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Rudolf Steiner and Medicine

Rudolf Steiner's approach to medicine is specifically called anthroposophically extended medicine because it extends conventional medicine. The very first requirement to practice anthroposophically extended medicine is to obtain a conventional MD degree and board certification. All "anthroposophical" doctors are fully licensed, board certified medical doctors. Steiner insisted on this, and his wishes have been respected down to the present day. Once they have completed conventional medical training, a medical doctor can extend their knowledge by adding further perspectives and additional treatment techniques by taking extension courses. Anthroposophical doctors will be the first to praise the advances in trauma care, or send their patients for surgery when necessary. So anthroposophical doctors reject nothing in the toolbox of conventional medicine a priori. Every option is considered for its appropriateness in a specific instance. Antibiotics are used when necessary, but so are homeopathics. Physical therapy is prescribed, but so is curative eurythmy (movement exercise to balance the forces within the body).

Most anthroposophical doctors are family practitioners. This is the most demanding area of medicine from the perspective of the breadth of knowledge required. It deals with all ages and all types of conditions. The extended toolbox of anthroposophical techniques has proven an invaluable resource for family practitioners. And the experience of the last 80 years has shown how useful and effective these additional techniques can be, especially in treating chronic and long-term conditions.

Quotes

Andrew Maendl:
The essence of Steiner's approach is holistic, i.e. not confined to sense-perceptible physical phenomena, but encompassing the whole person of body, life-forces, soul and spirit, or, to use the terms Steiner used in his anthroposophy (wisdom of man), physical, etheric, astral and ego.
Steiner frequently refers to the fact that the modern scientific approach is insufficient on its own for gaining insight into deeper aspects of the human being. This selection from his writings and lectures-some of which were for doctors and others for a more general audience ­starts by emphasizing intuition as an essential inner tool for really understanding what is at work in medicine. There follow chapters which describe the complexity of human supersensible 'bodies' above and beyond the physical. A holistic view is also presented of the opposite poles of cancer and inflammation, as well as case histories illumined through anthroposophical insight. This book gives a taste of the aims and practice of anthroposophical medicine, and of ways to pursue and implement it.
Rudolf St einer. Medicine. Andrew Maendl, ed. Forest Row, UK: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003. Page 1.

Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman:
It is not a matter of being in opposition to the school of medicine that is working with the accepted scientific methods of the present time. We fully acknowledge its principles. And in our view, the approach we present should only be used by those who are fully able and entitled to practise medicine according to those principles.
We do, however, add further insights to such knowledge of the human being as is now available through accepted scientific methods. These are gained by different methods, and we therefore feel compelled to work for an extension of clinical medicine based on these wider insights into the nature of the world and the human being.
Basically, those who follow established medical practice cannot object to what we are presenting because we do not go against that practice. The only people who can refuse to accept our attempt without further ado are those who not only demand that we accept their system of knowledge but also insist that no insights may be presented that go beyond their system.
Extended insight into the nature of the world and the human being is in our view offered in anthroposophy, an approach established by Rudolf Steiner. To our under­standing of the physical human being, which can only be gained by the methods of natural science, it adds understanding of the non-physical or spiritual human being. Anthroposophy does not involve progressing from insight into the physical to insight into the spiritual aspect by merely thinking about it. This would only produce more or less well thought-out hypotheses, with no one able to prove that they are in accord with reality.
Before anything is said in anthroposophy about the spiritual aspect, methods are developed that entitle one to make such statements. To get some idea of these methods, readers are asked to consider the following. All findings made in established modern science are essentially based on impressions gained through the human senses. Human beings may extend their ability to perceive what the senses can provide by means of experi­ments or through observations made using instruments, but this adds nothing essentially new to knowledge gained in that world in which human beings live through their senses.
Thinking, in so far as it is applied to investigating the physical world, also does not add anything to the evidence of our senses. In thinking we combine or analyse sensory impressions to arrive at laws (of nature); those who investigate the world of the senses must, however, say to themselves: the thinking which thus arises in me does not add anything real to the reality of the world perceived by the senses.
Rudolf St einer. Medicine. Andrew Maendl, ed. Forest Row, UK: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003. Pages 11-13. Excerpted from Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman, Extending Practical Medicine (originally published 1925).

