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Anthroposophic Medicine

What is Anthroposophic Medicine?

The philosophy behind the practice.

Although Rudolf Steiner schools are well known, the medical indications given by Rudolf Steiner are less so.

Rudolf Steiner described four aspects of the ‘whole’ human being and these have been described as an ‘integrated wholistic framework’ out of which one can more deeply understand health and illness. As well as the physical body there is a body of energy – each organ has its own energy within the body and when this energy becomes depleted (over work, too much stress, too little sleep etc) then we experience fatigue. Fatigue makes concentration more difficult and we tend to get colder physically. Every traditional medical system in the world has a word for this energy – it is the ’chi’ in Chinese medicine e.g. In Anthroposophical medicine it is important to understand which part of the body energy is depleted and direct therapies to this part. E.g. if the liver has depleted energy one tends to get tired in the afternoon, one might tend to constipation, depression. Waking at 3-4 am and having dry skin and an intolerance of fats or alcohol while favouring sweet food are all symptoms that might be present. Therapies that can help the energy of an organ include massage (Hauschka massage); nursing body oilings, low potency homeopathic medicines; baths and therapeutic eurythmy (movement therapy). This energy (etheric) body is also where we have our ‘cellular memory’ and is the biological aspect of the immune system.

The astral body is loosely described as the soul life and this is more independent of the body and its energy. It is well known that stress can alter the way the immune system functions. The astral body can ‘cramp’ the energy body and this causes pain or spasm (abdominal pains, asthma, heart pain etc). The way the astral body and the energy body react together is very important for health. If the astral body is too dominant (stress is an example) then the energy becomes depleted. If you suppress an emotion (such as sadness) then it will affect the energy of the organ that is to do with that energy (in the case of sadness this is the liver). This way of understanding emotions and health is similar to Chinese medicine.

The astral body can be more loosely connected to the physical and etheric bodies and this leads to an ‘oversensitive’ constitution. Such people can use their soul forces more creatively – and are more imaginative / artistic. But if this soul energy is too disconnected to the body then anxiety arises. Therapies that help include music therapy; art therapy and therapeutic eurythmy and it may also be important to strengthen the bodies energy to help ‘hold’ the soul / emotional energy in the body.

Integrating these other bodies is the ‘self’ – warmth is very important for this to work into the body properly. The ‘self’ is seen not as a metaphysical principle but something that has a physiological action. Cancers are an example where the ‘self’ has not worked into the body properly and foreign material has not been recognised as such by the immune system and in cancer the body temperature is often lower than normal.
When one works with natural remedies and therapies one is trying to help the bodies own immune system work to bring about a homeostasis (health) again.

Becoming Healthy and overcoming tendencies toward illness is something of a ‘journey’ and not just taking the right ‘medicine’. It is not by chance that we get illnesses at certain points in our lives – often underlying patterns can be seen and this helps with understanding how to overcome the illness. This is to do with one’s individual biography but there are also patterns we all go through in our biography.

Practitioners of Anthroposophic Medicine Therapy:

Dr. Donald Palmer