Feeling Unwell? It Must Be the Biowetter

In the minds of some Germans, the weather is responsible for all that ails humans. Here, people are as obsessive about their "Bio-Weather" reports as they are their horoscopes.

Do blue skies bring peace of mind?

Do blue skies bring peace of mind?

Germans are hypochondriacs. People here don't get hangovers, they get a Kreislaufstörungen (circulatory disruption). When the spring sun makes concentration difficult, they blame Frühlingsmüdigkeit (spring fatigue). Feeling depressed? Must be that foehn coming down off the Alps. Got a headache? Blame it on the barometric pressure.

Indeed, with so many ailments available, how is one to know which one will crop up next? Easy. The Germans have come up with a daily weather report to help them predict how Mother Nature is going to wreak havoc on their bodies each day. It's called the Biowetter -- or "bio-weather" -- report. If your German colleagues suddenly seem pale, withdrawn or otherwise out of sorts, check the Biowetter and you'll know why.

"Headaches will be more prevalent in those especially sensitive to the weather," the respected Süddeutshe Zeitung writes on its weather page on Thursday. "Many will be more tired and drained than usual. Scars from operations will be more likely to act up."

It may sound like a page out of a quack, new-age self-help book, but many Germans are dead serious about their "bio-weather". For close to two decades, Germany's national weather service, the Deutsche Wetterdienst, has produced daily "bio-weather" reports, which are reprinted across the country and read with the kind of voracious appetite most non-Germans reserve for astrology.

There are differing views on the plausibility of "bio-weather." Jörg Kachelmann, one of Germany's leading meteorologists, believes it's hocus pocus. "You hardly hear anything about Biowetter in any other country -- not even the United States, where the pharmaceutical industry would love nothing better than to place an advertisement next to the weather report," he told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper.

But a growing amount of research -- much of which is being conducted here in Germany -- is slowly linking weather to specific human health conditions. The idea of "human biometeorology" has existed since the times of ancient Greece. Hippocates once wrote that "south winds induce dullness of hearing, but if north winds prevail, coughs and infections will occur." Today, biometeorologists use more sophisticated measuring tools to calculate barometric pressure, humidity, precipitation, temperature and wind to try to figure out how the climate is going to ruin your health on any given day.

So if you're looking for a reason to explain your bout with migraines, depression, neuroses or worse -- look no further than the daily paper and do as the Germans do. Blame the Biowetter!



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