Anthroposophic pharmacy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Anthroposophic pharmacy is the discipline related to conceiving, developing and producing medicinal products according to the anthroposophic understanding of man, nature, substance and pharmaceutical processing.[1] One of the most characteristic features of anthroposophic medicine is the attempt to describe health and natural medicine in scientific as well as in spiritual terms. Anthroposophic pharmacy utilises vegetable, mineral and animal materials, manufactured according to particular principles and is sometimes potentised.[2]

Anthroposophic medicines should be considered as complementary to conventional medicines and are often used in combination with them.[3]

In 2005, a health technology assessment (HTA) produced the first systematic review of the efficacy, utility, costs and safety of anthroposophic medicine as part of the Swiss Government's evaluation of complementary medicine (PEK). The report concluded that there are many studies that show positive outcomes for anthroposophic medicine, although the methodological quality of the studies is very variable. In terms of safety almost all studies emphasise the good tolerability of anthroposophic medicinal therapies.[4]

The conclusion of the PEK process was that there was insufficient evidence to support reimbursement of any of the five therapies investigated, including both anthroposophic medicine and homeopathy.[5]

Origin and development[edit]

The manufacture and use of anthroposophic medicines dates back to Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), who together with Dr Ita Wegman (1876–1943) invented anthroposophic medicine at the beginning of the 20th century. Steiner and Wegman's ideas were extended by the chemist Dr Oskar Schmiedel (1887–1959), who manufactured anthroposophic medicines from 1920 onwards and introduced the newly conceived formulations and manufacturing processes into pharmaceutical practice. A second important pioneer of anthroposophic pharmacy was Dr Rudolf Hauschka (1891–1969).

Anthroposophic medicine is now practised in over 60 countries, and for example in Germany is recognised as a special therapy system in the Medicinal Product Act (Arzneimittelgesetz)[6] and in the Code of Social Law (Sozialgesetzbuch) V[7] (Paragraph 34, section 3). There are approximately 15,000 doctors in 22 European countries who prescribe anthroposophic medicinal products, e.g. in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy.[8] It is estimated that in Germany some 6 million patients use anthroposophic medicine.[9] According to the German Pharmaceutical Industry Association (BPI), for example, anthroposophicals reached a turnover in 2011 of 52.8 million Euro (Data March 2013).[10]

There are about 1,700 different anthroposophic medicinal products on the market in the European Union.[11] Within the EU there are differing rules as to whether or not an anthroposophic medicine must be prescribed by a doctor. In Germany, for example, most preparations are not prescription-only, and since 2004 must be paid for by the patient himself.

Theory and background[edit]

Anthroposophic medicinal products rely on anthroposophical ideas of the relationship between man and nature: "The starting materials of these products come from minerals, plants and animal substances. They are developed and manufactured in accordance with the anthroposophic perception of human beings and nature".[12]

The philosophy posits four levels of the human being and three systems by which they interact.[13] The following table explains the correlation between the four different levels of the human being and the realms of nature as it is understood in anthroposophic pharmacy:

Human being Realm of Nature
Physical constitution is related to ... mineral world
Life or etheric body (maintenance of biological identity, regeneration and physiological functions) is related to ... plant world
Psychological level or astral body (passion, feeling, movement) is related to ... animal world
"Ego" as individual level and self-consciousness is unique to humanity no correlations

Pharmaceutical processing[edit]

Anthroposophic pharmaceutical processing involves specific anthroposophic and some typical homoeopathic pharmaceutical procedures. The ingredients of anthroposophic medicines are all of natural origin: used are mineral/metallic, vegetable or mineral raw materials e.g. quartz, sulphur, gold, copper, silver, arnica, chamomile or marigold. Animal testing is not used in the development of anthroposophic medicinal products.

Anthroposophic medicines are manufactured principally using rhythmical processes and/or heat. Examples of typical anthroposophic pharmaceutical processes using raw materials of botanical origin are:

Pharmaceutical process Temperature Raw material
Cold maceration 2-8 °C fresh or dried plants, all parts
Maceration ca. 15-20 °C fresh plants, all parts
Rhythmic processing 4 / 37 °C fresh plants, all parts
Digestion 37 °C fresh plants, leaves, flowers
Infusion 60-90 °C dried leaves, flowers
Decoction ca 100 °C dried roots, barks, seeds
Distillation steam, ca 100 °C fresh or dried plants, all parts

These pharmaceutical processes are specified in the European Pharmacopoeia, the Pharmacopoeia Helvetica (Ph.Helv.), the German Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia (GHP/HAB), the Anthroposophic Pharmaceutical Codex (APC), and the British Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia (B.Hom.P.).

