Anthroposophical Medicine

James Dyson

The term "anthroposophical medicine" indicates an extension of medical thinking and practice inspired by anthroposophical spiritual science as originally inaugurated by Rudolf Steiner Ph.D., a cognitive scientist and philosopher (1861-1925). It comprises a broadly based school of medical and therapeutic practice. Anthroposophical physicians first gain recognised medical qualifications and experience upon which the practice of anthroposophical medicine rests. Training in anthroposophical medicine has a postgraduate character and involves participation in recognised courses of study along with supervised practical experience.

Anthroposophical medical practice includes an appreciation of homoeopathy and many naturopathic approaches to therapy. However, it stands fundamentally as a discipline in its own right, and apparent resemblances to other approaches are likely to be superficial and misleading. The methodology of Goethean science assumes a central role both in achieving a deeper diagnosis and finding an appropriate form of treatment, alongside a study of general cosmology, including reincarnation and karma as presented in anthroposopny.

Rudolf Steiner himself never assumed the role of a doctor or healer, collaborating closely with Dr. Ita Wegman (1873-1943) a Dutch physician. They were joint authors of an introductory text on anthroposophical medicine and in 1922 she established the first anthroposophical medical clinic in Arlesheim, near Basle, Switzerland, with adjoining scientific and pharmaceutical rese rsh laboratories (KlinischTherapeutisches Institut).

Physicians usually work in conjunction with therapists who have specific anthroposophical training in their respective fields, for example, rhythmic massage; artistic therapies, including painting, sculpture, music, eurythmy and speech; and counselling. However, with a few carefully chosen exceptions, Steiner only allowed qualified physicians or medical students to attend his four main courses of medical lectures, which took place between 1920 and 1924.

Anthroposophical medicine is based on a spiritually developed understanding of both pathology and physiology. Steiner was possibly the first person to inaugurate a holistic medicine based on an understanding of the human being as comprised of body, soul and spirit. He saw illness as a process through which individual development towards freedom and wholeness may be accomplished. The anthroposophical physician and therapist, while always striving to achieve healing on the physical plane, will nevertheless see this process in much broader terms, the sign)ficance of which may not be fully felt until future earthly lives.

A central concept is that of a four-fold bodily configuration; a physical-material aspect, a life body or etheric body, a sentient or astral body and an ego organisation. Anthroposophical physiology explores the nature of each of these bodies in depth, relating them to mechanical laws, elementary, planetary and zodiac forces respectively.

Such core concepts form part of an anthroposophical medical study. Thereby the depth of understanding of both the aetiology and diagnosis of many conditions may be deepened, with possible implications for broader issues of general management.

Steiner gave many indications for the preparation of specific medicines, the most well researched to date being Viscum album (mistletoe) and its use in the treatment of cancer. In vitro studies conclusively demonstrate both cancer specific and general immunomodulatory effects. Many clinical studies indicate statistically significant improvements in terms both of life expectancy and life quality.

Although anthroposophical medicine may address any condition, the three areas in which it has achieved greatest impact to date are: a) paediatrics and developmental psychology, especially in supporting Steiner/Waldorf schools and schools for children with special needs; b) the treatment of cancer; c) the treatment of chronic and unresolved illnesses; and d) psychosomatic medicine and psychiatry.

In continental Europe there are nine anthroposophical hospitals, some of which offer full medical services in all specialities. There are also at least ten smaller clinics or sanatoria and some thousand GPs working actively with anthroposophically developed medicines. In the English speaking world there are perhaps between four to five hundred physicians altogether and a similar number of qualified therapists. Seven NHS general practices in the UK are currently collaborating in a qualitative research project assessing complex interventions by medicines and team-based anthroposophical therapies.

For further information in the United Kingdom, please contact: Anthroposophical Medical Association, (professional association of physcians) or: Medical Section, School of Spiritual Science. (for more general enquiries). Both c/o Park Attwood Clinic, Trimpley, Bewdley, Worcs., DY12 IRE, UK

Key texts

***Evans, M. & Rodger, I. Anthroposophical Medicine - Treating Body, Soul and Spirit Floris Books, Edinburgh, ISBN 0 86315 306 2.
Provides a clearly written, comprehensive introduction to anthroposophical medicine for the health-care professional and seriously interested lay readership; this text is unique in in this bibliography in being written in the English language.

