Anthroposophical medicine is an extension of orthodox medical practice rather than an alternative. As an approach, it aims to treat the body as well as the mind, spirit and soul.
What can Anthroposophical medicine treat?
Anthroposophical doctors are fully registered doctors and are qualified to deal with all conditions.
Founded by Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) and developed in co-operation with Dutch physician Ita Wegman (1876-1943), anthroposophy is a science in which both the human being and the natural world are described not only physically but also in terms of soul and spirit.
All anthroposophical physicians are medically-qualified doctors who have taken their training further. Conventional medical technology may be used during treatment but patients are also prescribed herbal and homśopathic preparations as well as counselling and art therapy.
Anthroposophical medicine is an extension of orthodox medical practice rather than an alternative. Steiner fully acknowledged the achievements of conventional medicine but pointed out that its methods were the outcome of a reductionist science and that, when these were applied in biology and medicine, they often led to misleading conclusions. In his studies of Goethe, he highlighted a different kind of scientific methodology to explore how man’s soul and spiritual nature influences the life and function of the physical body.
The main aim of anthroposophical medicine is to stimulate the natural healing forces, known as ‘etheric forces’, within the human being. Steiner described the conscious life of the emotions as a function of the ‘astral body’ and the spiritual core of human individuality as an ‘ego organisation’. In pointing to affinities between the four ‘bodies’ – the etheric forces, the physical and astral body and the ego – and the four elements of earth, water, air and fire, Steiner linked the mineral substances of man’s body with his or her the spiritual core.
Steiner then described how the four bodies co-operate with each other within three distinct but interpenetrating systems: the nerve-sense, the rhythmic and the metabolic system. The nerve-sense system is the basis of conscious waking life and continually erodes the vitality of the physical body. This is replenished during sleep when the physical and etheric forces assert themselves. The tension between these two opposing systems causes illness. When the physical and etheric forces gain the upper hand, for example, inflammatory or feverish conditions occur. When the nerve-system gains the upper hand, degenerative conditions occur. Health is a sign that an equilibrium has been established.
Anthroposophical medicine has developed many new forms of treatment. The most intensive area of research has been cancer for which a number of medicinal preparations have been developed from the plant mistletoe. Of these, Iscador is the most well known and has been widely prescribed both by anthroposophical and homśopathic physicians.
Consultation and Treatment
During the initial consolation, an anthroposophical doctor will ask questions about your diet, lifestyle and constitution and may also carry out standard medical tests.
Anthroposophical physicians will use conventional medical technology and drugs when these offer real benefit. It is more likely, however, that patients will be prescribed herbal and homśopathic preparations. Anthroposophical medicines are prepared from substances taken from the mineral, plant or animal kingdom in which forces that counter-balance those of a particular illness may be found. Counselling also plays a part in the healing process and doctors may prescribe therapies such as sculpture, painting, music, speech and movement. Massage and baths may also be used.
Anthroposophical doctors work both within the NHS and privately. Private rates vary. Many anthroposophical doctors are also School Doctors and Medical Advisors in Rudolf Steiner schools. Residential treatment is available.
Anthroposophical medicine has a range of suggestions for self-help and many of its remedies are available over the counter.
How To Find a Practitioner
The Anthroposophical Medical Association (AMA), a professional body of doctors practising anthroposophical medicine in the UK, publishes a list of Doctors with a positive interest in anthroposophical medicine and who are available for consultation by appointment. Full membership of the AMA is open to all medical practitioners who are registered with the General Medical Council and who are members of the General Anthroposophical Society.
Let your practitioner know if you are taking any other medication or form of treatment.