Another pharmaceutical process often used in anthroposophic pharmacy is potentisation, which is also widely used in homoeopathy. Potentised preparations are gradually diluted substances, whereby at each diluting step a rhythmic shaking and striking against a resilient surface ("succussion") are involved. The principle of potentisation is not supported by any significant body of scientific evidence (see homeopathic dilutions).

Production and quality control[edit]

"Anthroposophic medicinal products are produced in accordance with the modern standards of Good Manufacturing Practice GMP. Their quality is controlled by the criteria and parameters of official pharmacopoeia (e.g. European Pharmacopoeia (Ph.Eur.), German Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia (GHP/HAB), French Pharmacopoeia (, Pharmacopoeia Helvetica (Ph.Helv.), and the Anthroposophic Pharmaceutical Codex (APC)".[14]

Detailed pharmaceutical information for quality control and regulatory needs is provided in the Anthroposophic Pharmaceutical Codex that is issued by the International Association of Anthroposophic Pharmacists (IAAP), the umbrella organisation for the national professional anthroposophic pharmacists’ associations in Europe.

See also[edit]


  1. ^, Accessed 2013-04-29.
  2. ^ Kienle GS, Kiene H, Albonico HU. Anthroposophic Medicine (HTA report). Schattauer; 2006. Chapter 3.
  3. ^ Rankin-Box D, Williamson EM. Complementary Medicine. A Guide for Pharmacists. Churchill Livingstone; 2006.
  4. ^ Kienle GS, Kiene H, Albonico HU. Anthroposophic Medicine (HTA report). Schattauer; 2006. Chapter 11.
  5. ^ The report “Homeopathy in healthcare: effectiveness, appropriateness, safety, costs” is not a “Swiss report”, Swiss Medical Weekly, 2012;142:w13594
  6. ^ Medicinal Products Act (The Drug Law). Section 4, Paragraph 33: Definitions of additional terms. Available from:, German: Gesetz über den Verkehr mit Arzneimitteln. Paragraph 4, Absatz 33: Sonstige Begriffsbestimmungen. Available from:
  7. ^ Code of Social Law, 5th book (V) / German: Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB) Fünftes Buch (V). Available from:
  8. ^ Facts and Figures on Anthroposophic Medicines Worldwide. IVAA (International Federation of Anthroposophic Medical Associations); July 2012. Available from:
  9. ^ Background. ECHAMP (European Coalition on Homeopathic and Anthroposophic Medicinal Products). Available from: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-25. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
  10. ^ Pharma-Data 2012 (Page 61). German Pharmaceutical Industry Association (BPI). Available from:
  11. ^ Anthroposophic Pharmacy (page 21) in The System of Anthroposophic Medicine. IVAA (International Federation of Anthroposophic Medical Associations); 2011. Available from:
  12. ^ Anthroposophic Pharmacy (page 21) in The System of Anthroposophic Medicine. IVAA (International Federation of Anthroposophic Medical Associations); 2011. Available from:
  13. ^ Rankin-Box D, Williamson EM. Complementary Medicine. A Guide for Pharmacists. Churchill Livingstone; 2006.
  14. ^ The System of Anthroposophic Medicine. IVAA (International Federation of Anthroposophic Medical Associations); 2011. Available from:


  • Michaela Glöckler, et al. Anthroposophische Arzneitherapie (Anthroposophic Therapeutics). Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft, Stuttgart, Germany, 2005.
  • Rudolf Hauschka. The Nature of Substance. Bristol, 233 pp. ISBN 1-85584-122-3.
  • Gunver Sophia Kienle, Helmut Kiene, and Hans-Ulrich Albonico. Anthroposophic Medicine, effectiveness, utility, costs, safety. Schattauer Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany, 2006.
  • Wilhelm Pelikan. Healing Plants Insights Through Spiritual Science. Mercury Press, 1997.
  • Wilhelm Pelikan. The Secrets of Metals. Anthroposophic Press, 1973.

External links[edit]