ANTHROPOSOPHICALLY EXTENDED MEDICINE:
A FIRST VIEW

© 1997 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. (all rights reserved)


I took the opportunity of my first German trip (October-November, 1997) to investigate the medical work of the Anthroposophical movement. This is a philosophical current that it is well-known in German-speaking lands, but little known in the United States. It was founded by the Austrian visionary, Rudolf Steiner, Ph.D. in the early part of the 20th century. Steiner had original ideas about many things, including medicine. He suggested to a medical colleague, Ita Wegman, M.D., that she investigate the use of mistletoe in cancer therapy. His reasons for suggesting this are somewhat obscure. Nevertheless, Dr. Wegman complied and felt that it had some value. In the 1920s she founded the Wegman clinic in Arlesheim, Switzerland, not far from the world headquarters of Anthroposophy, the Goetheanum in Dornach. These are both in suburbs of Basel. In the 1960s, a hospital devoted specifically to cancer was founded, the Lukas Klinik. ("Klinik" in German can mean either clinic or hospital.)

It would be a serious misunderstanding to equate Anthroposophically Extended Medicine (AEM) just with misteltoe. Actually, one could say that the AEM approach has three parts:

First of all, this type of medicine starts from a base in conventional medicine. They attempt to preserve all the beneficial things that regular hospitals and doctors do.

Second, they use a variety of mind-body techniques that are quite unique to their movement. This includes "curative eurythmy," a kind of dance and movement exercise; music therapy; light therapy; art therapy; etc. All the details pertaining to the patient's stay are carefully scrutinized. Thus, the shape and size of the corridors are carefully taken into account, the colors of the halls are chosen with deliberation, etc. The overall impact is a peaceful and restful one.

Finally, they utilize mistletoe preparations, especially Iscador.

LUKAS KLINIK

I spent the day at the Lukas Klinik as the guest of Ms. Gundel Krazer, the hospital administrator. I also met with Dr. Heiligtag, director of the hospital, and with Dr. Michael Werner, director of the Hiscia institute across the street from the Klinik. It is here that the world famous Iscador is prepared from mistletoe (Viscum alba), a semi-parasitical plant that grows on trees across most of Europe and Asia.

It was fascinating to see the elaborate lengths that are taken to properly mix the summer and the winter varities of mistletoes. Mistletoe also produces different saps, depending on which tree it is found growing on. Dr. Werner explained that most of the mistletoe for Iscador comes from the south of France, and requires dangerous work climbing high in trees to retrieve it. The hardest of all to find is the oak mistletoe, since this semi-parasite will only grow on one in 100,000 oak trees. And so they advertise in French agricultural papers, seeking leads to this type of mistletoe. Lately, Hiscia has been doing some experiments to cultivate oak mistletoe, and we saw the results of these experiments growing outside the laboratory.

I had other significant encounters with representatives of Anthroposophy. Dr. Sören Schmidt, vice-director of research for Helixor, another mistletoe company drove several hours from their headquarters in Rosenfeld to meet me and hear me speak. Dr. Schmidt explained to me the subtle differences between the various mistletoe products. There are now at least eight companies in Germany and Switzerland making mistletoe products. Although you might expect fierce competition, what I sensed with a cooperative spirit among them. (In the city of Ulm, I also saw mistletoe containing herbal teas in regular drug stores.)

FILDERKLINIK

Later in the week, I went to visit another of the Anthroposophically Extended hospitals in Germany. This was the Filderklinik, situated in the small town of Filderstadt. When the Filderklinik was established it was out in the fields. Today it is a suburb of Stuttgart, not far from the U.S. airbase. The Filderklinik was as impressive as the Lukas Klinik. That is because it is a regular medium-sized hospital serving the needs of the entire local population. They do everything that such a center would do, e.g., delivering 1,400 children per year. They also care for many seriously ill cancer patients. I was greeted at the entrance by my old friend, Jürgen Schürhölz, M.D., whom I knew from his testimony a few years ago before Senator Harkin's subcommittee. (Dr. Schürhölz was largely responsible for the German Commission C monographs on AEM.) He is a wise and caring clinician. Now the medical director of the Weleda group, he maintains intimate ties with the Filderklinik, of which he used to be medical director as well. He also introduced us to Ernst Harmening, the "Geschäftsfürher," (chief administrator) who kindly accompanied me on our tour of the hospital.

We went floor to floor and room to room through this hospital. They have many of the same facilities as the Lukas Klinik, although cancer is not the specialty of the hospital. Incidentally, I ate lunch at both the Filder and Lukas Kliniks and was impressed by the quality of the vegetarian cafeteria food. It was really delicious! I was also impressed by the fact that patients are encouraged to get up and come to the cafeteria for their meals, where they mingle with the staff members.

I understand that Anthroposophy is controversial, and that some people look on it as a kind of mystical sect. I do not pretend to understand much about Anthroposophy as a movement or a philosophy. Its starting premises are far different from my own. However, I think we should judge people primarily by their works. ("In the beginning was the Deed," said Steiner's hero, Goethe.) By these standards, I have a high regard for the kind of care that representatives of this movement offer to patients. I like its leaders. I was impressed by the quality of the data of they accumulate and the generally excellent care they provide. Overall, they seems to me to be ethical, responsible, and self-sacrificing in a type of medicine that has not always been so.

I was happy to have the opportunity to see the results of this treatment philosophy in action on its native soil.

--Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. (revised 12/17 and 12/27/98)


Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. is director of the The Moss Reports for cancer patients. Dr. Moss is the author of eleven books and three documentaries on cancer-related topics. He is or has been an advisor on alternative cancer treatments to the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Urological Association, Columbia University, the University of Texas, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the German Society of Oncology. He wrote the first article on alternative medicine for the Encyclopedia Britannica yearbook. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in the East, and Who's Who in Entertainment (as a film documentarian). This Web site does not advocate any particular treatment for cancer. We urge you to always seek competent medical advice for all health problems, especially cancer. Before consulting our site please read our full Disclaimer statement.



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