Traditional herbal medicine, based on centuries of experience, is also referred to as "monastic medicine", since in the past it was primarily the monasteries that preserved and increased herbal medicinal knowledge. Probably the best-known representative of monastic medicine is Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), who is generally believed to have founded European naturopathy. In addition to plant products, minerals, trace elements and essential fatty acids, vitamins are among the so-called "micronutrients" that are vital for the body.
The term "vitamins" includes a wide variety of organic compounds that are required for metabolism. Despite all their differences, the vitamins have in common that they do not serve to generate energy, but rather have very specific functions, such as antioxidants to protect against free radicals. If there is a lack of vitamins, one becomes ill even with a sufficient supply of energy-supplying fats, proteins and carbohydrates. With the exception of vitamin D, which can be produced by the organism itself with the help of sunlight, all other vitamins must be supplied through food. There are both fat- and water-soluble vitamins, although only fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) can be stored in the body (the exception is the water-soluble vitamin B12).