Introduction to Understanding the Human Being in Anthroposophic Medicine

Every medical system is based on a concept of the human being, and the contemporary conventional approach to medicine has adopted a bio-psycho-social view. Anthroposophic Medicine aims to understand the human being as a physical, ensouled and spiritual being, and accordingly, to base diagnosis and therapy on a comprehensive understanding. As a result, Anthroposophic Medicine does not just recognize the existence of the physical body, it also acknowledges the reality of life, soul and spirit in the human being.

Initially, the levels beyond the physical are not directly accessible to sensory experience, but are literally “supersensible”. They each require an independent methodology to be understood. A causal-analytical approach appears to be a form of cognition that is primarily useful for understanding the somatic dimension of existence. It already fails to do justice to the realm of the living. Simple cause-effect relations cannot describe an organism. A similar limitation in understanding applies to the nature of soul and spirit, which cannot be viewed in terms of size, number and weight in the manner appropriate to the physical. Consequently, an anthroposophic understanding of the human being requires a different type of cognitive activity for each realm of being.

One’s view of the organism as a whole, but also of each single organ, will only then be complete when these four levels are reflected in it. The same applies to the anthroposophic understanding of disease and therapy. The activities of each of these four levels of human existence become the basis for therapeutic action and illuminate the relationship between the human being and the different realms of nature. 

Girke M, Matthiessen PF. Medizin und Menschenbild. Hohenwarsleben: VAS – Verlag für akademische Schriften; 2015.

Research news

Yarrow liver compresses in cancer patients and their effect on the autonomous nervous system    
Liver compresses are frequently used in Anthroposophic Medicine for cancer treatment and are believed to have an energizing effect. In a randomized pilot study, the influence of this external application on the autonomous nervous system was now evaluated. For this study, heart rate variability was measured in metastatic cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy and suffering from cancer-related fatigue (CRF). A total of 20 patients (10 per group) were available for analysis. The results show that yarrow liver compresses led to increase sympathetic activity during the day in the intervention group, while increased parasympathetic activity was observed in the control group, which received no external application. The study is published open access:
Previously in 2021, Georg Seifert´s research group had demonstrated that liver compresses reduced (CRF) in this clinically relevant range. The current study clarifies the correlation.

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