ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE AND ITS RELATION TO OTHER MEDICAL TRADITIONS
Anthroposophical medicine is not identical to natural medicine (naturopathy). It is, however, sometimes called “natural medicine” when reference is made to the use of medicines that have been produced from natural raw materials.
Anthroposophical medicine is not phytotherapy (herbal medicine), despite the fact that about 250 medicinal plants provide the raw material and basis for Anthroposophical medicines. Medicines prepared from natural mineral substances are more widely used in this field and generally are considered more important than those made from plant materials.
Anthroposophical medicine is not simply some form of homeopathic medicine. Two things it has adopted from that discipline are the method of potentiation (although greatly modified) and the notation used for potencies (in Anthroposophical medicine potencies above D30 or 30X are seldom used).
Anthroposophical medicine is rooted in the Western scientific paradigm and views itself as an extended form of this medicine. It is not in opposition to contemporary conventional medicine, which works with the scientific principles and methods accepted today; it fully recognizes its principles. However, Anthroposophy adds further insights, gained through other methods described above. Fundamentally speaking, contemporary medicine can offer no objection to what Anthroposophical medicine represents, since it does not negate contemporary medicine.
In addition, Anthroposophical medicine fully accepts the values of other medical traditions, as far as they fulfill the criteria of being scientific and comprehendible. Anthroposophical medicine intends to understand and renew great old traditionslike Greco-Arab medicine (Tibb), Aryuvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine. Anthroposophical medicine seeks to make these old medical traditions accessible to modern thinking, consequently making them available to all people, which includes health care professionals and patients.
MISTLETOE AND CANCER
The indication of R. Steiner that the European mistletoe (Viscum album) is the remedy for the disease of cancer, originates out of such insight into the connection between a plant and a disease process. In these indications he suggested definite preparations and ways of application.
Subsequently, several groups of doctors and pharmacologists have further developed preparations known as ABNOBAviscum, and Iscador. Extensive experimental and controlled clinical studies with these remedies have meanwhile been done.
A completely new concept underlies the development of remedies for typical illnesses, such as Cardiodoron, Hepatodoron, Kephalodoron* and others, which were pioneered by Rudolf Steiner. Superficially these may be regarded as mixtures, which they certainly are not. In these remedies, appropriate plants or even minerals, related to each other by certain similarities, are brought together through a pharmaceutical process to form a complete unity. They are for this reason not combinations or mere mixtures which can be supplemented at will. In these remedies a certain polarity of plant or mineral is brought into equilibrium by means of a pharmaceutical process and bound together to form a higher unity. Lying at the basis of these remedies is a conception that does not proceed from specific diseases, but rather from the essential processes of the human organism. They are, therefore, not only directed against a single narrowly delineated illness, but are aimed primarily at groups of illnesses which are typical for an organ; they support the organ in its archetypal function.
Rudolf Steiner pointed to a future task, namely that one should “work in harmony with nature which is still in the process of becoming, not with nature which has already been.” This is difficult for present day thinking to understand, since one is accustomed to working with substances, not with processes, and especially not with those processes belonging to the organic world, which one is wrongly inclined to explain in terms of physical and chemical reactions.
Every substance, every active agent that is isolated >from a plant, is something that has already come into being, a finished entity, which is now no longer subject to the laws of the living plant, but is the result of its metabolic action. The handling of these substances is of course necessary and justifiable. This new path that aims at carrying us further, attempts to recognize the forces that are active in the plant, and that lead to the formation of the substance. It does not however use the finished substance, but rather the effective forces. To begin to be able to recognize these deeper processes, it is necessary that “the doctor goes through nature’s examination” as demanded by Paracelsus. The beginnings of these future possibilities have already been realised by pupils of Rudolf Steiner, for instance the preparation of “medicines according to the model of medicinal plants.” Thus, preparations like Solutio Ferri constitute an imitation of the plant processes at work in the stinging nettle (Urticadioeca). In the same way, Solutio siliceae comp corresponds to the processes at work in the common horsetail (Equisetum arvense).
