Anthroposophical Medicine in our Contemporary World

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By: Robert Zieve, M.D.

One of our major challenges in alternative/ integrative medicine and research today is to establish meaningful bridges between disciplines. Part of this involves creating inter­changeable language; where the same intrinsic meaning can be expressed and understood in different forms.

For example, in anthroposophical medicine, we speak of the relationship of the astral (soul) and etheric (life) forces. Imbalances in the astral body are often referred to as the source of illness, whereas the etheric body is considered a source of healing. In the contemporary parlance of the autonomic nervous system, astral and etheric can be understood as sympathetic and parasympathetic. A simple well-thought-out new technology called Heart Rate Variability reveals that in many patients the parasympathetic system is weakened while the sympathetic system is over-reactive. This may be seen as weakened etheric forces (in such problems as Chronic Fatigue and many cancers) as well as over-reactive astral forces. With Heart Rate Variability we can objectively observe the polarities of tension and relaxation, catabolism and anabolism, yin and yang, chronic and acute.

In anthroposophical medicine inflammations are considered illnesses of youth, manifesting as strong etheric forces, vigorous regenerative anabolic capacity, and a good ability to excrete toxins, while chronic illnesses are seen as the illnesses of aging. Yet today we see an epidemic of chronic illness beginning in youth, often with premature sclerotic or hardening tendencies. Weakened etheric forces and a weakened ego cannot develop the warmth necessary to dissolve, excrete, and regenerate.

Hand in hand with these tendencies we now see what are called stealth organisms that penetrate not only connective tissue past the guardian barrier of the mucus membranes, but also penetrate (without being recognized as a threat) into the very cells, impairing and taking over their function. We know today that immune cells have receptor sites on their surfaces that are responsive to neurotransmitters. When forces that oppose the healthy development of the human being penetrate into the depths of the human psyche, as with abuse for example, the immune system can be directly affected. Over a period of years such weakening leads to stealth organisms taking over cellular dynamics. Examples of these are modern chronic infections such as Lyme disease, Mycoplasma, and Chlamydia, which develop from various, often hidden, sources in the vegetative system. Overuse of antibiotics also weakens cellular membranes, typically in the intestinal tract.

We can often see this catabolic tendency with a drop of blood under dark field microscopy. The red blood cell membranes lose their capacity to stay uniform in shape. They begin to mutate and take on many shapes. This is happening to many cells in the body. The white blood cells often can be seen as too rigid, losing their capacity to be amoeboid, mobile, adaptable, changing, so as to be able to respond to a foreign threat to the integrity of the organism.

One of the major factors causing this phenomenon is the excessive presence of heavy metals in the body. The most important of these is mercury, mostly from silver-mercury amalgam fillings. In anthroposophical medicine we study the seven metals, their planetary correspondences, and their relationships to organ and psyche function. Yet today, many people are poisoned with these metals, especially mercury, tin, lead, and copper. It is as if these subtle planetary forces that, when rightly applied assist us in healing, have become concretized and rigidified into the human form. When this happens, they impair enzyme systems and can lead to neuro-degenerative and endocrine changes. A major component of autism is mercury toxicity, from vaccines and from the mother's placentally transferred dental toxicity. When we perceive the spiritual being blocked from incarnating in autism, we also need to incorporate this reality of modern toxicities into our therapeutic work.

Anthroposophical medicine is searching for ways of addressing these contemporary imbalances. We can strengthen the human egoic forces of the immune system with our therapies, whether these be mistletoe, curative eurythmy, injections, topicals, or non-anthroposophical therapies. Can certain eurythmy movements or certain substances used in topical applications and baths increase the excretion of mercury and other heavy metals? Some research into the autonomic nervous system has discovered that specific uses of eye movement and color can indeed help the body to detoxify this way.

With thermography, we can map the capacity of the warmth organism to protect and support healing. Some sixty points on the surface of the body have been found to correlate in their thermic response to a function of internal organs and tissues. When a person is in a cool room, the skin's temperature should cool down if the autonomic self-regulating system is functioning appro­priately. But if the internal tissue has become toxic/ rigid/ over-astralized there will be no temperature changes from a first to a second reading or the temperature may actually rise, which indicates an over-collection of toxins in that organ.

With this objective test, called Computerized Regulation Thermography, we can see a map of the warmth organism in the body. Furthermore, we can see the relationships of weaknesses in the warmth organism from one area to another.

Our anthroposophical therapies are often given to increase the capacities of this warmth organism with mistletoe injections or mustard packs, or to help the body better redistribute its warmth, as with lemon wraps. The growing field of local and general hyperthermia offers additional ways to enhance the warmth organism. For example, because of the depth of many chronic illnesses today, can we effectively combine external hyperthermia therapies with our approaches of enhancing the warmth organism? We need further research and observation as to how we can combine the use of natural substances with good technology in these efforts. There are technologies being developed that can support the human spirit.

The question becomes, how can those who are inspired through anthroposophy bring its depth of understanding and insight into contemporary health care, and especially in the burgeoning field of alternative medicine? How can we synergize effective anthroposophical approaches to healing with many innovative diagnostic and therapeutic modalities to make them even more effective? For example, there is research in Switzerland combining mistletoe with haptenes in the injections in cancer, that enhances the effectiveness of both. Haptenes are compounds that enable the immune system to recognize foreign antigens which hide on cell membranes and are not detected by normal

immune functions. Another example is using anthroposophical injectable remedies into specific acupuncture points that have a relationship with the nature of the underlying illness.

We may be even more effective by making anthropo­sophical principles and therapies interactive with positive technologies that can help us objectively perceive the relationship of the subtle bodies to the physical. How can effective anthroposophical approaches, such as anthroposophical nursing, the curative arts, the making of remedies, be combined with other modalities for effective healing? Can we adapt the language of anthroposophical medicine to contemporary thinking about illness without losing the deeper images? What is the relationship between our use of medicaments from nature with the use of the frequencies of sound and color that may correspond to these medicaments?

There are many who perceive anthroposophy as being too limiting. One of the best therapeutic eurythmists in this country wondered if therapeutic eurythmy, for example, will survive. The challenge in our research and clinical work today is to bring the rich texture and depth of feeling of Rudolf Steiner's insights and observations, and those of many who have followed him, into the mainstream of modern therapeutic thinking and practice.

Dr. Zieve is Medical Director, Fox Hollow Clinic of Integrative Biological Medicine in Louisville, Kentucky

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