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  The Development of Anthroposophical Medicine and Pharmaceutics in Armenia

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By: Karapet Matinian, M.D.

Since 1990, Karapet Matinian, MD, specialist in internal medicine, has been working in Yerevan and prescribing anthroposophical medicines for his patients. After 8 years in various specialties (anesthetics, pediatrics, internal medicine). Dr. Matinian attended the seminar at the Lukas Clinic in Arlesheim in 1990. To enable him to produce some of the medicines in Armenia, he also studied the basics of medicine production at Weleda and in the pharmaceutical laboratory of the Lukas Clinic during that period.

In 1990, Dr. Matinian established his practice and set up a laboratory in his parents' apartment. Here, he began to produce anthroposophical medicines because those available from the primary pharmaceutical companies were too expensive for most of his patients and because he wanted to make medicines from the medicinal herbs that actually grow in Armenia.

For six years. Dr. Matinian and his colleagues have been producing medicines from the wild and cultivating medicinal herbs of Armenia in accordance with the German Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia. In addition to the medicines they produce themselves, the laboratory staff (a pharmacist and a biochemist) also produce various potencies made with mother tinctures and powders obtained from Weleda.

Dr. Matinian has also been using ampules donated by the Hiscia Institute as well as Weleda, Wala and Abnoba. Recently, friends and others unknown to him personally have been supporting the work of the laboratory financially. Thanks to this help the laboratory can now provide about 200 self-produced dilutions, powders, oils and ointments as well as about 100 different medicines in ampules. All of this development has taken place in extremely cramped and difficult external conditions: war, economic blockade, no heating in Winter; gas, electricity and water for only a few hours each day plus unemployment. For both practice and laboratory work Dr. Matinian is still using the two rooms in his parents' apartment that have become totally inadequate.

Approximately 200 patients attend the practice each month. Most of them are seriously ill and have a long history of unsuccessful treatment behind them. Therefore they turn hopefully to a physician who works with an alternative method. There is a wide range of ages and illnesses. Dr. Matinian is especially pleased to treat seriously ill cancer patients as well as pregnant and nursing mothers with small children.

For the last two years, a group of physicians and pharmacists has been working with Dr. Matinian on issues relating to anthroposophical medicine and pharmaceutics. Some of them also help collect and process the medicinal plants. This group does eurythmy with the German euryth-mists, Erika Mueller and Ursula Steinke. Most of them are also learning German, the language through which Anthroposophy came into the world. Visits by Paul Wormer, an anthroposophical physician from Holland, have given an important impetus to the development of anthroposophical medicine in Armenia. The work done with patients and the medical group by Ursula Steinke, a eurythmy therapist from Herdecke, has also been impressive.

Two articles have been published about the anthroposophical medical work in Armenia: Der Merkurstab 1991-95 carried an article by A. Boecker on "Helping Armenians Help Themselves", and in mid-Summer 1994-96 issue of the Circular Letter for members of the Medical Section. Matinian reported on anthroposophical medicine in Armenia. Both articles described the medical work in Armenia and appealed for funds. After the publication of each article a number of people came forward with help. Dr. Matinian and his colleagues and patients would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to all the friends and people unknown to them who have helped and hope that this article with up-to-date reports about the work in Armenia will inform them. The work still needs support if it is to develop further, so we are including a short list of our plans for the coming years.

1 The rising number of patients and the growing workload in the pharmacy can no longer be accommodated in the two rooms. Practice and pharmacy need at least 3 to 4 rooms. To rent these would cost from $400 to $600 US dollars. To buy suitable premises would cost US $40,000 to $60,000. Renovation would require a further US $3,000 to $6,000. More money still would be needed to acquire a room for eurythmy that could also be used for meetings, group work, lectures and performances.
2 Dr. Matinian has bought a small cottage in the mountains that will serve as a base for plant collecting expeditions once it has been refurbished and renovated. It will then be possible to manufacture mother tinctures there. Refurbishment and renovation of this cottage would cost US $3,000 to $6,000.
3 A suitable automobile (jeep) is needed for collecting the herbs; this calls for US $3,000 to $8,000.
4 Physicians and pharmacists in the medical group need training at an anthroposophical medical institution or a pharmaceutical firm. Travel to Switzerland and Germany costs US $500 to 800 for one person. The cost of board and lodging and the fees for training will vary.
5 Even the smallest assistance will benefit the medical and pharmaceutical work in Yerevan. The pharmacy constantly needs to buy small bottles, ethanol, oil, beeswax, lactose etc. Other running costs are incurred by the expeditions to collect the fresh herbs and for the rent on premises. They will also soon need some new laboratory equipment and furniture for the pharmacy.

Most urgent of all is the need to find and possibly buy space for both practice and pharmacy. It is very important to make a start immediately, since the privatization of property has begun, and it is still much cheaper to acquire space than it will be a few months from now. The price of premises and apartments has doubled in the last six months. If the economic situation continues to improve, experts predict that these prices will rise by a factor of 5 within a year.

Anyone wishing to know more about the work in Armenia or wanting to participate in it or support it should write directly to: Karapet Matinian, Sajat-Nova 35-25, 375025 Yerevan, Armenia; Tel: 00 37 42/55 78 75; Fax: 00 37 42/15 11 33, c/o Anita Kaitsouni. Financial support, marked "Armenienhilfe-Medizin", may be paid into the following account: Freie Gemeinnuetzige Treuhandstelle am Bodensee e.V., Bezirkssparkasse Salem-Heiligen-berg, Germany, Sort Code 690 517 25, Account 2015089.

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