The Dangers of

“Anthroposophical Medicine”



"[We] must strive actually to replace treatment with vaccine with that of bathing."

— Rudolf Steiner

A different version of this essay is available at



Rudolf Steiner was an Austrian-German mystic and self-proclaimed clairvoyant who founded the religion known as Anthroposophy. In addition to his acute interest in spiritualism, Steiner also turned his attention to many earthly matters. One was education: Steiner founded the Waldorf school movement, which now includes nearly 1300 schools worldwide. Another area of interest for Steiner was medicine. Today practitioners of “Anthroposophical medicine” can be found in many communities in North America, Europe, and elsewhere.

The underlying principle of Anthroposophical medicine is that everything physical is infused with, and manifests, spirit. The causes of illness, then, are not primarily physical but instead they reflect spiritual conditions. For human beings, good health is achieved when the physical organism is properly aligned with the nonphysical bodies that, Steiner taught, manifest during a human’s lifetime: the “etheric body” (a set of life forces), the “astral body” (higher soul forces), and the “I” (a spark of divine selfhood or ego that separates true humans from animals and subhumans). [1] Bad health, on the other hand, often reflects the working out of one’s karmic destiny, especially sins committed in past lives (reincarnation is a central Steiner/Waldorf belief). [2] If one enters Earthly life carrying spiritual impurities resulting from sins or errors committed in previous lives, disease can serve as a rite of passage, purging evils from one’s bodily/spiritual system. Thus, medical intervention is often a bad idea: A doctor who cures a patient may be blocking the patient’s karmic self-healing process.

One consequence of Steiner’s medical doctrines is that Anthroposophical doctors generally avoid giving inoculations. Steiner taught that because a disease may result from karma, interfering with the illness may simply postpone the inevitable: The patient will be forced to compensate, by having the same or a similar illness, in a future life. Addressing a group of doctors, Steiner said:

“If we destroy the susceptibility to smallpox, we are concentrating only on the external side of karmic activity.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 166. 

If karma is not fulfilled in one life, it must be fulfilled in another. Moreover, Steiner warned, there are conspiracies afoot that seek to trick people into taking medicines that destroy the soul. Black magicians and other evildoers work to create medicines that deaden people to all things spiritual: 

“Endeavors to achieve this will be made by bringing out remedies to be administered by inoculation ... [T]hese inoculations will influence the human body in a way that will make it refuse to give a home to the spiritual inclinations of the soul. People will be inoculated against the inclination to entertain spiritual ideas. Endeavors in this direction will be made; inoculations will be tested that already in childhood will make people lose any urge for a spiritual life.” — Rudolf Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 90-91. [3] 

Although they are loath to administer inoculations or, more generally, to interfere with karmic destiny, Anthroposophical doctors do not completely refrain from providing some forms of genuine medical treatment. They are MDs, having gone through conventional medical schools. After receiving their licenses, they may opt to employ conventional curative treatments on some occasions, but they will also resort to alternative therapies when they deem these best. A website devoted to promoting Steiner has displayed this statement: 

“[A]nthroposophical doctors reject nothing in the toolbox of conventional medicine a priori. Every option is considered for its appropriateness in a specific instance. Antibiotics are used when necessary, but so are homeopathic remedies. Physical therapy is prescribed, but so is curative eurythmy (movement exercise to balance the forces within the body).” — “Anthroposophically Extended Medicine,” .

Herbal compounds and teas are often prescribed. For instance, a compound called Rescue Remedy may be used to treat injuries. The ingredients include star of Bethlehem (for shock), clematis (to counteract any tendency to lose consciousness), cherry plum (to maintain mental stability), impatiens (for tension), and rock rose (to prevent panic). [4] Even the most severe illnesses may be attacked with simple natural substances, although they are often prepared in special ways. For the treatment of cancer, Steiner recommended mistletoe therapy. [5]

The efficacy, if any, of Anthroposophical remedies is roughly proportional to the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of Steiner’s description of the human anatomy. Steiner’s antiscientific descriptions of various bodily organs and their functions differ markedly from the descriptions given in medical textbooks. The heart, for instance, is not a pump, Steiner declared: 

“[Science] sees the heart as a pump that pumps blood through the body. Now there is nothing more absurd than believing this, for the heart has nothing to do with pumping the blood.” — Rudolf Steiner, FREUD, JUNG, AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY (SteinerBooks, 2001), pp. 124-125. [6]

Blood circulates of its own accord, thanks to the vital force it embodies. Likewise, Steiner taught that the brain is not involved in cognition. [7] True cognition, for Steiner, is the exercise of paranormal powers made possible when individuals develop incorporeal “organs of clairvoyance.” [8]

Reportedly, Anthroposophical physicians do not conduct double-blind controlled experiments [9], so it is almost impossible to fully evaluate Anthroposophical treatments. Instead, we chiefly have anecdotal reports and claims, which are by their nature inconclusive. All doctors, including conventional MDs, witness mysterious declines as well as mysterious recoveries. Believers in Anthroposophical medicine may relate tales of highly successful treatments, but whether the cures in these cases resulted from the treatments, or chance, or some other cause, cannot be known. Likewise, anecdotal evidence can be arrayed on the other side. These reports must be treated with equal caution, of course.

Let's consider a few anecdotes that suggest the need to be wary of Anthroposophical tenets as applied to medical care. In an essay at the anti-Steiner website, Robert Smith-Hald tells a harrowing tale of being raised by Anthroposophists. 

“They believe that sickness is the soul incarnating, and also that it has to do with karma. They don’t believe in inoculations, so I had all the child diseases going around, some twice.” — Robert Smith-Hald, “Growing Up Being Made Sick by Anthroposophy,"

Smith-Hald reports that he was constantly ill throughout his childhood and that the primary treatment he received consisted of 

“little white sugar pills called infludo, and...buckets and buckets of horsetail [tea], and also chamomile tea.” — Ibid.

Certain foods made him sick, so he was required to eat great quantities of these very foods. 

“[T]he feeling my parents had was that I should eat more of it, as I obviously needed to incarnate through the food. So I grew up being [force-fed] food that was making me sick.” — Ibid. 

As an adult, having broken away from Anthroposophy, Smith-Hald was examined by a conventional doctor who correctly diagnosed his wheat intolerance. He has been improving ever since.

At the same anti-Steiner website, Sharon Lombard relates a similar story, but from a parent’s vantage point. Lombard enrolled her daughter in a Waldorf school. When the child became sick, an Anthroposophical doctor treated her: 

“The Anthroposophic doctor made a diagnosis: my child had lost the will to live. He announced one of the potential cures ... [W]e were to give our daughter red, yellow, and orange crayons to color with! I looked at my husband in disbelief. When the doctor instructed us to make the sign of a flame out of Aurum cream over my child’s heart at bedtime, I was dumbfounded ... He told us to apply the gold cream from below the heart upwards, towards the sky....” — Sharon Lombard, “Spotlight on Anthroposophy,” [10]

The girl ultimately had to be hospitalized, after which conventional medicine produced a gradual cure.

