"With pneumonia, the cause is always in the astral body;
pneumonia can occur in no other way."
— Rudolf Steiner
The Dangers of
A different version of this essay is accessible at
HEALTH AND KARMA
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 1000 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 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).  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).  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.”  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...only these 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.” 
Although they are loath to inoculate or, more generally, to interfere with karmic destiny, Anthroposophical doctors do not completely refrain from giving some forms of real treatment. They are genuine MDs, having gone through conventional medical schools. After receiving their licenses, they may employ conventional treatments on occasion, but they will also resort to alternative therapies when they deem these best. A website devoted to promoting Steiner has displayed this statement: “So anthroposophical 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).” 
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).  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. 
The efficacy, if any, of Anthroposophical remedies is roughly proportional to the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of Steiner’s antiscientific description of the human anatomy. Steiner’s descriptions of various bodily organs and their functions differ markedly from those found 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.”  Blood circulates of its own accord, thanks to the vital force it embodies. Likewise, Steiner taught that the brain is not involved in cognition.  True cognition, for Steiner, is the exercise of paranormal powers made possible when individuals develop incorporeal “organs of clairvoyance.” 
Reportedly, Anthroposophical physicians do not conduct double-blind controlled experiments , so it is almost impossible to fully evaluate Anthroposophical treatments. Instead, we have primarily 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 waldorfcritics.org, 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.” 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.” 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.” 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 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....” 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. Diseases, they think, are often expressions of karma — you get sick in this life in order to pay for errors you committed in a former life. Vaccination thwarts 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. Consider the error of unlovingness. This error finds physical expression in the disease known as smallpox. 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 truly dealing with this issue 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 and deal with this portion of your karma in a future life. “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.
What did Steiner mean by “a spiritual education?” 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 endure illnesses such as smallpox, or to submit to occult indoctrination and spend their days in the dark corridors of superstition and fallacy. They express this choice in somewhat different language, of course.
* Adopting the terminology from Theosophy, Steiner referred to his own teachings, Anthroposophy, as "spiritual science." There is nothing scientific about it. [See "Steiner's 'Science'".] Anthroposophy is a mystical belief system, not a science of any description. Among the peculiar — and self-deceiving — tenets of the faith are 1) it is not faith, and 2) it is a science. [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" may itself be seen as 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 only when it is not medicine.
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 that their unique spiritual egos (their "I's") can gain proper expression. Thus, boys and girls 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 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 L.F.C. Mees makes just this point in his book BLESSED BY ILLNESS (Anthroposophic Press, 1983):
"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, "vaccination will, for most people, be the only way out. [But] my intention is to show the possibility of a new approach...." — Mees, BLESSED BY ILLNESS, p. 192. 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."
DESTROYING THE SOUL
So we return to the nagging problem of vaccination. We should see this as merely a template for larger questions of medical practice. 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 (deemed demonic) 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.
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 to fine a point on it, a quack. I would never pretend to be able to cure your cancer. Steiner would and did.
◊ “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?"  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.”  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.”  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.”  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].”  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.”  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....”  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 of 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.”  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....”  Broadly speaking, we have five senses, not twelve: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Some of Steiner’s additional senses are mere combinations of these; others are null (such as the sense of life and the sense of thought; we sense life because we are alive and have our normal senses; we don’t sense thoughts, they occur in the brain, the center of consciousness). Medical science has identified some "senses" beyond the basic five, but in most cases they are distinct from the ones Steiner described. "[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.”  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.
◊ “[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 to increase the sugar intake by sweetening the child’s foods.”  The four “temperaments” are ancient Greek concepts. [See “Humouresque”.] Modern science has rejected them. There can be no connection between any “temperament” and any organ (e.g., the liver) or substance (e.g., sugar), since the temperaments 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.)
◊ “[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.”  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 [another human nonphysical body] is not completely membered into the bowels....”  Again, Steiner gives a spiritual cause for a physical phenomenon. “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.”  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, Steiner’s racism notwithstanding. 
◊ Concerning kidney disease, Steiner said “the disease process can be counterbalanced by giving the patient a combination of sulfur and silica.”  Relying on homeopathic or other alternative remedies clearly presents dangers. Sulfur is a combustible nonmetal. Silica is the unreactive mineral known as quartz.
