by Mark Kamsler, MD
Mary is an 18-year-old girl in my Wisconsin medical practice who has not been immunized by her family’s choice. She will be starting college in Florida at a school where immunizations are required without the personal conviction exemption that is allowed in Wisconsin. Jimmy, 14 years old who has
only received tetanus immunization up to now, would like to attend a specialized summer camp where some more immunizations are required. Sam is a newborn infant whose parents have some concerns about immunization but feel more comfortable keeping him mostly on schedule and are wondering how to do that in the most beneficial way.
In our current polarized world, the conversations on both sides of the immunization question tend to mix partial truths with partial untruths in order to assert one’s viewpoint. Most of these arguments are rooted in a materialistic view of the physical and physiological benefits or detriments of immunizations.
What tends to be missing from the mainstream conversation (even in holistic circles) is an understanding of the whole human being, the spiritual path of the incarnating child, and how that may practically inform both the conversation and our deeds in the world.
If we consider an individual’s journey from one lifetime to another and from the spiritual world into a new incarnation on earth, one can see that the conversation needs to move well beyond the physical fears or presumed benefits of immunization. What is most important is supporting the child’s path forward in body, soul and spirit. While we can probably agree in our circles that early and frequent immunization does not generally support the healthful processes in this sense, society is more and more removing choice around this issue, as with my patients above, and we need to find ways to balance any ill effects.
Fortunately, Rudolf Steiner offers many insights that can help us to better understand these questions and provide guidance for our practical work.
Consider first that Rudolf Steiner warns, specifically regarding vaccines (and in other areas as well), that one should not be fanatical and one-sided. Just as he warns about the dangers of the materialism connected with the printing press, travel by car and train, and more (consider the enormity in our modern times)—he does not say that we should not print books or travel by modern means. Rather, he makes clear that we need to work hard to actively lift ourselves up, with all that anthroposophy offers, to connect with the spiritual realities around us and balance all that has the tendency to pull us down and away from our true path.
Regarding immunizations, for example, Rudolf Steiner tells us that to overcome the detrimental effects of vaccines one needs to have “a proper spiritual education”. This statement opens the door to many “therapies”: a Waldorf education and all that it encompasses. In addition, for everyone a “spiritual education” can include eurythmy, biodynamic foods, artistic work and, importantly, anthroposophic remedies and supplements.
It is beyond the scope of this brief article to discuss all this in detail; however, allow me to offer a few examples from medical practice.
In general, for patients at the medical office who either choose to or are required to immunize, we use various remedies and supplements in addition to lifestyle recommendations. While some may be individualized for a specific patient, there are many ways to generally support the children. For example, one wants to support a proper relationship between the nerve sense system and the metabolism in general. Immunization clearly stresses the proper meeting of these processes and interferes with the rhythmic morning breath inward that helps to reconnect the ego (and astral body) with the physical and etheric body and the evening breath out that allows the ego to reconnect more directly with the spiritual world and allows the refreshing of the etheric (and physical) bodies during sleep at night.* (see below)
Rudolf Steiner suggests a remedy made from calcium carbonate and potentized calcium phosphate which can form a “nutritional reservoir” to support a proper meeting and working together of these processes. Having the children take extra of the remedy True Life Reservoir for 1 week prior to immunization and for 3-4 weeks after immunization truly supports this meeting of these two poles and “lifts up” in the face of the “pulling down” of the immunization.
For children who become “stuck” in their nervous system after immunization and are very fussy or irritable and may have trouble falling asleep, a remedy such as Cinis Radix Comp can help the astral body separate from the physical and calms twitchiness and helps a proper falling asleep. In addition, topical applications, so important to anthroposophic medicine, can be helpful in this situation. Lavender- Spruce bath oil soaks followed by drinking linden flower tea follows an indication of Rudolf Steiner’s for “detoxifying” of the nervous system and is both calming and strengthening.
These are just a few brief examples of many that can be used to both support the child generally when receiving immunization and to meet specific needs and consequences that may occur after vaccines are given. Many more examples and a broad discussion of this topic can be found in the book “Childhood Illnesses and Immunizations—Anthroposophic Ideas to Ensure the Wellbeing of Our Children in This Digital Age” written by Ross Rentea, MD, along with myself and Andrea Rentea, MD.
Anthroposophic medicine has the unique opportunity to move the immunization conversation away from the polarized tug-of-war between the two sides of a materialistic battle towards a true support of the spiritually incarnating child. May we have the courage to take up the challenge to bring these gifts from Rudolf Steiner forward as a healing impulse for the world.
*(For those who may be new to anthroposophy, as a brief explanation, Rudolf Steiner describes a physical body comprised of our material substances; an etheric or life body which carries the up- building/regenerative/growth processes; an astral or soul body which carries the life of feeling/sympathies and antipathies/forming processes; and an ego/self-aware spiritual being which carries our spiritual individuality from one lifetime to the next. Much more complete descriptions can be found in the work of Rudolf Steiner and the anthroposophical literature.)
-Mark Kamsler, MD