anthrosana – for patients and health insurance policyholders
Founded in 1977 as the ‘Association for Anthroposophically Extended Medicine’, this movement of patients and policyholders today has around 6000 members from all regions of Switzerland. ‘anthrosana’s many offers and activities (including full health insurance) are directed at everyone who is interested in Anthroposophical (or related) therapies. This non-profit organisation promotes a conscious approach to health and illness through a variety of publications, lectures and courses. Since 1987 the association is also involved in health care policy making. It supports equal recognition of complementary medicine, patients’ rights to self-determination and the protection of human dignity.
Anthroposophical medicine: effective, efficient, functional
A government-funded study has analysed the effectiveness, efficiency and functionality of complementary medicine over a period of six years, with very good results for Anthroposophical Medicine.
Dr. Peter Heusser, KIKOM, University of Bern, member of the national committee ‘Program Evaluation of Complementary Medicine’ (PEK)
The effectiveness of Anthroposophical medicine has been scientifically documented for the ‘Program Evaluation of Complementary Medicine’. The 178 existing clinical studies on Anthroposophical medicine came to the following results:
- In 170 clinical studies Anthroposophical medicine had a positive effect, i.e. results were better than without treatment, and at least as good as with conventional treatment.
- 81 of the 178 studies were ‘controlled’, i.e. the results of Anthroposophical therapy were compared with the results of patients who were receiving exactly the same treatment, but no Anthroposophical therapy.
Based on the documentation of 170 studies the PEK attested in its official final report that:
- Anthroposophical medicine is based on “satisfactory evidence for effectiveness and functionality” for the patient, and
- Its “safety is documented to a large extent.”
Very good results in functionality and satisfaction
Satisfaction of patients receiving Anthroposophical treatments was significantly better than of patients receiving only conventional treatments. Patients’ expectations regarding therapy results were also fulfilled to greater satisfaction, although, on average, patients receiving Anthroposophical treatment were suffering from more severe, chronic illnesses. Anthroposophical doctors had more time for their patients and relied less on the use of technical examinations.
Economic efficiency evident
There are no doubts about economic efficiency either. Compared to conventional medicine
- doctor-related costs in Anthroposophical medicine were less than half, and
- patient-related costs tended to be generally lower.
Thus Anthroposophical medicine meets the legal criteria decisive for its eligibility to be covered by basic medical insurance. For this reason a commission established by the Federal Ministry of Health evaluating all results of the PEK study, recommended that Anthroposophical medicine should be covered by basic medical insurance. If this will be the case in future is now subject to (hopefully reasonable) political decision making.
Rainier Dierdorf, Director Research and Development Weleda Group
An additional chance
The Weleda Group, based in Arlesheim, Switzerland, is the biggest producer of Anthroposophical medicines, which are exported worldwide. Four questions to Rainier Dierdorf, Director Research and Development, Weleda Group.
Mr. Dierdorf, what are the main areas of research at Weleda?
We conduct centrally led research in medicine and cosmetics, developing new products and documenting the safety and effectiveness of existing ones. Particular importance is given to studies on mistletoe preparations in cancer therapy. This research is financed by the Hiscia Institute (Association for Cancer Research, Arlesheim) and planned and conducted in close co-operation with Weleda. Mistletoe preparations are among the most widely used medicines in oncology. Weleda has produced them for 80 years and their effectiveness has been documented in clinical trials.
Could you give specific examples?
Two recent studies, which have also been presented at this year’s Cancer Congress in Berlin, have shown that mistletoe preparations significantly reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. This improves the patients’ quality of life and gives them an additional chance, also in improving the effectiveness of conventional therapies.
What is the significance of these studies for the Anthroposophical mistletoe therapy?
We have now completed four studies, documenting data of 3000 patients, all of them undergoing treatment with our mistletoe preparations. These results have provided us with valuable insights and solid facts.
Is the Weleda group doing this on its own with 1700 employees worldwide?
We have a well-functioning global network of clinics and researchers. This means that we are able to offer doctors prescribing the medicines and, more importantly, patients a standard of reliability and safety that is exemplary for treatments in complementary medicine.
Dr. Michaela Glöckler, Leader of Medical Section at the Goetheanum
Where does health originate from and what can be done to preserve it? This is a central question for patients and medical research alike.
Medicine as well as the booming health industry are currently considered as markets with a huge potential for economic growth. Culturally, medicine also plays an important role: in the context of complementary medicine and traditional, natural science based methods of treatment patients are increasingly aware of the different possibilities. They are no longer content with knowing which pill will help against a certain illness, they want to know where health originates from and how it can be preserved.
Shaping the space in which we live, developing health
When Rudolf Steiner and Dr Ita Wegman founded Anthroposophical medicine in 1921 they had an ambitious aim: to co-operate with teachers and other educators in order to develop a truly curative education, based on the understanding that education is essential as a means of prevention and in developing health, and to work with representatives of agriculture and the social sciences in finding a way to shape the human environment so that it contributes to a sustainable approach to preserving health.
Stimulating the organism so that it heals itself
Whenever possible the natural substances and compositions of preparations used for treatment should support the organism’s self-regulating forces in keeping the sensitive mind-body balance. Traditional, symptom-aimed medicines should only be used in cases where the body’s self-healing forces are not sufficient. Artistic therapies, curative eurythmy, biography work, Anthroposophical nursing and the different areas of specialisation within Anthroposophical medicine are combined in a modern system of medicine based on natural and spiritual science.
60 countries, one million signatures
The Medical Section at the Goetheanum organises the international medical work, which is spread over 60 countries and all five continents (www.medsektion-goetheanum.ch).
The ‘Foundation for the Promotion of Anthroposophical Medicine’ (www.fanthromed.ch) manages the ELIANT project (European Alliance of Initiatives for Applied Anthroposophy). The aim of this project is to collect one million signatures and present them to European lawmakers to raise awareness for the possibilities of Anthroposophical initiative within the civil society, and to create the necessary legal framework for specific Anthroposophical medicines (www.eliant.eu).