◊ “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. Another translation says “Rickets in children can be improved through appropriate geometric study." — ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 291. Please.
◊ “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.”  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 is just like saying that positive and negative electricity are the same.”  Modern “science and medicine” are correct: the brain and all other parts of the body are parts of the body. Steiner denies it, and 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.”  Steiner’s views on cosmic evolution are baroque and useless in practical life. [Se
◊ “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....”  Despite knowing the causes of cancer as well as its treatment (mistletoe), Steiner is reported to have died of cancer. Anthroposophists dispute this, of course — and perhaps the point is unimportant.
◊ “[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.”  Many diseases come to us due to astrological influences. Leprosy came because of demonic beings empowered by Attila. Why don't most 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.”  Medical schools are generally mum on these facts as well. Not to mention:
◊ "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." 
◊ "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." 
◊ "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." 
◊ "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." 
◊ "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." 
◊ "[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." 
◊ “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.” 
◊ "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." 
Lucifer and Ahriman are the two chief demons in Steiner's cosmology. "A human being can fall ill. He gets pleurisy. What does it mean when we say he gets pleurisy? It means there is too much of the luciferic element in him ... [T]he luciferic element is too powerful and the ahrimanic too weak. I have to add something ahrimanic to balance it out ... Birch wood [sic] grows actively in the spring ... [T]he bark has excellent powers of growth. I kill these by making the birch wood into charcoal ... I made it into birch charcoal, something ahrimanic. And I then make the birch charcoal into a powder and give this to the person who has too much of the luciferic element in him with his pleurisy." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), pp. 203-204. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on Fig. 28, p. 204. The scales show the need to balance Lucifer's influence with Ahriman's influence.]
Here you see, in schematic form, the beginning of the archangel Michael's reign. The horizontal line represents the division between the astral plane (above) and the physical world (below). The arc from the left represents the reign of Gabriel, which ended in 1879. The arc to the right is Michael's reign, beginning in that year. Trouble, though: Mammon poked his snout in at about the same time.
"[I]n November of the year 1879 there occurred on the astral plane something very similar to a birth ... The rulership of Gabriel was replaced by another archangel, under whose leadership we now stand, the archangel Michael. He is the radiant sun that esoteric wisdom lets shine forth on a small band of people ... The radiant leadership of Michael will again be replaced by a dark, horrible age that will begin around the year 2400. Already today simultaneously with Michael a dark god has entered into his rulership: the god Mammon.
"For esotericism, Mammon is not only the god of money. He is much more the leader of all vile black powers. And his hordes attack not only human souls, but also the physical bodies of humans in order to gnaw away at them and ruin them. People speak of bacteria a lot more today not because they know more about them, but because bacteria have taken on a very special form today. And in the future they will get the upper hand in a terrifying way. When that black age approaches, then fraternal war will rage in a gruesome way, and poor human bodies will waste away, terribly afflicted by diseases and plagues. The stigma of sin will be impressed on human bodies visible to everyone." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007), pp. 232-233. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on b&w image on p. 232.] In case the forgoing left any doubt, here's a clarification on one point: "Mammon, the spirit of hindrances and darkness, has countless helpers who incarnate as bacteria." — Ibid., p. 208.
The small band to whom Michael radiates esoteric wisdom is, of course, the small group to whom Steiner delivered "esoteric lessons": initiated Anthroposophists.
For more on bacteria, Michael, and Ahriman, see "Michael".
It's hard to top what we've already seen. Still, here is an interesting passage. Bringing a boy with learning disabilities onto the lecture platform, Steiner used the boy to illustrate some of his medical concepts. He focused particularly on the shape of the boy's head. He said the boy could have been helped by eurythmy, a form of dance Steiner himself invented:
"And now, if you will begin to observe the child for yourselves — (to the boy) Come here a minute! — you will find many things to notice. Let me draw your attention, first of all, to the strongly developed lower half of the face. Look at the shape of the nose and the mouth. The mouth is always a little open. With this symptom is connected also the peculiar formation of the teeth. It is important to note these things, for they are unquestionably bound up with the whole soul-and-spirit constitution of the child ... The formation you see here in the jaws — the jaws belong, of course, to the limb system — should be completely taken into the head system. But in this case the head system is not strong enough to bring the limb system fully into itself; consequently, external forces work too powerfully upon this limb-system. Look at a well-formed human being, where the lower part of the head is in harmony with the rest of the head ... In the child before us...the arms, and also the legs, have not the proportions they would have if they were brought into right relation with the upper part of the body, but have grown too big ...
