Summary – Integrative Medicine. A Way Forward for Public Health
Workshop: Integrative Medicine. A Way Forward for Public Health
Chaired by Dr. Frank Mulder, General Practitioner and anthroposophic physician in Bristol, UK
The first speaker, Thomas Breitkreuz M.D, is a specialist in internal medicine with a focus on oncology, gastroenterology and cardiovascular disease, and is a senior consultant at the Paracelsus hospital in Unterlengenhardt, Germany. He is the president of the Hufeland Society, the German professional association of doctors for integrated medicine, the president of the International Federation of Anthroposophic Medical Associations (IVAA), and a board member of the German Association for Anthroposophic Medicine (GAÃD).
Dr Breitkreuz highlighted how in integrated medicine the best of both conventional and complementary medicine are brought together. Anthroposophic medicine is a model of integrated medicine and from its inception in the 1920’s it has sought to be an extension based on the firm foundation of conventional medicine. Anthroposophic medicine is applied in a range of practices, hospitals and clinics throughout the world as part of the normal healthcare system.
It is an occidental approach to medicine and links to a longstanding tradition in western thinking approaching the human being as a physical organisation, a living physiology, an ensouled being and a spirit endowed entity. These take effect in a differentiated manner in the central nervous system and head organisation, the limb and metabolic organisation and the intermediary function of the rhythmic activity of the middle system expressed primarily in respiration and circulation.
Dr Breitkreuz demonstrated how these different functional aspects can be recognised as multifactorial and interacting components in cancer fatigue as an example, where it leads to a range of positive measures helping the patient to live rather than merely survive.
Techniques developed in anthroposophic medicine can be used as modules within any medical context, such as cancer fatigue or the treatment of recurrent cystitis in renal transplant patients.
The second speaker, Prof Dr Erik Baars M.D, has a background in psychiatry and epidemiology and is a senior healthcare researcher at the Louis Bolk Institute. Since 2007 he is part time professor in anthroposophic medicine at the University of Applied Sciences in Leiden, Netherlands.
Prof Baars brought a focus on the problem of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). A salient statistic is that in Europe some 25.000 lives are lost every year due to AMR. In economic terms this represents an annual loss in productivity of some 1.5 billion Euro. Looking ahead this is expected to result in a worldwide loss of 10 million lives by the year 2050. Although this has been a major concern worldwide for some time, in Europe a concerted effort to reduce the overuse of antibiotics has not brought an appreciable reduction in antibiotic prescribing over the last 5 years.
When approaching such a problem it is important to reflect on how we think, and a different approach can bring new forms of understanding, and thereby open the way towards finding new solutions. Having other approaches and options has led to a reduction in antibiotic prescribing in general practices based on anthroposophic medicine both in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany in the order of 30-50% (first estimation).
The discussion reflected on the key role of nutrition, food quality and activity levels in for instance cancer prognosis, and how tackling the Anti Microbial Resistance problem has to include such things as personal attitudes to fever and how to manage fever, patient empowerment and the current practice of agriculture.
Dr Mulder concluded that in view of this anticipated antibiotic armageddon providing a suitable regulatory framework for the remedies enabling this approach to medicine is of the essence, and not doing so would be an inexcusable, and lethal, own goal for the legislators.
Summary by Dr Frank Mulder