As I indicated above, such stories do not constitute scientific proof. But that is precisely the point. True, conventional medicine — basing its findings on careful research and proven facts — is still limited: It cannot explain the causes of some illnesses, and it offers no cures for some. But true medicine has an extremely potent weapon in its arsenal, something that no alternative medicines have: the scientific method. This is the best tool mankind possesses for discovering truth. It is responsible for the great strides that true, conventional medicine has made, and it will account for the greater strides to come.

Let's look a little more deeply into the question of vaccination. The benefits of vaccination are well established; so are the dangers of withholding vaccination.



Rudolf Steiner's followers do not absolutely oppose vaccination in all cases, but they believe that vaccination poses serious dangers. As we have seen, Anthroposophy associates disease with karma. Steiner's followers fear that vaccination can thwart karma, a very serious matter. If, in this life, you don’t contract the disease your karma needs, you may have to contract it — or something like it — in a future life. In this sense, vaccination is extremely harmful, thwarting your spiritual evolution.

The dangers of vaccination can be offset if a patient receives “spiritual education” — by which Steiner and his followers mean education in the occult doctrines of Anthroposophy. Such an “education” is the ultimate cure for all human ills, Anthroposophists believe.

Let’s take this a step at a time. In this life, you should want  to suffer the diseases your karma requires. Even if a disease can be fatal, you should want it, in order to fulfill your karma. 

“[P]eople may virtually be driven to places where it is possible to get an infection in order to find in this the compensating effects for certain karmic causes within them; people are even driven to what one might call fatal life events to find such compensation.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA  (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 167.

Behind each disease lie spiritual errors that must be corrected, Steiner taught. Consider the error of unlovingness. This error finds physical expression in the disease known as smallpox, Steiner taught. You need to deal with any tendency toward unlovingness on the spiritual level, attaining a true cure. Smallpox vaccine is a physical cure that destroys the "organ" of unlovingness without producing a true remedy on the spiritual level. Indeed, by eliminating the "organ of unlovingness," vaccination prevents you from adequately addressing the issue of unlovingness in your soul. This being the case, your karma will be unfulfilled in this life and you will need to cycle back to deal with this portion of your karma in a future life. Here is a longer version of a quotation we saw previously:

“The organ of unlovingess is killed in the most complete sense — in the outer physical sense — through smallpox vaccination ... [But] we are merely accomplishing something to which the person in question will somehow have to produce a counterpart in a later incarnation when he has the smallpox poison within him ... If we destroy the susceptibility to smallpox, we are concentrating only on the external side of karmic activity.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA, pp. 165-166.

The real cure for smallpox — as for every other ill — is learning to accept Rudolf Steiner’s occult doctrines. If you do so, even vaccination won’t harm you.

“Vaccination will not be harmful if, subsequent to vaccination, the person receives a spiritual education.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA, p. 166. 

Note that vaccination will  be harmful if it is not followed by “a spiritual education.” What sort of schooling did Steiner mean? He meant the education he himself was dispensing, Anthroposophical education. That is where one may find truth. 

“Spiritual scientific research [i.e., Steiner’s own teachings]* has shown, for example, that smallpox developed during a time when the general inclination towards egotism and unlovingness reached a particular climax. That is when smallpox emerged in the outer organism [i.e., the physical body]. This is a fact. In anthroposophy it is our duty to speak truthfully.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA, p. 165. 

Anthroposophists essentially argue that people need either to 1) endure illnesses such as smallpox, or 2) submit to occult indoctrination, which will mean spending the rest of one's days in the dark corridors of superstition and fallacy. They express this choice in somewhat different language, of course.

A child who is raised in the culture of Anthroposophy may receive vaccines without being damaged; but all others will likely call into the clutches of the terrible demon Ahriman. [11]

"[W]hen you vaccinate someone and you are an anthroposophist, bringing him up in the anthroposophical way, it will do no harm. It will harm only those who grow up with materialistic ideas. Then vaccination becomes a kind of ahrimanic power [i.e., a tool of Ahriman]...." — Rudolf Steiner, PHYSIOLOGY AND HEALING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2013), p. 238.

* Adopting the terminology from Theosophy, Steiner referred to his own teachings, Anthroposophy, as "spiritual science." But there is nothing scientific about it. [See "Steiner's 'Science'".] Anthroposophy is a mystical belief system — it is a religion, not a science of any description. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Many of the nearly limitless confusions found in Anthroposophy arise from precisely this, the systematic corruption of language, insisting that things be called precisely the reverse of what they really are. The very term "Anthroposophical medicine" is an oxymoronic inversion. Anthroposophical doctors may occasionally practice a little actual medicine, but they do this only when they set Anthroposophy to the side. "Anthroposophical medicine" is medicine only when it is not Anthroposophical; and it is Anthroposophical precisely when it is not real medicine.





A special category of diseases merits special attention: childhood diseases.

In Anthroposophical belief, children need to undergo certain diseases. The illnesses that are generally associated with childhood play a special role in a young person's development, Anthroposophists believe. Children endure particular diseases as they attempt, unconsciously, to overcome the deleterious genetic characteristics they have received from their parents. Children need to gain mastery over these traces of inheritance so their unique spiritual egos (their "I's") can gain proper expression. Thus, youngsters should be allowed to undergo childhood illnesses — and vaccination should generally be rejected, since it can hamper this process.

"Childhood diseases...result from a necessary developmental process in which the human being tries to overcome influences from the inherited physical body. The child must bring inherited substances into line with his own 'I' ... The intensity of this process depends on the degree of conformity between the physical body and the 'I'. The bigger the difference, the more intense the harmonization process expressed in these types of disease will have to be. This basic concept of the origin of childhood diseases has been complicated by new forms of medication that suppress symptoms (vaccination) ... [T]he harmonization process is partly blocked by their use." — Henk Van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 20. (The parenthetical reference to vaccination occurs in the text; I did not add it.)

Humans come to this world with a potentially ideal human form, but various vicissitudes — such as the inheritance of physical flaws from one's parents — interfere. Illness, then, is at least in part a rebellion of the bodily system against the flaws imposed on it. To cure disease means restoring the possibility that one may realize her/his ideal form. Seen in this light, illness is a blessing — it brings us closer to perfection. Anthroposophical doctor and Waldorf teacher L.F.C. Mees makes just this point in his book BLESSED BY ILLNESS (Anthroposophic Press, 1998):

"I believe that most doctors striving for elimination of childhood illnesses are convinced that they do a great service ... [But] childhood illnesses should be treated in the proper way, by supporting the illness in its effort to restore the [ideal] form, not fighting the illness ... [W]e should consider [childhood illnesses] as the greatest blessings, because through them man is able to strengthen his personal form by conquering [an inherited] predisposition, [thus] enabling him to incarnate better." — L.F.C. Mees, BLESSED BY ILLNESS, p. 192.

Mees acknowledges that, in the present medical climate, 

"[V]accination will, for most people, be the only way out. [But] my intention is to show the possibility of a new approach...." — Ibid.

That new approach entails allowing children to undergo the illnesses they need, unhampered by vaccination, so that they may reap the benefits of these illnesses. We should support the child by "supporting the illness." 

Thus, the bizarre — and cruel — inversions of Anthroposophy would lead us to withhold medical care from children. Let the young ones be sick. It is good for them.



