Our knowledge of the effects of therapeutic substances is based upon the understanding of the development of forces in the world outside man. For, in order to bring about a healing process, we must bring into the organism substances which will distribute themselves in it in such a way that the disease process gradually transforms itself to a normal one. It is the essential nature of a disease process that something is going on within the organism which does not integrate itself into its total activities. Such a disease process has this in common with a similar process in outer nature.
We may say: If there arises within the organism a process similar to one of external nature, illness ensues. Such a process may take hold of the physical or the etheric organism. Either the astral body or the ego will then have to complete a task they do not normally fulfil. In a period of life when they should be unfolding in free activity of soul, they must revert to an earlier stage — even in many cases as far back as the embryonic period — and then have to assist in creating physical and etheric formations which should already have passed into the domain of the physical and etheric organism, for in the earliest periods of human life these formations are in fact provided for by the astral body and ego-organization; only afterwards are they taken over by the unaided physical and etheric bodies. The whole development of the human organism is based upon this principle; originally the entire form and configuration of the physical and etheric body proceed from the activity of the astral body and ego-organization; then, with increasing age, the astral and ego-activities within the physical and etheric organization go on their own accord. But if they fail to do so, the astral body and ego-organization will have to intervene at a later stage of their development in a way for which they are no longer properly adapted.
Let us assume that we have to do with lower abdominal disorders. The physical and etheric organizations are failing to carry out, in the corresponding parts of the human body, the activities which were transmitted to them at a former age of life. The astral and ego-activities must intervene. Because of this they are weakened for other functions in the organism. They are no longer present where they ought to be — for instance, in the formation of the nerves that go into the muscles. Paralytic symptoms arise as a result, in certain parts of the body.
It will then be necessary to bring into the body substances which can relieve the astral and ego-organization of the activity that does not belong to them. We find that the processes which work in the formation of powerful etheric oils in the plant organism, notably in the formation of the flower, are able to fulfil this purpose. The same applied to certain substances containing phosphorus. But we must see to it that the phosphorus is so mixed with other substances as to unfold its action in the intestinal tract and not in the metabolism that lies beyond.
If it is a case of inflammatory conditions in the skin, here too the astral body and ego-organization are unfolding an abnormal activity. They are then withdrawn from the influences which they ought to bring to bear on organs situated more internally. They reduce the sensitivity of internal organs. These again, owing to their lessened sensitivity, will cease to carry out their proper functions. In this way abnormal conditions may arise, for instance in the action of the liver, and the digestion may be incorrectly influenced. If we now introduce silicic acid into the organism, the activities which the astral and ego-organism have been devoting to the skin are relieved. The normal inward activity of this organism is set free again and a healing process is thus initiated.
Again, we may be confronted by disease conditions manifesting themselves in palpitations; in such a case, an irregular action of the astral organism is influencing the circulation of the blood. This astral activity is then weakened for the processes in the brain. Epileptiform conditions arise, since the weakened astral activity in the head organism involves an undue tension and exertion of the etheric activities of that region. We can introduce into the system the gumlike substance obtainable from Levisticum (lovage) — as a decoction, or preferably in the slightly modified form of a preparation — then the activity of the astral body, wrongly absorbed by the circulation, is set free, and the strengthening of the brain organization occurs.
In all these cases the real direction of the disease activities must be determined by an appropriate diagnosis. Take the last mentioned case. It may be in fact that the disturbance in the interplay of the etheric and astral bodies proceeds originally from the circulation. The brain symptoms are then a consequence. We can proceed with a cure along the lines described above.
But the opposite may also be the case. The original cause of irregularity may arise between the astral and etheric activities in the brain system. Then the irregular circulation and abnormal cardiac activity will be the consequence. In such a case we shall have to introduce sulphates, for example, into the metabolic process. These work on the etheric organization of the brain in such a way as to call forth in it a strong force of attraction to the astral body. The effect can be observed as the consequent improvement in initiative of thought, in the will-sphere, and in the patient's general state of composure and control. It will then probably be necessary to supplement this treatment by the use, for instance, of a copper salt, so as to assist the astral forces in gaining their renewed influence upon the circulatory system.
We shall observe that the organism as a whole returns to its regular activity when the excessive action of the astral and ego-organism in some part of the body, conditioned by the physical and the etheric, is replaced by an activity which has been externally induced. The organism has the tendency to balance-out its own deficiencies. Hence it will restore itself if an existing irregularity can for a time be regulated artificially by combating the abnormal process, which was internally induced and must be made to cease, with a similar process brought about externally.