External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Rhythmical Embrocation According to Wegman/Hauschka

Rhythmical embrocation was developed in the first half of the twentieth century by the physician Ita Wegman, based on the principles of Anthroposophic Medicine and in conjunction with rhythmical massage therapy. After World War II, Dr Margarethe Hauschka developed a teaching concept for the application of rhythmical embrocation. From around 1980 this concept has been modified and enhanced, mostly by nurses, for professional and daily use.
The quality that most characterizes professional nursing is that it supports the healing process on all levels: body, soul and spirit. Rhythmical embrocation makes use of this quality in a special way.

Qualities Used in Treatment

The particular quality of rhythmical embrocation is a gentle intensity of touch. The hand of the practitioner applies rhythmical, mostly rounded, stroking movements to the patient’s body, making contact with the tissue “unobtrusively” and withdrawing “without letting go”. Changes of direction in this rhythmical process give rise to changes in quality whilst maintaining the tension between the poles. At the same time ever new variations emerge due to the elasticity of application and the changes of direction. The all-important lightness of touch – especially when the hand withdraws – is also referred to as “suction”: it is a force that counters gravity.
Rhythmical embrocation can be applied to the arms, legs, back, chest and stomach – either as partial treatments (of the foot, lower leg, knee or shoulder joint) or in combination, or as whole-body treatments.

Special Embrocations

Special rhythmical embrocations used in nursing include treatments of the spleen, liver, kidneys, heart, bladder, solar plexus, as well as a comprehensive pentagram embrocation. Metal ointments are often used to treat a particular organ region, supporting the function of that organ.


Rhythmical embrocation works in manifold ways and its effects vary depending on the individual. There are nonetheless also effects that are commonly observed. Following a phenomenological study carried out by Dr M. Bertram (2005) three typical responses were described:
Relaxing, feeling one with oneself again and feeling renewed strength.
These are changes in the patient’s experience of illness and sense of wellbeing.
In anthroposophic terms the effects can be explained

Areas of Application

Rythmical embrocation can be applied in all clinical areas:
In pediatric care, obstetrics (before and after birth), psychosomatic medicine for all ages, child, adolescent and adult psychiatry, neurology, early rehabilitation, rehabilitation, geriatric nursing and caregiving.
Rhythmical embrocation has also proven beneficial in education for special needs, out-patient nursing services and family or home care.
Contraindications: mainly highly acute and unclarified conditions where other measures have to take precedence.