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What is Anthroposophical Medicine?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Anthroposophical medicine blends western or traditional medical approaches with alternative therapies that are not just aimed at curing the body. Instead, such alternatives tend to target mental and spiritual wellness, providing a mind, body and spirit approach to the practice of medicine. This type of medical philosophy arose in the early 20th century and was principally triumphed by Dr. Ita Wegman, and Dr. Rudolf Steiner.

Dr. Steiner is usually credited with developing the philosophical concept of anthroposophy, which views the human in very different ways. People have a body, ego and astral body (body, mind, spirit), and one goal of anthroposophical medicine is to approach all of these at once, releasing the human’s capacity for self-healing. While this may sound like an approach that doesn’t reach far enough, it should be noted that many times healing of the body involves using western medicine. There are many different therapies like homeopathy, art therapy, and massage to augment this treatment.

There are a few points of departure that anthroposophical medicine takes from more traditional forms of medicine. While doctors who practice this form of medicine promote some vaccinations, as for polio and tetanus, they do not recommend others, or they suggest that children get them when they are much older instead of on a normal vaccinations timeline. Doctors outside the "fold" have criticized this as irresponsible. Generally, anthroposophical medicine supports many Western treatments and people who practice this medicine have to be licensed physicians.

One of the things often mentioned in context with anthroposophical medicine is the Camphill Movement, which is a collection of communities begun in the late 1930s that care for children with extraordinary special needs, such as retardation or autism. The first community was established by Karl Konig, and there are now more than 100 Camphill communities of this type spread throughout the world. These communities make use of anthroposophy to create ways of living that they feel promote inner healing, but although they achieve recognition for their work, they are not without criticism.

Most people interested in this form of medicine are most intrigued by how it would be different than more traditional medical types. This is fairly easy to define, though doctors who practice anthroposophical medicine are individuals and may practice it in different ways. Initially, time spent with patients is usually longer and appears to involve more questions that seem unrelated to specific health concerns. Instead of automatically relying on Western remedies, anthroposophical doctors might suggest a variety of alternative treatments — sometimes treating patients in both a traditional and alternative way simultaneously. People could expect these physicians to be much more interested in sustaining health of the whole person at all times, as opposed to treating only when disease exists.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia...
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