Anthroposophical doctors are wary of all modern technological medical approaches, whether these involve manufactured fluids injected into the body, fancy new drugs taken by mouth, the use of computers in the process of diagnosis, the use of imaging technologies such as CAT scans, or virtually any other modern approach to the improvement of human health. The greatest danger in medical intervention is that it may destroy the human soul, according to Steiner. Yes, the physical body may get "better," but at what price? Enemies of human spirituality will devise vaccines that destroy the human impulse to seek spirituality, but they will not stop there. "Materialistic doctors" (i.e., doctors who are not mystics) will use many techniques to ruin humanity.

◊ “The two philosophies of life will be in complete opposition. One movement will need to reflect how concepts and ideas may be developed to meet the reality of soul and spirit. The others [sic], the heirs of modern materialism, will look for the vaccine to make the body ‘healthy’, that is, makes its constitution such that this body no longer talks of such rubbish as soul and spirit, but takes a 'sound' view of the forces which live in engines and in chemistry and let planets and suns arise from nebulae in the cosmos. Materialistic physicians will be asked to drive the souls out of humanity.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FALL OF THE SPIRITS OF DARKNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 85.

◊ “Today, bodies are vaccinated against one thing and another; in future, children will be vaccinated with a substance which it will certainly be possible to produce, and this will make them immune, so that they do not develop foolish inclinations connected with spiritual life — ‘foolish’ here, of course, in the eyes of materialists ... The whole trend goes in a direction where a way will finally be found to vaccinate bodies so that these bodies will not allow the inclination towards spiritual ideas to develop and all their lives people will believe only in the physical world they perceive with the senses. Out of impulses which the medical profession gained from presumption — oh, I beg your pardon, from the consumption they themselves suffered — people are now vaccinated against consumption, and in the same way they will be vaccinated against any inclination towards spirituality. This is merely to give you a particularly striking example of many things which will come in the near and more distant future in this field — the aim being to bring confusion into the impulses which want to stream down to earth [from above].” — Ibid., p. 200.



Rudolf Steiner had much to say about the root causes of illness. Among his indications are the following.

According to Steiner, the demons Ahriman and Lucifer aim to derail human evolution. But they work in opposition to one another. Ahriman tries to sever humanity completely from the spirit realm, while Lucifer tries to lure us into false forms of spirituality. The conflict between Ahriman and Lucifer is reflected in the diseases that beset humanity. 

"Let us suppose for a moment that the Ahrimanic powers [Ahriman and his minions] were victorious in the physical body of some person, victorious, that is, over the Luciferic powers ... The result would be that the person would succumb to illnesses producing tumours or carcinoma, or else to illnesses of the metabolism ... Whenever an illness of this description shows itself in a man's physical nature, it means that Ahriman has won a victory over Lucifer ... If on the other hand Lucifer gains a victory in a man's physical nature over the Ahrimanic powers...then the person concerned succumbs to illnesses of a catarrhal nature, or else to insanity." — Rudolf Steiner, PLANETARY SPHERES AND THEIR INFLUENCE OF MAN'S LIFE ON EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 5, GA 218.

Neither Ahriman nor Lucifer can attain ultimate victory, Steiner taught. But they will persist in their efforts, which means they will continue inflicting illness on human bodies, souls, and spirits. Thus Steiner imagined humanity addressing the Ahrimanic and Luciferic spirits in these words:

“Ye creatures of Lucifer and Ahriman...the disappointment and great frustration that you meet with, time and again, are due to evils of your own making, evils that are bound to arise on Earth in consequence of your own partial victories. And that must go on; for you will not cease from making people sick and ill and obsessed, nor from turning people into liars and self-seekers and ego-less dreamers. And so you have no choice but to continue this restless alternation between triumphant joy and the grief of acute disappointment.” — Ibid.

Steiner was not always so optimistic that Ahriman and Lucifer will fail in their devilish schemes, but on this occasion he was.

To summarize: In order to rid ourselves of disease, we must rise above the endless, evil struggles of Ahriman and Lucifer. We must free ourselves of demonic interference.

[For more on these issues, see "Ahriman", "Lucifer", "Evil", and "Evil Ones".]


Here is a sampling of additional comments Steiner made about medicine, health, and the human anatomy. My own comments are based on standard encyclopedias and medical texts such as THE MERCK MANUAL and THE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS COMPLETE HOME MEDICAL GUIDE. Bear in mind, I am just a layman. To some degree, what you will find below is one medical nincompoop criticizing another. But at least I rely on authoritative texts, whereas Steiner was a fantasist or, not to put too fine a point on it, a quack. I would never pretend to be able to cure your cancer. Steiner would and did pretend to offer cures for cancer and many other ailments. How many lives he damaged as a result is probably incalculable.

“We must ask ourselves: In what constellation were we living when in the nineties [i.e., 1890s] the present influenza epidemic appeared in its benign form? In what cosmic constellation are we living at the present moment? By virtue of what cosmic rhythm does the influenza epidemic of the nineties appear in a more acute form today?" — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SYMPTOM TO REALITY IN MODERN HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1976), p. 89.

Consulting the stars to understand diseases is obviously fallacious — and dangerous for the patient, who needs real care, not astrological hokum.

In a healthy human organism, a kind of organic combustion must always be active when substances are being transformed [i.e., broken down, digested, etc.] ... Organic combustion occurs with every movement we make, including inner movements ... When the forces needed to restrain organic combustion are not present, either in the entire organism or in a single organ system, various forms of tuberculosis develop ... If we administer phosphorus, we support the ability to curb organic combustion processes.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE HEALING PROCESS (SteinerBooks, 2000), pp. 11-12.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease, usually of the lungs. Combustion does not occur within the body — we “burn” calories only in a metaphoric sense. Phosphorus is a combustible poison — instead of “curb,” Steiner should mean “enhance” or “support.” For “inner movements,” read “internal processes including mental activity.” Steiner would also include spiritual activity involving the body.

“Concerning “the internal structure of an organ such as the esophagus ... In the organ itself, the antimonizing force is at work in the human being. The human being is antimony if we exclude from consideration everything that is introduced from outside. The human being is antimony.” — Rudolf Steiner, INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 265. 

The esophagus is the gullet, connecting the throat to the stomach. “Antimonizing” means producing antimony, a brittle element used in metallic alloys. “The human being is antimony” has no practical meaning — no real medical treatment can result from such a statement.

When a person becomes afflicted with shrunken kidneys, which can occur when the kidneys' activity is deficient, you can see an indentation here on the head ... You can see in every person who has kidney disease this indentation in the head. Beneath it lies the optic nerves. When the indentation occurs, the optic nerves become inactive ...[T]he patient begins to see unclearly.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 241.

The kidneys purify blood and excrete urine. Failing eyesight is not associated with kidney problems. Searching for indentations on the head — as in phrenology — is junk science.


“Physiologists believe that they are onto something when they speak of sensory and motor nerves, but they are actually only playing with words ... They say that someone cannot walk because the nerves that set the legs in motion, the motor nerves, are paralyzed. In truth, that person cannot walk because he or she cannot perceive his or her own legs [i.e., someone with higher spiritual consciousness would not be paralyzed].” — Rudolf Steiner, POLARITIES IN THE EVOLUTION OF MANKIND, (Steiner Books, 1987), p. 58.

