Anthroposophic Naturopathy: From Half Science to Whole Science
Robert Kellum, ND, PhD, LAc, LMT
To fully understand Anthroposophic Naturopathy today, we need to be clear about what naturopathic medicine is, and how anthroposophy can help it to evolve. Ie, we need to be clear about what path it offers naturopathic medicine and all medicine, for that matter, to move forward toward the higher, integrative ground we all need, and which 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 naturopathic 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. Anthroposophy has shown itself uniquely capable of offering this key. The struggle for this is what makes every individual group within the Association of Anthroposophic Medicine and Therapies in America (AAMTA)’s “umbrella” of professions different than those same professions without anthroposophic enhancement.
Science’s Necessary First Half: Descending Deeper into Matter
Today, allopathic medicine still occupies the prevailing cultural paradigm in our society. While more MDs/DOs are fortunately beginning to question this, it still controls the medical schools, technology, organization of research and knowledge, and how 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. So, 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 workings of DNA. From this path of knowledge, medications are created and genes are manipulated in the name of health.
All of this is very important and should 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 rises up again. For the other half – the study and research of how we rise up from the descent into death and into life and healing – western science has no perceptual or conceptual frame of understanding. It unknowingly relies upon this other half to silently heal the destructive process; however, without its full development into consciousness, we are ultimately doomed to medicine that is palliative at best.
The Vital But Overlooked Second Half: Rising Up into Life & Renewal
We don’t leave science to develop this other half, but we do enter into a different scientific domain – the quantum world of warmth and 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 (as in ATP) that in turn stimulates chemical activity in the tissue fluids, where solution shifts to gel, to tissue, 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 come back up from gene to cell to tissue to being, in a living process of renewal and healing.
It is through warmth, light, and sound that diet, environment, social stress, etc, all work synergistically to modulate gene expression. Under a toxic load, daily mutations, as genomic “stress fractures” – to be repaired in order to maintain cellular integrity – can increase 10-fold or more, until cells lose the capacity for self-regulation, and genes express maladaptive forms, as in cancer.1 Genetic expression, however, 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. (Check out, for example, the research by Denninger et al on the effect of yoga and other mind-body interventions on genetic expression,2 the work of Globus et al,3 and the writings of Dawson Church (among others) on the connective tissue system as a “quantum resonator.”4)
Accepting that genetic defects are an ongoing occurrence while also overlooking the fact that we have the 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 which leads us to focus upon alleviating symptoms through medications, surgery, genetic engineering, transplants, and mechanical replacement of human functioning. Underlying this is a belief in bravely moving toward a kind of physical immortality by engaging in “war” upon this inflexible body – overcoming biology’s/nature’s limitations and affronts (aka evolutionary challenges) through pesticides, excessive antibiotics and vaccinations, irradiation, chemotherapy, immune suppression, sterile environments, etc – all toward the goal of constructing a new biology-nature interface, in which a body that is incapable of self-regulation can survive. This approach has brought amazing medical advancements that ease suffering, offering validity to the paradigm. No one denies the value of medical technologies that restore vision, hearing, use of limbs, organ function, etc. Unfortunately, this 1-sided outlook has also contributed to a devitalization that threatens to enslave us.
