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  Understanding Substance Streams

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By: Peter A. Pedersen...
(Original title: Aus der Albeit des anthropo-sophisch-dermatologischen Arbeitskreises:
Zum Verstaendnis der Substanzstroeme (Grundlegendes, Kap. V). Der Merkurstah 1996; 49:153-6. English by A. R. Meuss, FIL, MTA.)

From the work of the Anthroposophical Dermatology Group

The fifth meeting of the Group was held in Stiefenhofen/Allgaeu, Germany, on 7 and 8 October 1995. We began our work on issues relating to external dennatotherapy by considering chapter 5 (Plant, animal, man) of Fundamentals of Therapy (GA 27) by Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman.
Results of our labors that seem worth reporting are given below.
In human beings, the configuration of the substantial principles is not taken to its conclusion the way it is in animals. If it were, human skin would be covered with a dense pelt, plumage or chitin.
The human epidermis, however, holds a middle position between life in the basal cell layer (Moon) and death in the comified layer (Saturn). Another polarity is seen in the corium between the solid and semifluid character of fibers and ground substance with mucopolysaccharides (Jupiter) and the mobile, streaming activity of sweat glands (Mercury). Subcuta-neously we have the bulb and shaft of the hair, the latter looking most

Fig. 1. The threefold substance stream in the human organism
impressive in histological preparations, elegantly striving towards the periphery (Mars), and the fatty tissues with continuous metabolism (Venus). The process represented by the Sun, finally, maintains the balance, preventing the one-sided configuration that would reflect animal nature. Animals lack the Sun action; here "the configuring process enters" via the one-sided, uncompensated planetary process, "into this flowing life through the astral organization."

To describe the activity of etheric, astral and I organization, R. Steiner and I. Wegman used the terms "sundering, separating off, separating out" and "secreting, excreting, eliminating". When forces raise matter from a lower to a higher level, they separate it off from the lower level. The substance remains within the organism. When the influences of a system of forces is such that matter goes down from a higher to a lower level, it is eliminated. It is either excreted to the outside or increted inwards.

The activity of separating off to go from below upwards is alive in the L in eurythmy.

In chemical analysis, the presence of a substance does not tell us if it is in the process of being separated off or eliminated. The process in which a substance is, which gives it its function, is important in assessing its valency.

When a substance is secreted or separated off by the human organism, this always results from activity of the I-organization, irrespective of the level of the substance stream at which it happens.

Plants include matter in the substance stream between dead and live matter that has been largely transformed by the etheric forces, and matter that is again going in the direction of death. We find these forces in seed and bark. In the seed, etheric forces can intervene with special intensity because "the seed is protected from the influences of physical forces by the enveloping maternal organization". Seed oils and the oils found in the pulp of fruits that play an important role in nutrition and external applications.

In a tree, wood is secreted in an inward and bark in an outward direction. The region where the separating off process and life are most intense is the cambium which lies between them. The term "cambium" does, however, have the character of a his-tological working hypothesis; macro-scopically invisible, it is the source

and origin of plant substance configuration.

We considered cotton and all other plant fibers used in textiles to be plant secretion products. Volatile oils and pollen, on the other hand, seemed to us to have an astral tinge that took them beyond the separating off process in plants. Both come from the floral region which is touched by astral influences from the cosmos. This is also why volatile oils and pollen have an irritant effect on hyper-ergic states in the human organism, when the senses are too wide open.

In animals, we have a double substance stream and therefore two processes of separating off and two of elimination. Feces were seen as eliminations at the lower level, wool fat (lanolin), sheep's wool and all other animal hair at the higher level.

Animal matter has a high nitrogen content, plant matter a high carbon content. The compounds responsible for the allergenic nature of substances from the animal and plant worlds are often proteins, their nature partly determined by nitrogen.

As there are three substance streams in the human organism, there must also be three different levels each of separating off and elimination. We related the keratin of ker-atinocytes and the epidermal lipids in the intercellular space of the comified layer to secretion on the lowest level, the sebum in sebaceous glands to secretion on the middle level. We put hair and nails, also "only" consisting of homy material, yet showing a definite astral tinge, on the middle level as well. The pheromones of the apoc-rine sweat glands may be considered to be upper level secretions. Human body odor holds astrality that has to be overcome by the I. In the cosmetics industry, the individual character of the action of a scent, that which leaves us free, is combated with synthetic scents. Today, this goes so far that scents compete with nickel for the lead position among allergens, with synthetic compounds found in ground water and in mother's milk.

In both animals and humans, milk is selflessly produced for the child by the maternal organism. Being created by a human being for a human being or by an animal for an animal, it was included among secretions. Compared to white milk, red blood is not selfless but contains, among other things, astrality.

The triple substance stream in the human organism which develops from the substance streams of members of the plant and animal worlds. Here the idea shines out that human evolution involved secretion of the plant and then the animal, with human configuration remaining in a state of flux.

Any process in which substances are isolated from plants or animals takes the substance in the direction of dead matter (e.g. vitamin C, fractionated lanolin). Emulsifiers, preservatives, antioxidants and other synthetic excipients used in ointments represent matter outside creation, "cinders" that hold a position below the dead matter of which R. Steiner and I. Wegman spoke. Absence of quality is a particular challenge to the sensory and the metabolic human being. Considering the permeability of the skin, one can also envisage metabolic pollution caused by the sum of subtoxic actions of ointment constituents. Vaseline and paraffin are mineral oil products, i.e. dead matter, indicated where it is desirable to have substance free from plant or animal qualities. Vaseline and paraffin remain on the skin, whereas lipo-somes, for instance, penetrate into the epidermis and bring matter in with them.

External applications may be made to treat the skin or to treat organ systems deep inside the human organism. It is possible to treat a skin condition in a distant area (e.g. application of copper ointment to the legs to treat acne vulgaris).

External treatment of an acute attack of neurodermitis is mainly addressed to the skin itself. For the first few days, pure vaseline or Ungt. leniens and Ungt. molle will be suitable. Vaseline has none of the qualities of enlivened and ensouled matter; this temporary "freedom from quality" in the ointment base can prove helpful at this stage.

Short-term use of external steroids gives time and calm to allow more gentle medicinal principles to take effect. Cortisone is a substance resulting because the astral body intervenes deeply in kidney metabolism. Semisynthetic steroids impose a form on the astral body in the patient's skin organ that will, for a limited period, compensate astral body activity which in inflammation and pruritus has taken the wrong direction. If fatty ointment bases are not tolerated. Pasta Zinci mollis, olive oil and Lotio alba acfuosa may be used.

A 10% ointment containing sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) kernel oil (special preparation "SK ointment base" made by Weleda) is highly effective with neurodermic eczema, especially in infants and young children but also for adults.

The next meeting of the Group will be in Stiefenhofen on 27 and 28th April 1996. We intend to add Chapter 6 of Fundamentals and continue our work on fundamental issues concerning external dermatotherapy. Talks on production of plant oils and bark development in oak and birch have been promised.

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