Anthroposophy medicine is a an approach to medicine founded by scholar, Rudolf Steiner, who is known throughout the world for the Steiner School education system. Anthroposophy medicine is strongly focused on allowing a person’s body to heal itself, and takes a holistic view on health. Although conventional interventionist medical techniques such as surgery or chemotherapy are not favoured by Anthroposophy medicine, they are still employed where necessary. Anthroposophy medicine is complementary to conventional medicine, not an alternative to it, practising physicians are required to have a conventional medical degree from a certified medical school in addition to their Anthroposophical training.
Anthroposophy medicine is part of a broader philosophy stemming from the teachings of Austrian scholar, Rudolf Steiner. Steiner lived from February 1861 till March 1925, and was a devotee to the ideas of German writer, Johann Wolfgang Goethe. A key idea behind Anthroposophy is that there exists an objective spiritual world that can be experienced through an individual’s inner development. By fostering a form of thinking that is independent of the external world, a follower of anthroposophy aims to think clearly about the external world and thus develop science that is pure and objective.
Origins of Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy medicine began to develop prior to 1920, when homoeopathic physicians and pharmacists sought recommendations from Steiner in relation to medical treatments. The first Anthroposophical medical clinic, the Ita Wegman clinic, was opened in 1921 in Arlesheim, Switzerland. Wegman and Steiner cooperated extensively over the next few years in training nurses for work in the clinic. In 1925 Wegman and Steiner wrote Fundamentals of Therapy, the first book to discuss Anthroposophy medicine.
The clinic subsequently expanded and new branches were opened. Wegman and Steiner lectured widely, and Anthroposophical approaches came to be employed by a large number of doctors around Europe.
Anthroposophy medicine attempts to look at a human being as a complete entity, with a body, a soul and a spirit, rather than as a complex machine of inter-working organs as may be the case in western medicine. A human being is said to have four aspects which are layered on top of one another in the following order: physical body, life body, soul body and ego organisation.
Anthroposophicalists consider that Anthroposophy medicine is separate to naturopathy, homoeopathy and phytotherapy, although it shares elements of all three. Anthroposophy medicines are derived from both medicinal plants as well as from natural mineral substances. Through Anthroposophical thought, medicines are developed that are intended to fit in with the nature of man. By using natural substances, and processing them in natural ways, it is thought that the resulting medicines will be free from harmful side effects.
When manufacturing Anthroposophy medicines, great consideration is placed on the temperatures used in the process. For instance, a substance that is intended to be digested will be prepared at 37°C.
It is thought that conventional pharmaceutical processes only take into account the physical and chemical properties of the substances used to make medicine, but that anthropologists instead strive to consider the spiritual relationship between medicinal products and the humans that they are intended for.
The objective of Anthroposophy medicine is to restore a person’s internal balance so that disease may be overcome naturally. Anthroposophy medicines are thus intended to support the patient’s capacity for self-healing. Anthroposophical doctors will restrict the use of antibiotics, antipyretics and vaccinations. Children treated by Anthroposophical doctors will be vaccinated only to a minimal amount, and vaccinations will be given later than as recommended by health authorities.
Mistletoe as a treatment for cancer was developed by Anthroposophical researchers and is now widely used across Central Europe. It does not replace conventional treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery, but it is used in a complementary capacity, with patients often reporting an improvement in their quality of life. In Germany, 60% of cancer patients use some form of mistletoe based treatment.
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