Introduction to the Founding and History of Anthroposophic Medicine 

The beginning Anthroposophic Medicine can be traced back to 1920 (1, pp. 306–307), when Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) began giving lecture cycles for professionals on the topic of spiritual-scientific aspects in medicine, at the request of interested pharmacists and physicians (2). These lectures continued until 1924. They were usually stenographed and are still available in book form in the Rudolf Steiner Complete Edition. Clinical-therapeutic institutes were first established in Arlesheim (near Basel, Switzerland) and Stuttgart (Germany) in 1921 (3), and in direct connection with this, laboratories for the production of medicines were built, from which the company Weleda emerged (4). At the turn of the year 1923/24, a Medical Section was established within the framework of the then newly founded School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum in Dornach (Switzerland). Its leader was the Dutch physician Ita Wegman (1876–1943), who had trained in Switzerland and was the founder of the first Clinical Therapeutic Institute in Arlesheim. Together with Wegman, Steiner wrote the first book on Anthroposophic Medicine, published in 1925: “Extending practical medicine. Fundamental principles based on the science of the spirit” (5).
In this publication, as well as many times in medical lectures and in other contexts, Steiner clearly pointed out that Anthroposophic Medicine does not stand in opposition to regular scientific medicine; it is fully based on it and attempts to expand scientific knowledge through spiritual-scientific insights.

We see an expansion of knowledge of the world and humanity in anthroposophy, founded by Rudolf Steiner. To the knowledge of the physical human being, which can only be gained through the scientific methods of the present, anthroposophy adds that of the spiritual human being. It does not pass from knowledge of the physical to knowledge of the spiritual by mere reflection. If it did so one would be confronted only with more or less well thought-out hypotheses, which nobody can prove to have any correspondence with reality.
Before making statements about the spiritual, anthroposophy develops the methods that entitle it to make such statements.

1 Heusser P. Anthroposophie und Wissenschaft. Eine Einführung. Dornach: Verlag am Goetheanum; 2016. English translation: Heusser P. Anthroposophy and science. An introduction. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang; 2016, p. 271–272.

2 Steiner R. Geisteswissenschaft und Medizin. GA 312. 8th ed. Basel: Rudolf Steiner Verlag; 2020. English translation: Steiner R. Introducing anthroposophical medicine. Great Barrington: Steiner Books; 2011.

3 van Deventer M. Die anthroposophisch-medizinische Bewegung in den verschiedenen Etappen ihrer Entwicklung. Arlesheim: Natura Verlag; 1992.

4 Kugler W (ed.). Rudolf Steiner und die Gründung der Weleda. Beiträge zur Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe no. 118/119. Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung; 1997.

5 Steiner R, Wegman I. Grundlegendes für eine Erweiterung der Heilkunst nach geisteswissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen. GA 27. 8th ed. Basel: Rudolf Steiner Verlag; 2014. English translation: Steiner R, Wegman I. Extending practical medicine. Fundamental principles based on the science of the spirit. London: Rudolf Steiner Press; 2000.

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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