Paralysis results from nerve damage. Steiner himself is “playing with words,” offering senseless diagnoses and treatments. He taught that there are really no such things as sensory and motor nerves.


“[I]t would be incorrect to allow children to eat too much fattening food. If [we] do so, since the fat blocks the spirit-soul [the combined human spirit and soul], the head separates from the spirit-soul and becomes empty.” — Rudolf Steiner, POLARITIES IN THE EVOLUTION OF MANKIND, p. 196.

Many of Steiner’s “medical” statements depend on the existence of spiritual components that are conveniently impossible to detect by any ordinary means. Steiner depended on clairvoyance, which almost certainly is fraudulent. [See "Clairvoyance".] Steiner’s erroneous approach can sometimes lead to useful advice — e.g., don’t give kids too many fattening foods — but this is almost a random occurrence. An infinite number of psychics typing on an infinite number or typewriters will eventually produce at least some sensible sentences.


“As we appear physically, we are clearly divided into the head system, the chest system, and the abdominal system, including the limbs....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, pp. 59-60.

For Steiner, the really important systems are spiritual and hence invisible; the three physical systems represent only how “we appear” to physical sight. But even if we concede this point, his three-system summary is simplistic and false. Steiner lumps body parts together based on proximity (e.g., everything in the chest is one system), but he also pairs parts that are essentially dissimilar (abdomen and limbs). Think a bit about the “abdominal system, including the limbs.” Clearly, not everything in the abdominal region is part of a single system. The abdominal region contains digestive organs, but it is also the site of sexual organs, and in women it is the site of the womb. The legs are near the abdomen, but they are not part of the digestive system or the reproductive system. The arms are attached to the chest — they are not, in any rational sense, part of the "abdominal system." Note that some real systems — the nerve system, the vascular system — are diffused throughout the entire body, bridging the divisions between Steiner’s three bodily “systems.” Steiner sometimes referred to “systems” in this more accurate way, although often he generally did so inaccurately, as we will see.


There is “constant tension in the human being between the upper and lower parts of the body. The primary goal of all our searching in the field of medicine should be to master this tension, which is expressed in the forces concentrated in two organs, the pineal gland and the pituitary gland, or hypophysis. All of the forces of the upper body are expressed in the pineal gland, and a state of tension exists between them and the forces of the pituitary, or hypophysis cerebri, which are lower forces.” — Rudolf Steiner, INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 65. 

The notions that the body is constantly at odds with itself, and that understanding this is central to medical research, have little basis in medical science. A healthy organism is internally harmonious (albeit complex and imperfect — consider the appendix). The pineal gland is a small organ inside the brain; it excretes melatonin and is associated with seasonal bodily cycles. The pituitary gland lies under the brain; it excretes various hormones that control functions in various parts of the body, upper and lower.


“First, we have the four senses of touch, life, movement and balance ... The next group of senses, namely smell, taste, sight and temperature are primarily senses of feeling ... I need to add that the sense of I [a high human nonphysical body] and the senses of thought, hearing and speech are....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, pp. 142-145.

Steiner's account of our senses has little basis in reality. He spoke of twelve senses because he believed in the influences of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Moreover, he divided the twelve into three subsets because he generally said human beings consist of three major parts (physical, soul, and spirit). His schema is neat but unreal. [For more on this, see "What We're Made Of".] People generally speak of five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), and for most purposes this works well enough. Science has changed this ancient paradigm considerably, but not in ways that support Steiner. Indeed, the more science progresses, the less plausible Steiner's teachings become. "[T]he modern sensory catalog now includes receptors in the muscles, tendons, and joints, which give rise to the kinesthetic sense (that is, the sense of motion), and receptors in the vestibular organs in the inner ear, which give rise to the sense of balance. Within the circulatory system, sensory receptors are found that are sensitive to carbon dioxide in the blood or to changes in blood pressure or heart rate, and there are receptors in the digestive tract that appear to mediate such experiences as hunger and thirst. Some brain cells may also participate as hunger receptors. This is especially true of cells in the lower parts of the brain (such as the hypothalamus) where some cells have been found to be sensitive to changes in blood chemistry (water and other products of digestion) and even to changes in temperature within the brain itself." — "human sensory reception." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 04 Nov. 2012.


“With pneumonia, the cause is always in the astral body [a nonphysical body]; pneumonia can occur in no other way.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 60.

Attributing any disease to a spiritual agency removes it from the purview of medical science. The clear danger is that “spiritual” measures may be tried while actual physical cures are ignored. Locating the cause of disease in an incorporeal body likewise removes it from the realm of real medicine. The disease Steiner speaks of here, pneumonia, is real. Some people are stricken with it. But the body Steiner speaks of, the astral body, is imaginary. No one has one.


“[T]here may be a child of a strongly melancholic temperament. One recognizes that this disposition is connected with the secretion of the liver, and this in turn is related to the sugar consumption. In meeting with the parents, every possibility is offered to reach an agreement [between teachers and parents] to increase the sugar intake by sweetening the child’s foods.” — Rudolf Steiner, HUMAN QUESTIONS AND COSMIC ANSWERS (Anthroposophical Pub. Co., 1960), p. 38.

That people exhibit four “temperaments” is an ancient Greek concept. [See “Humouresque”.] Modern science has rejected it. Moreover, there can be no connection between any “temperament” and any organ (e.g., the liver) or substance (e.g., sugar), since the temperaments (as conceived in ancient Greece and now in Anthroposophy) do not exist. (In a more general sense, of course, a vast range of temperaments are real — but Steiner explicitly meant the ancient four-temperament model, updated only slightly.) No child is melancholic, in the ancient Greek or modern Anthroposophical sense, and none needs a special diet in response to this condition. (Some kids are sad, at least sometimes, but none has an overall spiritual/physical condition called melancholia.) If a Waldorf teacher, obedient to Steiner, tells a student's parents that their child is melancholic (or choleric, or phlegmatic, or sanguine) — and especially if the teacher then recommends a remedial strategy — the best course for the parents to take is plain: Remove your child from that school.


“[T]he predisposition to diabetes occurs if the I [a high human nonphysical body] excludes itself from internal processes ... All of this secretion, which as you know is an oscillating and circulating activity, is neglected while the I is focusing its chief activity on the brain.” — Rudolf Steiner, INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE, p. 211.

Again, linking a disease to a spiritual cause is doubtful, at best — and it is even more doubtful if the reference is to an incorporeal organ, body, or power.


“Extreme flatulence arises from the fact that the astral body [a nonphysical body] is not completely membered into the bowels....” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 131. [Steiner’s full wording is “bowels organization.”]

Again, Steiner gives a spiritual cause for a physical phenomenon. It is fantasy. “Membered” means “joined to” or “integrated with.”


“Diabetes is today more prevalent among Jews. Certainly others also have diabetes, but it occurs with particular frequency today among Jews. These people have a tendency to diabetes. The Jew has more difficulty absorbing sugar, yet on the other hand he requires it ... Pork makes the assimilation of sugar extremely difficult — pork aggravates diabetes unusually in the human being — so the prohibition of pork was calculated particularly to prevent diabetes.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE, p. 284. 