Andrew Maendl:
There is a great deal of dissatisfaction in medicine today, and this may partly be due to the prevailing superficial view of the human being as a creature composed more or less entirely of complex biochemistry. Deep down most doctors sense that there is a great deal more to human nature. Steiner has given us a path, albeit a difficult one, for discovering deeper aspects of the human being, upon which a true art of healing can be based.
Rudolf Steiner. Medicine. Andrew Maendl, ed. Forest Row, UK: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003. Page 10.

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
The main aim of anthroposophical medicine is to stimulate the natural healing forces in the patient. These are the life forces which maintain the physical body and oppose decay. They comprise a body of non-physical formative forces, called by Steiner the etheric body, and are particularly active in growth and nutri­tion. Humans are also conscious beings, aware of their environ­ment and emotionally responsive. This awareness comes from having a third body , called the astral body, which is particularly active in the nervous system. Finally, people also know them­selves to be independent conscious beings, and have the power to change themselves inwardly. This points to the fourth element of the human: the spiritual core, or ego, which particularly expresses itself in muscular activity and the blood.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Pages 10-11.

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
At present, anthroposophical medical work is most widely developed in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, where there are several hospitals and many general practitioners. All are fully recognized and funded by state and private medical insurance schemes. In the English-speaking world, it has taken longer for Steiner's work to become widely known, although interest in this approach is growing steadily. In the UK, anthroposophical medicine is practised both within the National Health Service and privately.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Page 12.

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
Of course, anthroposophical medicine does not reject the use of surgery or conventional drugs when appropriate, such as in emergencies. But the spiritual as well as the physical consequences of their use have to be appreciated. Anthroposophical medicine adds to these methods a new range of medicines and therapies which extend the scope of treatment in accordance with its comprehensive picture of the human being. They are not just older, traditional forms of homeopathic or herbal medicine transplanted into the present on the basis that they may work. They are extensions of contemporary medical practice, developed on the basis of a new spiritual scientific understanding which adds enormously to what has been learned through natural science.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Page 23

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
From the anthroposophical doctor's point of view, the first step is to be aware of the possibility that an illness may have some sig­nificant meaning for the patient. By discussing the problem with the patient, the doctor might be able to help discover its meaning. What emerges may be quite mundane or very profound. A relatively mundane example might result from the experience of a short bout of flu or a flu-like illness. Although not very severe in patients in their twenties or thirties, it may be enough to bring it home to them that they have been exhausting themselves, perhaps through working too hard and by not maintaining a healthy balance of activity. They may decide that it is time to restore that bal­ance and adjust their lives accordingly. There follow some more profound examples, taken from work at Park Attwood Clinic, an anthroposophical medical centre in England.
A severe case concerned a man who placed very great value on his physical fitness and sporting achievements, and who developed a disabling arthritis. This forced him to re-examine his values and priorities. In time, he was able to find a new basis for his life but such a process, when forced upon a patient in this way, can be terribly traumatic; the patient requires a great deal of support while an adjustment to a new way of life is taking place.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Pages 51-52

