The Current Healing Crisis—Part 2

 In Mind/Body, Nature Cure

Why Anthroposophically Enhanced Medicine?
Robert B. Kellum, ND, PhD, MSOM/LAc, LMT

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Finding the Causative Factors of Illness

In his discussion of “therapeutic order” in naturopathic medicine, Dr Jared Zeff24 lists the top 2 orders of intervention as (1) identifying and moderating causative factors that disturb function and (2) stimulating a self-healing process. If these are not addressed, Dr Zeff feels that improvements in health will be incomplete or temporary at best. This speaks as well to the difficulties of typical research in assessing the effectiveness of this or that botanical, supplement, hydrotherapy, and so on, against a particular pathology in a double-blind trial. If you introduce a treatment without addressing or removing underlying causative issues, you run the risk of potentially even exacerbating a condition, while proving nothing about the effectiveness of your particular treatment because the physical treatment in and of itself is not sufficient.

But what are the causative factors that disturb function and impede the vital force? In our current science, we consider these primarily on a physical plane. We look at the role of specific genes in coding for a disease (eg, HLA-B27 in ankylosing spondylitis, HLA-DR2 in lupus, etc). We look at the importance of physical foodstuffs—carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, trans fats, gluten, carotenoids, and solanines—in the provision or not of healthy nutrition. We consider physical aspects of the immune system (antigens, antibodies, gamma globulins, cytokines, etc). We look at the functionality of a specific enzyme to catalyze a metabolic activity in the body (lipase, protease, amylase, catalase, or kinase). We consider the role of toxicity (such as from heavy metals and other pollutants) in impeding cellular respiration, denaturing proteins, creating free radical damage, and congesting the extracellular matrix and lymphatic flow. We look at the malfunction of this or that feedback mechanism in the body (such as in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) as indicative of a hormonal imbalance. We consider the actions of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and so forth, in fostering unhealthy terrain. We talk about mechanically compromised mucosal barriers, cholesterol-laden arteries, glycated hemoglobins, and other mechanical indications of impaired physical health. And we treat all this largely with physical substances, whether they are drugs, diet, supplements, or herbs. But can we find the underlying causative factors of disease and rebuild the vital force with this science, or does this science more likely lead us into a further dependence on substances designed to target specific physical concerns without regard to the larger spiritual milieu of the organism?

All these approaches serve to advance our knowledge with much enhanced specificity on the physical plane, and this is good. But we need a larger scientific context to get beyond the reductionist and fragmented road down which these methods can also lead us. What causes one person to be susceptible to parasites and not another? Why is it that some folks are more lacking or more overactive in immune responsiveness than others? What causes difficulties in nutritional assimilation for some and not for others, for example? In anthroposophically enhanced medicine (AEM), as in the science of ancient traditions, there are other “causative” realms considered in addition to the purely physical realm. Anthroposophically enhanced medicine considers 4 bodies that superimpose as causative factors in the form and function of the human being. So in addition to the physical body, AEM also considers the water or etheric body, the air or astral body, and the warmth or “I-body” (sometimes called the ego-body). The orchestration of these 4 bodies as one (or what is called the “I-organization”) is mediated by the soul forces of thinking, feeling, and willing, which link these bodies together. Disruption of or imbalance in the resonance between these bodies constitutes an underlying spiritual causality to be addressed for healing to occur.

Stimulating Self-healing

The extent to which these 4 bodies fully interpenetrate one another is as important a component of an AEM diagnosis as any physical indication. As the most subtle element, the I-body is the warmth organism that infuses the forces of heat distribution in the body, necessary for human life and the will to live. Out of this warmth body, in both spiritual warmth and measurable warmth precipitating all creativity, comes the ability for absorption and reflection, as does, then, the capacity for thinking, memory, and moral discernment. Stepping down from this are the consequently animated soul forces, or the astral body, which in turn provides the underlying gesture for the individual’s character and desires, mediating the intake of air, gas exchange, and neural transmission (“qi”). Providing us with sensory consciousness of the world around us and the instinctual animated basis for moving through this world, the astral body is in a continual interplay of educative feeling with the etheric body, awakening it as it also experiences it. The etheric body in turn is the underlying template of information and experience, both from its connection with the physical world and the astral world, as found in the fluids of the body, the blood, lymph and microtubule fluids of the extracellular matrix, the thixotropic property of connective tissue in the body, and so on.25 This etheric body is what Paracelsus termed the Archaeus, what Hahnemann called the vital force, and what Lindlahr knew as the “constructive principle.” It is the force of growth, regeneration, and reproduction, residing in us as a supersensible organizing principle that we see so visibly in the plant world, which, like the astral body and I-body, connects the physical body to a greater cosmic reality.26 Incorporating these bodies into a living being ultimately finds existence in the physical body, the most highly developed body of them all, yet without these other bodies the physical body is really but a slag heap of lifeless minerals.27

Looking at the body through this framework as a composite of forces, the ever-shifting deeds and forms of enzymes, antibodies, and genes are actually the manifest expressions of the activities of all these other bodies in relation to the physical. Health in the body can be seen as a perpetual rhythmic balance between potentially inflammatory forces of warmth and the colder sclerotic tendencies of the physical realm. But already we are in a different realm than that of focusing on supplementing an enzyme or stimulating an antibody in our treatment plan. We do not ignore these things, but now we are concerned first with the causative factors brought on by the I-organization’s particular problematic configuration, with the struggle between the astral and etheric bodies to align themselves in such a way so as to receive the organizing benefits of the spirit or I-body, as well as how to balance these bodies so as to maximize our capacity for self-regulation and healing. But notice how this brings us potentially to a much deeper understanding of an otherwise mechanistic vital force. We now have a conceptual language for at least beginning to see how the etheric life forces of nature can be augmented and shaped within the human body through an individualized spiritual process that we can help enhance with our remedies, and which acts in the service of healing. This is an affirmation of the naturopathic mission, elucidating with greater clarity what our work is about.