"Observe now how the head is narrow here (in front) on both sides, and pressed back; so we have in this boy the symptom of narrow-headedness, a sign that the intellectual system is but little permeated with will [i.e., will power]. This part (at the back) expresses strong permeation by the will. The front part of the head is accessible only to external influences that come via sense-perception, whereas the back part of the head is accessible to all manner of influences from without [i.e., from the outside]. You have therefore here a beginning of what manifests so strikingly in the arms and legs; the brain enlarges and spreads out at the back of the head ...
"Here (in the front) as we remarked, the head is pressed together. In all probability this points back to a purely mechanical injury, either at birth or during pregnancy, a mechanical injury in which we can see nothing else than a working of karma, for it can have no connection with the forces of heredity ...
"The entire system of the breath is very little under control, and breathing tends to become disturbed and uneasy. This is connected with the whole way in which the lower jaw is formed ... Consequently, the boy is unable to develop within him the right and necessary quantity of carbonic acid; he is deficient in carbonic acid ... What ought to happen is that gradually, in the course of life, the whole system of movement in man should become a servant of the intellectual system. (To the boy) Stand still a minute! And now come here to me and do this! (Dr. Steiner makes a movement with his arm as if to take hold of something; the boy does not make the movement.) Never mind! We mustn't force him. Do you see? It is difficult for him to do anything; he has not the power to exercise the right control over his metabolism-and-limbs system ...
"What would have been the right educational treatment for this child in very early years? Obviously a special effort should have been made to begin with Curative Eurythmy even before he was able to walk, simply moving his limbs oneself in eurythmic movements. If this had been done, then the movements carried out in this way in the limbs would have been reflected in the nerves-and-senses organism, and since at that early age everything, is still supple in the child, the form of the head could actually have grown wider ...." 
As perhaps should be obvious, Dr. Steiner had no medical degree; his doctorate was in philosophy. (And the wonder is that it wasn't revoked.)
— Roger Rawlings
[Health Research, 1972.]
When propounding his weird medical teachings for an audience,
Steiner sometimes drew blackboard illustrations —
but they added little.
"The intake of breath that goes down into the body from the head wants
to shape itself into a mummy. And it is only because the body works against
this and brings about exhalation that this mummy is changed back again."
— Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 71.
[My sketch of Steiner's sketch, 2009.]
Here are items from the Waldorf Watch "news" page:
Currently available from Waldorf Books
Mistletoe Therapy for Cancer
Prevention, Treatment and Healing
Dr. Johannes Wilkens, Gert Böhm
Translated by Peter Clemm
[Floris Books, 2010]
...Mistletoe Therapy for Cancer presents, for the first time, an important reference for practitioners on the characteristics of each type of mistletoe and the kinds of cancers they are best suited to treat. Thirteen host trees are described, covering aspects from mythology and botany to homeopathy and flower essences. The authors pull the various characteristics together, providing a unique guide to the different types of mistletoe and which patients might benefit most from the individual varieties. The results will be useful not only in treating cancer, but also in prevention.
Iscador: Mistletoe and Cancer Therapy
Christine Murphy, Editor
[Lantern Books, 2001]
Iscador has been known for its therapeutic benefits for over eighty years. As early as 1917, Rudolf Steiner suggested using injections of mistletoe extract for the treatment of cancer ... In Iscador - Mistletoe and [sic] Cancer Therapy, Christine Murphy gathers together some of the work of doctors and clinicians who have been using Iscador today ... This is the first and only book to date that really explores this topic. It does so in a thorough yet easy-to-understand way that is truly empowering. Highly recommended!
Rudolf Steiner made enormous claims for mistletoe, including its ability to cure cancer. Most of the responsibility for the use (or misuse) of mistletoe in cancer treatment rests with him. [See QuackWatch: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/mistletoe].
