What is Anthroposophic Medicine?
Anthroposophic Medicine (Anthropos = human being : Sophia = wisdom) is a form of complementary medicine developed by Rudolf Steiner that views the entire human being. The anthroposophic approach to medicine adds spiritual insight to diagnosis and healing. Applied by conventionally trained medical doctors who combine orthodox medical treatment with complementary practice, this modern holistic paradigm combines European homeopathic treatments, plant medicines, natural remedies and elements of allopathic principles.
Inspired by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), anthroposophic medicine takes into account that human beings, nature and the cosmos are interrelated. Many other therapeutic disciplines that have developed within the approach include homeopathic and herbal remedies, home care, nursing, artistic therapy, music therapy, hydrotherapy, curative eurythmy (movement), and massage.
Medicines used are taken from the realms of plants, animals, and minerals.
For a physician referral list in North America see Other Anthroposophical Doctors. For more in-depth information on Anthroposophical Medicine, please click here. or read the University of Michigan overview.
Anthroposophy (anthropos: human being, sophia: wisdom) is a worldview founded by philosopher, scientist and social thinker, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) that combines practical science with spiritual awareness. Anthroposophically extended medicine is an extension of conventional medicine. The goal is to consciously understand the interactions of the soul and spirit as well as the body. Viewing one’s whole life and its meaning helps one to see an illness in its larger perspective. Anthroposophically-extended medicine treats all aspects of the individual using practical, western allopathic medicine as a foundation. We use a wide range of treatments which include homeopathy, nutritional guidelines, artistic and movement therapies to extend the practice of medicine. In Europe there are well established anthroposophical hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies and training centers. Many other fields of human endeavor have been enriched by Steiner’s work, such as education (Waldorf Schools), agriculture (Biodynamic Farming), architecture, arts and economics.
The late Otto Wolff, in his foreword to The Anthroposophical Approach to Medicine, wrote: “Medicine will be broadened by a spiritual conception of man to an art of healing, or else it will remain a soulless technology that removes only symptoms. Through the concrete inclusion of the spirit and soul of man, a humanization of medicine, as it was inaugurated by Rudolf Steiner, is possible.
We provide evaluation and treatment of acute and chronic medical problems using anthroposophical and conventional approaches as appropriate and in accord with the patient’s wishes. The initial consultation allows the physicians to discuss options with the patient and create a treatment plan, utilizing anthroposophical remedies as appropriate for the condition. The treatment regimen may include external applications, oral medications including natural and homeopathic remedies, intravenous therapy (such as iv vitamin C), hydrotherapy, physical therapy, movement therapy, nutritional counseling and conventional medications. Our physicians can take care of most medical problems, such as acute and chronic neurologic, cholesterol and chronic heart conditions, digestive disorders, help with cancer treatment, childhood development and school problems, gynecological exams and problems, management of menopausal symptoms with homeopathic treatments, skin disorders and biopsies, joint and sports injuries, allergies, ear infections, and chronic sinusitis without antibiotics, toxin exposure, Lyme disease, and fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome
Anthroposophic medicine is an integrative system that improves health outcomes through a holistic approach to treatment that includes physical, psychological and social health.
Anthroposophic medicine is an integrative approach to treatment that extends and enhances health outcomes by looking outside of isolated symptoms towards a more holistic conception of health. This conception includes physical, psychological and spiritual health, as well as the impact of a person’s environment and social context.
Anthroposophic medicine focuses on how to keep people healthy rather than on why they fall ill; this is called the “salutogenic” approach.
The anthroposophic medical approach is designed to complement conventional medicine. Anthroposophic medical doctors are qualified physicians who have received additional training to integrate anthroposophic medicine into their conventional practices.
Developed in the 1920s by Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner and Dutch physician Ita Wegman, anthroposophic medicine sought to expand the materialistic understanding of health and disease.
In the view of anthroposophic medicine, human health depends on the physical body; processes covering vitality and regeneration called ‘etheric organization’ or life forces; the emotional and instinctual part of the human being, called ‘astral organization’ or soul forces; and finally the capacity for thinking, individuality and sense of self, called ‘I-organization’. In other words, anthroposophic medical practitioners see the condition of a person’s physical body as only one element of health; the condition of a person’s self-healing capacity, soul, and spirit are equally important.
While the language often differs, conventional medical studies are increasingly supportive of this view. The link between individual lifestyle and health outcomes, for example, is well established in particular for non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, or type 2 diabetes. And more recent research is beginning to establish a connection between physical and mental health and vice versa; for example, changes in gut microbiomes have been linked to psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. And loneliness and social isolation has been found to have profound impact on an individual’s likelihood of developing diseases or disease complications, including death.
Because the anthroposophic medical approach is aware of multiple pathways to illness or health, it is designed around a suite of interventions that act on those different pathways. These types of interventions are discussed in the section on anthroposophy’s therapeutic approach. Further reading about anthroposophic medicine, including peer reviewed studies, can be found here. An explanation of current key issues in anthroposophic care is available here.
The IVAA’s publication The System of Anthroposophic Medicine offers a comprehensive introduction and is available in English [pdf] as well as in Spanish and Russian.
Anthroposophic Medicine is integrative medicine. It is rooted in the science-based medicine of the present, but takes into account the whole human being in its method, diagnosis and therapy. It pays equal attention to the body, soul and spirit of the patient, recognizing the person’s unique biography. Anthroposophic Medicine was established by Dr. phil. Rudolf Steiner and Dr. med. Ita Wegman in 1920. Since then it has been continuously developed further in hospitals and by independent doctors. It is now practised in over 60 countries. The therapeutic system is a multiprofessional one, with shared concepts for diagnosis and therapy.
Anthroposophic physicians, nurses and pharmacists are fully qualified professionals who have undertaken further training in Anthroposophic Medicine. Comparable rules apply to body therapists, art therapists and eurythmy therapists. In social therapy and education for people with special needs there are also officially recognized training programmes.
Anthroposophic Medications can be administered orally, via injection, as suppositories, via inhalation, and externally in the form of compresses, gentle rhythmic oil applications, and baths. Talks with the doctor, medications, nursing and external applications may be augmented according to need by artistic therapies, psychotherapy, rhythmical massage therapy and other treatments. Meditation and mindfulness exercises have been an important part of Anthroposophic Medicine from the beginning.
Learn more about:
Five key aspects of Anthroposophic Medicine and its therapies
Educational offerings for physicians and other licensed prescribers