Helping the Body Heal Itself
Anthroposophical Medicine is integrative medicine that draws on two sources:
- 1. conventional medical science, with its methods and results, and
- 2. insights derived from spiritual science which relate to the physical body, psyche and personality.
Approach to illness
Anthroposophy views illness as an opportunity to re-balance a disequilibrium of body and soul. It attempts, with the aid of medicines and therapies, to activate the self-healing powers of the body and to stimulate the body to recover its equilibrium. Anthroposophical physicians pay especial attention to the kinds of stimulation needed by the individual organism to become healthy. When treating with medicines the guiding principle is always: as little as possible and only as long as necessary.
A visit to an anthroposophical doctor
Anthroposophical physicians consider a person from head to foot. They will pay attention to individual characteristics of the patient, like body language and facial expressions.
A physician will touch the patient to find out whether the skin and limbs are warm or cold, moist or dry; they will examine his body by palpating or using a stethoscope. They will listen to how the patient himself reports his condition and his emotional mood, and how strong his will to live is – both currently and within the framework of his biography.
The medication that the doctor prescribes might well include anthroposophical medicines with natural ingredients. Remedies will be given that are oriented towards the distinctive characteristics of the individual patient. These are medicines which stimulate the organism’s own activity, its self-healing powers. Thus, for example, bitter substances from the root of the yellow gentian or chicory can encourage the secretion of gastric juices and stimulate gastrointestinal peristalsis. Essential oils from labiate plants such as rosemary and lavender can improve circulation and release tension through their own qualities of warmth.
What remedy the doctor chooses will depend on the following factors:
- Type and course of the illness
- Duration of illness
- Patient’s constitution
And above all, the inner and outer activity of the patient.
In addition to medication, the physician may also decide on an adjunctive therapy. The advantage of this is that the patient is actively involved in his illness. The physician has a number of artistic therapies at his disposal:
- Curative eurythmy
- Speech formation therapy
- Therapeutic painting and modelling
- Conversation therapy
- And many more
Differences between anthroposophical and conventional medicine
Anthroposophical and conventional medicine differ above all in the way they regard patients – whereas conventional medicine sees the illness within the person, anthroposophical medicine sees the person in his illness. It tries to take into account other factors that define the life, soul and spirit of a human being and are physically observable. Although diagnostically the means used and consequent findings may be identical to those of conventional medicine, their holistic interpretation may lead to recommendations for complementary treatments.
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Treating Injuries to the Skin
What do we mean by …
- … integrative medicine?
Integrative medicine takes into consideration everything that influences or relates to a person’s health. The aim is to bring together medical specialties and healing methods as components of a holistic strategy for recovery.
- … prepared homeopathically?
Homeopathic remedies are serially diluted (potentised) and triturated (ground) or succussed (shaken) after each dilution. In this way the power of the substances is fully released.
- … inner and outer activity?
In anthroposophical medicine a person does not only deal with his illness by means of medication (“outer activity”). He should recognise and understand the imbalance of his body on a spiritual level and restore it to equilibrium with the aid of an anthroposophical therapy (“inner activity”).
Frequently asked questions / common misconceptions about anthroposophical medicine:
- Anthroposophical physicians are not real doctors.
Yes, they are. Every anthroposophical physician undergoes normal medical training. They complete their medical studies, receive a licence to practise medicine and continue with specialist training. Following this, they complete at least three years of training and further training in the specific focuses of anthroposophical medicine. They gain practical experience through working in the practices of anthroposophical colleagues or in their own practice with the support of mentors.
- Anthroposophical physicians reject conventional medicine.
Not at all: anthroposophical medicine is based on the science of conventional medicine, but goes a step further and adds to it. This means that anthroposophical medicine makes use of all that scientific research can provide in the way of useful insights – from medical technology and laboratory analysis to intensive care. But in addition it takes an individual’s personality into account.
- Homeopathy and anthroposophical medicine – aren’t they the same?
Although the two use some of the same medicines, they differ in how they choose them: while homeopathy considers the entire complex of symptoms, and cures diseases using remedies which resemble the clinical picture (law of similars), anthroposophical medicine harnesses healing powers from the kingdoms of nature (mineral, plant and animal) to help the body on its road to recovery.