Medicinal Therapy in Anthroposophic Medicine

There are essential relationships between human beings and the kingdoms of nature that are important for the art of healing. We are familiar with the effect on the heart of the medicinal plants Digitalis and Crataegus (Hawthorn), the pain-relieving effect of poppies and willow bark extract (“aspirin”), the blood pressure-lowering effect of Rauwolfia (Indian snake root) and the manifold effects of medicines derived from animals (such as ACE inhibitors isolated from snake venom). In Anthroposophic Medicine, isolated “active substances” play less of a role than compositions of substances—be it in a single plant such as mistletoe, or in a composition of several medicinal plants—in addition to minerals, metals and animal components (such as from bees or ants). This is comparable to the effect of a symphony, which does not result from any individual tone, but from the composition created when musicians in an orchestra play together. In the production of anthroposophic medicines, special attention is paid to the pharmaceutical process, which prepares the substances used so that they can be absorbed, then act in the human organism. An active, regulation-promoting reaction of the organism is usually sought, which is triggered by the medicinal product. The classical idea of active ingredients is rarely in the foreground, but it can apply, such as to the direct applications of mistletoe to treat tumors.

Anthroposophic medicinal products are produced according to the methods of anthroposophic pharmacy from the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms—either manufactured industrially or compounded individually according to a physician’s prescription. Their indication depends on the patient’s therapeutic needs. If, for example, allergic exudative diseases are present, then the patient needs a limiting and shaping therapy principle. An important medication in Anthroposophic Medicine for allergic diseases and allergic rhinitis consists of Citrus medica and Cydonia (lemon and quince); it has a contracting and consolidating effect that runs contrary to the disease process and which is characteristic of both fruits. Studies from basic and clinical research have shown the efficacy of this medicine (1, 2, 3). Bitter substances can help, for example, when there is too little activity of the constituent members of the human being in the digestive tract (recognizable in, e.g., loss of appetite, constipation). Numerous studies are available on the therapeutic efficacy of bitter substances that confirms the clinical experience of individual cases (4, 5). A medicinal product can also promote healing processes by releasing the organism from a misdirected activity—in effect “replacing” it—and thus free up displaced forces so that they can be led back to an inner balance.  

Medicinal therapy is naturally subject to constant development. Clinical experiences are regularly published in the Vademecum of Anthroposophical Medicines , once they have gone through an editorial evaluation process (see ). The efficacy of anthroposophic medicinal therapy is also being evaluated in a growing number of clinical studies with varied designs. Viscum album (mistletoe therapy in oncology) is a particularly important and widely known medication in Anthroposophic Medicine (see more at ).

GAÄD & Medical Section (ed). Vademecum of anthroposophic medicines. 3rd English ed. with CD. Munich: Association of Anthroposophic Physicians in Germany; 2017.

Scheer R, Alban S, Becker H, Beer AM, Blaschek W, Kreis W, Matthes H, Schilcher H, Spahn G, Stange R (ed). Die Mistel in der Tumortherapie 4. Stand der Forschung, klinische Anwendung. Essen: KVC Verlag; 2016

Selg P. Mensch und Mistel. Die Begründung der onkologischen Viscum-Behandlung durch Rudolf Steiner und Ita Wegman. Berlin: Salumed Verlag; 2016.

Selg P, Orange M, Ramm H, Poechtrager S (ed). Mistelforschung und Krebstherapie. Arlesheim: Verlag des Ita Wegman Instituts; 2016.

Selawry A. Metall-Funktionstypen in Psychologie und Medizin. Zur Therapie mit Silber, Merkur, Kupfer, Eisen, Zinn, Blei und Gold. 1. Aufl. Berlin: Salumed-Verlag; 2015.

Vogel HH. Finding remedies. Spiritual knowledge of man and nature. A contribution towards understanding anthroposophic remedies, based on the example of the Wala remedy compositions. Vol. 2 Bad Boll: Natur-Mensch-Medizin; 2000.

Emde B, Riedel J. Anthroposophische Arzneimittel. Beratungsempfehlungen für die Selbstmedikation. Stuttgart: Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft; 2014.

Glöckler M (ed). Anthroposophische Arzneitherapie für Ärzte und Apotheker. 5th update Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag; 2014.

Wilkens J. Die Heilkraft der Christrose. Aarau: AT Verlag; 2014.

Sommer M. Healing plants. Herbal remedies from traditional to anthroposophical medicine. Edingburgh: Floris Books; 2014.