It’s no secret the human beings are unique and complicated creatures. Our life influences, our experiences, our personality and our upbringing are just some of the factors that make us all as individual as we are. And also impact on our health.
I have been learning about Anthroposophic Medicine… tough word to say isn’t it!
Luckily the philosophies behind it are a lot easier to grasp than the pronunciation.
It’s a holistic way of looking at the health of human beings.
Think of it more of as an extension to traditional medicine rather than an alternative to it. It doesn’t aim to replace conventional medicine but to take things a step further – to use the power of the body to heal itself.
To heal an illness one must treat the body, mind and spirit not just the physical symptoms.
This integrated way of looking at human health was founded by Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner (founder of Biodynamic Farming and Weleda) and developed with Dutch physician Ita Wegman. It takes on many of his same theories about nature helping nature. That the human being and the natural world are not only defined by their physical attributes but their invisible qualities too – their soul and spirit.
Steiner believed that the challenge was the diagnosis of the problem, and if done holistically then the therapeutic treatment is much easier. AM uses the same scientific research as traditional medicine. It analyses the physical symptoms of the illness but looks deeper into the mind and also spirit to find the cause. Then to heal that.
It’s a natural complement to conventional medicine with a key difference – traditional medicine concentrates on killing the disease, suppressing the associated symptoms and replacing missing substances (eg: vitamins and hormones) AM prefers to enable the human body to use self-healing to overcome disease by restoring the balance in the body and strengthening the immune system.
Unlike traditional medicine, AM doesn’t see illness as a chance happening but as a natural occurrence in life. Whilst traditional medicine uses remedies to treat the symptoms of the illness AM aims to heal the illness by discovering and treating the core of the problem.
Interview with Dr. Sergio Grimes – Anthroposophic Doctor
I met with Dr. Grimes, a certified practicing Anthroposophic doctor and President of the Association of Anthroposophic Doctors of Argentina to help me get a deeper understanding of the importance of integrated medicine today and in the future and the theories behind it’s practice.
To become an Anthroposophic doctor one must first complete a traditional medical degree before taking on additional studies to be able to extent “material science” with spiritual science too in order to holistically treat the whole person.
What is Anthroposophic Medicine?
Anthroposophic medicine is looking at human beings from a holistic point of view.
As Anthroposophic doctors we don’t only consider the physical, but also the mind and the spirit. A simple way to think of it is ‘Integrated medicine.’
Why was it important for you to be an Anthroposophic doctor?
The healing is the most important part for me, not just for the symptoms to go away.
Healing is not just the disappearance of symptoms, this is only superficial.
The cause of the disease is not what you see in the superficial but if you go deeper into the person, you will.
It’s a passion for me to understand how human beings, nature and the cosmos are all deeply related.
For example, cycles that are evident in nature are also visible in human beings – the 28 days of the menstrual cycle is also reflected in the cycle of the moon. In nature, the mineral silver relates both to the moon and menstruation. In Anthroposophic medicine we would can use silver as a medicine for menstrual problems.
How does it differ from orthodox medical practices?
Anthroposophic Medicine is more of an extension to traditional medicine than an alternative to it. To be an Athroposophic doctor once must first be a qualified traditional doctor and then to continue our studies into Anthroposophy.
But a key difference between Anthroposphic and conventional medicines is that we don’t look for the illness in the person, but the person in the illness.
This means how we treat it is a little different. A consultation begins in much the same way as an orthodox medical examination – by inspecting the physical symptoms. We check everything to make the analysis before consulting the lab.
But our initial consultations will take longer. Because, after that it’s important to know the person – their life situation, social circumstances, emotional state and the history of the person to make a holistic interpretation. This may lead us to recommend different treatments or to compliment conventional treatments with additional therapies.
The relationship between an Anthroposophical doctor and patient is not a quick link. It’s a deep understanding – life history, family life, childhood, work situation are all very important to us. We only comprehend sickness when we understand the human as a whole.
Is Anthroposophic medicine an extension of traditional medicine or an alternative to it?
One doesn’t come without the other. Anthroposophy is an integrated approach to healing using a variety of healing methods – physical medicines, nutritional support, massage, hydrotherapy, psychiatry, and spiritual therapies such as eurhythmy, music therapy and artistic therapy to find meaning in the illness from the viewpoint of personal development not just the treatment of symptoms.
Dr. Grimes stresses the importance that there are some illnesses that cannot be solved with AM alone but natural remedies can be used to enhance traditional treatments.
For example, cancer needs the treatment of radiotherapy and chemotherapy but AM can be used in conjunction with these treatments to help build the immune system and improve life quality using medicines as well as therapies such as massage, balms, and physical treatments.