Diabetes does not occur more frequently among Jews. About 6% of the people in the world have diabetes. Among Jews, the figure is 7%. In the USA, among all population groups, the average is 8%. (For non-Hispanic whites, it’s about 10%; for non-Hispanic blacks, about 25%.) In Europe, it’s 9%. In Jordan and other Muslim countries, the figure may be as high as 15%. As for whether “the” Jew (as if all Jews are alike) has special trouble absorbing sugar, the answer is no. [12]


"[In kidney disease] the disease process can be counterbalanced by giving the patient a combination of sulfur and silica.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE HEALING PROCESS (SteinerBooks, 2000), p. 73. 

Relying on homeopathic or other alternative remedies clearly presents dangers. Sulfur is a combustible nonmetal. Silica is the unreactive mineral known as quartz. What are the real remedies generally used by real doctors to address kidney disease? "High blood pressure makes chronic kidney disease more likely ... So your doctor may prescribe one of [several] types of blood-pressure medicines ... Along with controlling blood pressure, these medicines may lower the amount of protein in your urine. That could help your kidneys over time. You might also need to take a medicine to help your body make erythropoietin, which is a chemical that prompts your body to make red blood cells. So you might get a prescription for darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp) or erythropoietin (Procrit, Epogen) to curb anemia." [13]


“The ashes that a thought leaves strengthen bones, and so people with rickets do better if they think abstractly.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM THE CONTENT OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266, 3-14-08. [14]

Good grief.


“If you notice that a person has a problem with the liver, or specifically the intestines, and formic acid doesn't help at all, then you'll have to dispense oxalic acid.” — Rudolf Steiner, BEES: Lectures (SteinerBooks, 1998), p. 147.

Steiner is often unclear. This statement seems to say that the intestines are a specific part of the liver, which is nonsense. If we interpret the sentence to mean that formic acid and oxalic acid can be helpful both to the liver and, even more, to the intestines, it is moot at best. Formic acid is an irritant catalyzed from steam and carbon monoxide. Oxalic acid is a poison used in bleaching and cleaning. 


“As far as today’s science and medicine are concerned, the brain is an internal organ, and so are the contents of the lower body. No one notices that this error [failing to distinguish 'internal' organs from 'external' organs] is just like saying that positive and negative electricity are the same.” — Rudolf Steiner, INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE, p. 65.

It is quite true that that brain is "internal" — it is inside the skull. The contents of the "lower body" (however we may define this) are also internal (this is what "contents" means: they are contained, inside). But, then, all other organs and/or "contents" are also internal. Modern “science and medicine” are correct: The brain and all other parts of the body are parts of the body. Here Steiner picks a quarrel with the truth; he argues against "today’s science and medicine," as he often did. As usual, he asserts that “no one” is correct except himself. Arrogance allied with ignorance is extremely dangerous. The use of analogies hardly offsets this (the subject is the human organism, not electricity.)


“In cancer, the sensory-nervous system invades the metabolic-limb system and begins to assert itself there ... An ear that develops in the right place is a normal organ, but when even a very minimal latent ear or other sense organ develops in the wrong place, we are faced with cancer, or carcinoma. To learn to counteract the body’s tendency to develop sense organs in the wrong place, we must look deep into world evolution, into the cosmic evolution that led to the human being.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE HEALING PROCESS, pp. 141-142. 

Steiner’s views on cosmic evolution are baroque and useless in practical life. [See "Everything" and the essays that follow it.] Let's focus, instead, on the specifics in Steiner's statement. 1) There is no “metabolic-limb system” — the metabolic process is cellular activity producing material and energy for the life processes. The limbs, like all other parts of the body, receive sustenance from this activity. 2)  “Carcinoma” is not a synonym for “cancer” — there are two general types of cancers, carcinomas and sarcomas. 3) The body’s “tendency to develop sense organs in the wrong place” is not a major problem. (A cancer is not a tiny sense organ that has grown in the wrong place.) Overall, and as per usual, Steiner's statement is devoid of information and truth.


“But if you become blind inwardly, your physiological processes don't work properly, and soon that will lead to cancer of the intestine, the stomach, the pylorus....” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM CRYSTAL TO CROCODILES (Rudolf Steiner, 2002), p. 62.

Despite knowing the causes of cancer as well as the proper treatment for cancer (mistletoe), Steiner is reported to have died of cancer. Anthroposophists dispute this, of course — and perhaps the point is unimportant. In any case, cancer is no more the result of inner (spiritual) blindness than it is a result of growing a tiny ear in the wrong place. To repeat myself: Good grief.


“[W]ith the dying out of the worst parts of the ancient population of which I have been speaking [in Asia], the whole region gradually became filled with demonic beings ... Their influence can best be seen at the time of the Great Migrations, when large masses of people, including Attila and his hordes, came over from Asia and caused great terror among the people in Europe. This terror made the population susceptible to the influences of the demonic beings ... As a consequence of the terror produced by the hordes coming over from Asia, there gradually developed what manifested during the Middle Ages as the epidemic of leprosy.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION OF MORALITY (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 31.

Many diseases come to us due to astrological influences, according to Steiner. (Remember what we were asked previously: “In what cosmic constellation are we living at the present moment? By virtue of what cosmic rhythm does the influenza epidemic of the nineties appear in a more acute form today?") Other disease are more specifically caused by demons. Consider leprosy, for instance. Leprosy spread as an epidemic in Europe because the terror caused by Attila the Hun made Europeans susceptible to demonic influences, according to Steiner. Terror = demonic influences = leprosy. Why don't modern medical schools teach these facts?


“You must know that each limb of a human being is a complete human being, but with the head and chest stunted, that and in the chest the head and limbs maintain balance.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, p. 211.

Medical schools are generally mum on these facts as well.


It's time — or past time — for me to shut up. So I will now simply list a few more of Steiner's quack medical pronouncements.

"Five is the number of evil ... When, one day, medicine will make use of this, it will be able to influence beneficially the course of illness. Part of the treatment would be to study the illness in its development on the first and fifth days after its onset, on the separate days at the fifth hour past midnight, and again during the fifth week. Thus it is always the number five that determines when the physician can best intervene." — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1974), p. 42.


"What is alcohol? Wine demonstrates what alcohol actually is, because wine, which only wealthy people can afford to drink, has the most harmful effect. Beer is less harmful for the reproductive organs ... When one drinks, the reproductive organs are subjected to what has been internally absorbed in the way food is, [that is] to what should be absorbed solely by way of the sun itself, [from] the sun's shining ... Man drinks something that the sun produces outside of him. It becomes poison through this." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE, p. 216.


"Now, what happens in the case of diphtheria? In diphtheria, the skin suddenly becomes weak and subdued ... Because the skin activity is no longer working properly from outside, superfluous skin forms on the inside." — Ibid., p. 240.


"Now, as for the flu, it really comes from a brain ailment. The lower part of the brain, located under the optic nerves, suffers a form of paralysis." — Ibid., p. 244.


"What happens, however, when the liver's activity is too weak? ... If the liver isn't behaving properly, the blood rushes to the surface of the body to replenish itself there ... Smallpox is the result." — Ibid., p. 254.


"[T]he part of the human organism in which the child develops, the womb, is really like a miniature earth that has remained behind and is still in an ancient comet-like state." — Ibid., p. 266.


