Despite enormous achievements, conventional medicine is based on a limited materialistic view of the human being which has failed to produce a comprehensive understanding of illness. Natural science excludes anything not physically measurable whereas Anthroposophical medicine on the other hand, extends conventional medicine by taking into account both the physical and soul spiritual aspects of the human being and this extended physiology, has remarkable implications for medical treatment.
Anthroposophy encapsulates a spiritual wisdom of the microcosm and the macrocosm, the human being’s place within the universe. This science of the spirit was presented to the world by the Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). Together with the doctor Ita Wegman, Steiner wrote a book for the medical profession “Fundamentals of Therapy” and Dr. Wegman opened one of the first Anthroposophical clinics in Arlesheim, Switzerland, near the worldwide centre for anthroposophy in Dornach near Basel.
Steiner’s aim in the area of medicine was to stimulate the natural healing forces from within the patient. He found that the life forces which maintain the physical body and oppose decay make up a body of invisiblel formative forces. Steiner called this the etheric body and observed that it was particularly active in growth and nutrition and that it underpins the physiology of thinking and memory. The Hauschka rhythmical massage works specifically with these forces and their relationship with the physical body.
Rudolf Steiner also wrote about the human astral body. As conscious beings, we are aware of our environment and emotionally responsive to it and this activity of our nervous system belongs to this third body. The Hauschka based art therapy works deeply in this realm and its relationship with the etheric body of life forces.
Finally, as independent conscious beings, we know ourselves to have the power to change ourselves inwardly. This, our spiritual core or ego, expresses itself in our muscular activity (including the will) and the blood.
These four sheaths interrelate to form a whole and must be treated as a whole if the patient is to be helped. Consciousness has a catabolic (breaking down) effect on the physical body. This is constantly countered by the anabolic (building up) effect of our etheric body. Good health depends on both opposing tendencies being kept in equilibrium. Likewise when considering our thinking, feeling and willing realms found in head, trunk and metabolic limb regions, these activities require balance. The human being is a complex organism but with the extended frontiers of natural science found in Anthroposophical medicine, the human being can be more comprehensively supported in the demands of a rapidly changing world.