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
As all anthroposophical doctors are first trained in conventional medicines they are also able to prescribe conventional drugs when appropriate. Many of these drugs are extremely powerful and their use in emergencies can be very valuable, even life-saving. However, their equally powerful and damaging side effects are also becoming increasingly recognized, by both the public and conventional doctors. For example, steroids are known to cause osteoporosis (weakening of the bones) and adrenal problems, and some non-steroid anti-rheumatic drugs predispose to irritation and possible haemorrhage in the stomach. Less widely recognized are the more subtle and long-term effects, which may not show up until much later in life. Many conventional drugs suppress the symptoms of specific illnesses. For example, painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat osteoarthritis can temporarily alleviate pain and reduce swelling, but it is becoming apparent that they have no positive effect on the long-term outcome of the illness, and may worsen its progression.
Antibiotics can be life-saving in very severe infections, but they are used by most GPs to treat a myriad of minor infections which would resolve themselves if given a little time. It is acknowledged by conventional medicine that this practice has led to strains of bacteria developing which are resistant to antibiotics, but the likelihood that indiscriminate use of antibiotics reduces the body's own ability to fight infections has been overlooked. The main cause of most infections is the patient's susceptibility to them, rather than the mere presence of the bacteria or virus. While the use of antibiotics shortens the period of infection by killing the offending bacteria, it does nothing for the patient's susceptibility to infection. Anthroposophical medicine offers a wide range of preparations which stimulate and enhance the body's own heal­ing response rather than killing off the foreign elements for it. Antibiotics can then be reserved for more serious infections, when they might be essential.
While anthroposophical doctors certainly do not claim that conventional medicines should not be used under any circumstances, and prescribe them when they feel their use is appropriate, they are aware of the one-sidedness of their effects and the problems which might result from their use. The need for conventional drugs can often be obviated by the use of anthroposophical medicines, some­times to a remarkable degree. For example, at one anthroposophically orientated National Health Service general practice in England, the quantity of conventional medicines prescribed has been reduced to twenty-five per cent of what the average GP uses in a comparably sized practice. This has been achieved despite hav­ing the usual cross-section of patients found in any NHS surgery, and despite the fact that only a minority of the patients specifically chose the practice because of its anthroposophical orientation. Clearly, the principles of anthroposophical medicine have a major role to play, even within contemporary general practice.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Pages 81-82.

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
Artistic therapists work together with doctors, nurses, thera­peutic masseurs and hydrotherapists in anthroposophical prac­tices and hospitals. Methods of working together have been developed, such as case conferences, so that the picture of the patient which is used as the basis for a powerful, in­tegrated programme of treatment is as full as possible. The train­ing undertaken by artistic therapists covers the various effects of the many forms of their particular therapy. In practice, they have to be creative themselves in evolving a series of exercises indi­vidually tailored to the needs of the patient. The exercise pro­gramme must be designed in such a way that it can respond to the patient's progress, or to any difficulties that may arise during treatment.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Page 88.

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
In conventional medicine, the use of preparations applied to the skin has been largely restricted to the use of ointments for local skin conditions. Only relatively recently have medicines been deliberately applied to the skin to be absorbed into the bloodstream as a way of treating internal conditions, such as angina. Anthroposophical medicine applies many substances externally for the purposes of influencing the body as a whole. For example, ethereal plant oils may be used which are related to the mild catabolic, breaking-down processes the astral element introduces into the flower. These oils, such as rosemary or lavender, can stimulate a response from the whole metabolic system if applied to the skin during baths.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Pages 92-93.

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
Nurses who wish to practise anthroposophical medicine must complete a conventional nursing qualification before supplementing it with anthroposophical training. In many ways, the anthroposophical approach is in accordance with the best of conventional nursing philosophy, but it tends to lay greater emphasis on particular areas.
The nurse's task is defined as assisting people in those activities which contribute to health, or to its recovery, or to a peaceful death, which the patients would do for themselves if they had the necessary strength, will or knowledge. Nursing also helps patients to follow prescribed therapy and to become independent of assistance as quickly as possible.
In practice, nursing generally involves caring for the physical environment of the patient. This may include ensuring that the bed gives adequate support, the surroundings are clean and warm, and there is plenty of fresh air. An anthroposophical nurse will also be aware of what might be described as the patient's soul environment. This includes everything taken in by the senses - the quality of light in the room, the colours, sounds and smells, and also the aesthetic quality of the surroundings, as it is beneficial for the patient to have things of beauty to focus on. It also includes the avoidance, if possible, of anything lacking in aesthetic quality, which can have a far stronger effect on someone lying ill in bed than it would on a healthy person.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Pages 97-98.

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
A nthroposophical nurses are trained in the techniques of preparing and administering all these treatments, many of which would appear quite foreign to nurses who are only conventionally trained. Through extending their skills with such practical techniques, nurses often find they get much more fulfilment from their work. As well as more personal contact with patients, anthroposophical nursing involves much more direct contact with the materials, such as plants, from which remedies are made.
In anthroposophical hospitals and clinics, the nurses administer the medicines prescribed by doctors, just as they would in conventional practice.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Page 101.

