Anthroposophic medicine works with medicines that act on different levels: they intervene directly in acute and chronic disease processes, alleviate symptoms and support the healing process. They are prescribed either as a single therapy or often as an adjunct to conventional medicine – in accordance with the approach of anthroposophic medicine, which sees itself as an extension of modern scientific medicine and not as a substitute for it. The anthroposophic medicines are subject to a strict quality control. The legal requirements that apply to all medicinal products. The broad field of application ranges from trivial illnesses to serious disease patterns, such as mistletoe therapy in oncology (cancer therapy).
Something very special
The origin, production and application of anthroposophic medicines can be traced back to Rudolf Steiner, who worked out the basic concepts together with pharmacists at the beginning of the last century. Since then, these basic principles have been continuously developed according to modern findings.
Anthroposophic medicine uses almost exclusively natural raw materials for its medicines. The raw materials and starting materials are either of mineral, metallic, plant or animal origin: for example, quartz, sulfur, copper, silver, arnica, euphrasia, bees, ants, snake venom. Most medicinal plants come from biodynamic cultivation or certified wild collection. The mineral and metallic raw materials are extracted from naturally occurring rocks, minerals and ores. Anthroposophic pharmacy works out the specific healing powers of a natural substance in order to direct and target them towards a specific therapeutic goal.
Versatile production and application
Anthroposophic medicines are produced according to very different manufacturing processes, depending on the clinical picture in question. In addition to the conventional methods of production – such as extraction of drugs or. fresh medicinal plants with alcohol/water mixtures or processing of minerals with chemical-physical methods – special processes are also used in anthroposophic pharmacy: One example is the so-called metal mirror production, in which the metal has an extraordinary purity and quality, which is not commercially available in this form.
In addition, anthroposophic pharmacy has a wide range of different medicines available, which makes it possible to tailor the treatment precisely to the medical requirements of the particular clinical picture and individually to the patient's whole organism. A complete overview is provided by the Anthroposophic Pharmaceutical Codex (APC), which as a pharmacopoeia ensures the quality of anthroposophic medicines.
Effective against cancer
Anthroposophic pharmacy has also proven effective for serious illnesses. The best-known example is mistletoe therapy, which is now one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in cancer medicine and has thus become a de facto standard biological therapy in oncology.
Mistletoe extracts act in different ways in the human body. You can "suicide (apoptosis) of the cancer cells and help to stop the tumor from growing further or even make it smaller. Immune cells that have been reduced due to cancer multiply again. Many studies have now shown that mistletoe therapy has a direct effect on quality of life: cancer patients treated with mistletoe feel better and more efficient overall, have a better appetite, sleep better and are less susceptible to infections. Mistletoe therapy also has a mood-lifting effect, can alleviate tumor-related pain and improve fatigue syndrome (tiredness).
Mistletoe extracts are usually injected subcutaneously. The dose is slowly increased until a reddening is visible at the injection site. This local reaction is not a side effect, but desirable – it indicates that the immune system is reacting to mistletoe. Each mistletoe therapy is an individual therapy, so there is no scheme that is equally valid for all patients. Accordingly, there is always an introductory phase in mistletoe therapy to test tolerability and to find the right dose as well as the appropriate preparation. This is followed by cyclical maintenance therapy over several years. Mistletoe therapy should be carried out by a physician who specializes in this area.
Although mistletoe therapy is the best-researched complementary medical procedure in cancer medicine, its clinical efficacy is still the subject of controversial debate. However, if we look at the studies objectively, we can no longer avoid the conclusion that mistletoe therapy is an established therapeutic method with a high degree of efficacy. Patients now see it the same way. Around 60 percent of cancer patients use mistletoe today.