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New Life for Old-Time Health Therapy

September 11, 2000|From Hartford Courant

While everyone in the beauty industry is searching for the next big thing to titillate pampered clients, the folks at Kneipp are happy to rest on the laurels of their decidedly not-new wellness formulations and regimens.

Kneipp therapy is based on the teachings of the 19th century cleric, Sebastian Kneipp (pronounced Kuh-nipe), known as the "father of wellness" or the "father of preventive medicine." The pillars of Kneipp's teachings combined water and plant therapies with exercise, nutrition and emotional harmony as solutions for health and longevity.

Today you don't have to travel to Germany for dips in the icy Danube to obtain the hydrotherapy (water) and phytotherapy (plant) Kneipp extolled. You can achieve it in your own shower or bathtub using Kneipp herbal bath formulations.

Sold nationwide at Nordstrom and at selected salons, Kneipp is a proven (and, yes, old) company making inroads in American beauty and wellness circles. With spa therapies all the rage, Kneipp is positioned to become as familiar in the United States as it is in Germany where it is recognized by mainstream scientific medicine for its natural healing processes.

"In Europe, we're quite large," said Joella M. Bury, managing director for Kneipp Corp. of America, a fully owned subsidiary of Kneipp-Werke of Germany. "But in the U.S., we're smaller."

That could change soon. Some big celebrities are already familiar with Kneipp herbal remedies, including Leonardo DiCaprio, George Hamilton, Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer.

Kneipp boasts an enviable wellness track record in Europe. "We invented wellness," Bury said. "[Sebastian Kneipp] was the father of preventive medicine. He was the first to believe in total well-being, preventing illness and staying well. These are not new things. These are things that have been going on in Germany for a long time. This is not hocus-pocus. It's very credible."

The backbone of the Kneipp regimen is the company's line of herbal bath oils, herbal bath salts, shower and bath gels, skin creams and shampoos. All are loaded with high concentrations of quality plant extracts and essential oils. Almond, chamomile, eucalyptus, hops, juniper, lavender, melissa, rosemary, spruce and pine, and orange and linden blossom are the herbal choices for the company's bath oils. The same plant-derived ingredients can be found in the company's herbal bath salts and sparkling herbal bath tablets.

With spa attendance on the upswing in the United States, an herbal bath might be just the tonic to wash away stress, strain and fatigue, as Kneipp suggests. Bury said treating yourself to an at-home wellness spa is simple and relaxing.

"Everybody's stressed and has no time," Bury said. "Shut the door. First shower and use the shower gel. Then draw a very warm tub of water. Choose one of the herbal baths. Soak for 20 minutes. Relax. Light a candle, play soft music. Sip herbal tea or a wellness cocktail. You get the internal and external benefits. Dry off but don't pat too heavily. Let the herbs absorb into your skin. You'd finish with a cream, lotion or body skin conditioner."

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