Somehow in the past 100 or so years, the word “medicine’’ has taken on a new meaning. Straying from the path of traditional healing, the health community found its way into the inertia of purely quantifiable information born solely from lab tests and short term studies of cause and effect in sterile situations.
While we have made commendable leaps in understanding health and the human biome because of our dedication to science, we’re consistently reminded that human health is part of the messy, evolving, adaptable planet that we live on. We don’t thrive in sterile environments and while we can make some generalizations about human health, each of us have our own personalized definition of optimal.
We find ourselves craving a happy medium. Traditional medicine and science aren’t mutually exclusive modalities of healing, in fact applying new research findings to old methods of healing is a spectacular way to gain insights into health.
Introducing: anthroposophic medicine.
What is Anthroposophic Medicine?
Anthroposophy (from the Greek antropos, meaning “human,” and Sophia, meaning “wisdom”) is a complete health system based on the work of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) who developed an integrated vision of humankind.
In the simplest sense, anthroposophic medicine is an extension of scientific medicine. In addition to looking at the physical body for healing, anthroposophic medicine looks at the mental and spiritual aspects to create a holistic picture for the health of an individual using principles taken from salutogenisis.
“Anthroposophic medicine focuses on how to keep people healthy rather than on why they fall ill. Physicians and therapists empower their patients to take responsibility for their personal health and wellbeing. Anthroposophic medicine promotes the individual developmental processes of the human being.”
—International Federation of Anthroposophic Medical Associations
This type of medicine is a completely unique health plan that starts with the most conventional diagnosis and takes into account the different elements of a person for the full 360 degree view of someone’s health.
To create a structure for healing, the doctor and the patient must work together towards an understandable and reasonable health goal.
An anthroposophic doctor works to understand each of these four elements of the individual that he or she is treating.
—The physical body. This is where your typical physician will check out your symptoms, run tests, and do a physical exam. The diagnosis starts with “where does it hurt?”
—Vital force organization. Anthroposophic medicine takes a deeper look at are the forces that help to maintain the physical form and health. These are the processes like sleeping rhythms that allow the body to heal.
—Feelings organization. This is the emotional level that a person is operating on. How do they feel and what emotions could be causing illness or adding to health. Mental disposition can have an influence on wellbeing and recovery.
—The organization of the subject. An additional focus is placed on the environment of the subject, questioning the interactions within their personal ecosystem—along with their own self awareness, or the ability to distinguish between themselves and others.
Interactions on the part of these four elements create a tripartite division of the living being manifested throughout the entire organism, on a morphological as well as functional level.
Health is understood as a state of equilibrium among the three systems that requires a continuous renovation among the influences exerted by these discrete human processes. An alteration within these forces unleashes disease.
—Neurosensorial system. (catabolism/perception/immobility) These are the catabolic systems that break down cells and substances in the body.
—Metabolic and locomotive systems. (anabolism/elimination/movement) The anabolic systems of cell growth and regeneration.
—Rhythmic system. These are the systems of balance that work to connect the neurosensorial and metabolic levels of the body mainly through the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Disease is born when there is an imbalance somewhere in these three systems.
When it comes to therapies, anthroposophic medicine has a vast array of tools at its disposal. This is an inclusive style of medicine that encompasses every form of healing be it art and dance therapy, massage, and (of course) a myriad of medicinal preparations, including the use of pharmaceutical compounds for individual cases.
The goal in this type of treatment is to help activate the patient’s intrinsic self-healing capacity. Every routine is tailored to the specific patient so that no two patients are exactly alike.
Are you interested in anthroposophic medicine? Leave your questions in the comments below.