A.Vogel 100th year milestone


One of Switzerland’s better-known exports (apart from its chocolate!) is the 100-year old A.Vogel, a health and wellness company built by Alfred Vogel (1902-1996) who was a Phytotherapist, an intrepid researcher and a keen globetrotter who once said “Nature was my best loved university.”

The Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa has teamed up with A.Vogel’s local representative, SA Natural Products (SANP), to celebrate the Swiss company’s centenary and decades of helping South Africans gain and improve their wellbeing.

Estie Schreiber, the SANP Marketing Director shared captivating stories at commemorative events in Pretoria and Cape Town this February attended by health industry representatives, leading retail customers and business stakeholders. 

Schreiber said that Alfred Vogel was driven by a desire to help people have better health. His love and respect for nature and its ability to address many health problems took him on fact-finding and lecturing engagements across the world. These tours gave Alfred Vogel the opportunity to study the living and eating habits as well as the indigenous medicinal knowledge of local populations. Vogel pioneered much of this research into numerous products, publications and teachings that are today written into text books for the next generation of Phytotherapists.

“While on a trip in the 1950’s in the United States, Alfred Vogel befriended Ben Black Elk, a healer at the Oglala Lakota tribe in South Dakota who introduced him to Echinacea purpurea. This beautiful flowering plant was popular with the native American peoples as a remedy for colds and flu, stings, rashes, cuts and injuries and other conditions,” said Schreiber.

Ben Black Elk gave Alfred Vogel a parting gift – Echinacea purpurea seeds.

Once back home in Teufen Switzerland, Vogel grew this versatile plant and began using it on himself and his patients. It took Vogel another 10 years to arrive at what he found to be the most efficacious medicinal tincture formulation of the plant – a combination of 95% fresh plant and 5% of root. This product is the well-known A.Vogel Echinaforce. Since then, never has the A.Vogel company purchased or used any other Echinacea purpurea seeds. Each year seeds from the current year’s crop are retained for the following year so today’s Echinacea purpurea plants still trace their origin back to the prairies of South Dakota.

Since then, the manufacture and composition of A.Vogel’s echinacea-based products has encapsulated the philosophy and practice established by Alfred Vogel:

  • To cultivate organically from organic seeds obtained from plants that have already been grown in controlled organic cultivation to avoid pollutants such as pesticides and synthetic fertilisers.
  • To use freshly harvested plants for a greater effect than can be extracted from dried medicinal herbs.
  • To treat plants with respect, putting them through the gentlest possible manufacturing processes.

In addition to its own cultivation of medicinal plants from which the majority of its products are produced on site in Roggwil, Switzerland, the company has a strong focus on scientific research. Each year one or two clinical or preclinical trials are carried out on various products.

In recent years the business has invested in excess of CHF 30m in its production facility to guarantee the highest production standards in compliance with the pharmaceutical manufacturing specifications prescribed by the Swiss medicines regulatory body, Swissmedic.

In his address during the events, Dr Andy Suter (A.Vogel Switzerland CEO) said that A.Vogel is among the few phytotherapeutic companies to have its own cultivation, production, scientific research – and 180 medicinal product registrations with health regulatory bodies in various countries.

“Our journey to the future invites people to rediscover the power of nature and our profound connection to it. Nature not only presents us with immeasurable treasures but is also delicate and deserving of protection. As the strongest force, it is essential for our survival. Our deep connection to nature symbolises curiosity, freshness and a genuine love for the environment,” states Dr Suter.

The 100-year milestone is also a recognition of a positive contribution to our economy and the trade exchange between South Africa and Switzerland.

Today, A.Vogel AG is the largest manufacturer of phytotherapeutics in Switzerland and is active in more than 25 countries – with the South African market in seventh place, ahead of several more developed markets including Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

Many South Africans will recognise a prebiotic supplement, Molkosan, which is sold more in South Africa than in any other market.

“I had the honour to meet Alfred Vogel when he was 89. When asked what he regarded as being his greatest achievement in life, he answered ‘That I could teach a few people that nature is good.’  

Here we are, a hundred years since the opening of his health store in Basel, Switzerland, and Alfred Vogel’s legacy lives on in the A.Vogel business, which continues to be one of the most important voices worldwide for modern, science-based phytotherapy,” concluded Schreiber.

100 years of harnessing nature’s healing powers for the health of humankind

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