Anthroposophic medicine is a form of integrative medicine that originated in Europe but is not well known in the US. It is comprehensive and heterogenous in scope and remains provocative and controversial in many academic circles. Assessment of the nature and potential contribution of anthroposophic medicine to whole person care and global health seems appropriate.
Because of the heterogenous and multifaceted character of anthroposophic medicine, a narrative review format was chosen. A Health Technology Assessment of anthroposophic medicine in 2006 was reviewed and used as a starting point. A Medline search from 2006 to July 2020 was performed using various search terms and restricted to English. Books, articles, reviews and websites were assessed for clinical relevance and interest to the general reader. Abstracts of German language articles were reviewed when available. Reference lists of articles and the author’s personal references were also consulted.
The literature on anthroposophic medicine is vast, providing new ways of thinking, a holistic view of the world, and many integrating concepts useful in medicine. In the last ∼20 years there has been a growing research base and implementation of many anthroposophical concepts in the integrated care of patients. Books and articles relevant to describing the foundations, scientific status, safety, effectiveness and criticisms of anthroposophic medicine are discussed.
An objective and comprehensive analysis of anthroposophic medicine finds it provocative, stimulating and potentially fruitful as an integrative system for whole person care, including under-recognized life processes and psychospiritual aspects of human beings. It has a legitimate, new type of scientific status as well as documented safety and effectiveness in some areas of its multimodal approach. Criticisms and controversies of anthroposophic medicine are often a result of lack of familiarity with its methods and approach and/or come from historically fixed ideas of what constitutes legitimate science.