To fully understand anthroposophic naturopathy today, we need to be clear what naturopathic medicine is, and how anthroposophy can help it to evolve; to understand what path anthroposophy offers naturopathic medicine, and all medicine for that matter, to move forward toward the higher, integrative ground we all need. That ground can’t be defined by any one discipline without succumbing to that discipline’s limitations. To get to that higher ground, where East and West, science and religion, holism and reductionism, nature and laboratory, spirituality and materialism find common and practical bridges, we can’t be dependent upon naturopathy or any other one medicine to get there. Something more is needed that is open to all, yet outside them, as a friendly adversary, keeping a door of greater possibility open within and between them.
The Necessary First Half of Science: The Initiation of Descending Ever More Deeply into Matter
Currently, allopathic medicine occupies the prevailing place in our cultural paradigm. Although more MDs and DOs are beginning to question this paradigm, it still controls the medical schools, technology, organization of research and knowledge, and the way medicine is marketed and practiced. Within this paradigm, creation of knowledge follows a path that mirrors the death process, in the analytical destruction of matter to find what is felt to be the locus of truth. For example, to understand human physiology, Western science looks into organ systems within the human being; looks at specific organs; looks histologically at tissues within an organ; looks at cells within tissues and how they interact; and looks at specific molecular activity that comprises this interaction, right down to the working of DNA. From this path of knowledge, medications are created and genes are manipulated in the name of health.
All this is important and needs to be researched and studied as thoroughly as possible, but it is only half of the scientific process. It is essentially an initiation process that ends in death, without any grasp of the turning point in which life and healing continually rise up again. For the other half, the study of how we rise from the descent into death into life and healing, Western science has little perceptual or conceptual frame of understanding. It unknowingly relies upon this other half to silently heal the destructive process, but without its full development into consciousness, we are ultimately doomed to a medicine that is palliative at best.
The Vital but Overlooked Second Half: Rising up into Life and Renewal
To develop this other half, we don’t leave sciences behind, but we do enter into a different scientific domain, the quantum world of warmth, light, and sound, where things are more difficult to measure. Moving from warmth into light and then sound reverses the step-down process into matter and provides the path for ascending out of it in renewal. In the gaseous atmosphere of the blood and body tissue cells, warmth ignites a light process that in turn stimulates chemical activity in the tissue fluids, where sol shifts to gel and back again, dissembling and re-assembling genetic expression, cellular architecture, and connective tissue in different forms through tone, which manifests in ongoing physiological and physical changes. Thus we have the capability to move back up from gene to cell to tissue to being, in a living process of renewal and healing.
Diet, environment, social stress, and so forth, all work synergistically through warmth, light, and sound to modulate gene expression. Under a toxic load, daily mutations happen as “genomic stress fractures,” needing to be repaired to maintain cellular integrity. These can increase ten-fold or more, until cells lose capacity for self-regulation, and genes express maladaptive forms, as in cancer. (1) But genetic expression is also shaped by the greater coherence and higher harmonics of a healthier lifestyle and environment. Cellular expression of mutation is then also a global bodily event—reflecting an ever-shifting cytoskeletal struggle, a yoga, to embody the most energetic architecture for adaptive gene expression, of which we as spiritual beings are the co-architects. (2)
Accepting that genetic defects are an ongoing occurrence, while overlooking that we have any power to surmount deleterious effects through achieving a greater wholeness of being, is a self-fulfilling outlook that presumes a rigid, monolithic human biology and leads to focus upon alleviating symptoms through medications, surgery, genetic engineering, transplants, and mechanical replacement of human functioning. Underlying this is a belief in humanity’s moving bravely toward a kind of physical immortality through engaging in a “war” upon this inflexible body, overcoming biology’s and nature’s limitations and affronts, evolutionary challenges, using pesticides, excessive antibiotics and vaccinations, irradiation, chemotherapy, immune suppression, sterile environments, and so forth. These interventions are all meant to work toward constructing a new biology-nature interface, in which a body incapable of self-regulation can survive. This approach has brought amazing medical advancements, easing suffering and offering validity to the paradigm. No one denies the value of medical technology’s restoration of vision, hearing, use of limbs, organ function, and so forth. Unfortunately, this one-sided outlook has also contributed to a devitalization that threatens to enslave us.
In Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Weston A. Price convincingly demonstrated how devitalized diets quickly impact physiology and anatomy across generations. (3) Starting with the depleted diets and soils that Price pointed out as early as the 1920s, now we have added the effects of the factors listed above that have emerged from a sociocultural health paradigm that attacks and expropriates the body. The outcome is that we face increasingly debilitated bodily architecture and functioning as a biological reality. Clearly there are historical examples where, by subjection or circumstance, people have been led into illness that has also served them (such as descendants of salt-retaining Africans who survived slave ships, now suffering hypertension). But never in recorded history has there been such widespread scientific deconstruction of human beings, dictated from the supremacy of a rational ego-based self over the body. In this mirage of health, we become increasingly alienated from ourselves and nature. We become less mobile (sitting in cars); more contained in our heads (with cell phones and computers); more depleted in our energy; more sclerotic in our tissues; and more cold in our beings. (4)
We are growing old before our time; we are not carrying the same levels of energy within us with which to create ourselves that we carried just 50 years ago. And so autism levels rise as the ego/spirit finds it increasingly difficult to enter the body. Autoimmune conditions rise as we try to mount warmth to bring ego/spirit into bodies not prepared to receive it. We see more functional illness; that is, impaired functioning occurring alongside normal laboratory test results; more metabolic disorders with disturbed energy processes like diabetes or cancer, in which the true self is displaced by culturally-fed “doubles,” preventing full immersion in our bodies. We keep increasing the childhood vaccination load (now 72 are to be given in the first 18 years) and the adjuvants within them. That is, there are now 13,425 mcg of aluminum in those 72 shots, with 250 mcg alone in the Hepatitis B shot given at birth, while the FDA lists safe daily levels for IV drips and injectables at 25 mcg. All this as we create increasing susceptibility to disease (and thus the need for more booster shots), for supposedly “dangerous” diseases such as measles, which were commonplace, even welcomed, 50 years ago. We spend billions to find a cure for cancer to detect and attach cancer earlier. We develop genetically engineered drugs, such as monoclonal antibodies, to help better target and increase the potency of chemotherapy, while continuing to deplete people’s life energy and warmth, denying them a greater autonomous and balanced immune capacity for self-healing.
