Stages in the Development of Anthroposophic Medicine

1920: Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) first starts giving lecture cycles for professionals on the topic of spiritual-scientific aspects in medicine, at the request of interested pharmacists and physicians (1).

1921: Clinical-therapeutic institutes are first established in Arlesheim (near Basel, Switzerland) and Stuttgart (Germany) (2), and in direct connection with this, laboratories are built to manufacture medicines, from which the company Weleda emerged, and later also WALA and others (3).

1924: Inauguration and formulation of the task of “developing the medical system of anthroposophy” by Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman (1876–1943) during a Christmas Conference in 1923/24. After Steiner’s death, social conflicts and psychosocial challenges hampered the further development of work in anthroposophy, while the development of Anthroposophic Medicine continued in clinics and medical practices.

1936: Peripheralization and expansion of Anthroposophic Medicine in Europe. Travel activity of Ita Wegman and continuation of the clinical work in Arlesheim, as well as in a Dependence in Ascona/Ticino (Switzerland).

1948: After the Second World War, intensive social integration efforts by various initiatives and groups.

1960: Identity formation and collaboration within the anthroposophic medical professions of nursing, education for special needs, artistic therapies, nutritional therapy, eurythmy therapy, massage. Promotion of training and further training.

1972 : Institutionalization and bureaucratization. Legal protection of Anthroposophic Medicine in Germany (4).

1984: Scientific legitimization and documentation of Anthroposophic Medicine in Germany and Switzerland.

1988: Start of work to systematically develop international coordination of the anthroposophic medical movement.

1996: Globalization of Anthroposophic Medicine, legitimization processes become existentially significant in the EU and worldwide. Compilation of the first pharmacopoeia of anthroposophic medicines in the form of the Anthroposophic Pharmaceutical Codex/APC by an international panel of experts (5).

2000: Fundamental assessment of the situation of Anthroposoophic Medicine: representatives of all specialist and practice areas of Anthroposophic Medicine discuss the need for action over the next 10 years, especially with regard to research, training, specialist books from the specialist medical fields, and necessary translations into other languages. Ideas for comprehensive public relations work take shape, launch of identity-forming information brochures and a new patient journal, a new format for “Der Merkurstab”, the specialist journal Anthroposophic Medicine, including special issues on specific topics (www.anthromedics.org/merkurstab_online). The Medical Section at the Goetheanum develops further-reaching working structures and establishes a college of internationally active coordinators for all disciplines and fields of practice: the International Coordination of Anthroposophic Medicine (IKAM). This leadership group later publishes its working forms, modes of responsibility and collegial leadership concepts in an effort to realize the working methods initiated by Rudolf Steiner in 1923/24 (6).

2002: Founding of an umbrella organization for Anthroposophic Medicine (DAMiD), an association of all professional associations that are working to realize Anthroposophic Medicine in their field.

2008: Academization and popularization of Anthroposophic Medicine as an approach to medicine “with heart”. Implementation of a master plan to promote research and habilitations in the field Anthroposophic Medicine. Launch of the quality brand AnthroMed®, an initiative of the Association of Anthroposophic Clinics. Publication of the “Vademecum of Anthroposophic Medicines” in German, which is currently also available in English, French, Italian, and Spanish (www.vademecum.org). Public relations work becomes more prominent, websites more numerous and professional. Launch of a website on Mistletoe Therapy in German and English in the field of oncology (www.mistel-therapie.de), closer cooperation between patient associations, which are visible in the media (www.efpam.eu).  

Further and current developments (7)

The International Federation of Anthroposophic Medical Associations (IVAA) coordinates and is responsible for work on the legal protection of Anthroposophic Medicine in all countries where it is present (www.ivaa.info). IVAA cooperates with the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), EUROCAM, the CAMDOC Alliance and the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM).

The European Scientific Cooperative on Anthroposophic Medicinal Products (ESCAMP) is an international association for collaboration between researchers and experts in the field of anthroposophic medicinal products (AMP). Its goal is to develop a scientific basis for a lasting anchoring of AMP in European legislation, both nationally and in EU law (www.escamp.org).

A European Coalition of Homeopathic and Anthroposophic Medicine Producers was established, which is committed to the legal protection and marketability of medicines in these fields (https://echamp.eu).

The European Alliance of Initiatives for Applied Anthroposophy (ELIANT) brings together 10 umbrella organizations active throughout Europe. As a civil society organization, ELIANT is committed to improving the quality of life and cultural diversity in Europe in various fields of life and work – but especially to preserving important freedom of choice (www.eliant.eu).

Anthroposophic medical research aims to promote its knowledge base and clinical practice in all areas of medicine. It assesses the effectiveness, efficiency, safety and costs of interventions, analyzes active ingredients and physiological, biochemical, cellular or genetic effects of individual interventions, and explores fundamental concepts, anthropological dimensions and historical backgrounds, as well as the perspectives of patients and health care providers and new areas of innovation. The research is conducted in many institutions worldwide and uses well established methods, either following general guidelines or developing new methods (https://medsektion-goetheanum.org/forschung).

Medical Section at the Goetheanum

The Medical Section at the Goetheanum in Dornach (Switzerland), founded by Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman in 1924, is part of the School of Spiritual Science. Its task is to research and develop the medical system of anthroposophy. Everyone who is interested in this task can cooperate and collaborate. The Medical Section is thus on the one hand a central place of encounter and professional exchange. On the other hand, it is also the place which has become the international coordinating center and overall representation of Anthroposophic Medicine. Accordingly, the leadership of the section does not work constitutively, it rather works in a dialogical and regulative manner. In other words, its directors and globally active staff are a voluntary association of physicians, therapists and nurses who work together in an effort to further develop Anthroposophic Medicine. For more information, see https://medsektion-goetheanum.org.

1 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.

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

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

4 Zuck R. Das Recht der anthroposophischen Medizin. 2. ed. Baden-Baden: Nomos; 2012.

5 International Association of Anthroposophic Pharmacists. Anthroposophic Pharmaceutical Codex APC. Ed. 4.2. Dornach: IAAP; 2020.

6 Glöckler M, Heine R. Führungsfragen und Arbeitsformen in der anthroposophisch-medizinischen Bewegung. 4. ed. Dornach: Verlag am Goetheanum; 2015. English translation: Glöckler M, Heine R (eds.) Leadership questions and forms of working in the anthroposophic medical movement. Dornach: Verlag am Goetheanum; 2016.

7 Cf. Glöckler M, Girke M, Matthes H. Anthroposophische Medizin und ihr integratives Paradigma. In: Uhlenhoff R (ed.) Anthroposophie in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Berlin: Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag; 2011.