“Envision problems” (Anthroposophic medicine)


Imaginary energy is a staple of alternative medicine. It goes by various names and can be summoned by someone using futuristic-looking ersatz electronics, or by someone waving their hands to replicate an ancient shaman’s. But in all cases, there is no explanation for how the energy is accessed, how it is measured, how it is controlled, or what type of energy it is.

In anthroposophic medicine, this energy is a vital force that needs to be manipulated in order to maintain health. The body is dependent on this energy and illness results when the flow is blocked. We have Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman to thank for this knowledge. They revealed it to the world in the 1910s and just look at how much the average lifespan has skyrocketed since.

Anthroposophic medicine comes with built-in ad hoc reasoning for the lack of double blind studies. These treatments are unique to the individual, so what works for one person won’t work for anyone else. What’s more, the field embraces reincarnation, with past lives assumed to impact current health. So the clinician must consider the current state of the patient’s soul, which would have no bearing on the person the practitioner is seeing next.

Steiner and Wegman taught that the soul, the senses, and consciousness all exist separate from the body, and that various homeopathic and alchemist techniques can bring these elements into harmony. Consistent with the stated inability to perform double-blind studies, these claims are limited to anecdotal evidence.

In lieu of research and employment of the Scientific Method, Steiner used his superhero powers to remotely view alternate dimensions and gain insight available only to him. He then dictated his visions on paper and announced the resultant cures and prevention techniques. These included a revelation that mistletoe cures cancer. Not just any mistletoe, however. Steiner’s vision included the stipulation that the plant’s medical potential was influenced by the position of heavenly bodies at harvest time.

In an anomalous lapse into accuracy, Steiner noted that mistletoe is a parasite that lives off host trees and sometimes kills them. So why not use this plant to fight rouge cells? Skeptic leader and physician Edzard Ernst has said, “Mistletoe might have some ingredients which possess pharmacological activity, but to claim that it is a cancer cure is still a huge leap of faith.”

Besides basing its cures on hallucinations instead of evidence, anthroposophic medicine also features an alternative anatomy and physiology. It claims blood is not pumped by the heart, but rather is propelled by the mysterious force that underlies the anthroposophic field. Astrology, crystal healing, and the shape of plants used in treatment can all play a role in patient healing, although exactly how and why are hard to determine since treatment is different for each person. It all makes for a highly idiosyncratic practice, essentially a manifestation of Steiner’s delusions and ego.

Anthroposophic medicine has received bewildering mainstream acceptance at Germany’s Witten-Herdecke University. It rides on legitimate medicine coattails and presents itself as an additional tool, in the same way that Reiki and craniosacral therapy have snuck in the backdoor of U.S. hospitals and taken up residence in integrative medicine wings.

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