What is Anthroposophical Medicine?

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By: Annette Bopp, Dr. Jurgen Schurholz

For many people, anthroposophic medicine is a difficult concept. But in fact, it is quite easy to explain. It is an integrative form of medicine, derived from two sources—"material scientific medicine" with its methods and results, on the one hand, and "spiritual scientific" findings on the other. Neither one may be taken in isolation.

An individual is not simply a body. There is also the psyche and personality to take into account, as well. Anthroposophic doctors regard physical and mental existence together with personality as a unit, each element having the capacity to influence the others. One of the fundamental aspects of anthroposophic medicine is that it takes this into account during diagnosis and therapy.

Nevertheless, it is not an "alternative medicine"—it doesn't aim to replace conventional medicine. On the contrary—it is based on accepted medical science; it just takes things a step further. Or in other words, anthroposophic medicine makes use of everything that scientific research has revealed to be of benefit to the human being. Moreover, it supplements material science with aspects of spiritual science in order to assess the individual as a whole entity. For instance, these may include body language, personal history, breathing, and many other aspects besides—all of which determine an individual's personality. Anthroposophic medicine therefore attempts to include the individuality of the patient, as well as the accepted features of an illness in the treatment process. For just as each person is unique, so is each treatment—even though some may appear to apply to many people.

Anthroposophic medicine is not pre­determined. It avoids pure routine. Even if, owing to their characteristic features, the same disease pictures constantly recur, each illness manifests itself differently in each patient—a manifestation inseparable from the uniqueness of the individual. Anthroposophic medicine therefore aims to form a picture of the physical, psychological, and personal circumstances that have paved the way for an illness to take hold. Taking such factors into consideration during diagnosis and therapy and re-applying the process to every new patient, guided by scientific findings, medical experience, personal discernment, and intuition, is fundamental to anthroposophic medicine. Any medicine that ignores the person as an individual cannot claim to be true human medicine.

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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