- Written by Mark Hancock MD MPH
- Category: Humanizing Rheumatology
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Anthroposophic (Humanized) Medicine in RA
A landmark comparison study just published on natural treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with Anthroposophic medicine showed that patients could avoid conventional steroids and anti-inflammatory medicines and have success with treatment. This study examined two groups of patients with early RA. Early rheumatoid arthritis is treated conventionally with Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs), NSAIDS (like motrin), and steroids. DMARDs are medicines like methotrexate that can delay progression of this auto-immune, inflammatory disease but they can have side effects that prompt patients to look to alternatives. The other group of patients was treated with Anthroposophic medicine (humanized integrative medicine) and DMARDS, NSAIDS, and steroids were avoided where possible.
Anthroposophic medicine was described in the study:
Anthroposophic Medicine (AM) is practiced in 24 inpatient hospitals or hospital departments in Europe and in outpatient settings by an estimated 19,000 physicians around the world. Based on the cognitive methods and cognitive results of anthroposophy, AM acknowledges not only physical and chemical forces active in nature, but also formative force systems, with specific forces involved in the formation of mineral substances, plants, animals, and humans. The interactions of these forces are understood to vary between different regions and organs in the human body, resulting in a complex equilibrium. This equilibrium can be distorted in various forms of human disease and is sought to be regulated by AM medications and nonmedication therapies.
The group treated with natural AM techniques avoided DMARDs entitrely. They were treated with a holistic approach with eurythmy movement exercises, art therapy, compresses, oil dispersion baths, and rhythmical embrocation therapy (a special type of topical oil application).
The naturally treated group had similar scores overall compared to the conventionally treated group. They used steroids about half as often compared to the control group (25% vs 48%) typically for resistant progressive disease flare-ups. Patient scores were similar on a rheumatoid arthritis severity scale. Lab markers for inflammation were similar between the two groups with CRP and ESR values being about equivalent. Patients treated with natural techniques were more satisfied with their care than the control group. NSAID use was significantly less in the holistic AM group. Only about 6% of the AM group had to add DMARDs (dropping out of the study by its design).
This study is the first comparative controlled study examining the effectiveness of holistic treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It is the first study to look at patients over such a long course of treatment (4 years). We have evidence to suggest that for the great majority of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis choosing the holistic treatment of Anthroposophic medicine is a viable alternative to using conventional drugs with multiple potential side effects.