For centuries, people in the inaccessible Alpine valleys had no other choice but to trust in the healing power of nature. Herbal knowledge was deeply rooted in the daily lives of mountain people – until it was replaced by modern traditional medicine in the twentieth century. Today, alpine herbs are experiencing a renaissance. People are once again becoming aware of the natural treasures found in their area. The potential of alpine herbs has not yet been exhausted.
In the Berchtesgaden Alps, the film shows Wurzengraber Hubsi Ilsanker doing hard work, just as he did 400 years ago. For the oldest gentian distillery in Germany, Hubsi excavates protected gentian roots in the Berchtesgaden National Park – certified by special historic right. Because yellow gentian is one of the most delicious medicinal herbs in the world, and it is useful for intoxication and general strengthening.
In Graubünden, Switzerland, the viewer meets pharmacist Astrid Thurner, who has pioneered the cultivation of an entire field of edelweiss in order to use the antioxidant active ingredients of this high-alpine plant in her line of cosmetics. At the Biomedical Center in Innsbruck, we learn about an exciting discovery made by researchers. They have discovered a new Edelweiss substance: alloligin, a substance that could revolutionize the treatment of vascular diseases.
Physiotherapist Astrid Süssmuth introduces us to her “outpatient pharmacy” in the Ötztal mountains. The viewer is also introduced to the most toxic monastic herb in Europe, also known as medieval arsenic. At the Benedictine Abbey of Admont, the film delves into the largest monastery library in the world, and at Heiligenbilt am Grossglockner we watch how women dressed in traditional costumes celebrate the “consecration of herbs,” a long-forgotten custom from pre-Christian times.
In the Dolomites in South Tyrol, gourmet chef Franz Molser brings the taste of Alpine pastures to his dishes. The hay from Seiser Alm, which ends up in the cooking soup, is prepared in Fiè allo Sciliar for a hay bath in which the herbal essences develop. A camera accompanies this wellness treatment, which aims to help relieve any aches and pains in the joints and back.
In Tauferer Ahrntal, the viewer experiences the passion for herbs of Aneris Ebbenkoffler, who collects secret recipes and treatment methods from local residents. She runs her hotel on the principle of “Alpine teachings,” and her favorite herb plays an important role: St. John’s wort, “the great plant of light, where she meets the sun goddess herself.”
In her film, Barbell Jacks visits people committed to ensuring that ancient herbal knowledge is not lost and finds modern applications in our time. The viewer experiences herbs in impressive macro images. Aerial shots take us to four countries in the Alpine region: Germany (Bavaria), Austria, Italy and Switzerland.
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