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
In his first course of lectures to doctors, Rudolf Stemer proposed this challenging philosophy, suggesting that psychotherapy may be most valuable when used to treat physical illnesses and that mental ill¬nesses generally required medical treatment.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Pages 116

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
Often, an anthroposophical doctor's prescription is highly individualized to reflect the particular spiritual and physical constitution of the patient. This is particularly likely to be the case when homeopathically potentized metals are given. However, in certain disorders, the prescription is specific to the particular illness or symptoms. For example, Combudoron is a combination of arnica and urtica designed for the treatment of burns, and Avena Sativa comp. Is a mixture of herbal and homeopathically prepared ingredients put together specifically to help in cases of sleeplessness. A number of the medicines designed for specific illnesses and symptoms could be prescribed by any doctor, without detailed knowledge of anthroposophical medicine. In Central Europe, where doctors are more open to the use of natural medicines, many do just that. Some of these medicines are also safe to be sold over the counter to patients who treat themselves without consulting a doctor.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Pages 143-144.

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
The practice of anthroposophical medicine embraces the environment in which patients are treated as much as the therapies and remedies that are used. It includes the way doctors, nurses and therapists work together, the way they are paid, and how the health care is itself financially supported. In anthroposophical medicine, it is considered that the way medical staff relate to each other and make decisions can profoundly affect the outcome of treatment.
This idea has also been explored within conventional psychiatry. In the 1940s and 1950s, two doctors, David Clark and Maxwell Jones, developed methods of group decision-making which broke from the usual hierarchical structure to involve all the staff, and even the patients, in the running of a hospital or ward. Their notion of a therapeutic community saw the administration of the psychiatric unit as something which could be either beneficial or damaging to the health of patients, depending on how it was done. They had noted that most of the administrative decisions were made by the consultant or chief nurse, and that the hierarchical atmosphere tended to force the rest of the staff and the patients to be passive, thereby blocking their initiative and creative input. The more democratic system they recommended is still operated in a number of psychiatric units, but has remained a minority approach within psychiatry as a whole.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Page 163.

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger:
Germany has a similar health care system to that of the Netherlands. Here, there are many hundreds of practising anthroposophical doctors and many thousands who prescribe some of the medicines. There are several specialist hospitals with between seventy and one hundred beds, including the Klinik Öschelbronn near Pforzheim, which is linked to the Carus Institut, one of the anthroposophical cancer research centres. All are integrated into the general health care system which, like the Dutch system, involves both state-subsidized and private insurance schemes. These fund patients in anthroposophical hospitals in the same way as in any conventional hospital. The Klinik Öschelbronn has introduced various innovative social measures, such as paying a proportion of the staff in accordance with their needs instead of the state rates, and administering the hospital through a clinic conference composed of any members of staff who wish to join. As well as these medical hospitals, there is also a psychiatric hospital with one hundred beds, the Friedrich Husemann Klimk, near Freiburg in the Black Forest.
A major development of anthroposophically inspired health care in Germany came about with the establishment of two large district general hospitals, one in the Ruhr - the Herdecke hospital - and one on the outskirts of Stuttgart - the Filderklinik. More recently, the community hospital at Havelhöhe, in Berlin, was taken over by an anthroposophical medical group with the aim of gradually converting it into an anthroposophically oriented general hospital. These provide the full range of specialities one would expect to find in any district general hospital, including accident and emergency, surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, general medicine, and intensive care. All the methods of conventional medicine are available, but they are also extended through the use of anthroposophical medicines, physical treatments and artistic therapies. To set up and run hospitals on this scale, a new form of financial structure was developed.
Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000. Page 173.

Books

Rudolf Steiner. Medicine. Andrew Maendl, ed. Forest Row, UK: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003.

Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman, Extending Practical Medicine. Forest Row, UK: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000.

Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger: Complete Healing: Regaining Your Health through Anthroposophical Medicine . 1992. Forest Row, UK: Floris Books, 2000.

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