Steiner’s interest in mistletoe derived, in part, from his conviction that the plant is not of this Earth. “[M]istletoe does not belong to our earth, it is alien.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 99. In Norse myths, mistletoe is used to kill Baldur, the God of Light. [See “The Gods”.] From this, Steiner extrapolated the notion that mistletoe can kill cancer. Anthroposophical doctors today often prescribe a concoction called Iscador for cancer patients — it consists largely of mistletoe.
Scientists try to keep open minds, and thus there are ongoing efforts to verify the claims made for mistletoe in cancer treatment. For the most part, however, the results have been nil. The American Cancer Society, for instance, concludes “Available evidence from well-designed clinical trials does not support claims that mistletoe can improve length or quality of life.” [http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/mistletoe]
Turning to "Anthroposophical medicine," as is often done in and around Waldorf schools, can be a life-threatening error.
• “[Science] sees the heart as a pump that pumps blood through the body. Now there is nothing more absurd than believing this....” — Rudolf Steiner, PSYCHOANALYSIS AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), p. 126.
• “[T]he heart is indeed a sense organ for perceiving the blood’s movement, not a pump as physicists [sic] claim; the coursing of blood is brought about by our spirituality and vitality.” — Rudolf Steiner, AT HOME IN THE UNIVERSE (SteinerBooks, 2000), p. 84.
Rudolf Steiner made a great many absurd statements. These rank among the most absurd. Yet today Waldorf teachers and their representatives still try to justify Steiner’s absurdities — which they embrace as profound wisdom. In 2002, The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America published THE DYNAMIC HEART AND CIRCULATION. The editor, Craig Holdrege, says he “conceived the book from a teacher’s perspective.” [p. vi] What he means, clearly, is a Waldorf teacher’s perspective. And what sorts of statements speak to the Waldorf teacher’s perspective? Statements such as this: “The prevailing view in conventional science and medicine is that the heart serves as a pump ... But this model cannot explain many phenomena ... The function of the heart, with regard to the blood returning in the veins, is to regulate resistance ... [T]he force that drives the blood into the heart is not the force of the heart’s pumping action....” [pp. 74-75] The book offers ingenious arguments to counter “the prevailing view in conventional science and medicine,” and there are shreds of truth on many of the book’s pages. But the overall project is irretrievably mistaken. The book’s goal is to contrive arguments, by hook and by crook, to show that Steiner was right and science is wrong. Consider this carefully, parents. Ask yourself whether you want Steiner’s fervent followers — people who reject reality and who rationalize mystical nonsense — to “educate” your children. Into what dim vistas might they lead your young ones?
(The arguments made in the book are subtle and complex. To some degree, they change Steiner’s meaning in the process of trying to defend that meaning, a dubious approach at best. Essentially, the authors share Steiner’s revulsion at a simple, mechanistic description of the human constitution, and in this they have a point. The heart is not a simple mechanical pump; it is unlike, say, a bicycle pump. The circulation of the blood is affected by various internal biological factors, including the intricacies of the vascular system. In the end, however, the authors are led astray by their determination to affirm an esoteric vision. Calling the heart a pump may be, at some level, merely a metaphor. But calling the heart the seat of love and wisdom is an even more misleading metaphor — a common one, but a mistaken one. The truth, ultimately, is that the heart does pump blood, and no amount of obfuscation and argumentation can change this. A central characteristic of mystical thought is the refusal to face facts squarely. Mystics prefer their fantasies to reality; they feel ennobled and elevated by their presumed possession of superior, secret knowledge. They feel a warm glow in the very woolliness of their thinking. As a result, they wander into — and get lost within — the fogs that they themselves generate.)
"The whole soul configuration of the human being is in the ear.
In our ears we actually carry with us a tiny human being, for the human being has feeling, will and understanding.
We are made up of lots of tiny human beings."
— BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924, p. 75.
[My sketch of Steiner's sketch, 2013.]
To consider some of the small or inner human beings that
Steiner said dwell within us, see entries in THE BRIEF WALDORF / STEINER ENCYCLOPEDIA
for "chest man," "head man," "limb man", etc.
