Whole system of Anthroposophic Medicine
Clinical Research on Anthroposophic Medicine as a Whole Medical System
Anthroposophic medicine (AM) is a whole medical system (WMS) (1). AM treatment includes specific AM therapy modalities (special medications; counselling; special artistic, movement and physical therapies; special nursing techniques, diet) which can be administered alone or together with conventional treatment and sometimes other, non-AM complementary or alternative treatment modalities (2). The AM conception of the human being includes a number of typologies relevant for diagnostics and therapy, such as two (upper and lower) poles, three dynamic systems, four levels of formative forces, and seven planetary or metal qualities (3). Accordingly, different patients with the same diagnosis according to conventional medicine may have different typological profiles, each requiring a different, i.e. individualised AM treatment. On the other hand, AM treatment can also be standardised.
For practical purposes, research of AM as a WMS (AM-WMS research) can be defined as research where the AM intervention
- is either complex, involving a combination of more than one AM therapy modality (e.g. physician counselling + eurythmy therapy),
- or it involves individualised medication treatment (that is, two or more AM medications that are not administered in the same combination to all patients).
According to this definition, research where the intervention is one nonmedication AM therapy modality administered in an individualised fashion (e.g. all patients have eurythmy therapy but the selection of eurythmy exercises is individualised) is not classified as AM-WMS research.
- Clinical studies of AM-WMS have been performed on a range of indications, including
- acute respiratory or ear infections (4,5), pneumonia (6)
- asthma (7,8)
- stroke (9), migraine (10)
- cancer (11-16)
- rheumatoid arthritis (17,18) and other inflammatory rheumatic disorders (17)
- pain conditions (19)including trigeminal neuralgia (20) and low back pain (21,22)
- anxiety disorders, (23) depression,(24) attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (25)
- mixed/various conditions (26-31)
The AM interventions were delivered in inpatient (6,9,11-15) or outpatient settings (remaining studies).
The AM interventions included the following AM therapy modalities (administered to at least 5 patients in the study analysis):
- individualised AM medication treatment (4-12,14-20,23-25,28,32)
- eurythmy therapy (5,7,8,10-12,14,15,18,23,25,28,32)
- AM art therapy (5,7,8,10-12,14,15,18,28,32)
- coloured light therapy (14,15)
- rhythmical massage therapy (5,10-12,23,28)
- external applications of substances of botanical origin (e.g. ginger, mustard, horseradish) or dairy products (quark) (4,6,14,15,17)
- hydrotherapy (11,12,14,15)
- prolonged consultations with AM physicians (5,8,10-12,14,15,17,23,25,32)
- dietary counselling (11,12,17,18,28)
Most AM-WMS studies or study publications included clinical outcomes such as disease symptoms or quality of life, while some focused on clinical outcome predictors,(33) medication safety,(30,31,34-36) antibiotic use,(5) patient satisfaction,(26,37) aspects of self-care(13) or health costs.(29,32,38,39)
Further data on AM-WMS studies published up till 2010 can be found in a systematic review.(40,41) The European Scientific Cooperative on Anthroposophic Medicinal Products (ESCAMP, http://www.escamp.org) is currently preparing an updated systematic review of clinical studies of individualised AM medication therapy.
Dr. med. Harald J. Hamre
IFAEMM Freiburg at the Witten/Herdecke University
ESCAMP - European Scientific Cooperative on Anthroposophic Medicinal Products
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