Arts Therapies for Diarrhea

Therapeutic drawing, modelling and music

Heike Stenz, Cristina Mösch, Juliane Staguhn, Georg Hegglin, Andrea Ritter

A fundamental therapeutic goal in the treatment of diarrhea is to strengthen the patient’s formative forces via deliberate and conscious engagement with an artistic task. 

Charcoal drawing

  • Work with charcoal, without too much blending.
    Simple tasks, using rather small, manageable formats. Composition of light and dark in different stages. More boundaries than transitions.

  • Make distinctions. Work thoroughly, shape vividly. 

  • Hatching (technique using hatch marks), experiencing every stroke as an act of the ‘I’, finding a rhythm while doing it.
    Clear structures have a cleansing and forming effect.

  • No interweaving patterns, no large movements, rather, e.g., a five-pointed or six-pointed star. 

Pastel drawing

  • Drawing with dry chalk pastels.
    The entire colored area can be given an “exhaling” expression. Perceive inhalation and exhalation during the painting process.

  • Concentrated, conscious handling of colors, especially blue, violet, pink. 

  • Draw a variety of green tones that are supported by blue.
    Green has a calming effect and appears as submerged, bound light.

  • Draw dialogs between complementary colors.
    The “how” is decisive: concentrate, consolidate, organize.

  • Ask what is needed by each color.
    Condensing and composing as a stimulus for ‘I’-activity.

  • Incorporate strengthening principles with an emphasis on the design element, while stimulating healthy breathing.


  • Discover a form in the balance between inside and outside. 

  • A bowl shape, formed in the hand as a highly closed, convex, shell-forming shape.
    Shapes formed in the hand build up the person’s forces, are rather small, and the person is closer to them.

  • Depending on the constitution of the patient, have the person form simple Platonic solids, such as a cube (starting from a sphere).

Music therapy

Viola Heckel

The inflammatory, dissolving gesture of diarrhea should be met with a musical quality that conveys a sense of “being present in oneself”,

  • e.g., through appropriate listening exercises or active music therapy.

  • Deep gong sounds, played from the periphery, followed by cymbal playing,
    stimulate a resonating sound experience that leads to invigoration through the rhythmic playing gesture of the arms between the center and the periphery.

Anthroposophic therapeutic speech

Barbara Ziegler-Denjean

In diarrhea, the digestive organization’s formative forces are not effective enough. This can be observed in too bright and firm vocalization by the patient: the person does not holistically grasp their speech, internalize it and release it.

  • Spontaneous, deep inhalation and clear, structured consonants lead to a warming and shaping of the metabolism.

  • It is good to support as many spoken elements as possible with the feet,
    e.g., by calmly walking the syllables, carefully rolling the feet, briefly stamping before speaking and energetically placing the heels in combination with the palatal sounds “G” and “K”.

    Here, too, the lower back space can be re-integrated: the hands can be pushed forwards, with emphasis on the wrists, alongside and past the abdomen.

  • “G” has a particularly formative effect. Suitable speech exercises are:
    “Gay, gaunt, gone” (“Ganz gerne gehen”)

    “Grey, gritty granite grounds” (“Grau Gries Granat Graupe”)
    “Gruesome are they” (“Greulich ist das”, 1, p. 87, Creative Speech p. 107)

    “Dart may these boats through darkening gloaming” (“Dass er dir log uns darf es nicht loben”, 1, p. 15, Creative Speech p. 35)

    This exercise – very attentively walked and spoken forward and backward in syllable steps – brings stability and order. Attention should always be paid to good articulation and clear vowels.

  • Epic poetry is recommended as text work, spoken from a calm viewpoint.

1 R. Steiner. Creative speech. The formative process of the spoken word. London: Rudolf Steiner Press; 2014.

Research news

Anthroposophic Medicine is an evaluated part of CRF treatment   
Cancer-realted fatigue (CRF) is one of the most frequent and prevalent symptoms expressed by cancer patients and cancer survivors. A current systematic review aimed to identify different clinical evaluation scales and interventions available for fatigue associated with cancer. Therefore, 2611 research articles were screened and revealed also non-pharmacological interventions such as exercise, complementary therapies, nutritional and psychoeducational interventions, sleep therapy, Anthroposophic Medicine, and various pharmacological agents effective in managing CRF. The results are published open access:
Supplementary note: The impact of misteltoe therapy in CRF has been evaluated by a research group at Havelhöhe Community Hospital:

Further information on Anthroposophic Medicine