The largest supplier of Anthroposophical medicines and preparations is known as Weleda [see http://www.weleda.com/]. Here's part of a groovy bit of self-description: "It all goes back to 1921 and something called anthroposophy. This movement, stemming from the teachings of philosopher [sic] Dr. Rudolf Steiner, encourages the individual to see his or her body, mind and spirit as intrinsically linked to our world ... Steiner, along with Dr. Ita Wegman, got together with a team of dedicated scientists and doctors to determine just how they might use this philosophy to take care of their patients’ needs ... They started by creating one of the world’s first Biodynamic® gardens to grow what they needed. The company’s new name couldn’t have been more appropriate: Weleda, after the Celtic goddess of wisdom and healing." [http://usa.weleda.com/sharing-our-story/our-history.aspx]
Welcome illness. "Here we have a secret karmic connection between illness and further development, for in reality illness is a process of further development. In order that the soul develops the power to form an organ in the way it needs, the unsuitable organ has to be destroyed and rebuilt again by the soul forces ... Strictly speaking all our strength was acquired by the overcoming of obstacles in previous incarnations. Our present capacities are the result of our illnesses in earlier lives ... We become capable of everything that we ourselves have taken through the process of destroying and rebuilding. This has been felt to be true by all those people who, in the various religions, have connected a very exalted being with this process of destroying and rebuilding. In the religious beliefs of the Indians ‘Shiva’ represents the ruling powers that destroy and then restore things to life again." — Rudolf Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), "Illness and Karma", GA 107. [R.R. sketch, 2010.]
Anthroposophical ethics, including medical ethics, are nuanced (not to say equivocal). Consider the issue of abortion. Abortion is often considered a matter of moral absolutes: A child has an absolute right to be born, or a woman has an absolute right to control her own body. Steiner said otherwise. Each case must be considered on its own merits, he taught. Just as some people may have the karma to contract fatal diseases, some embryos may have the karma to be aborted. Likewise, some women may have the karma to carry to term, while others may have the karma to undergo abortions. Indeed, according to Steiner, the people running the gravest karmic risks associated with abortions are the doctors who perform the procedures (although, by Steiner's logic, a doctor might have the karma to conduct an abortion...).
"Concerning a question about whether one is interfering with the karmas of mother and child if one saves the mother through an abortion, we can say that one can hardly speak of an intervention in their karmas, since both karmas will be directed into other channels for a short time but will soon be brought back into the right direction by the natural course of events. On the other hand, there is a strong intervention in the karma of the one who does the operation. And he has to ask himself whether he really wants to do something which brings him into karmic connections which would not have existed without the intervention. But questions of this kind depend upon the particular circumstances and cannot be answered in general, like many other things in purely psychological cultural life which constitute an intervention in karma and which can lead to serious and tragic conflicts in life." — Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman, COURSE FOR YOUNG DOCTORS (Mercury Press, 1994), first circular letter, answer to question 10.
But how can one learn the karma of an embryo, pregnant woman, or doctor? In reality, there is no way, so making case-by-case determinations as stipulated by Steiner are impossible. Anyone who chooses a course of action based on karma is operating out of delusion, not knowledge.
"Take, first of all, man's physical body (red) ...
This is man's etheric body body (blue); this is the human astral body (yellow);
[and] here we have man's ego [orange]...
[W]e must be clear about the fact that the whole world actually dwells
in man's physical, etheric, and astral bodies."
— Rudolf Steiner, MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY
(Anthroposophic Press, 1987), pp. 156-157.
[R.R., 2009 - my sketch based on the one in the book.]
"Once I knew a man who had quite an unusual forehead. A Greek forehead is different. In Greek statues we find foreheads that slope backwards. This man actually had a pronounced bulge, and his forebrain was actually pushed out. I am convinced that this man, whose brain was pushed forward so much, possessed a particularly well-formed abdomen and never suffered from diarrhea or constipation ... [H]is powerful, protruding forehead never permitted disorders of the abdomen. You can see from this that a man's forehead is related in a remarkable way to his abdomen."
— Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 150-151.
[R.R., 2009 - my sketch based on p. 150.]
“Our brain would be a thoroughly unpractical instrument for understanding, if it were to work as physical brain alone. By means of occultism one can get an idea of how the brain would work if it had to depend on itself. In that case a man would be able to think only of what related to the inner requirements of his body. He would think, for example, 'Now I am hungry, now I am thirsty' ... Our brain however is continually infiltrated by the fine etheric streams which flow upwards from the heart. These etheric currents have direct relationship with a delicate and important organ of the brain, the so-called pineal gland. The fine, etheric currents...continually interpenetrate and lave [sic] the pineal gland, making it glow ... By way of our pineal gland, our ethertised blood system reacts directly upon the brain. You will find this subject more fully dealt with, when those lectures appear which I gave in Prague: 'Occult Physiology.'"
