Internationale Koordination
Anthroposophische Medizin
Freie Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft
Medizinische Sektion am Goetheanum

Eurythmy Therapy

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Eurythmy therapy, a mindfulness-oriented movement therapy in Anthroposophic Medicine (AM) which was introduced by Rudolf Steiner in 1912, focuses on the relationship between life forces, the physical body, soul and spirit (1–3). In eurythmy therapy specific movements and gestures for the respective indication are taught to patients by the therapists, mostly in individual therapy sessions. They are intended as expressions of e.g. music, speech and soul through the whole body. Patients are guided to inwardly ‘feel’ these movements and gestures. The aim of eurythmy therapy is to strengthen the salutogenetic resources of the patients and to stimulate somatic healing processes (1, 2, 4, 5). 

Currently, eurythmy therapy is used for a variety of indications including e.g. diseases of the musculoskeletal system, the cardiovascular system, psychosomatic diseases, and respiratory organs. It is used for both acute and chronic diseases (5–7). The effectiveness of eurythmy therapy in a therapeutic context has been investigated in a number of studies; among these were single case studies, pre-post studies without control groups, and non-randomized comparative studies (2, 8).  

Two systematic literature reviews concluded that eurythmy therapy is a relevant add-on therapy in the therapeutic context with beneficial effects on clinically relevant health-related outcomes (2, 8). A positive impact of eurythmy therapy was found e.g. on health-related quality of life (9–14), anxiety disorders (13, 15) and fatigue symptoms (16). A single-armed pilot study found beneficial effects on autonomic regulation and self-regulation in arterial essential hypertension patients (10). Basic research data underline rhythmic effects of specific eurythmy exercises on cardiac autonomic regulation (17). Regarding brain tumors in children and adolescents, a single-arm study has shown short-term effects on neuromotor and cognitive functioning after eurythmy therapy (18). The Anthroposophic Medicine Outcomes Study (AMOS), a prospective cohort study referring to patients with various chronic diseases, investigated the effects of a multimodal intervention including eurythmy therapy. Subgroup analysis of patients using eurythmy therapy as their main therapy modality showed positive effects on chronic low back pain and functional back-related disability (19, 20), asthma severity in children/adolescents with asthma (11), and core symptoms in 1-16 year-old patients with attention deficit with hyperactivity (ADHD) (14]. A positive impact of eurythmy therapy in five boys with ADHD was also found in a previous study. It showed positive results in e.g. concentration, and movement skills (21).

Currently, several interesting trials are completed and being published (e.g.): One randomized-controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of eurythmy therapy compared to yoga and physiotherapeutic exercises for chronic low back pain (Witten/Herdecke University, Germany, Charité Berlin, Germany, Gemeinschaftskrankenhaus Hävelhöhe, Berlin, Germany) (22). First data showed that, compared to the ‘gold standard’ physiotherapeutic exercises, yoga and eurythmy therapy were similarly effective in reducing pain, while there was a significant benefit for eurythmy therapy in improving SF-12's mental health component compared to yoga and physiotherapeutic exercises (23). Further, the Alanus University (Alfter, Germany) in cooperation with the ARCIM-Institute (Filderstadt, Germany) is conducting a study on the psycho-physiological effects (e.g. heart rate variability, blood pressure, respiration, pulse and heat development in the body) of eurythmy-therapeutic ‘sound movement’, and a study on the effectiveness of eurythmy therapy in pollen allergy. In addition, a study on stress-prevention through eurythmy therapy is ongoing at the Alanus University.

July 2017

Désirée Poier, MSc. and Prof. Dr. med. Arndt Büssing;
Witten/Herdecke University

References

  1. Kirchner-Bockholt M: Grundelemente der Heil-Eurythmie. Dornach: Verlag am Goetheanum 2010; (5),

  2. Büssing A, Ostermann T, Majorek M, Matthiessen PF: Eurythmy Therapy in clinical studies : a systematic literature review. BMC Complement Altern Med 2008; 8(8),
    http://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-8-8

  3. Steiner R, Wegmann I: Fundamentals of Therapy : An Extension of the Art of healing through Spiritual Knowledge. Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag 1983;

  4. Laue HB von, Laue EE: Zur Physiologie der Heileurythmie : Lautgesetze und Therapieordnungen. Dornach: Verlag am Goetheanum 2006;

