Anthroposophic medicine is an extension of conventional medicine, which, in addition to the scientific, often purely physical examination of illness, also includes the mental-spiritual level of the person in the treatment. The term comes from the Greek and is composed of the words ánthrōpos (Human) and sophίa (Wisdom). In anthroposophic medicine, body, mind and soul form a unity. This is always taken into account in diagnosis and therapy.
Anthroposophic medicine is a complementary medicine. It is therefore used in addition to conventional medicine. To date, this type of therapy has not been widely recognized by conventional medicine. However, some remedies, especially certain phytotherapeutics (herbal medicines), are used in both fields.
Anthroposophic medicine goes back to Rudolf Steiner, an esotericist and philosopher. Steiner lived from 1861 to 1925 and developed anthroposophical humanities. He is also known for his Waldorf education.
Anthroposophic medicine - a brief overview
Our short overview gives you an introduction to anthroposophic medicine.
- Description: Anthroposophic medicine is a holistic complementary medicine that aims to expand conventional medicine with its foundation, anthroposophy and its world view. It was developed by Rudolf Steiner (1869-1925).
- Basics: This direction of therapy considers the four essential elements of which Rudolf Steiner consists of every human being: the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body and the ego organization.
- Concept: Anthroposophy assumes that different parts of a plant, animal components, minerals or metals can have a supporting effect on corresponding areas of the human body.
- Effect: The remedies should not eliminate complaints and diseases, but support organs or physical processes in order to bring them back into their natural balance.
- Treatment: Prepared anthroposophic remedies, special therapeutic procedures and eurythmy therapy (special movement therapy) are used.
Definition of terms
Anthroposophic medicine deals with everyone in their very own personality and individuality. It describes itself as integrative medicine because it uses methods and types of diagnosis from conventional medicine as well as knowledge from the humanities.
For the therapists treating anthroposophy, laboratory examinations, medication, medical technology, operations and intensive care medicine are just as important as looking at people as a whole, as an interaction of body, mind and soul.
Before an examination is carried out on the patient, it is important in an anthroposophically working practice to observe people closely. The appearance, posture, gait, handshake, body language and facial expressions are perceived precisely.
Other important components for the medical history are mood, sleep behavior, skin temperature and physical rhythms. The individuality of the individual should be recognized sensitively. The therapist needs a lot of knowledge, experience, empathy and intuition.
In anthroposophic medicine, it is not the illness in humans that is important, but the human being in his illness. A detailed discussion (anamnesis), in which the patient as a whole is the focus, is the basis of the treatment. Even if generally known and customary diagnostic methods are used, the interpretation is still holistic and the resulting therapeutic measures expand and supplement the concept of conventional medicine.
According to Rudolf Steiner, the physical body is the visible expression of the individuality of man and his physical processes are shaped and shaped by soul and spirit.
Nature and man
In anthroposophic medicine, it is believed that man and nature have undergone a common evolutionary development and that there is a relationship between the two.
Accordingly, there is a tripartite structure in the plant kingdom, just like in humans, only in reverse form: the root stands for head, brain and the nerve-sensory system. The leaves symbolize the rhythmic and the flowers and fruits stand for the metabolic limb system.
In order to fully understand these relationships, one would have to go much deeper into the theory of anthroposophic medicine. It is a very own, comprehensive theoretical concept by Rudolf Steiner with its own laws and terms.
What is illness - what is health?
Anthroposophic medicine also has its own view of the definition of illness and health. Both are seen here as something very individual. Sickness stands for an unbalanced human system.
Accordingly, everyone has their own balance; his illness gives him the impulse, the task or even the opportunity to actively tackle and compensate for the imbalance. This is part of the thinking of therapists working anthroposophically. The drugs and therapy methods used can help to restore the balance.
For the diagnosis of diseases, the senses of the practitioner are important first. The patient is closely examined from head to toe.
Above all, gait, posture, body language and facial expressions are important. In addition there is the touching of the skin to get an idea of the temperature of the person. Is the skin cool or warm, moist or dry? This is an important part of the medical history and for further treatment.
The anthroposophical view of man
Rudolf Steiner sees anthroposophy as an expression of its individuality, with soul and spirit shaping and shaping the physical processes. In the mindset of anthroposophic medicine, man consists of four essential elements, namely the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body and the ego organization.
Certain disease processes are assigned to each type of being. From the perspective of this type of therapy, sclerosis (hardening of tissue or organs) takes place in the physical body, tumors in the etheric body, inflammation can be assigned to the astral body and paralysis of the ego organization.