“Whatever is to be traced to ahrimanic influence [i.e., the influence of the demon Ahriman] is indirectly attributable to Lucifer; when, however, the luciferic influence has been so strong as immediately to call forth the ahrimanic influence, then this influence is the more malicious. It anchors itself not only in the transgressions of the astral body, but in those of the etheric body. It manifests itself in a consciousness lying deeper than our pain consciousness, causing damage not necessarily accompanied by pain, damage that renders useless the organ which it attacks.

“Let us suppose that in one incarnation an ahrimanic influence had been exercised on a being bringing with it certain consequences. Now the man passes through the period between death and a new birth, and reappears in a new incarnation. Then it will become manifest that some organ has been attacked by Ahriman; in other words, the etheric body has entered this organ more deeply than it should — more deeply than normal. In such a case, precisely because of this defective organ, the man is even more open to temptations of error which are the work of Ahriman upon earth. By means of the organ which owes its defect to ahrimanic influence, and into which the etheric body has too deeply penetrated, the man would, if he were to experience the whole of this process, become even more enmeshed in what Ahriman can effect, namely, ‘Maya.’ Since nothing however produced by the material world as Maya can be carried into the spiritual world, the spiritual world withdraws further from him. For in that world there is to be found only truth and no illusion. The more he becomes entangled in the illusions effected by Ahriman, the more are we impelled to enter even further into the external world of the senses, into the illusions of the physical senses, much further than would be the case without the defective organ.

“A counteracting effect comes into play, however, just as we have the effect of pain counteracting the luciferic influence. This counteracting effect will operate in such a way that the moment there is any danger of our being linked too closely with the physical world of the senses, and of our losing the forces which lead us up into the spiritual world, in that moment the organ is destroyed; it will either be paralysed or else rendered too weak to be effective. A process of destruction takes place. Thus if we see an organ approaching destruction, we must realise that we owe this to beneficial forces; the organ is taken from us so that we may find our way back into the spiritual world. When there is no alternative of escape, certain forces do in fact destroy our organs or weaken them so that we may not become too greatly entangled in Maya or illusion and may find our way back into the spiritual world.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 7, “Forces of Nature, Volcanic Eruptions, Earthquakes and Epidemics in Relation to Karma”, GA 120.


"And so you have gained a picture of those beings which are just on the boundary of the world lying immediately beyond the threshold, and of how, if they carry their impulses to their final issue, they become the bearers of parasites, of poisons, and therewith of illnesses. Now it becomes clear how far man in health raises himself above the forces that take hold of him in illness. For illness springs from the malevolence of these beings who are necessary for the upbuilding of the whole structure of nature, but also for its fading and decay.

"These are the things which, arising from instinctive clairvoyance, underlie such intuitions as those of the Indian Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma represented the active Being in world-spheres which may legitimately approach man. Vishnu represented those world-spheres which may only approach man in so far as what has been built up must again be broken down, in so far as it must be continually transformed. Shiva represented everything connected with the forces of destruction. And in the earlier stages of the flower of Indian civilization it was said that Brahma is intimately related to all that is of the nature of the fire-beings, and the sylphs; Vishnu with all that is of the nature of sylphs and undines; Shiva with all that is of the nature of undines and gnomes. Generally speaking, when we go back to these more ancient conceptions, we find everywhere the pictorial expressions for what must be sought today as lying behind the secrets of nature." — Rudolf Steiner, MAN AS SYMPHONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture 8, GA 230.







Footnotes for the Foregoing Sections

(Scroll down to find further sections.)

[1] See, e.g., “Anthroposophic Medicine,” . The complete set of human faculties and parts, as described by Steiner, is long and intricate. Steiner spoke variously of our three-fold, four-fold, seven-fold, and nine-fold natures.

[2] See, e.g., “Childhood Illness: Waldorf View,” cited at

[3] Steiner’s followers often accept his guidance concerning vaccination. From a news account in early 2009: 

“At the private Eugene [Oregon] Waldorf School on McLean Boulevard south of 28th Avenue, three of every four of its nearly 200 students lack one or more of the vaccines Oregon requires against 11 diseases. Their parents have filled out religious exemption forms....” — Anne Williams, “Medical Authorities Want to Determine Why Certain Populations Shun Vaccines,” THE REGISTER-GUARD, Jan. 10, 2009.

A similar situation arose in Colorado at the Shining Mountain Waldorf School:

"[N]early half of the 292 students at Shining Mountain have received only a few, and in some cases none, of the twenty-one childhood vaccinations mandated by Colorado state law ... The shunning of one of the vaccines, against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, has resulted in a revival of whooping cough ... The parents at Shining Mountain are influenced by the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner ... Steiner (who was not a medical doctor) believed that children's spirits benefited from being tempered in the fires of a good inflammation ... Shining Mountain's director, Robert Schiappacasse...became a little concerned, he told me, when the baby of one of the school's secretaries ‘coughed himself into a hernia’ after visiting the school during an outbreak.” — Arthur Allen, “Bucking the Herd,” THE ATLANTIC, Sept. 2002.

And the following is from California: 

“A distressing new statewide report shows that an increasing number of California parents are sending their children to school without routine vaccinations. The numbers are astounding: In the Bay Area, the highest exemption rate from kindergarten immunization was nearly 69 percent in 2008, at the Marin Waldorf School in San Rafael ... After a whooping cough outbreak at the East Bay Waldorf School (64 percent exemption rate for kindergartners) last May, [the Department of Public Health] made the difficult decision to close the school for a day and order all the parents to show proof of antibiotic prescription for their children.” — “On School Vaccinations,” THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, April 1, 2009.

Many Waldorf schools overseas also oppose vaccination: 

“Measles remains a public health problem in Europe, and there are ‘serious doubts’ that it can be eliminated by 2010 as health officials had hoped ... [V]accination rates are lower in families rated ‘hard to reach’ by the authorities and in schools that practice homeopathy and the medical philosophy of the 19th- and early-20th-century theorist Rudolf Steiner.” — Donald G. McNeil, Jr., “Eradication Goal for Measles Is Unlikely, Report Says,” THE NEW YORK TIMES, Jan. 13, 2009.

A measles outbreak at a Waldorf school in Switzerland, early in 2009, created news. 

“The Ecole Rudolf Steiner [translation: Rudolf Steiner School] near Lausanne Tuesday reported 17 cases of measles ... Dr Eric Masserrey, who heads the office responsible for overseeing epidemics, called the outbreak ‘unprecedented’ as his team moved into action to control the spread of the potentially deadly disease ... The health department is also checking to see why the students’ doctors appear not to have reported the cases promptly, as required by Swiss law. Students are allowed to attend school in Switzerland if they have not been vaccinated, but if they are found to have been exposed to the highly infectious viral disease they will be told to stay home for 21 days.” — Crissier, Vaud, Switzerland,, Feb. 5, 2009. An update the next day added: “Four new schools were affected Thursday when brothers and sisters of the 17 students with measles from the Rudolf Steiner school in Crissier also fell ill.” — Crissier, Vaud, Switzerland,, Feb. 6, 2009.

To summarize the Steiner position: Steiner did not absolutely forbid vaccination, but he warned against it. Vaccination is part of the modern insanity that opposes spirituality. 

