Anthroposophical medicine is not identical to natural medicine (“Naturheilkunde”, or naturopathy). It is, however, sometimes called “natural medicine” when reference is made to the use of medicines that have been produced from natural raw materials.
Anthroposophical medicine is not phytotherapy (herbal medicine), despite the fact that about 250 medicinal plants provide the raw material and basis for Anthroposophical medicines. Medicines prepared from natural mineral substances are more widely used in this field and generally are considered more important than those made from plant materials.
Anthroposophical medicine is not simply some form of homeopathic medicine. Two things it has adopted from that discipline are the method of potentiation (although greatly modified) and the notation used for potencies (in Anthroposophical medicine potencies above D30 or 30X are seldom used).
Anthroposophical medicine is rooted in the Western scientific paradigm and views itself as an extended form of this medicine. It is not in opposition to contemporary conventional medicine, which works with the scientific principles and methods accepted today; it fully recognizes and also implements its principles. However, Anthroposophy adds further insights, gained through other methods described above, to what can be known about the human being through today’s recognized scientific methods, and out of this extended insight into the world and the human being, it finds itself impelled to work also for an extension of the art of medicine.
Fundamentally speaking, contemporary medicine can offer no objection to what Anthroposophical medicine represents, since it does not negate contemporary medicine.
In addition, Anthroposophical medicine fully accepts the values of other medical traditions, as far as they fulfill the criteria of being scientific and comprehensible. Anthroposophical medicine intends to understand and renew great old traditions like Greco-Arab medicine (Tibb), Ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine.
Anthroposophically extended medicine seeks to make these old medical traditions accessible to modern thinking, consequently making them available to all people, which includes health care professionals and patients.
In this outline, the relationships between Anthroposophically extended medicine and other leading medical traditions will be investigated, so that the various traditions may cross-pollinate each other.
Anthroposophically extended medicine would never have been made possible without the Dutch physician Ita Wegman (1876-1943).
We highly recommend studying a thorough biographical documentation by the Dutch physician J. E. Zeylmans van Emmichoven, who knew Ita Wegman personally, published by Mercury Press 1995, Spring Valley.
This biographical study of Ita Wegman (1876-1943), one of the most outstanding and controversial pupils and co-workers of Rudolf Steiner, will be available in an English translation later this year. It is an achievement of great importance by J. E. Zeylmans van Emmichoven (son of the late Dr. Willem Zeylmans van Emmichoven), who has for many years studied and researched all available sources – essays, autobiographical writings, diaries and letters – concerning this remarkable personality. The result of this is an outstanding piece of Anthroposophical history. It gives a breathtaking picture of the intimate cooperation between Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman and how formative this relationship was for the establishment of anthroposophical medical work and the events leading up to the inauguration of the newly- formed Anthroposophical Society and the School of Spiritual Science. Steiner described to Ludwig Polzer- Hoditz that it was through Ita Wegman’s “Parsifal” question that Anthroposophy found its new esoteric and early foundations in the Christmas Foundation Meeting of 1923.