In seminars, in research, and with colleagues, knowledge of substances such as enzymes, genes, and immune complexes can give us firm ground to trace processes in the body in concrete physical terms that we can support with substances. But when we sit across from our patients in clinic, telling them what supplements, medications, diet, and lifestyle changes they have to make to address their problem, this, while all helpful, is not enough. To help patients heal themselves rather than come to us purely to administer to their physical concerns, we soon recognize as clinicians that we need to enliven the imaginations of our patients, we need to find ways to truly inspire them, and we need to connect with them at an intuitive level about the larger nature of their life process, which provides a credibility for our authority based on authenticity and trust. And so in addition to facilitating a detoxification or supplementing a nutritional deficiency for the physical body, we might be choosing a particular bath (hydrotherapy) or massage, a type of movement, restorative time in nature, or a low-potency homeopathic remedy to strengthen the etheric body. We might be choosing a particular flower essence or a mid-range potency of a homeopathic remedy to subdue the astral body, as well as breath work, art therapy, or color therapy to enliven the astral body or a eurythmy practice, a meditation, a formative drawing, or a higher-potency homeopathic remedy to awaken the I-body, and so forth. Each of the 4 bodies requires a different therapeutic attention based on its differing being and its functioning under different laws of action. In all this, we are nurturing a more comprehensive paradigm of understanding, and always we are doing this with an eye toward what is happening in the unfolding development of the being and identity of the person as a whole.

To be continued in forthcoming NDNR issues.

Thanks to friends and colleagues Dr Andrew
Elliott, Dr Alicia Landman-Reiner, Dr Dick Thom, Dr Paul Kalnins, Dr Heiner Fruehauf, Dr David Bartelt, Dr Philip Incao, and Donna Patterson, LMT, for their helpful feedback in editing and revising this article. Final responsibility for the ideas within it are solely the author’s.

Robert_KellumDr Robert Kellum is a board-licensed ND and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, seeing patients in Portland, Oregon. With other interested colleagues, he is spearheading the development of the Society for Physicians of Anthroposophic Naturopathic Medicine (SPAN-MED), with the intent of its being part of an umbrella group within the Anthroposophic Association of Medical Therapies in America (AAMTA), for developing the cross-disciplinary seeds of an integrated spiritual science through the drawing together of NDs and like-minded colleagues as a conscious force in their professions. For more information, you can contact Bob at



Zeff JL. Primum non nocere. Accessed September 22, 2012.

Juhan D. Job’s Body: A Handbook for Bodywork. Barrytown/Station Hill Press; 1998.

Steiner R. Spiritual Science and Medicine. Lecture 1: “Whether we use the term Archaeus, as Paracelsus did, or our term, the etheric body, we refer to an entity which exists but whose origin we do not trace. If we were to do this, our argument would be as follows: Man possesses a physical organism mainly constructed by forces acting out of the sphere of the earth; and also an etheric organism mainly constructed by forces acting from the cosmic periphery. Our physical body is a portion as it were of the whole organism of our Earth. Our etheric body—like the Archaeus of Paracelsus—is a portion of that which does not belong to the earth, but which acts on and affects the earth from all parts of the cosmos. Thus Paracelsus viewed what was formerly designated the cosmic element in man—of which the knowledge had perished with Hippocratic medicine—in the form of an etheric body, which is the basis of the physical. But he did not investigate further—though he gave some hints—the extra-terrestrial forces associated with the Archaeus and acting in it. The exact significance of such facts grew more and more obscure, especially with the advent of Stahl’s medical school in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Stahl’s school has wholly ceased to comprehend this working of cosmic forces into terrestrial occurrences; it grasps instead at vague concepts such as “vital force” and “spirits of life.” Paracelsus and Van Helmont were consciously aware of the reality at work between the soul and spirit of man and his physical organization. Stahl and his followers talk as though the conscious soul-element was at work, though in another form, upon the structure of man’s body. This naturally provoked a vehement reaction. For if one proceeds like this and founds a sort of hypothetic vitalism one comes to purely arbitrary assertions, and the nineteenth century opposed these assertions. Only a very great mind, like Johannes Müller (the teacher of Ernst Haeckel), who died in 1858, was able to overcome the noxious effects of this confusion, a confusion of soul forces with “vital forces” which were supposed to work in the human organism, although how they operated was not very clear.”

Steiner R. Occult Science: An Outline. Chapter II: The nature of humanity. Accessed September 22, 2012. “The physical body disintegrates when it is not held together by the etheric; the etheric body falls into unconsciousness when it is not irradiated by the astral body…the astral body would ever and again have to let the past sink into oblivion if the I did not preserve the past and carry it over into the present. Forgetting is for the astral body what death is for the physical body and sleep for the etheric. Or, as we may also express it: life is proper to the etheric body, consciousness to the astral body, and memory to the Ego.”

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