— Rudolf Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Kessinger; facsimile of 1929 edition), pp. 105-106.
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005.]
"The way in which healing processes are continuously working downwards in us calls forth a feeling of pleasure in the higher hierarchies [of spiritual beings]. It constitutes the joy of the higher hierarchies in the earthly world. They look down and continually feel illness arising out of what streams upward in man from the earthly, from what remains of the earthly attributes of the substances. And they see that the impulses of forces that work out of the earthly realm, forces that lie in the air that moves all around and so on, are continually active as processes of healing. This arouses satisfaction in the higher hierarchies." — Rudolf Steiner, HARMONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 172. [R.R. sketch, 2009.]
"This is altogether a remarkable connection: from the cosmic angle medicine is cosmic poetry. Indeed, many secrets of the world consist in the fact that something that is sick or that leads to sickness at one level is the highest, most perfect, is beautiful at another level." — Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 129. [R. R. sketch, 2009, based on Steiner's.] Sounds sort of nice, but...
Skeletal/anatomical images from www.fromoldbooks.org.
“One may now ask, what is to be one’s attitude towards cancer! We have seen how the etheric body is able to develop over-strong forces from itself in some particular organ. The centrifugal forces – that is, the forces that tend outwards into the Cosmos – become too powerful; the astral body and the Ego are too weak to counteract them. Spiritual knowledge now comes to one’s aid. One can now try either to make the astral body stronger, in which case one administers something from the plant kingdom, or one must restrain the etheric body, and in that case one makes use of the animal kingdom.
"Spiritual investigation has led to the adoption of the former course – that which relates to the astral body. In order to cure cancer, the forces of the astral body must be made stronger. And it may now be admitted that the remedy has really been discovered in the plant kingdom…The tree, which is rooted directly in the earth, makes use of the forces which it absorbs from the earth. The mistletoe, growing on the tree, uses what the tree gives it; the tree is, in a sense, the earth for the mistletoe. The mistletoe, therefore, brings about artificially that which, when it is not present, results in the 'swellings' which are due to a hypertrophy of the tree’s etheric organisation. The mistletoe takes away what the tree only gives up when it has too little physical substance, so that its etheric element is excessive. The excess of the etheric passes out of the tree into the mistletoe.
"When the mistletoe is prepared in such a way that this superabundant etheric quality which it has taken from the tree is administered to a person under certain conditions, by injection (and, since we are observing all these facts in a spiritual manner), we gain the following information: that the mistletoe, as an external substance, absorbs what is manifest in the human body as the rampant etheric forces in cancer.” — Rudolf Steiner, “An Outline of Anthroposophical Medical Research: Abridged Report of Two Lectures” (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1924), authorized translation.
“And so, gentlemen, if – for instance – a child is becoming weak in his head – inattentive, hyperactive – he will usually have a corresponding symptom: worms in his intestines. Worms develop easily in the intestines if the head forces are too weak, because the head does not then work down strongly enough into the rest of the body. Worms find no lodging in a human body if the head forces are working down strongly into the intestines. You can see how magnificently the human body is arranged! – everything is related. And if one’s child has worms, one should realize the child has become weak in his head. Also – whoever wants to be a teacher has to know these things – if there are persons who at a later age are weak-minded, one can be sure they have had worms when they were young.
“And so what must one do if one observes this in the child? The simplest remedy is to give him carrots to eat for a while – with his other food, of course; naturally, one couldn’t just feed him on carrots alone. Carrots are the root of the plant. They grow down in the earth and have a large quantity of minerals. They have the forces of the earth in them, and when they are taken into the stomach, they are able to work up through the blood into the head. Only substances rich in minerals are able to reach the head. Substances rich in minerals, root substances, give strength to a human being by way of the head. That is extraordinarily important. It is through carrots that the uppermost parts of the head become strong – which is precisely what the human being needs in order to be inwardly firm and vigorous, not soft.” — Rudolf Steiner, NUTRITION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), pp. 104-105.