"People will actually long for the time when the Spiritual is universally deemed to be insanity, craziness! Attempts will be made to achieve this end by inoculations; just as viruses have been discovered as means of protection against illnesses, so certain inoculations will be used to influence the human body in such a way that it provides no place for the spiritual proclivities of the soul. Human beings will be immunised against any predisposition for spiritual ideas ... [S]uch, at least, will be the endeavour. They will try by inoculation to bring it about that even in childhood, human beings lose the urge towards the spiritual life." — Rudolf Steiner, BEHIND THE SCENES OF EXTERNAL HAPPENINGS (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1947), lecture 1, GA 178.

Under some circumstances, vaccination serves the foul purposes of Ahriman:

"[Vaccination] will harm only those who grow up with materialistic ideas. Then vaccination becomes a kind of ahrimanic power; the individual can no longer rise above a certain materialistic way of feeling. And that is really why vaccination causes us concern, because people are 'garbed through' with a phantom." — Rudolf Steiner, PHYSIOLOGY AND HEALING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2013), p. 238.

Curing or preventing diseases can be a grave error, interfering with karma. People need and even want to have certain illnesses, including fatal ones. 

“[P]eople may virtually be driven to places where it is possible to get an infection in order to find in this the compensating effects for certain karmic causes within them; people are even driven to what one might call fatal life events to find such compensation.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA  (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 167.

[4] E.g., “Rescue Remedy,”

[5] E.g., “Treating Cancer with Misteltoe [sic]”,

[6] Cf., 

“[E]ach day, the average heart beats 100,000 times, pumping about 2,000 gallons (7,571 liters) of blood.” — Heart Information Center, .

[7] E.g., Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60.

[8] E.g., 

"[J]ust as natural forces build out of living matter the eyes and ears of the physical body, so will organs of clairvoyance build themselves...." — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 28.

[9] See “anthroposophic medicine,” .

You may also want to consult

"A couple of years ago, Prof Edzard Ernst (co-author of ‘Trick or Treatment’ with Simon Singh) attempted to carry out a systematic review of all randomised clinical trials of Anthroposophical medicine as either a sole or adjunctive treatment for any illness or condition, but failed to find a single study that met the inclusion criteria after running seven separate literature searches." 

Many Web sources are unreliable, so treat them with care. (Disclosure: I find reliable, but then some of my own work is quoted there.)

[10] Aurum cream was to be applied over the heart and oxalis cream over the stomach. Concerning the latter, Lombard writes:

"Linked to the doctor's instructions to apply ‘Oxalis cream over abdomen' is Steiner's concept that human beings make formic acid from oxalic acid ... The doctor was attempting to heal my daughter's Anthroposophic spiritual bodies. By rubbing Oxalis cream on her abdomen, she would develop formic acid within and have life. [Steiner taught] ‘It's the formic acid that attracts and mobilizes soul and spirit, otherwise the spirit will go away.’" — "Spotlight on Anthroposophy". 

[11] See "Ahriman" and "Ahrimanic beings, Ahrimanic powers" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.

[12] For these various matters, see American Diabetes Association, , EUobserver, Encyclopedia Britannica, etc.

[13] WebMD, March 29, 2017.

[14] Another translation says this:

“Rickets in children can be improved through appropriate geometric study." — ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 291.








Skeletal/anatomical images from

For an account of Anthroposophical medicine contending 

with the outbreak of a particular disease 

— the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 — 

see the Waldorf Watch News items for March, 2020

and the succeeded months.










From the Waldorf Watch News:

July 19, 2020

◊ Backgrounder ◊



Many people today are eager for scientists to produce a vaccine to combat the coronavirus pandemic. But anti-vaxx protestors are raising an alarm, warning that such a vaccine may have severe consequences. Proponents of Waldorf education have been prominent in the protests [1]. 

Waldorf views on vaccines have long been controversial. Here are excerpts from VACCINE, a 2007 book that devotes some attention to Waldorf. The author, Arthur Allen, is not an expert on Waldorf education or the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. He gets some details wrong when discussing these subjects. But, overall, he presents an informative overview [2].

VACCINE - The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver

[W. W. Norton & Co.]

The Waldorf movement was the creation of the Austrian mystic philosopher Rudolf Steiner [3], who founded his first school in 1919 [4] ... The colors inside Waldorf schools [5] lean heavily to pastels, and the instructors discourage television [6] and reading matter of any kind for children under age 7 [7] because such media are thought to interfere with the child's natural inclinations [8] and unfolding imagination [9]. The bundling of children is another tenet of Waldorf education handed down by Steiner, who believed that physical and spiritual warmth were related. Waldorf kids are instructed to dress warmly year-round in wool hats and layers of cotton sweaters [10].

...Another, less advertised Waldorf belief, one that comes as a surprise to many parents, is that children need to become quite ill with infectious diseases in order to develop into spiritually whole beings [11] ... [The Waldorf worldview] prefers the natural trajectory of strong fevers, coughing, vomiting, and (hopefully) recovery to the sterile efficiency of antibiotics and other medications [12]. As a result...[students in] Waldorf schools around the world are disproportionately unvaccinated [13], and these schools have often been the epicenters to vaccine-preventable illnesses [14]...

— Arthur Allen, VACCINE - The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver (W. W. Norton & Co., 2007), pp. 327-328.

The principles of health that influence Waldorf schools and communities are vestiges — like Christian Science, Rosicrucianism, and Swedenborgianism [15] — of spiritual philosophies that view the body as a temple, the blood as a divine fluid [16], and vaccines are spiritual pollution ... [E]ach of these postindustrial religious sects [17] arose at a time when society was visibly mucking up nature and humankind. They were millenarian responses to the despoilation of traditional life [18]. And although arguably our air, water, and food are less polluted than they were 50 years ago, the belief that we have defiled ourselves with pollutants and toxins remains just as intense if not more so. Spiritual holists [believe] we are a fallen civilization.

— Ibid., pp. 333-334.

When it came to disease, Steiner had a hailing familiarity with the emerging discipline of bacteriology, but he endowed germs with a spiritual significance ... [H]e stated that overfeeding infants caused measles and scarlet fever [19], that smallpox resulted from heavy breathing or sweating [20], and that excessive bathing caused diphtheria [21]. Influenza was contagious not through viruses but as a result of the garlic-and-onion odor emanating from people with flu [22] ... Diseases of childhood were the result of spiritual impurity [23]...

[V]accination might prevent epidemics but at the cost of leaving spiritual work undone: "If we destroy the susceptibility to smallpox [through vaccination] we are concentrating only on the external side of karmic activity." Since "man cannot escape his karma" and smallpox was the "organ of unlovingness [24]," vaccination might prevent the disease but the "cause of unlovingness would still remain, and souls in question would then be forced to seek another way for karmic compensation either in this or another incarnation [25]."

...Vaccination, like reading and writing, was an extraneous influence that disrupted the mother's spiritual dominance over her child [26]. Steiner warned of a day when medicine would create a vaccine "which will be injected into the human organism in earliest infancy, if possible immediately after birth, to ensure that this human body never has the idea that a soul and a spirit exist [27]," a day when "materialistic doctors will be entrusted with the task of driving souls out of human beings [28]."

— Ibid., pp. 344-345.

