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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Fundamentals of Therapy
GA 27

XVI. Knowledge of Therapeutic Substances

It is necessary to know the substances that may be considered for use as remedies in such a way that one can judge the possible effects of the forces they contain within and outside the human organism. In this connection the reactions which ordinary chemistry investigates only come into consideration to a small extent; the important thing is, to observe those effects which result from the connection of the inner constitution of the forces in a substance, in relation to the forces that radiate from the earth or stream in towards it.

Let us consider e.g., grey antimony ore from this point of view. Antimony shows a strong relationship to the sulphur compounds of other metals. Sulphur possesses a number of properties which only remain constant within relatively narrow limits. It is very sensitive to those natural processes such as heating, combustion, etc. This also makes it able to play an important part in the proteins' faculty of completely freeing themselves from the earth-forces and subjecting themselves to the etheric. Antimony will readily partake in this intimate connection with the etheric forces through its affinity with sulphur. Hence it is easy to introduce into the activity of protein in the human body; and it will help the latter in its etheric action when the body itself, through some disease condition, is unable to transform a protein introduced from without, so as to make the protein an integral part of its own activity.

But antimony shows other characteristics as well. Wherever it can do so, it strives towards a cluster formation. It distributes itself in lines which strive away from the earth, toward the forces that are active in the ether. With antimony, we thus introduce into the human organism something that comes half way to meet the influences of the etheric body. What antimony undergoes in the Seiger process also points to its etheric relationship. Through this process it becomes filamentous. However, the Seiger process is one that begins, as it were, in a physical way from below and passes upwards into the etheric. Antimony integrates itself into this transition.

In addition, antimony oxidizes at a red heat; in the process of combustion it becomes a white vapour, which, deposited on a cold surface, produces the flowers of antimony.

Moreover, antimony has some capacity to repel electrical effects. Under certain conditions, when deposited electrolytically on the cathode, it will explode on contact with a metallic point.

All this shows that antimony has a tendency to pass easily into the etheric element the moment the conditions are present in the slightest degree. All these details merely count as indications for spiritual vision; for this directly perceives the relationship between the ego's activity and the working of antimony; it sees in effect how the antimony processes, when brought into the human organism, work in the same way as the ego-organization.

As it flows through the human organism, blood shows a tendency to coagulate. This tendency stands under the influences of the ego-organization, by which it must be regulated. Blood is an intermediate organic product. The blood substance, as it originates, has undergone processes which are already on the way to the fully human organism, i.e., to the organization of the ego. It must undergo further processes which fit in with the configuration of this organism. What kind of processes these are, can be seen in the following. As the blood coagulates when removed from the body, it shows that it has in it the tendency to coagulate, but that within the organism it must be perpetually prevented from doing so. Now the power that hinders the coagulation of the blood is that by which it integrates itself into the human organism. It integrates itself into the configuration of the body by virtue of the form forces which lie just before the point of coagulation. If coagulation actually took place, life would be endangered.

Hence, if we are dealing with a disease condition where the organism is deficient in those forces directed to the coagulation of the blood, antimony will work in one form or another as a therapeutic substance.

The formation of the organism is essentially a transformation of protein, whereby the latter comes into collaboration with mineralizing forces. Chalk, for instance, contains such forces. The formation of the oyster shell demonstrates this. The oyster must rid itself of the elements which are present in the shell, in order to preserve the nature of the protein. A similar thing happens in the formation of the eggshell.

In the oyster, what is chalky is excreted so as not to integrate it into the protein. This integration must take place in the human organism. The mere action of protein must be transformed into one wherein the formative forces, which can be evoked by the ego-organization from the chalky substances, work as well. This must take place within the formation of the blood. Antimony counteracts the forces that excrete chalk and leads the protein, which wishes to preserve its form, into formlessness; through its kinship with the ether element, this formless state is receptive to the influences of chalky substances or the like.

Take the case of typhoid fever. The illness clearly consists of a deficient transmutation of protein into blood substance with its formative power. The kind of diarrhoea, occurring in this disease, shows that the incapacity for this transformation begins already in the intestinal tract. The markedly lowered consciousness shows that the ego-organization is driven out of the body and prevented from working. This is due to the fact that the protein cannot approach those mineralizing processes where the ego-organization is able to work. The fact that the excretions carry the danger of infection is also evidence for this viewpoint. Here the tendency to destroy the inner formative forces shows itself enhanced.

If antimony preparations are used in typhoid manifestations in an appropriate compound, they will prove to be a therapeutic substance. They divest the protein of its own forces and enable it to integrate with the formative forces of the ego-organization.

From the points of view that are so widespread and habitual today, it will be said: Such conceptions as these about antimony are inexact; and they will emphasize in contrast the scientific exactitude of the methods of ordinary chemistry. But the fact is, the chemical reactions of substances are no more significant for their action within the human organism than is the chemical composition of a paint for its application by the artist. Undoubtedly the artist will do well to have some knowledge of the chemical starting-point from which he works. But how he treats his colour as he paints is derived from another method. It is so for the therapist. He can regard chemistry as a basis which has some meaning for him, but the mode of action of the substances within the human organism has nothing to do with this chemical domain. So long as we only see exactitude in the conclusions of ordinary chemistry—its pharmaceutical branch as well—we destroy the possibility of gaining conceptions of what is taking place within the organism in the processes of healing.