FondsGoetheanum: Medicine, Therapy and Healthcare

The following hospitals in Switzerland treat patients based on the principles of Anthroposophical medicine:

Ita Wegman Klinik, Arlesheim. Internal medicine, psychosomatic illnesses, cardiology, paediatrics, psychiatry, maternity clinic,

Lukas Klinik, Arlesheim. Oncology

Regionalspital Emmental AG Langnau, Department for Complementary Medicine, internal medicine, general medicine.

Ospidal Scuol, Department for Complementary Medicine.
Internal medicine, general medicine, surgery, orthopaedics, palliative care

Casa di Cura Andrea Cristoforo, Ascona.  Natural health cures with all Anthroposophical therapies, as well as biography work.

Paracelsus-Spital Richterswil. Internal medicine, maternity clinic, anaesthetics, surgery, orthopaedics, ENT, urology, haematology-oncology



Anthroposophical medicine – from one human being to another

Anthroposophical medicine takes into account the human being in all its dimensions: physical body, soul and spirit. Symptoms of an illness mirror disturbances in the harmony between the physical and the mental-spiritual realms. Anthroposophical medicine thus extends the perspective of conventional medicine.

At first glance an Anthroposophical doctor’s practice looks just like any other: the doctor asks questions about the history of the illness, the patient is examined, if necessary there are laboratory or x-ray tests. An Anthroposophical doctor employs these methods like every other doctor.

A sense for imbalances

However, from the beginning the examinations are guided by questions: are there blockages (life forces)? Is there tension (soul forces)? Is the patient no longer able to be the ruler in his or her own ‘house’, their body (spiritual forces)?
The doctor attempts to interpret the physical symptoms as expressions of a human being’s invisible mental-spiritual forces. Illnesses develop if these forces are no longer in balance with each other. There will already be signs of this development before the illness manifests itself in physical symptoms.
The Anthroposophical image of man combined with an exact perception of nature is the basis for Anthroposophical medicine. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, was able to experience these higher forces. He described ways, which, in principle, allow every person to develop the capacity to perceive these forces through consistent exercise. He also explained to doctors how the effects of these forces reveal themselves in the symptoms of illnesses and in the physical human body.

Broadening the conventional view

In earlier times doctors worked with these invisible forces naturally. However, with time this knowledge vanished and the concepts were rejected as outdated by conventional medicine. The intention behind Anthroposophical medicine is to broaden the conventional viewpoint again to include not only the physical body, but also the qualities of soul and spirit, following a direct, modern approach to spirituality. New questions arise from this: where are the decaying processes prevalent, i.e. where are the creative life forces not strong enough to counterbalance the destructive effects of the mental and spiritual forces? The aim is not only to integrate into medicine the immediate effects of the life of soul and spirit, which we perceive in a human being, as it is common practice in modern psychology, but also to recognise the deeper mental and spiritual levels and their effects on the human body, which remain unconscious.

Most importantly, Anthroposophical medicine should not be seen in opposition to conventional medicine, its intention is to provide a broadened viewpoint to the development of medicine in general. As any other doctor, an Anthroposophical doctor has got a medical degree from a university and undergone additional training in their field of specialisation in different hospitals. He or she is familiar with the principles of modern medicine, which mainly take into account the materialistic processes affecting the human being. It is important to an Anthroposophical doctor that their work and research is based on methods that are scientifically sound. In fact there is a significant number of research studies of very high quality based on an anthroposophically extended perspective. However, research possibilities are limited due to insufficient financial resources (no connection to major pharmaceutical industries) and infrastructure (few laboratories and instruments).

Deepened perception

Entering an Antroposophical practice the patient will notice only few technical appliances. For the Anthroposophical doctor the actual conversation and the immediate impression are of great importance. The activity of the spiritual forces, or of the ‘I’, is expressed in the handshake, in the way a person walks, in the balance of cold and warmth. Every impression, every symptom may become transparent for the higher meaning behind it and thus be interpreted as an indicator for the kind of therapy that will be necessary for the patient. This careful observation, often without the use of too many words, makes the patient feel that they are taken seriously and perceived in all aspects of their being.

From one human being to another

Anthroposophical doctors develop their skills of perception and observation. They do not use pendulums or machines to make waves visible and have results on paper. This direct perception of one human being by another, this ‘seeing through’ a patient’s situation is the most humane method of examination and the actual task of any doctor.
According to academic studies Anthroposophical doctors need more consultation time, but use less technical examinations and therapy costs are the same as in conventional medicine or less, although the illnesses dealt with were often more serious than the ones treated by conventional doctors as many patients with chronic or severe illnesses start to look for holistic methods of treatment.

Factors that may contribute to illness

Today it is frequently attempted to completely eradicate an illness. However, we also see new illnesses appear and others occur less often without any apparent reason. The question remains why we get ill at all. Are we looking at malfunctions in certain physical or chemical processes, just as it happens with machines? In Anthroposophical medicine consciousness and self-awareness, as well as the capacities of thought, feeling and will power, are all understood as potential factors that may weaken the health-giving life forces. When we are awake during the day and our soul activities enfold themselves, our health-giving forces are consumed. This is why we get tired during the course of the day.

Seeking and finding balance

When we are asleep our soul activities disappear temporarily. We regenerate, replenishing the forces we have used during the day.
In the morning we feel generally well, refreshed and full of life. If we sleep for too long we may feel dull and find it hard to actually wake up. Evidently, the human being always needs a balance between being awake and being asleep, decay and re-creation, exertion and regeneration.
Being ill means being unable to find that balance. Either we are unable to generate sufficient forces to be awake, so that the effect of the vitalising forces is too strong (dull consciousness), or our ability to regenerate is compromised by a disproportionately strong effect of the decaying forces, causing symptoms of over-use and organs to develop illnesses. Illness is therefore an integral part of the human being, connected to the ability to develop consciousness and self-awareness. These concepts will lead to a different approach to illness, based on the idea that it is also our own responsibility to find our balance again.

Dr. Christoph Wirz, St. Gallen, Switzerland