***Lievegoed, B. Man on the Threshold Hawthorn Press. ISBN 0 950 7062 64 (Psychology) (translated from the Dutch). For the health care professional and seriously interested lay readership. Describes the nature of the Threshold to the spiritual world as a background for an anthroposophical approach to psychological diagnosis and therapy.

***Bott, V. Anthroposophical Medicine Rudolf Steiner Press, ISBN 0 85440 323 X (translated from the French).
Provides a concise overview of some key aspects of anthroposophical medical practice for the seriously interested physician.

**Steiner, R. and Wegman, I. Extending Practical Medicine. London, Rudolf Steiner Press, ISBN 1 85584 080 4.
Written for physicians and providing an in-depth introduction to the main principles behind anthroposophical medical practice. Intended to be the 1 st of 3 volumes, only this one was in fact completed, due to Steiner's unexpected death. This is a study text, not a practical vade mecum

* *Steiner, R. Introduction to Anthroposophical Medicine Anthroposophic Press, USA. ISBN 08801 463 5
20 lectures for physicians given by Rudolf Steiner. This text gives a broad overview of the possibilities inherent in anthroposophical medical practice, but is not a systematic presentation.

**Steiner, R. Lectures to Young Doctors Mercury Press USA, ISBN 0 929979 37 0
A more meditatively based anthology of texts, addressing the spiritual striving of the would-be anthroposophical physician, including questions of medical morality.

**Steiner, R. Manifestations of Karma Rudolf Steiner Press, ISBN 1 85584 038 3
Although not specifically a medical text, these lectures provide the best bacWrop for understanding the karmic background of illness.

**Husemann, F. & Wolff, O. The Anthroposophical Approach to Medicine (3 vols) Anthroposophical Press Inc., USA, ISBN 0 88010 032 X (translation from the German).
The only comprehensive text book of anthroposophical medical theory and practice.

**Glockler M. & Goebel, W. A Guide to Child Health Floris Books, Edinburgh, ISBN 0 86315 104 3 (translated from the German).
Written for parents wishing to understand the child and its illnesses from an anthroposophical point of view.

**Treichler, R. Soulways Hawthorn Press, ISBN 1 869890 132 (translated from the German).
Offers an introduction to the anthroposophical approach to psychiatry. Accessible to all health-care professionals.

**Dunselman, R. In Place of Sey Hawthorn Press, ISBN 1 869890 728 (translated from the Dutch).
Provides a concise summary of the anthroposophical understanding of substance addiction, written mainly for health-care professionals; also seriously interested lay readership.

**Konig, K. A Living Physiology Camphill Books, ISBN 1 897839 08 1
Offers invaluable research and study material for doctors, therapists and educators working in the fields of medicine, special needs education and general pedagogy.

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Comments

  • Hello, I am looking for help for my 7 year old daughter (who goes to a Steiner school in Ireland..) In March 2008, a chemical lice solution was put on her head. She went to blow out a candle, with the result that she burst into flame. We spent weeks in hospital where I knew that the drugs and the creams they were giving her were going to do nothing to regenerate her skin. Luckily I worked closely with a homeopath (secretly!) and gave her lots of supplements and oils. People were amazing in sending healing and I felt very closely guarded by God and Angels. However, after 3 weeks there was no sign of the skin healing by itself and I was persuaded to have her face skin grafted. Very reluctantly I agreed. About 80% of her face is now grafted and I feel that the damage that has done has been greater than if we had set about healing her naturally. I wish that I had had the know how to keep her out of hospital and had swathed her in manuka honey and used only homeopathy and natural medicines for her to take internally. However, as it was such an emergency, hospital seemed the safest place.

    My request is this - can anybody (surgeon) remove the skin graft and we can work on healing the skin naturally. I know that at her age the skin is well able to regenerate given the right circumstances. I would do anything to help my beautiful daughter, who is one of the sweetest and kindest children I have ever known.

    Please please let me know if you can help, or if you know anyone else who can. I cannot envision a day when these skin grafts will be healed and I really really hope that we can take them off and remove the scar tissue and let her skin regenerate. I'd do anything for my Jodie.

    Look forward to hearing from you, please....thankyou, Adrienne x

    Posted by adrienne odonohoe, 31/05/2010 12:18pm (4 years ago)

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