Anthroposophy treats the mind, body and spirit. How do you treat the spirit?
The relationship between an Anthroposophical doctor and patient is not a quick link. It’s a deep understanding – life history, family life, childhood, the work situation is all very important to us. We give special focus to early development as this is the foundation of for healing for all of life. This is how we delve deeper into the spirit.
When we understand the deeper meanings for the illness we can use different resources to heal the spirit or emotional state of the patient. Some example treatment tools that we use are psychiatry and physical therapy – such as art therapy and eurythmy to assist the personal development of the patient.
Why is Athroposophic medicine important in Argentina?
10 years ago, alternative medicine wasn’t recognized as ‘medicine’ in Argentina.
But now, the movement of ‘Integrated medicine’ is growing momentum.
We, as Anthroposophic doctors are joining forces with other natural medicinal groups such as Homeopathy and Chinese Medicine to grow. Through the power of this movement alternative medicines is now recognized in the PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) and the WHO (World Health Organization)
The patients of South America themselves are demanding alternative ways to look after their health.
And the popularity of the movement is calling for more doctors and more training for graduating Anthroposophic doctors.
There is currently 100 certified Anthroposphic Doctors in the Association of Anthroposophic Doctors in Argentina and 220 in total practicing. Post Graduate Anthroposophical Medicine courses have been available at Rosario University in Buenos Aires for the last 7 years with 30 graduate doctors now trained. And new projects for post-graduation studies in ‘Integrated Medicine’ are being developed in Mendoza.
What are the main causes for sickness?
There are many factors. Some are visible, some are invisible causes. There are physical factors, heritage factors, effects of the social environment and also the toxic environment eg: air pollution, radioactivity, pesticides, chemicals, toxic food. But each cause is unique to the individual.
How do you see Anthroposphic Medicine role with the changing world of illnesses?
The increase of life expectancy is in parallel with the increase of disease. This needs new answers.
Because every time they are used bacteria are becoming more resistant to the antibiotics. This doesn’t happen with natural medicines. Anthroposophic medicines aren’t designed to kill bacteria but to reinforce the human being to fight for itself. Which does not generate resistance from the bacteria.
What is your perspective for the next ten years of Anthroposphic Medicine in Argentina or the world?
Humanity needs solutions to the problems of their health and we don’t have enough solutions today. We will grow in medicine as we grow in research and reveal more results of nature. There are lots more natural medicines to discover and to be used. There are so many more possibilities.
Anthroposphic medicine is a deep topic, something that can be discussed at length for hours, especially with a wealth of knowledge such as Dr. Grimes. I thank him so much for his time and sharing his knowledge with me.
You’re probably wondering… What does Anthroposophic Medicine have to do with Weleda?
Weleda and the practice of integrative medicine
Weleda believe in and practice of Anthroposophic medicine – a medical system that supports and complements conventional medicine, anthroposophy takes a holistic approach and uses both conventional and Anthroposophic medicinal products. The approach to treatment and the choice of medicinal products and other therapies is highly individualised to every patient, aimed at bringing about a process of development, which will reinforce each patient’s natural self-healing ability.
When creating a detailed medical history and making the resulting choice of individually-tailored medication, co-operation between doctor and patient is essential for recovery. Recovery is a collaborative process in which the doctor includes the patient at every step and in which the patient will actively participate.
Weleda Anthroposophic Medicines
Weleda anthroposophic medicines are produced according to anthroposophic pharmaceutical principles and processes, some of which they share with homeopathy, while some are non-homeopathic processes reflecting the inter-relation between people and the world of nature. Their manufacture is governed by standards of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), and their quality controlled by the criteria and parameters of official pharmacopoeias.
Anthroposophic medicine represents a best practice example of ‘Integrative Medicine’ as defined by the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine www.im-consortium.org.
This topic has got me thinking…
I must point out that I have never had a personal Anthroposophical medical treatment and have never been prescribed Anthroposophical medicines so it is impossible for me to comment of personal experience with these.
Why you ask?
I had never heard of Anthroposophic medicine before the Global Garden journey, and to be honest, the name would have scared me off. But I must admit the more I learn to more I would now look for a AM doctor for when I get home.
What makes a lot of sense to me is when Anthroposophic medicine is referred to as ‘integrated medicine’.
I am a big believer that you have to analyses any situation from a holistic point of view – that’s the Libran in me talking. Balance, balance, balance! And in terms of health, of course that means looking deeper than what we can physically see. Our minds and our emotional state are just as likely to get damaged and require healing as our physical bodies – just because we can’t see the symptoms doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
And for me, anything that helps the body heal itself without chemicals is well worth looking into in my book.
What are your thoughts on natural medicine?