Moving Forward into Wholeness as a Revolutionary Paradigm Shift
Healing in our time becomes a dangerous act against culture, and a journey from which we never fully recover. Our physical bodies are not being developed to carry the self. This insight is the very different ground for understanding healing. There is no room for a preventative smugness, because at an important level none of us can avoid illness today. Increasingly we confront illness as a normal condition of being in a physical body. Addressing it at a soul level is our only doorway to evolve.
Breaking things down, finding the pathway, the mechanism, within an abstracted part that is separated out from the whole, removes us from the complexity of life. It is a place where we can have authoritative exactitude and predictability in the name of science, but such “half science” is not enough. In the other half, the holistic realm of supporting the complexity of life, there is less certainty as to how any one thing is responsible for healing. A more integrative dynamic physiology is needed to better take into account the interaction between different biological systems. Patients’ will forces--their drive and initiative for life--must be assessed and engaged. Whatever soul work they need to do should be revealed and supported. Tools to enact these processes will often be energy-based medicines and therapies foreign to Western science, and must often be regularly fine-tuned differently for each individual, evolving and changing over time. This kind of healing is, in many respects, more work for doctors; and it can also be more work for patients, as well as a “dangerous” activity. It potentially changes people’s lives and relationships, and some people might rather take a pill and leave such potential hornets’ nests of life alone. People should have freedom to do that. But respecting their freedom is not a rationale against the necessity of developing a whole medical science.
This is where naturopathic medicine has much to offer. Like MDs and DOs, naturopathic physicians are well schooled in conventional medicine, with formulary privileges and responsibilities. Yet naturopathic doctors also have a history of listening to their patients, of being spiritually oriented, of emphasizing a moral life, and of having a longstanding belief in humanity’s innate healing potential--what naturopathic physicians for the past 100 years have called the vital force. In the best naturopathic tradition, homeopathy, herbs, hydrotherapy, nutrition, bodywork, counseling, and other gentle modalities combine to stimulate this force and promote healing. From the perspective of anthroposophy, naturopathic medicine is not an “alternative medicine”; it is rather an important part of existing medicine, needing to be recognized and further enhanced. You wouldn’t go to a naturopathic physician for major surgery, and naturopaths have no actual hospitals of our own to speak of yet, but we have major roles to play in helping to shape how these hospitals and other jewels of western medicine can best be set. We believe in the power of Western medicine. We also believe the necessary descent into it has to be balanced by a process of rising out of it and redeeming it in order to find ourselves. In an act of medical midwifery, anthroposophic naturopathy seeks to enhance naturopathic medicine by raising it above a focus on nature as some kind of reified fetish, above the naturalism inherited from Hippocrates that has fueled rationalism, to a higher holographic ground where we are here to create nature, and divinity is necessarily nested within science itself.
The Society for Physicians of Anthroposophic Naturopathy was founded in 2012. Its aims are to:
Bring awareness of the anthroposophic approach and methods to naturopathic physicians.
Enliven and enrich the philosophy and practice of naturopathic medicine.
Encourage the cultivation of the personal and professional awareness of anthroposophic method through further education.
Board certify naturopathic physicians in anthroposophic naturopathy.
Create interaction and exchange of knowledge between anthroposophic naturopathic physicians and other health practitioners.
Connect members of the public with anthroposophic naturopathic doctors. span.wildapricot.org
(1) Tomlinson, Sassieni and Bodmer, “How Many Mutations in Cancer?” American Journal of Pathology, March, 2002, 160 (3) pp 755-758.
(2) See, for example, John Denninger’s research on the effect of yoga on genomics, Globus, et.al., “Integrin-extracellular Matrix Interactions in Connective Tissue Remodeling…”, American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology, 1995 Oct, 8(2):19-28.
Also Dawson Church (among others) on the connective tissue system as a “quantum resonator.” The Genie in your Genes (Santa Rosa: Elite Books, 2007) p 149.
(3) Weston A. Price, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, 8th edition, Price-Pottenger Nutritional Foundation, 2009.
(4) See the revision of Wunderlich’s 150-year-old study finding the average human temperature at 98.6. Journal of the American Medical Association, Sep 23, 1992. 30; 268 (12): 1578-80.
Robert Kellum, ND, PhD, LAc, LMT, is a board-licensed naturopathic physician. A board-certified IPMT Graduate of Anthroposophic Medicine, Dr. Kellum spearheaded the development in 2012 (with other colleagues) of the Society for Physicians of Anthroposophic Naturopathy (SPAN). Part of an umbrella group of practitioners within AAMTA, SPAN offers a five-year Naturopathic training for certification in Anthroposophic Naturopathic Medicine.