How is Anthroposophic Medicine Different from Other Systems?

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By: Annette Bopp, Dr. Jurgen Schurholz

The main difference between Anthroposophic medicine and conven­tional medicine is that it doesn't only look for the illness in the person, but rather the person in the illness. The diagnostic procedures and the symptoms observed therein may be identical, but a holistic interpretation can lead to dif­ferent treatments being recommended, or conventional therapies being supple­mented by additional measures.

Medicine based purely on material sci­ence is limited to explaining an illness solely on the basis of the laws of phys­ics and chemistry. Anthroposophic medicine is more ambitious. It takes into account additional factors, both gen­eral and individual, that may affect the patient's life, mind, and soul, and their physical manifestation; in growth, regen­eration, microcirculation, fluid retention in the skin, muscle tone, biorhythms, heat distribution, posture, uprightness, gait, mental focus, speech. When illness occurs, examination of the above may re­veal deviation, imbalance, and extremes — additional diagnostic parameters that need to be considered when selecting a therapy. Anthroposophic medicine also has a different understanding of the role played by the patient in overcom­ing illness. The patient is not simply a passive recipient of medical skill, but an equal partner with the doctor. After all, nobody can know the patient better than the patient. During an illness, the patient has the opportunity to recognize the state of imbalance body and soul have reached, to understand this and rectify it. The illness can provide an oppor­tunity to learn new modes of behavior, to develop further insights and acquire greater maturity.

Anthroposophic doctors offer the pa­tient support during this process. They strengthen patient autonomy, recognize patient responsibility, and promote the patient's right to involvement in the selection of an appropriate therapy.

Excerpted with permission from Anthroposophic Medicine: Its Nature, Its Aims, Its Possibilities, Annette Bopp, Hamburg and Dr. Jurgen Schurholz, Filderstadt (Germany), published by the Medical Section, School of Spiritual Sci­ence, Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland.

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