A further development based on an indication by R. Steiner, which has to a certain extent been put into practice, is the idea of incorporating cosmic forces in the manufacture of remedies. It is possible, through a study of the forces which underlie the structure of the plant, to work upon it in special ways, i.e. through rhythmic treatment of the plant juices. Special procedures have been developed to allow the cosmic formative forces to work into pressed juices with the help of rhythmic processes, so that their therapeutic qualities are enhanced (Rh-preparations) (+).
New Ways of Preparing Remedies
In order to unlock the relevant original substances of minerals, plants, organs or animal poisons in an appropriate way, so as to render their forces useful and to bring them close to the corresponding human processes, various pharmaceutical procedures are available, in addition to currently known processes like extraction decoction, etc. Procedures directed specifically to material phenomena such as the “concentration” or isolation of “active substances” can be supplemented by other procedures which aim at the dynamic, the weaving of forces in a plant.
If contemporary medicine rejects medicines which are produced according to these procedures, e.g. higher potencies which no longer contain a single molecule of the original substance, it is due to a prejudice that nothing other than material substance can have an effect. The old-fashioned concept of substance is not adequate for an understanding of the process of potentization, since the relationship between spirit and the material is not understood. The possibility must however be allowed that the proved effects of high potencies may be due to an “activity” released from the original substance into the carrying vehicle. The contemporary individual quite rightly demands to understand whatever is done, yet attitudes should not be confined to levels of understanding which may depend on fashion and subjective factors. Rather it is the task of the modern person, especially the researcher, to form new ideas according to the demands of new phenomena.
Even now with relatively little experience it is possible to convince oneself of the striking effects of high potencies. Effects which are usually long lasting, i.e. represent cures, are not otherwise reached with medicines or procedures of a different nature. It is a tragedy of contemporary medicine that these remedies are consciously and utterly rejected to the detriment of the patient.
However, it is absolutely necessary that these remedies be applied in the correct indication, otherwise they have no effect. This is basically true for all medicines. The more exact the correspondence, the clearer and more prompt the effect. At the same time however, herein lies the difficulty of proper application, which must follow either the homoeopathic remedy pictures, or the picture of the essential nature of the remedy as given by the study of Spiritual Science. Naturally, when one takes a medicine which has a quite typical connection to the female organism, for instance climacterium (menopause), and tests it in young men (as has happened9) then one can easily “prove” that it is ineffective. Such unscientific testing of a homoeopathic medicine exemplifies the prejudice with which the problem is often approached in the belief that everything can be judged from one standpoint a grotesque mistake of researchers qualified only in their special field.
Anthroposophically orientated medicine is concerned with an extension of the art of medicine. It includes experience and techniques already known to work and according to insight into their relationship to the human being. Indications and applications of the remedies do not follow, as in homoeopathy, the basis of similarity to the remedial picture, but are based on conceptions arising from the study of substances, i.e. of the plant and of the disease.
Remedies of the Anthroposophically orientated Medicine
A new approach to the finding remedies, completely independent of the folk medicine, nature practice, chemotherapy and homeopathy, was created by Rudolf Steiner, which he based on the comprehensive picture of the human being, given out as Anthroposophy and established through spiritual-scientific research. As part of the fundamental knowledge of Anthroposophical Spiritual Science, we learn that humanity and nature have undergone a common development and that a discernible inner relationship exists between the human being and the kingdoms of nature.
In the course of evolution, as the human being developed, the ancestors of present humanity progressively eliminated the kingdoms of nature out of their being – a conception belonging, in much older forms, also to the most ancient treasures of humanity. It is found in the mythologies of all peoples, as well as in the writings of Goethe, Oken, Carus, etc.
In a form appropriate to our time research into these connections was again made possible by R. Steiner. One can study the essential being of a plant, an animal or a mineral like one studies the human being, penetrating through outer expressions, characteristics, etc., right into the spiritual dimensions, which lie at the very basis of all material phenomena. There is no material, and certainly no living substance that does not possess an underlying spirituality, which in its turn is just as differentiated as the material.