Footnotes for this Item:


[1] See, e.g., "Anthroposophists Among the Pandemic Protestors", May 26, 2020, and "Opposition to a Vaccine That Does Not Exist Yet", July 3, 2020. [Steiner's teachings are identified, collectively, as "Anthroposophy". See "Anthroposophy" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE).]

[2] For a review of the book, see "Preventive Medicine", New York Times, February 4, 2007 [].

[3] See "What a Guy". 

Steiner's followers like to refer to him as a philosopher or scientist or educational reformer, etc., but he often identified himself as an occultist. [See "Occultism".]

[4] This was the first Waldorf school, opened in Stuttgart, Germany, for children of workers at the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory.

[5] See "Mystical Colors".

[6] Steiner's followers are leery of electronic devices of many sorts, including televisions and computers — such devices, they fear, may be demonic. [See "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".]

[7] In Waldorf belief, children younger than seven years old have not yet fully received their "etheric bodies," the first of three invisible bodies that incarnate during the first 21 years of life. [See "Incarnation".] The kids are not deemed ready for basic academic instruction until this first invisible body incarnates.

[8] In Waldorf belief, children arrive on earth with predispositions resulting from their former lives and their prenatal experiences in the spirit realm. [See "Reincarnation"]

[9] Imagination is stressed in Waldorf education. It is considered a precursor to, or an early stage of, clairvoyance. [See "imagination" in the BWSE.]

[10] Waldorf students do not all, always, wear woolen hats and cotton sweaters — especially not in summer. But Steiner taught his followers to prefer natural materials such as wool and cotton, and he indicated that physical warmth may sometimes convey the restorative powers of spiritual warmth. Here's a statement made by a Steiner follower who took Waldorf teacher training: 

"Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf Education, really saw the connection between these two types of warmth. Steiner would talk about how the physical warmth that a child receives in the younger years (before age 7) would impact positively not only their physical health in years to come but also a child’s capacity for emotional warmth as an adult ... Steiner wasn't ho-hum about warmth for growing kids. He placed a very high importance on providing physical warmth. Actually, it was one of the top three things he wanted every parent [and teacher?] to know about." — Monika Herwig, "Waldorf and Warmth", January 14, 2018 [].

[11] Waldorf faculties often conceal at least some of their beliefs from outsiders — in this sense, they embrace "unadvertised" tenets. [See "Secrets".] Parents of Waldorf students are often surprised when they learn what many Waldorf teachers actually believe. [See, e.g., "Coming Undone".]

Just as they believe in reincarnation, Steiner's followers believe in karma. [See "Karma".] Accordingly, there is a belief that children are destined to contract certain diseases. Undergoing these illnesses is believed to discharge various karmic obligations. Moreover, the fever accompanying infectious diseases can burn away injurious genetic characteristics, Steiner indicated.

The Steiner/Waldorf view of diseases is reflected in such publications as the book BLESSED BY ILLNESS (Steinerbooks/Anthroposophic Press, 1998), by L.F.C. Mees.

[12] Modern medicine is viewed askance, as another extension of potentially demonic modern technology. [For an overview of the sort of medical care advocated by Steiner, see "Steiner's Quackery".]

[13] Waldorf schools rarely have official policies opposing vaccination, but they nonetheless are often centers of anti-vaccination belief and practice. [See "vaccination" in the BWSE.]

[14] For an instance in the USA, see "Chickenpox in Asheville". There have reportedly also been infectious disease outbreaks among Steiner's followers in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, and probably elsewhere. [See "Under-vaccinated groups in Europe and their beliefs, attitudes and reasons for non-vaccination; two systematic reviews", BMC Public Health [].

[15] See, e.g., "Choosing".

[16] See "blood" in the BWSE. Steiner stated many of his views about blood in the lecture "The Occult Significance of Blood".

[17] Steiner called Anthroposophy a "spiritual science," but in reality it is a religion or, in Allen's words, a religious sect. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[18] Like the other movements mentioned, Anthroposophy is essentially backward-looking. [See, e.g., "The Ancients".]


"Children know their limits, as a rule, through their own inherent wisdom and instinct. If the mother produces too much milk, however, and it is fed to the child, its instinct will become uncertain through eating too much. Now, if too much food is absorbed by the system, the head cannot keep up; it cannot handle too large an amount and will try to eliminate the surplus. The food has already been absorbed into the blood through the intestines, however, so the head cannot eliminate the surplus in the normal way. What does it do then? It discharges the superfluous substances through the skin. Measles and scarlet fever are the result." — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1981), lecture 2, GA 348.


"If the air that enters through the breathing process does not make contact with the blood in the correct way...smallpox results. What is smallpox? Smallpox is really the result of the development of too much respiratory activity on the body's surface or in the lungs. A person becomes too active on his surface area, and this activity causes inflammation everywhere." — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1983), lecture 7, GA 348.

[21] The relationship between diphtheria and bathing, as described by Steiner, is intricate. 

"Treatment with modified virus vaccine is effective in the case of diphtheria...but it has unfavorable aftereffects. Particularly if a child is treated with vaccine, it will later suffer a hardening of its organization [i.e., its constitution]. One therefore must strive actually to replace treatment with vaccine with that of bathing, especially in the case of diphtheria ... [D]iphtheria is more frequent now than in former times ... [Nowadays] people who have money bathe a lot ... [I]t is...wrong for a person to cause too strong an activity of the skin by superfluous bathing. At any rate, in the case of diphtheria, one must try above all to bring about a proper activity of the skin." — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 2, lecture 6.


"Now, when a man has influenza refuse [the physical consequences of flu] within his body, the same substances are dissolved in his fluid organization that had to be added to the ground in order to produce the finest onion and garlic plants, and before long, the sick person begins to smell like these plants ... This odour is always like that of onions or garlic and can be detected by one with a sensitive nose. Just as we tune in on and imitate a shrill and rasping voice, so do we join in with what an ill person evaporates. As a consequence, our own astral body, our own activity, becomes disorganized. This disorder causes a chemical basis that in turn makes us contract the flu." — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 1, lecture 9.

[23] I.e., childhood illnesses reflect errors committed in past lives, errors that must be discharged through the operations of karma. Steiner connected illness and karma is such statements as this: 

"Spiritual investigation shows us that in the form of a human body which enters into existence by birth, we are able to see approximately what deeds a person did in a previous life ... [O]ur deeds in one life can work over into our conditions of health in the next life ... [I]n our state of health we have often to seek a karmic effect of deeds of a previous life." — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 3, GA 120.

[24] I.e., smallpox is the manifestation of unlovingness (failure to love) during past lives.

[25] I.e., if someone having the karma to endure smallpox is prevented from contracting this disease, s/he will have to endure a similar ordeal (an illness or other karmic compensation) later in this life or in a future life.

[26] Another problem with vaccination, according to Steiner, is that it weakens the child's dependence on parents or teachers (especially Waldorf teachers). These adults would presumably guide a child through an illness, but such guidance becomes unnecessary if the illness is prevented.

[27] Steiner taught that humans have both souls and spirits. [See the entries for these terms in the BWSE.] But Steiner warned that evildoers will create vaccines that prevent humans from recognizing the existence of their souls and spirits.

[28] I.e., these vaccines will effectively destroy people's souls.

— R.R.









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"Steiner's Quackery".