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Chronic Hepatitis C Sufferers Might Benefit from Eurythmy

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. October 19, 2010

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Learn why eurythmy therapy, a component of anthroposophic medicine, may help those with Hepatitis C by delivering an active approach toward liver wellness.

Millions of Americans are currently living with chronic Hepatitis C, a virus that can lead to end-stage liver disease. Until medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies create an effective vaccine and treatment for the Hepatitis C virus, those infected must navigate their way through this challenging diagnosis. By engaging in eurythmy therapy, people with Hepatitis C can take part in keeping their liver healthy and strong.

To mitigate prescribed antiviral medication’s side effects and to gain some control over their wellness, a majority of individuals with Hepatitis C supplement their health care with alternative medical interventions. Although it is much more popular in Europe than in the states, anthroposophic medicine taps into a valuable concept that encourages recovering from Hepatitis C.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

While there is little official documentation on the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by persons with Hepatitis C specifically, there is some data from a survey published in 2002 on the use of CAM by persons who have chronic liver diseases (such as hepatitis, liver cancer, alcoholic liver disease or cirrhosis).

  • A survey of 989 patients being treated for various liver diseases found that 39 percent used some form of “alternative therapy.”
  • Aside from herbal medicine (the most popular type of alternative therapy), self-prayer was listed as key to nearly half of those with chronic liver disease using CAM. Self-prayer is when an individual prays for himself; in contrast to intercessory prayer, in which an individual prays for others.

Self-Prayer

Self-prayer, an approach to wellness that does not require any medical expertise, is an interestingly popular choice among those with chronic liver disease. However fringe sounding self-prayer is, its practice represents a view most of us recognize as the truth; that we must take charge of our own health to truly heal. While self-prayer clearly has value, a visionary in the early part of the twentieth century devised a system of healing based on a similar premise – that healing requires a person to be actively involved in his or her own recovery.

Anthroposophy

Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) refused to accept the contemporary scientific view of the body as a purely physical entity. From that conviction was born the doctrine of anthroposophy, a word he coined from the Greek words for “man” and “divine wisdom.” Steiner believed in the uniqueness of each human being, and contended that health and well-being deteriorated without that belief.

Anthroposophic medicine is a holistic approach to medicine. While recognizing and incorporating modern medicine’s knowledge and methodology, anthroposophic medicine goes further, adding knowledge of the laws of the living organism, the psyche and the spirit. In their acceptance of the multi-dimensional properties of human health, anthroposophic physicians expect patients to be involved in their own recovery. Utilized by anthroposophic physicians, one intervention that requires the patient to engage in active exercises is eurythmy therapy.

Eurythmy

Eurythmy is considered to be both a form of energy medicine and the art of visible speech and song. It gives expression to the silent gestures that underlie the sounds of speech and music, bringing them first into an inner soul movement, and then, simultaneously, into outer physical movement. Eurythmy forms a language that integrates sound and gesture in a seamless whole, drawing the intricacies of human anatomy and spirit into harmony. Unlike many of the other therapies in energy medicine, therapeutic eurythmy is not about passively receiving a therapy. Rather, participants actively give themselves their own energy medicine.

Published in the April 2007 edition of BMC Public Health, a German study looked at the impact of eurythmy therapy on people living with chronic disease. The authors bring our attention to the fact that many patients with chronic diseases use complementary therapies; however, patients usually take on a passive role. On the contrary, eurythmy therapy requires the patient to actively exercise with specific movements of his or her hands, feet or the whole body. After evaluating over 400 patients with chronic disease, the researchers concluded that those practicing eurythmy therapy exercises had long-term improvement of chronic disease symptoms and quality of life.

People with Hepatitis C in the U.S. would likely know more about eurythmy therapy if its popularity were to catch up with this therapy’s progress in Europe. Of great help to those with Hepatitis C – or any chronic liver disease – the L movement is purported to stimulate the liver’s functions, encourage blood and lymph movement and ease depression. Although a eurythmy therapist is required for learning how to properly perform this exercise, the following description of the L sound gives those interested an idea of what is involved:

  • The L sound is the most liquid and flowing of all sounds.
  • The arms are held out to the sides, at shoulder height, with the palms down.
  • The arms move downwards and inwards, as if moving along the sides of a large ball.
  • When they come together at the bottom of the arc, they are heavy, as if in gravity or darkness.
  • They then overcome heaviness by lifting up through the central axis of the ball, like a rising fountain.
  • The movement culminates when the hands come together at the top of the fountain and then unfold to the sides, open to the space above like an unfolding of grace.

Eurythmy therapy is presently provided by approximately 1,550 therapists in 31 countries worldwide. Half of these therapists work in Germany or Switzerland where many health insurance companies cover the cost. Although, a growing anthroposophic medicine movement in the U.S. has brought more eurythmy therapists to the states than ever before.

Eurythmy therapy includes the body, mind and spirit that is characteristic of many CAM therapies. In addition, it requires the patient to be actively involved in his or her own recovery. Because of these unique strengths, Steiner’s art of visible speech and song is valuable to many living with chronic Hepatitis C who want to regain control over their liver’s health.

References:

http://www.anthromed.org/Article.aspx?artpk=486, Therapeutic Eurythmy, Anne Cook, Retrieved October 1, 2009, AntrhoMed Library, 2009.

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/7/10, Anthroposophic medical therapy in chronic disease: a four-year prospective cohort study, Harald J Hamre, et al, Retrieved October 1, 2009, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, April 2007.

http://www.holistic.com/holistic/learning.nsf/title/Anthroposophic%20Medicine, Anthroposophic Medicine, Retrieved October 1, 2009, Holistic.com, 2009.

http://www.openwaldorf.com/eurythmy.html, Eurythmy, Retrieved October 2, 2009, OpenWaldorf.com, 2009.

http://www.paam.net/, What is Anthroposophic Medicine?, Retrieved October 1, 2009, Physicians’ Association for Anthroposophic Medicine, 2009.

http://www.pinetreeclinic.com/anthro.htm, Therapeutic Eurythmy, Retrieved October 2, 2009, Pine Tree Clinic for Comprehensive Medicine, 2009.

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1868723, Eurythmy therapy in chronic disease: a four-year prospective cohort study, Harald J Hamre, et al, Retrieved October 1, 2009, BMC Public Health, April 2007.

http://www.thebody.com/content/art6823.html, Hepatitis C and Complementary and Alternative Medicine: 2003 Update, Retrieved October 1, 2009, The Body, May 2004.

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