External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Modern Treatments or Prescientific Home Remedies?

Baths, compresses and rhythmical embrocations have been part of the treasury of healing remedies of all cultures for thousands of years. They did not get pushed to the fringes of the therapeutic spectrum until the rise of science-based medicine in the 19th century. Already in 1921 the founders of Anthroposophic Medicine integrated such procedures into the science-based art of healing that they were developing, countering the trends of the day. They renewed procedures which have been undergoing a renaissance in recent years, also in modern-day clinical practice. Responding to the persistent demand of many patients who want complementary treatment using "natural" remedies, the profession has now begun to study the effectiveness of external applications. Also, patients themselves have become knowledgeable, so that external applications have gained a firm foothold in self-treatment, especially for less serious but nevertheless highly troubling complaints.

The practice of Anthroposophic Medicine goes beyond the approach that is possible in naturopathy and self-medication. Here external applications are used not just to relieve acute or chronic complaints, they are also deliberately implemented to support the effect of medications and artistic therapy. They consistently provide a decisive impetus or may even be the essential healing factor in the overall treatment, especially for therapy-resistant conditions. The substances used may be derived from the mineral realm, such as quartz, sulphur, copper and gold. These are applied in a dilution of water or oil, or in the form of an ointment. Other external applications call for extracts from chamomile, arnica, yarrow or many other healing plants. They may also rely on the healing forces found in certain animal and food products, such as quark or honey.

From: Rolf Heine, 2009, www.vfap.de