heart palpitations, dizziness and insomnia. Fasting periods from 5 to 15 days or, alternatively, individual nutritional strategies with intermittent fasting associated with numerous adjuvant therapies have shown significant improvements. Medical and scientific staff members of the Buchinger Wilhelmi clinics have made promising observations in recent months: A decrease in symptoms, mood enhancement and feelings of self-efficacy are the main effects of the treatment. Data from patients with Long Covid is currently being systematically collected in both clinics in Überlingen and Marbella.
The Buchinger Wilhelmi Programme treats PSCS (Long Covid) in ways that include:
- Metabolic reset [1,6,8] of factors that promote a severe course of COVID-19 as well as Long Covid: weight and waist reduction, normalisation of lipid and glucose metabolism as well as high blood pressure , improvements in insulin resistance and diabetes type 2.
- Decrease of inflammatory processes: COVID-19 provokes acute and then chronic inflammatory symptoms of several tissues and organs like the lung, brain and nervous system, gut and heart. They lead to specific dysfunctions that the anti-inflammatory effects of fasting and some nutritional strategies can directly improve.
- Enhanced antioxidative capacity and decreased lipid oxidation: contribute to stopping the process and diminishing the symptoms [3, 4].
- Improved gut microbiota composition : as an incentive to switch to a healthier diet and lifestyle.
- Cell and vital organ rejuvenation: a COVID-19 infection as well as PSCS can cause long-lasting damage to certain organs, particularly the lungs, brain and heart. Recent publications show that fasting activates autophagy and apoptosis, two self-cleaning mechanisms that allow the body to get rid of old and damaged cells. After food reintroduction, stem cells and new synthesis boost re-expansion of the organs, causing them to be “rejuvenated”. This ability of fasting to regenerate to some extent the body’s damaged organs and structures can be of paramount importance in treating long COVID symptoms.
- Mood enhancement and resetting emotional balance: necessary after challenging periods of confinement and suffering in order to regain hope in the future.
Last year, the Buchinger Wilhelmi fasting clinics launched the preventive Immunity+ Programme with a focus on reducing the risk of contracting the severe form of coronavirus. Factors include obesity, dysmetabolism and diabetes type 2, cardiovascular and liver diseases. At the same time, the Immunity+ Programme boosts the immune system in all kind of ways.
What does the Immunity+ Programme offer?
Depending on the patient’s individual symptoms and general condition, the immunity+ programme can include:
- A nutritional strategy as an alternative to fasting is adopted if the patient’s nutritional status does not allow fasting or if the physician identifies other contraindications. In that case, the diet is adapted to individual needs. The meals and fasting supplements provided are 100% organic, and to a large extent from the region.
- Nutritional advice to maintain the improvements achieved during the stay. Particularly after fasting, a nutritional individually tailored plan developed by licenced nutritionists will allow patients to continue making progress at home.
- A detailed individual risk analysis performed on arrival, including a multidimensional assessment of the patient’s clinical and personal history, a physical examination and laboratory test including a metabolic profile. Pulmonary function tests, ergometer tests, and any other symptom-specific tests can also be performed.
- Physical therapy including a wide range of massages, physiotherapeutic treatments, wraps and local treatments for specific areas of the body damaged by the Covid infection.
- Physical exercise according to individual capacity, rehabilitation, exercise programmes such as guided walks and hikes in the clinic’s beautiful countryside, gym classes and individual coaching to gradually enhance physical performance and strengthen mental health.
- Individual respiratory rehabilitation based on the symptoms suffered by the patient.
- Detailed laboratory analysis of micronutrients and vitamins, with a special focus on those that might support recovery (Vitamin C, D, Zinc among others). Supplementation either orally or intravenously of immunity boosting micronutrients is individually prescribed.
- Stress reduction, consciousness enlargement, return to inner serenity: the spirit of the clinics promotes a return to an emotional balance and helps improve possible cognitive symptoms such as ‘brain fog’ or memory loss. Not only the beautiful views of the sea (or lake), the mountains and the forests help to restore inner peace, but also the intrinsic effect of fasting, the attentive nursing and therapeutic care as well as autogenic training, yoga and meditation.
More about Buchinger Wilhelmi
The Buchinger Wilhelmi clinics founded by Dr Otto Buchinger celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2020. Buchinger was a medical doctor, philosopher, and pioneer of therapeutic fasting. The staff now includes seven doctors, among them various specialists, e.g. in traditional naturopathy, practiced in Europe and other continents. Registered nurses, physiotherapists, nutritionists, psychologists as well as personal trainers in all specialties complete the team.
At Buchinger Wilhelmi, guests and patients get the chance to push their ‘reset’ button and find inner space to make life-changing experiences, take important decisions for their private and professional life, considerably improve their risk profile and possibly gain a clearer sense of their purpose in life. An international, tolerant, multicultural community composed of an equal number of women and men, young and old, ensures that a stay in the clinic is a joyful experience.
- Wilhelmi de Toledo F, Grundler F, Bergouignan A, Drinda S, Michalsen A (2019) Safety, health improvement and well-being during a 4 to 21-day fasting period in an observational study including 1422 subjects. PLoS One 14 (1). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0209353
- Grundler F, Mesnage R, Michalsen A, Wilhelmi de Toledo F (2020) Blood pressure changes in 1610 subjects with and without antihypertensive medication during long-term fasting. J Am Heart Assoc 9 (23). doi:10.1161/JAHA.120.018649
- Wilhelmi de Toledo F, Grundler F, Goutzourelas N, Tekos F, Vassi E, Mesnage R, Kouretas D (2020) Influence of Long-Term Fasting on Blood Redox Status in Humans. Antioxidants 9 (6). doi:doi:10.3390/antiox9060496
- Grundler F, Mesnage R, Goutzourelas N, Tekos F, Makri S, Brack M, Kouretas D, de Toledo FW (2020) Interplay between oxidative damage, the redox status, and metabolic biomarkers during long-term fasting. Food Chem Toxicol 145
- Mesnage R, Grundler F, Schwiertz A, Le Maho Y, Wilhelmi de Toledo F (2019) Changes in human gut microbiota composition are linked to the energy metabolic switch during 10 d of Buchinger fasting. J Nutr Sci 8. doi:10.1017/jns.2019.33
- Drinda S, Grundler F, Neumann T, Lehmann T, Steckhan N, Michalsen A, Wilhelmi de Toledo F (2019) Effects of Periodic Fasting on Fatty Liver Index—A Prospective Observational Study. Nutrients 11 (11):2601. doi:doi:10.3390/nu11112601
- Wilhelmi de Toledo, F., et al. (2020). “Unravelling the health effects of fasting: a long road from obesity treatment to healthy life span increase and improved cognition.” Annals of medicine 52(5): 147-161.
- Grundler F, Plonné D, Mesnage R, Müller D, Sirtori CR, Ruscica M, Wilhelmi de Toledo F (forthcoming 2021) Long-term fasting improves lipoprotein-associated atherogenic risk in humans. Eur J Nutr