  5. Internationales Forum Heileurythmie Medizinische Sektion der Freien Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft Goetheanum: Rahmen-Curriculum der Heileurythmieausbildung. Schweiz 2008;
    http://heileurythmie-medsektion.net/sites/default/files/Datei-Uploads/CC%20deutsch%2012_02_rev_0.pdf
    Accessed 14 May 2014

  6. von Laue H-B, Elke E: The Physiology of Eurythmy Therapy. Edinburgh: Floris Books 2010; (1),

  7. Ritchie J, Wilkinson J, Gantley M, et al: A model of integrated primary care : anthroposophic medicine. University of London: Queen Mary 2001;

  8. Lötzke D, Heusser P, Büssing A. A systematic literature review on the effectiveness of eurythmy therapy. J. Integr. Med. 2015;

  9. Kanitz JL, Pretzer K, Reif M, et al: The impact of eurythmy therapy on stress coping strategies and health-related quality of life in healthy, moderately stressed adults. Complement Ther Med 2011; 19, pp. 247–255.
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2011.06.008

  10. Zerm R, Lutnaes-Mast F, Mast H, et al: Effects of Eurythmy Therapy in the Treatment of Essential Arterial Hypertension : A Pilot Study. Glob Adv Health Med 2013; 2(24),
    https://doi.org/10.7453/gahmj.2013.2.1.006

  11. Hamre HJ, Witt CM, Kienle GS, et al: Anthroposophic therapy for asthma : A two-year prospective cohort study in routine outpatient settings. J Asthma Allergy 2009; 2, pp. 111–128
.

  12. Hamre HJ, Witt CM, Kienle GS, et al: Anthroposophic therapy for children with chronic disease : a two-year prospective cohort study in routine outpatient settings. BMC Pediatr 2009; 9(39), pp. 247–255.
    https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2431-9-39

  13. Hamre HJ, Witt CM, Kienle GS, et al: Anthroposophic Therapy for Anxiety Disorders : A Two-year Prospective Cohort Study in Routine Outpatient Settings. Clin. Med. Psychiatry 2009;

  14. Hamre HJ, Witt CM, Kienle GS, et al: Anthroposophic therapy for attention deficit hyperactivity : a two-year prospective study in outpatients. Int J Gen Med 2010; 3, pp. 239–253.
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2011.06.008

  15. Schwab JH, Murphy JB, Andersson P, et al: Eurythmy in Anxiety. Altern Ther 2011; 17, pp. 58–65.

  16. Kanitz JL, Pretzer K, Reif M, et al: The impact of eurythmy therapy on fatigue in healthy adults : A controlled trial. Eur J Integr Med 2012; 4, pp. e289–e297.
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1876382012000406

  17. Edelhäuser F, Minnerop A, Trapp B, et al: Eurythmy therapy increases specific oscillations of heart rate variability. BMC Complement Altern Med 2015; 15, pp. 167.
    http://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-015-0684-6

  18. Kanitz JL, Pretzer K, Calaminus G, et al: Eurythmy therapy in the aftercare of pediatric posterior fossa tumour survivors : A pilot study. Complement Ther Med 2013; 21(1), pp. 3–9.
    http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2012.02.007

  19. Hamre HJ, Witt CM, Glockmann A, et al: Anthroposophic vs. conventional therapy for chronic low back pain : a prospective comparative study. Eur J Med Res 2007; 12, pp. 302–310.

  20. Hamre HJ, Witt CM, Kienle GS, et al: Long-term outcomes of anthroposophic therapy for chronic low back pain : A two-year follow-up analysis. J Pain Res 2009; 2, pp. 75–85.

  21. Majorek M, Tüchelmann T, Heusser P: Therapeutic Eurythmy-movement therapy for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) : a pilot study. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 2004; 10, pp. 46–53.
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S1353-6117(03)00087-8

  22. Büssing A, Poier D, Ostermann T, et al: Treatment of Chronic Lower Back Pain : Study Protocol of a Comparative Effectiveness Study on Yoga, Eurythmy Therapy, and Physiotherapeutic Exercises. Complement Med Res 2017;
    https://doi.org/10.1159/000471801

  23. Büssing A, Jung S, Lötzke D, Recchia DR, Robens S, Ostermann T, Berger B, Stankewitz J, Kröz M, Jeitler M, Kessler C, Michalsen A: Randomized clinical trial to treat patients with chronic back pain : a comparison of the efficacy of Yoga, Eurythmy therapy and standard physiotherapy. (322. ed.) BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2017; 17(1), pp. 322,
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2011.06.008
    Abstract P27, p. 59.