Anthroposophic medicine sees itself as a humanities extension of conventional medicine. In the anthroposophical attitude of mind, there are elements of different philosophical and medical schools of thought from East and West. Anthroposophic medicine sees itself as a humanities extension of conventional medicine. Natural scientific medicine forms the basis on which anthroposophic physicians build their understanding of being human. At the center of anthroposophic medicine is the consideration of the connection between environment, body, soul, and spirit. The treatment of diseases aims to restore the original, healthy harmony between these factors. For this purpose, anthroposophic physicians try to understand the causes of disease as holistically as possible. The therapy is determined not only by the diagnosis but also by the course of the disease, the CV, the social environment, and the personality of the patient.
The emergence of anthroposophic medicine
The anthroposophical spiritual science goes to the Austrian Dr. Phil. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) back. He studied natural sciences and mathematics in Vienna but earned his doctorate in philosophy. In numerous writings, Steiner showed how knowledge based on perception and thinking can be further developed through systematic training to higher, supernatural cognition. Steiner dealt with many aspects of human life and developed in addition to a new pedagogical direction (Rudolf Steiner schools) biodynamic farming. Anthroposophical healing was developed in collaboration with the Dutch doctor Ita Wegmann (1876-1943). Today there are numerous anthroposophic institutions and clinics. In the latter, orthodox medical doctors work with additional anthroposophic training.
Philosophy of anthroposophic medicine
In anthroposophical philosophy, the human being with its physiological functions is divided into three areas: The first area includes all metabolic processes as well as the limbs, which serve the arbitrary movement. In this area, the processes related to the construction and restoration of functions predominate. These processes take place in a healthy state deep in the subconscious mind. In contrast to this area, the human sensory organs and the associated nervous system are the second areas. In this functional area, the processes of the awake consciousness take place. If it comes to the degradation of sensory organs or brain cells, this has an effect on the awakened consciousness. The two mentioned, opposing areas are connected by a third, by the area in which the rhythmic processes take place. These include, above all, the cardiovascular system and the lungs. This area compensates for the other two conflicting systems. Rudolf Steiner described the essence of man as four essential elements that contain all the laws and contexts of life:
- The physical body is the visible body
- The etheric body is the sum of the life force vitalizing the body
- The astral body allows sensations and awareness
- The ego is the center of the personality, disease, and cure with an anthroposophic approach
The interaction of the four essences determines a person’s health and illness. If all four forces are in harmony with each other, the human being is healthy. In anthroposophic medicine, all illnesses, according to the four essential forces, are divided into four types:
- Physical body sclerosis-like
- Etheric body – tuberous
- Astral body – inflammatory
- I – due to paralysis
If the influence of one of the four members of the being strongly outweighs, the entire system gets out of balance. For example, as a result of a long-lasting dominance of the etheric body in the view of anthroposophic medicine, cancer may arise. Until cancer physically breaks out, the organism is in a sort of pre-cancerous condition. At this point, neutralizing and shaping forces can be strong enough to curb the physical development of cancer. Thus, the goal of treating a disease is to balance the basic forces of the entities. For anthroposophic medicine there are various therapy options available:
- School medical or anthroposophic medicines
- Individually compiled bio-dynamic diet Creative artistic forms of therapy such as painting, modeling, singing, speaking, and especially eurythmy therapy (the connection between movements, gestures, words, and sounds)
- Extensive discussions with the attending physicians
- Anthroposophic remedies
In anthroposophic medicine, the remedies are of outstanding importance. The concept of anthroposophic medicine knows a balancing agent for every imbalance between the four essences. The most well-known medicinal plant of anthroposophists is mistletoe. It is mainly used as a remedy for combating cancer. The healing properties of various plants can be transferred to humans, taking into account not only a special processing but also the different nature of the plants. For example, a plant like the stinging nettle, which can absorb iron very well, is given to someone with iron deficiency. The stinging nettle should give the body the impulse to pick up iron. The anthroposophic remedies are derived from plant substances, animal substances, and minerals. For almost every raw material, there are different processing options. For example, at the Arnica plant, preparations are obtained from the whole plant, from the root, or only from the flower. All three basic substances can be processed by potentiating (diluting) anthroposophic medicines. Anthroposophic remedies are available in various dosage forms, for example as oils, drops, tablets, powders or ointments. In this way, as individual as possible treatment should be possible for all complaints.
The production of anthroposophic remedies is usually done in complex procedures. In order for the substances necessary for healing to be able to implement their effectiveness in accordance with the human organs, they must be “transformed”. For example, Rudolf Steiner developed such a special transformation process for the production of active substances for the “vegetabilized” (literally “transplanted”) metals. According to Rudolf Steiner’s teachings, all metals are connected to a specific human organ and can be assigned to the moon and the planets at the same time:
These metals are combined with plants that are related to the same organ as the metal. For this plants are fertilized with metal salts, later harvested, and then composted. This compost is used as fertilizer for new plants. Finally, the plant and the metallic substance form a unit. In this way, the metal can be absorbed by the corresponding organ.
Application of anthroposophic medicine
Anthroposophic medicine is a whole medical system with a variety of applications. Anthroposophical trained physicians only determine after a careful clarification with which therapy methods and remedies a disease should be treated. In anthroposophic clinics, many cancer patients are cared for. In an environment in which the broad range of therapies strengthens and supports different areas of physical and mental wellbeing, patients feel well looked after and taken seriously. At different levels, they return to a positive attitude to life. Anthroposophic medicine, with its holistic view of man, is therefore particularly helpful for people with long-term or long-term illnesses. There are a number of anthroposophic remedies available for minor complaints that can be treated without medical examinations
Side effects of anthroposophic medicine
Because anthroposophic medicine is practiced by trained medical doctors, serious and careful care and treatment can be expected. Sometimes the patient has to decide for himself whether he wants to be treated in conventional medicine or in the sense of anthroposophic medicine. Some people choose to stay in an anthroposophic clinic for the aftercare of conventional cancer treatment.