Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Fundamentals of Therapy
GA 27

IX. The Function of Protein in the Human Body, and Albuminuria

Protein is that substance of the living body which best lends itself to the various transformations brought about by the body's formative forces, so that what results from the transformed protein substance appears in the structures of the organs and of the whole organism. To be suitable for such use, protein must have the inherent capacity to lose whatever form may result from the nature of its material constituents the moment it is called upon, within the organism, to be of service to a form the organism needs.

We thus perceive that in protein the forces proceeding from the natures and mutual relationships of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon, disintegrate. The inorganic chemical bonding ceases and in the disintegration of the protein, organic formative forces begin to work.

Now these formative forces are dependent on the etheric body. Protein is constantly on the point of being taken up in the activity of the etheric body or of being precipitated out. Removed from the organism to which it once belonged, it assumes the tendency to become a compound, subject to the chemical forces of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. Protein that remains a constituent of the living organism suppresses this tendency in itself and aligns itself to the formative forces of the etheric body.

Man consumes protein as a constituent of the food he takes. The Pepsin of the stomach transforms the protein which is taken in from outside, to peptides, these, to begin with, are soluble protein substances. This transformation is continued by the pancreatic juice.

The protein ingested as a constituent of food is, to begin with, a foreign body in the human organism. It still contains residual activities from the etheric processes of the living being whence it was derived. These must be entirely removed from it. It now has to be absorbed into the etheric activities of the human organism.

Hence, as the human process of digestion takes its course, we are dealing with two kinds of protein substances. At the beginning of this process the protein is foreign to the human organism. At the end it belongs to the organism. Between these two conditions there is an intermediate one, where the protein received as food has not yet entirely discarded its previous etheric actions, not yet entirely assumed the new. At this stage it is virtually completely inorganic. It is then subject to the influences of the human physical body alone. This physical body of man, in its form a product of the ego organization, is the bearer of inorganically active forces. It thus has a lethal effect on anything that is alive. Everything that enters the realm of the ego-organization dies. Hence, in the physical body the ego-organization incorporates purely inorganic substances. In the human physical organism these do not work in the same way as in lifeless nature outside man; but they work inorganically, that is to say, causing death. This deadening effect upon the albumen takes place in that part of the digestive tract where trypsin, a constituent of the pancreatic juice, is active. That inorganic forces are concerned in the action of trypsin, may be gathered also from the fact that it unfolds its activity with the help of alkali.

Until it meets the trypsin in the pancreatic fluid, the albuminous nourishment continues to live in a manner foreign to the human organism, namely, according to the organism from which it is derived. Meeting the trypsin, it becomes lifeless. But it is only for a moment, as it were, that the protein is lifeless in the human organism. Then it is absorbed into the physical body in accordance with the organization of the ego. The latter must have the force to carry over what the albumen has now become, into the domain of the human etheric body. In this way the protein constituents of food become formative material for the human organism. The foreign etheric influences, pertaining to them originally, leave the human being.

For the healthy digestion of the protein constituent of food, man must possess a sufficiently strong ego-organization to enable all the protein, which the human organism needs, to pass into the domain of the human etheric body. If this is not the case, the result is an excessive activity of this etheric body. The quantity of protein prepared by the ego organization, which the etheric body receives, is insufficient for its activity. The consequence is that the activity orientated towards enlivening that protein absorbed by the ego-organization overwhelms that protein still containing foreign etheric effects. The human being receives in his own etheric body a multitude of influences that do not belong to it. These must now be excreted in an abnormal manner. This results in a pathological process of excretion.

This pathological excretion appears in albuminuria. The albumen which should be received into the domain of the etheric body is excreted. It is albumen, which, owing to the weakness of the ego-organization, has not been able to assume the well-nigh lifeless intermediate stage.

Now the forces in man which bring about excretion are bound up with the domain of the astral body. In albuminuria, the astral body is forced to carry out an activity for which it is not properly adapted, its activity becomes atrophied in those regions of the organism where it ought properly to unfold. This is in the renal epithelia. The degeneration of the epithelia in the kidneys is a symptom showing that the activity of the astral body which is intended for these organs has been diverted.

It is clear from all this where the healing process for albuminuria must intervene. The power of the ego-organization in the gland of the pancreas, which is weak, needs to be strengthened.