Awareness and Accessibility

Despite my perception that Germany is very forward thinking on alternative health–it is the number one producer of homeopathy remedies–I found low awareness of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) while traveling through the country. And in talking with even those who were familiar with it, none had tried it.

After traveling around the country for 2 weeks, this doesn’t seem that surprising after all. There were far fewer visible signs of TCM (whether herbalists, pharmacies, or acupuncturists) in the whole of Germany relative to the West Coast of the US and Canada.

Thus, this one advertisement (featured image) I saw in the subway in Munich (Munchen) was remarkable in its singularity. Munich is also thought to be one of the richest and most expensive cities in the country.

Pharmacies and Herbs

While there are lots of ‘apotheke’ (phramacies) around Germany, besides carrying standard western pharmaceuticals, homeopathy remedies seemed to be fairly common. In one of the pharmacies I browsed that looked like it would have Chinese herbs, they sold primarily tea, western herbs, and packaged “China Oel.” I’ve never seen, nor heard of this “China Oel” in China, and neither had my Chinese friend. This pharmacy did prominently display Sam Ginseng; ginseng, of course, being a very popular herb in TCM. Aside from Ginseng and Chiense tea, they had no Chinese herbs nor patent medicines.

Perhaps the lack of Chinese herbals in phamacies around Germany is due to the EU Directive requiring much stricter licensing and documentation for the import of herbal medicinals.  And thus they are struggling to get them into the country. For more information on how the EU Directive is affecting TCM trade with China, watch this interview with Huang Jianyin, Vice-Secretary-General of World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies on China Daily.