Anthroposophic medicine and antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

Rising antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major global health problem - Studies show the significant potential from anthroposophic and other integrative medicine approaches to safely reduce antimicrobial use. Find  IVAAs statement  here.

Have as well a look at the presentation prepared for the CAM Interest Group, European Parliament, Bruxelles 1April 2014 

In November 2015, on occasion of the "Antibiotics Awareness Day", the IVAA together with EUROCAM published the position paper

 The role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in reducing the problem of antimicrobial resistance

Research in AM

Recently published studies: find more here


Anthroposophic medicine was initiated in the 1920s by the Austrian philosopher, Dr Rudolf Steiner, and developed together with the Dutch physician Dr Ita Wegman. It is a medical system in continuous process of development with the possibility of creating new remedies and treatments. Although rooted in a 90-year old tradition, anthroposophic medicine is by no means a ‘traditional’ approach to medicine. The remedies or treatments used have a scientifically based rational out of the system of so called ‘spiritual science’, the basis of anthroposophy and anthroposophic understanding of man [1]. This approach provides a systematic tool to analyse and understand the relationships between the different realms of nature (minerals, plants, animals etc) and their connection to man, both in conditions of health and disease.  This method can be achieved by anybody and is described in textbooks of anthroposophic medicine and [2,3,4].

Basic and pre-clinical research

Research in anthroposophic medicine is not limited to clinical studies. From the very beginning a profound body of laboratory and pre-clinical research has been conducted, in particular on mistletoe, including botanical, pharmaceutical, immune-biological studies [5].

Clinical effectiveness

As a scientific approach the system of anthroposophic medicine has always been the subject of ongoing research. In the first period research was often conducted in form of case reports and experimental and observational studies, to document and prove the outcome, effectiveness and safety of prescriptions created out of the anthroposophic medical rational.

Anthroposophic medicine still represents highly individualised therapy. Therefore case studies and observational studies are still of major interest for researchers. For these studies today, modern methodology is applied, including ‘cognition based medicine’ [6,7]. Basic research also continues to develop the system of anthroposophic medicine as a medical system. Proceedings can be followed in the Journal of Anthroposophic Medicine (Merkurstab), the scientific periodical for anthroposophic medicine.

A major review from 2006 compiles 195 studies in anthroposophic medicine, of which 18 were randomised trials.186 of these studies (including 15 of the 18 randomised trials) had positive results for anthroposophic medical treatment, eight studies had no benefit, and one study had a negative trend [8]. Although varying in design and quality, the studies point to a clear effectiveness of anthroposophic medicine in clinical trials.

Clinical studies today are conducted according to current technical standards [9]. The best studied substance in anthroposophic medicine is probably mistletoe. According to concise reviews, the best documented clinical effects of anthroposophic medicine mistletoe therapy are improvement of quality of life and reduction of side effects from chemotherapy and radiation [10-12].

In disorders like mental, musculoskeletal, respiratory and other chronic conditions, treatment with anthroposophic medicine showed sustained improvements of symptoms and quality of life [13-15]. Anthroposophic treatment of primary care patients with acute respiratory and ear symptoms had more favourable outcomes, lower antibiotic prescription rates, less adverse drug reactions, and higher patient satisfaction compared to conventional treatment [16]. 


In well-controlled epidemiological studies, Waldorf school attendance was associated with a reduced risk for atopic disease [17,18] possibly mediated by effects on the intestinal bacterial flora from restrictive use of antibiotics and antipyretics in childhood infectious disease [18] or from a vegetarian diet [19].


In safety studies, adverse reactions to anthroposophic medicine were infrequent and mostly mild to moderate in severity [20,21]. This has also been confirmed using an innovative electronic pharmacovigilance system in a network of anthroposophic practices [22,23].


Cost-benefit analysis in patients treated with anthroposophic medicine for chronic disease revealed that total health costs did not increase in the first year, and were reduced in the second year due to a decrease of inpatient hospitalization [24]. Health insurers in Holland also showed that patients whose GP has additional training in anthroposophic medicine, homeopathy, or acupuncture had substantially lower health care costs and lower mortality rates due to fewer hospital stays and fewer prescription drugs [25].