The physical body is also called the material body. This includes organs and organ systems. In order to diagnose problems in this area, conventional examination methods such as X-ray, sonography, computer tomography, blood count and urine test are used.
From the point of view of anthroposophic medicine, the etheric body, the body of the life, or the body of the image, encompasses the areas of digestion, growth, thinking and reproduction. In this understanding, he organizes physical life. Being in the etheric body is "at home". It reflects the vitality of the person.
From the point of view of anthroposophy, the astral body or the organization of sensations is something of a “soul body”. It represents the connection between sensations and the body and is particularly evident in endocrine organs or glands (e.g. thyroid or adrenal gland) and the immune system.
According to anthroposophic medicine, the astral body is only present in living beings that can perceive, such as in animals and humans, but not in plants.
For anthroposophically working therapists, the ego organization forms the highest level, intellectual individuality, thinking ability and the awareness of people. It is reflected in our warmth organism. The ego organization differentiates between humans and animals.
Interplay of the four essential elements
From the point of view of anthroposophic medicine, the four essential elements work together in three functional systems: these are the nerve-sensory system, the rhythmic system and the metabolic limb system.
Degrading and hardening processes take place in the nerve-sensory system. This system is also assigned to thinking. On the other hand, feeling is assigned to the rhythmic system, represented by breathing and heart.
Feeling is the balancing mediator between the nerve-sensory system and the metabolic limb system.
The third function system is the metabolic limb system, which is assigned to the will. This has degrading and building functions, ensures growth and vitality.
The principle applies to the administration of anthroposophic medicinal products: as little as possible and only as long as necessary. The anthroposophic medicine is chosen individually according to the state of the disease and the person, also as a support to conventional medicine.
A detailed anamnesis by the treating doctor as well as the treating practitioner or treating practitioner is essential for choosing the right remedy, so that people are supported on their way back to their own balance. This can be a single agent or a complex agent (consists of several individual agents).
When taking the medical history, it is also important to find out whether the complaints are primarily organic or whether the psyche is involved or even the sole trigger. For example, the same remedy can be used for three different diseases, such as sinusitis, eczema or chronic bronchitis, since the diseases have similar characteristics here.
Anthroposophic medicinal products contain raw materials from the vegetable (e.g. arnica), animal (e.g. bee venom), mineral (e.g. quartz) and metallic areas (e.g. gold).
The remedies contain potentized parts (diluted according to certain specifications and techniques) as in homeopathy, but also concentrated herbal substances. A special feature are tinctures from plants that have been fertilized with metal salts.
There are various methods for producing anthroposophic remedies. This includes dissolving and crystallizing, which is used for example with salt-like minerals. Furthermore, the extraction of plant extracts and the liquid potentiation are used, in which the ratio is repeatedly diluted and shaken in a ratio of 1:10 and soaked with the finished extract globules. Another variant is solid potentiation, in which the starting materials are not liquid, but solid (minerals).
Fresh or dried crushed substances of plant or animal origin are subjected to the so-called maceration. Other processes include fermentation, scalding, boiling, distillation, melting, evaporation, roasting, charring and ashing.
In this way, a wide variety of substances can be broken down and drugs can be produced from them. These are for external or internal use or for injection, depending on which therapy is prescribed.
Many of the anthroposophic medicines do not consist of just one substance, but of several individual substances. This composition is called a composition. This means that not only are means mixed together, but, like in an orchestra, the interaction of the individual participants plays a major role. A composed remedy consists of at least two substances, potentiated or in the form of a herbal tincture or tincture.
Eurythmy therapy is an exercise therapy. It is intended to cover all levels of the human personality and differs from forms of movement that are only related to certain physical disorders, such as physiotherapy. In eurythmy, the rhythms and sounds of language - vowels and consonants - are represented in corresponding movements, phonetic forms and rhythms.
In eurythmy therapy, the focus is on the interaction that can be achieved by performing certain movements in relation to diseased areas of the organism. The aim is to direct the patient's mental and spiritual individuality to certain life processes and to stimulate, modify and regulate their bodily activity.
Other forms of therapy
The physical measures include wraps and pads, rhythmic massages and liniments, and oil dispersion baths. Other forms of therapy are plastic design, therapeutic painting, music and singing therapy and speech design.
Anthroposophic medicine does not want to replace conventional medicine, but rather supplement and expand it with its own means and procedures. With this type of therapy, people are always seen as a whole, as an individual.
Not only the complaints are important, but their occurrence, posture, state of mind, sensations and the social environment of the sick person. Humans are captured in their individuality and receive the appropriate medicines and therapies to bring body, mind and soul back into a healthy balance. (sm, sw, kh)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Sandra Meier, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
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