Price and Pottenger have convincingly demonstrated how devitalized diets quickly impact physiology and anatomy across generations. As a result of depleted diets and soils, as well as the factors listed above that, from a larger sociocultural health paradigm, attack/expropriate the body, we face today increasingly debilitated architecture and functioning as a biological reality. Clearly, there are historical examples where, by subjection or circumstance, groups of people have been led into illness by conditions that in the past had also served them, eg, descendants of salt-retaining Africans that survived slave ships, now suffering hypertension. But never in recorded history has there been such mass-based, 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 marginalized from ourselves and nature. We become less mobile (eg, in cars), more contained in our heads (eg, on cell phones and computers), more depleted in our energy, more sclerotic in our tissues, and more cold in our beings. (See the revision of Wunderlich’s findings that the average human temperature 150 years ago was 98.6 °F.)5
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. 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,” ie, impaired functioning yet normal labs; more metabolic disorders, ie, disturbed energy processes like diabetes or cancer in which the true self is displaced by culturally fed “doubles,” thereby preventing full immersion in our bodies. We praise the discovery of the gene “responsible” for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy as we continue to sustain conditions that will cause more occurrences of this disease. We keep increasing the vaccination load (now 72 within the first 18 years) and adjuvants within them (eg, now 13 425 µg of aluminum in those 72 shots; 250 µg, alone, are in the hepatitis B shot at birth, while the FDA lists “safe” daily levels for IV drips and injectables at 25 µg) as we create increasing susceptibility to disease (and thus the need for more “booster shots”) including “dangerous” diseases such as measles, which were commonplace, even welcomed, 50 years ago. We spend billions to find a “cure for cancer” (eg, Phil Knight’s recent $500 million donation for the OHSU “Knight Center”) so as to detect and attack cancer earlier. And we develop genetically engineered drugs – such as monoclonal antibodies, to help better target and increase the potency of chemotherapy – while continuing to deplete the individual’s life energy and warmth, denying them a greater autonomous and balanced immune capacity for self-healing.
Moving Forward into Wholeness: A Revolutionary Paradigm Shift
Healing today becomes a dangerous act against culture, and a journey from which we can never fully recover. The physical bodies of all of us are not being developed to carry the self. This is 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 and dynamic physiology is needed to take into better account the interaction between different biological systems. A patient’s will forces, ie, their “drive” and initiative for life, must be assessed and engaged. Whatever soul work the patient has to do needs to be revealed and supported. Tools to enact these processes will often be energy-based medicines and therapies that are foreign to western science, and must often be regularly fine-tuned differently for each individual, evolving and changing over time. In many respects, this kind of healing is more work for doctors, and can also be more work, as well as a “dangerous” activity, for patients. 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 have to have freedom to do that, but this is not a rationale against the necessity of still developing a whole medical science.
This is where naturopathic medicine has much to offer. Like MDs/DOs, naturopathic physicians are well schooled in conventional medicine, with formulary privileges and responsibilities. Yet they 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 over 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,” rather, it is an important part of existing medicine that must be recognized and further enhanced. You wouldn’t go to a naturopathic physician for major surgery, and we have no real “hospitals” of our own to speak of yet; however, we have major roles to play in helping to shape how these and other “jewels” of western medicine can best be “set.”
We believe in the power of western medicine. We just also believe that 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, and 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 (SPAN 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 anthroposophical 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 pubic with anthroposophic naturopathic doctors
Website for SPAN: https://span.wildapricot.org/
- Tomlinson I, Sasieni P, Bodmer W. How many mutations in a cancer? Am J Pathol. 2002;160(3):755-758.
- Kuo B, Bhasin M, Jacquart J, et al. Genomic and clinical effects associated with a relaxation response mind-body intervention in patients with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. PLoS One. 2015;10(4):e0123861.
- Globus RK, Moursi A, Zimmerman D, et al. Integrin-extracellular matrix interactions in connective tissue remodeling and osteoblast differentiation. ASGSB Bull. 1995;8(2):19-28.
- Church D. The Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention. Santa Rosa, CA: Elite Books; 2007; p 149.
- Mackowiak PA, Wasserman SS, Levine MM. A critical appraisal of 98.6 degrees F, the upper limit of the normal body temperature, and other legacies of Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich. JAMA. 1992;268(12):1578-1580.
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Robert Kellum, ND, PhD, LAc, LMT, is a board-licensed naturopathic physician and practitioner of Classical Chinese Medicine. He has also been a licensed body worker for over 25 years and holds advanced degrees/training in sociology, anthropology, and psychology. A board-certified IPMT graduate of Anthroposophic Medicine, in 2012 Bob co-spearheaded the development of the Society for Physicians of Anthroposophic Naturopathy (SPAN). Part of an umbrella group of practitioners within AAMTA, SPAN offers a 5-year naturopathic training for certification in Anthroposophic Naturopathic Medicine. Bob currently sees patients in Portland, OR. For more on SPAN, visit: https://span.wildapricot.org, also http://www.aamta.org.