In conclusion

There is a significant body of research evidence that anthroposophic medicine is an effective approach to medicine with a high level of safety at equal or less cost when compared to conventional medicine.

see also: IVAA consultation reply to:  
COM(2011) 48 GREEN PAPER "From Challenges to Opportunities: Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation funding  Download



6 Kiene H. Komplementäre Methodenlehre der klinischen Forschung. Cognition-based Medicine. Berlin - Heidelberg - New York: Springer; 2001, 193 S. ISBN 3-540-41022-8

7 Kiene H, Schoen-Angerer T: Single case causality assessment as a basis of clinical judgement. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 1998, 4(1):41-7

8 Kienle GS, Kiene H, Albonico HU. Anthroposophic medicine: effectiveness, utility, costs, safety.Stuttgart, New York: Schattauer Verlag; 2006

9 Hamre HJ, Kiene H, Kienle GS. Clinical research in Anthroposophic Medicine. Alternative Therapies 2009; 15(6): 52-55

10 Survival of cancer patients treated with mistletoe extract (Iscador): a systematic literature review. Ostermann T, Raak C, Büssing A BMC Cancer 2009, 9:451 (pp. 1-9)

11 Viscum album L. extracts in breast and gynaecological cancers: a systematic review of clinical and preclinical research. Kienle GS, Glockmann A, Schink M and Kiene H: Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research 2009;28:79

12 Influence of Viscum album L (European Mistletoe) Extracts on Quality of Life in Cancer Patients: A Systematic Review of Controlled Clinical Studies. Kienle GS and Kiene H. Integrative Cancer Therapies 2010:1-16

13 Hamre HJ, Becker-Witt C, Glockmann A, Ziegler R, Willich SN, Kiene H. Anthroposophic therapies in chronic disease: The Anthroposophic Medicine Outcomes Study (AMOS). Eur J Med Res 2004 Jul 30;9(7):351-60

14 Hamre HJ, Witt CM, Kienle GS, Glockmann A, Willich SN, Kiene H: Predictors of outcome after 6 and 12 months following anthroposophic therapy for adult outpatients with chronic disease: a secondary analysis from a prospective observational study. BMC Research Notes 2010 Aug 3;3(218)8

15 Hamre HJ, Witt CM, Glockmann A, Ziegler R, Kienle GS, Willich SN, Kiene H. Health costs in patients treated for depression, in patients with depressive symptoms treated for another chronic disorder, and in non-depressed patients: a two-year prospective cohort study in anthroposophic outpatient settings. Eur J Health Econ 2010; 11(1):77-94

16 Hamre HJ, Fischer M, Heger M, Riley D, Haidvogl M, Baars E, Bristol E, Evans M, Schwarz R, Kiene H: Anthroposophic vs. conventional therapy of acute respiratory and ear infections: a prospective outcomes study. Wien Klin Wochenschr 2005, 117(7/8):256-68

17 Alm JS, Swartz J, Lilja G, Scheynius A, Pershagen G. Atopy in children of families with an anthroposophic lifestyle. Lancet 1999 May 1;353(9163):1485-8

18 Floistrup H, Swartz J, Bergstrom A, Alm JS, Scheynius A, van Hage M, et al. Allergic disease and sensitization in Steiner school children. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2006 Jan;117(1):59-66

19 Alm JS, Swartz J, Bjorksten B, Engstrand L, Engstrom J, Kuhn I, et al. An anthroposophic lifestyle and intestinal microflora in infancy. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2002 Dec;13(6):402-11

20 Hamre HJ, Witt CM, Glockmann A, Tröger W, Willich SN, Kiene H: Use and Safety of Anthroposophic Medications in Chronic Disease. A 2-Year Prospective Analysis. Drug Safety 2006, 29(12):1173-89

21 Hamre HJ, Glockmann A, Fischer M, Riley DS, Baars E, Kiene H: Use and safety of anthroposophic medications for acute respiratory and ear infections: A prospective cohort study. Drug Target Insights. 2007, 2: 209-19

22 Jeschke E, Buchwald D, Lüke C, Tabali M, Ostermann T, Matthes H. EVAMED - a prescription-based electronic pharmacovigilance system in complementary medicine. Forschende Komplementarmedizin und Klassische Naturheilkunde 14[Suppl 1], 8-8, Abstract MA3-6. 2007

23 The treatment of children with anthroposophic medicine in daily primary care - Results of a network study. Jeschke E, Ostermann T, Tabali M, Bockelbrink A, Witt C, Willich S, Matthes H. European Journal of Integrative Medicine 2009;1(4):203

24 Hamre HJ, Witt CM, Glockmann A, Ziegler R, Willich SN, Kiene H: Health costs in anthroposophic therapy users: a two-year prospective cohort study. BMC Health Services Research 2006, 6:65

25 Kooreman Peter and Baars Eric:  Patients Whose GP Knows Complementary Medicine Have Lower Costs and Live Longer, May 31, 2010

Last update 5.8.2016 ©IVAA 2016


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