It began with a hospital and a pharmaceutical laboratory – founded by a Dutch doctor, an Austrian philosopher and a chemist and pharmacist from Munich. It has developed into a worldwide enterprise for health.
In the years around 1920 three pioneers set about giving new form to the teaching and research activity on anthroposophical medicine which had existed for a number of years. In 1921 the doctor Ita Wegman (1876-1943) opened the Clinical and Therapeutic Institute in Arlesheim in Switzerland, a hospital using anthroposophical medicine for treating people who had fallen ill. The chemist Oskar Schmiedel (1887-1959), along with Dr. Wegman and Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), developed the first pharmaceutical products whose concept has formed the basis for Weleda's product philosophy to this day: the medicine should provide crucial stimuli for the body's own healing powers. This idea pre-empted what complementary medicine and its research know today: healing is brought about by holistically formulated pharmaceutical products that stimulate the body to heal itself. Steiner and Wegman had developed this medical approach in different lecture courses over previous years.
The initiative of these three people lives on to the present day. Over the course of the entire company history, Weleda has continued to develop throughout the world thanks to dedicated people. And through the development of national companies a different kind of globalisation has appeared. In many countries where Weleda now has a presence it was not only patients, but also doctors and pharmacists, who provided the impetus by asking for anthroposophical pharmaceuticals and natural cosmetics. So enthusiastic people came forward who founded a new Weleda branch working closely with the parent company – from producing their own pharmaceutical products in pharmacies or other temporary laboratories to large laboratories with dozens of employees and their own medicinal plant gardens. But there is one thing in common to all these success stories that distinguishes Weleda from other international companies: the drive to develop further arose from local networks.