What is Anthroposophic Medicine?

In the year 1920, German philosopher Rudolph Steiner applied his spiritual philosophy of man to the area of health care. His philosophical school was called anthroposophy, from the Greek words anthropos (related to humans) and sophia (wisdom or knowledge) the science of man. The view of reality presented by Steiner varied somewhat from the conception used by his contemporaries, and which is still used today by the greater part of terrestrial society. While conventional wisdom sees the human body as a machine, with purely mechanical and chemical components, Steiner considered the body as an extension of other invisible parts of the total human being. He believed that the soul and the spirit have much to do with the physical body. According to his theories, the basis of physical health is spiritual awareness if the invisible parts of the human being are healthy, this positive state will be reflected in the visible, material body. He called this aspect of his work anthroposophic medicine.

Another unconventional aspect of anthroposophic medicine is that it doesn't always consider disease as a negative factor in human life. Most health problems are indications of changes that the higher levels of the human being are trying to stimulate in the lower, physical level. For example, if someone who consumes an excess of alcoholic beverages begins to have problems with their liver, this can be seen as a message from the spirit that it's time to change the habits and drink less. Thus, it is important to pay attention to all medical symptoms. These should be interpreted as pointing to some condition in a person's life that requires conscious alteration.

The diagnostic techniques used in anthroposophic medicine include a detailed questionnaire to identify every aspect of the patient's medical history. This includes not only a relation of physical problems, but also of emotional and mental difficulties, which are all considered as being connected. This interrelationship of all levels of the human being is similar to the modern holistic view of many alternative therapies body, soul and spirit must all be treated together, as parts of a whole.

The diagnosis is also conducted at a more leisurely pace the anthroposophic physician believes that it takes time to understand all aspects of the patient's life, and that a hurried diagnosis will by its very nature be incomplete and not very useful. The idea is not to identify the visible symptoms and prescribe some chemical or surgical intervention to treat those symptoms, which is basically an attempt to return the patient to his or her previous state, a state which led to the appearance of the disease being treated. Steiner's medicine seeks to find the deeper, spiritual cause of those symptoms, and to alter that cause.

Anthroposophic medicine uses treatments based on the healing powers of natural materials, such as plants, water, and animal and mineral substances. Again, the motive for this choice has to do with the invisible. The connecting forces between the material body and the other levels of the complete human being are energetic in nature, imperceptible to the physical senses, and this medical philosophy relies on the use of energies found in the natural environment to aid in achieving a new and healthier balance of forces within people.

Nature can provide the healing energy that the patient temporarily lacks. This school of thought avoids synthesized medicines, which may contain the same molecular structure as certain natural compounds, but which do not possess the healing energy that comes from naturally produced substances. Natural products tend to support the body's own capacity to heal itself, rather than to aggressively attack the disease, a tactic which usually ends up causing collateral effects that also attack healthy portions of the body.

Among the use of natural substances to reinforce the patient's energies, anthroposophic medicine makes much use of homeopathy. This is a technique of diluting natural substances to decrease their material presence in the remedy, simultaneously increasing their energetic potential. Invented by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, this science identifies the connection between the type of energy related to a certain bodily organ or function and the energy of specific natural substances. Other therapeutic techniques used include baths to stimulate the circulation, amplified by the water's natural energy; massages, which not only help remove tensions and stimulate body functions, but also share the therapist's energy with the patient by hands-on contact; and other forms of naturopathy including herbal teas and dieting.

Although considered by some to be an enemy of contemporary medicine, all practitioners of anthroposophic medicine are qualified medical doctors, professionals who for philosophical reasons have expanded their concept of human nature beyond the visible planes. They consider anthroposophic medicine as an extension of modern health care, instead of being a substitute. There are currently 28 hospitals in Europe, the United Sates and Brazil which utilize this complementary system. These institutions believe, as did Steiner, that all healing is self healing, that the patient must participate actively in understanding and contributing to his or her own cure through conscious changes, and that nature aids in this process by providing support to the energy of the individual who seeks change.

Anthroposophic medicine has helped thousands of people, and is a promising possibility for many more.

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

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