Anthroposophic medicine (or Anthroposophical medicine) is an integrative medical system that extends conventional medical practice with an Anthroposophic, more encompassing understanding of the human being as physical body, life body, soul (or astral body) and I. Developed the 1920s by Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) in conjunction with Dr. med Ita Wegman (1876–1943), anthroposophical medicine views these four aspects of the human being as interpenetrating and concretely relating to aspects in the natural world. Remedies are extracted from nature and used as phytotherapy, potentized substance, or externally applied. Anthroposophic medicine has developed and expanded the fields of artistic therapy- painting therapy, sculpture therapy, music therapy, speech therapy and eurythmy therapy (an Anthroposophic movement therapy). Anthroposophic Nursing extends the field of the practical nurse with a holistic approach towards illness and healing and uses rhythmic massage, Einreibung, therapeutic baths and herbal compresses. Psychotherapy and biography work are also a part of Anthroposophic modalities. Anthroposophic medicine is practiced in over 65 countries with an estimated 24 institutions (hospitals, hospital departments, rehab centers) in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, The Netherlands, and the United States and over 240 outpatient facilities worldwide. In Europe there are over 2,700 physicians fully trained in Anthroposophic medicine and a survey found that 15,000 physicians prescribe Anthroposophic remedies in Europe.
Anthroposophic medicine basis itself on an accurate understanding of the human being. A physician must fulfill the requirements of a conventional medical training before qualifying as an Anthroposophic physician. Nurses and therapists have similar requirements. The concept of a fourfold aspect to the human being as well as a view of the threefold aspect to the human being are important in Anthroposophic medicine.
The Fourfold Human Being
The human being is viewed in four interrelating aspects. The most basic is the physical body which the human being has in common with minerals, plants and animals. Without any other aspect, this would only be a corpse. The living element is called the life body or etheric body and it makes possible the properties of growth, metabolism and reproduction that are common in plant and animal organisms. The soul or astral body is common to animals and allows consciousness and feelings to emerge. The spirit or "I" is unique to humans and allows the activity of rational thinking, self-control. Though the physical body is easily studied by analytic science, Anthroposophic medicine does not give this undue precedent over the other aspects of the human being. Instead science is adapted into a form suitable to the unbiased study of each of the other three higher aspects. Goethean science is the intuitive scientific approach developed by Anthroposophy.
|Minerals||Plants||Animals||Humans||Phenomena and Emergent Properties|
|Spirit or “I”||Self-consciousness, rational thinking, free will, self-control, morality and values, insight, coping skills, spirituality, human form and development|
|“Soul” (astral body)||Soul (from astral body)||Consciousness, sensation, pain, emotions, desires, lust, instincts, reflexes, intentions, source of self-propelling motion, catabolism, organ formation|
|Life (etheric body)||Life||Life||Growth, reproduction, development, metabolism, anabolism, nutrition, self-healing, self-defense, vitality, sense of well-being|
|Matter||Matter/physical body||Matter/physical body||Matter/physical body||Physical and chemical properties and structures, mechanics, chemical reactions, states of matter, inorganic forms|
These four aspects of the human being relate to the four elements. The physical body relates to physical, the etheric relates to fluid or watery element, the astral relates to the air or gaseous element, and the I relates to the warmth in the human being.
Some drug preparations in anthroposophic medicine are made from potentized substances, similar to those used in homeopathy though there are some fundamental differences in methods as well as how remedies are used. Scientific technique has struggled when applied to homeopathic remedies.
- Heusser P. Anthroposophy and Science: An Introduction. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Peter Lang Publishing; 2016.
- Bartelme RR. Anthroposophic Medicine, an Introduction; and a Book Review of Anthroposophy and Science. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2017;16(4):42–46.