For an exploration of karma,
please use this link: "Karma"
For Steiner's view on abnormality,
please use this link: "Abnormal".
Quotations there also bear on quack medicine,
human freedom, the central position of humans in the cosmos,
and the temperaments of nations.
The following is excerpted from
"The Deadly Perils of Rejected Knowledge"
by Thomas R. DeGregori
at the American Council on Science and Health
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, use the underlined links, below.
◊◊◊ 12. DANGEROUS DISCONNECTIONS ◊◊◊
Some illustrations on each page here at Waldorf Watch
are closely connected to the essay on that page;
others are not — they provide general context.
 See, e.g., “Anthroposophic Medicine,” holistic.com . The complete set of human faculties and parts is long and intricate. Steiner spoke variously of our three-fold, four-fold, seven-fold, and nine-fold natures.
 See, e.g., “Childhood Illness: Waldorf View,” cited at openwaldorf.org .
 Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 165-166.
 Rudolf Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 90-91.
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.
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, genevalunch.com, 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, genevalunch.com, 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.
Curing or preventing diseases can be a grave error, interfering with karma. People need and even want to have certain illnesses, even 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.
 “Anthroposophically Extended Medicine,” defendingsteiner.com .
 “Rescue Remedy,” openwaldorf.com. (See link above.)
 “Treating Cancer with Misteltoe [sic]”, openwaldorf.com. (See link above.)
 Rudolf Steiner, FREUD, JUNG, AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY, (SteinerBooks, 2001), pp. 124-125.
Cf. “[E]ach day, the average heart beats 100,000 times, pumping about 2,000 gallons (7,571 liters) of blood.” — Heart Information Center, www.texasheartinstitute.org/HIC/Anatomy/anatomy2.cfm .
 Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60.
 Rudolf Steiner, INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), p. 198.
 “anthroposophic medicine,” skepdic.com .
You may also want to consult http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2009/07/22/pseudoscience-not-a-valid-educational-choice/ : "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. These sources at least are consistent with one another and with my own research. (Disclosure: I find skepdic.com reliable, but then some of my own work is quoted there.)
 Robert Smith-Hald, “Growing Up Being Made Sick by Anthroposophy," http://waldorfcritics.org.
 Sharon Lombard, “Spotlight on Anthroposophy,” http://waldorfcritics.org.
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".
 Rudolf Steiner, FROM SYMPTOM TO REALITY IN MODERN HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1976), p. 89.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE HEALING PROCESS (SteinerBooks, 2000), pp. 11-12.
 Rudolf Steiner, INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 265.
 Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 241.
 Rudolf Steiner, POLARITIES IN THE EVOLUTION OF MANKIND, (Steiner Books, 1987), p. 58.
 Ibid., p. 196.
 THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, pp. 59-60.
 INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE, p. 65.
 THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, pp. 142-145.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 60.
 Rudolf Steiner, HUMAN QUESTIONS AND COSMIC ANSWERS (Anthroposophical Pub. Co., 1960), p. 38.
 INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE, p. 211.
 Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 131. Steiner’s full wording is “bowels organization.”
 FROM COMETS TO COCAINE, p. 284.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE HEALING PROCESS (SteinerBooks, 2000), p. 73.
 Rudolf Steiner, BEES: Lectures (SteinerBooks, 1998), p. 147.
 INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE, p. 65.
 THE HEALING PROCESS, pp. 141-142.
 Rudolf Steiner, FROM CRYSTAL TO CROCODILES (Rudolf Steiner, 2002), p. 62.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION OF MORALITY (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 31.
 THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, p. 211.
 Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1974), p. 42.
 FROM COMETS TO COCAINE, p. 216.
 Ibid., p. 240.
 Ibid., p. 244.
 Ibid., p. 254.
 Ibid., p. 266.
 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.
 Rudolf Steiner, MAN AS SYMPHONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture 8, GA 230.
 Rudolf Steiner, CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 6, GA 317.
I have excerpted from a long passage. You can find the entire text at http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/19240701p01.html.
Because website postings are subject to change,
I should state that I visited most of the sites mentioned here during the first half of February, 2007.
As of early in October, 2008, all still seemed to be online.