Julia Lenart

How to strengthen your immune system

The Gesellschaft der Ärzte Wien recently held a press conference at Billrothhaus. They discussed how the immune system can be prepared for the winter season and introduced aroma therapy and phytotherapy.

Taking care of the immune system

The flu season has started and caring for the immune system is becoming more important than ever. At a press conference concerning this issue, there were talking Gerhard Hubmann, vice president of GAMED (Wiener Internationale Akademie für Ganzheitsmedizin), pulmonary specialist Wolfgang Steflitsch and pediatrician Karl Zwiauer. They introduced two neglected therapy forms (aroma- and phytotherapy) and talked about the importance of salutogenesis. This concept is based on putting more trust into your immune system. In many cases the slightest indication of any illness (even as harmless as a cold) are immediately treated with medication. The doctors argued, however, that having contact with viruses strengthens our immune system. According to Gerhard Hubmann, the first cold in autumn plays an important role in building and strengthening the immune system.

But in order to not become ill in the first place, it is important to constantly maintain the immune system. The best way of doing this, is living a healthy lifestyle. That incorporates a regular biorhythm, healthy nutrition and taking care of mental hygiene.


Of course, the immune system cannot fight every virus by itself. Sometimes it needs help. Aromatherapy is especially effective with infections of the respiratory system. The therapy basically consists of essential oils which are a mixture of several ingredients, all of which have certain effects. Therefore, the therapy can be accurately adjusted to the individual needs of the patient. Depending on the condition, the mixture may consist of various compounds. However, there are a number of prefabricated compounds of essential oils, that are often criticized. But Wolfgang Steflitsch does not think them worthless. Even though they cannot be applied as accurately as the individual mixtures, they are not per se bad. Their integrity is ensured by strict licensing, which makes sure, that dubious products are not permitted on the market.

Aromatherapy can be applied by inhalation, massages, baths or compresses. Essential oils stimulate the vegetative nervous system. Among other positive attributes, they improve cognitive performance, stimulate the blood flow and are pain-soothing.

The origins of aromatherapy go far back to ancient times. Modern medicine has excluded it, defaming it as hoax, which simply is not true. In the past decades aromatherapy has become an acclaimed method, that is endorsed by many physicians.


Karl Zwiauer is an advocate of phytotherapy – one of the oldest therapy-forms of mankind. It is based on the healing powers of plants (or rather their components). Phytotherapy was – like aromatherapy – excluded from western medicine but is now becoming popular again.

Zwiauer stresses its preventive effect, especially in fighting infectious diseases of the respiratory system. It is often used in connection with antibiotics, minimizing resistance and the use of antibiotics in general. Like in aromatherapy, phytotherapy combines several ingredients which produce a special effect, that can be used for individual cures. Combining different kinds of plants can improve the effects and individualize the therapy even more. Some of the most often used plants are: ivy, thyme, primrose and gentian, to name only a few.

Being a trend of alternative medicine until recently, aroma- and phytotherapy are finding their way into western medicine. The successes speak for themselves: hundreds of studies underline their positive effects. Nevertheless, we should focus on keeping our immune system healthy, making the need of medication and therapy redundant in the first place.

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