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New study - A descriptive analysis of the Vademecum of Anthroposophic Medicines

05 Jun 2020

A new analysis of the Vademecum of Anthroposophic Medicines describes whole medical systems as complete systems of theory and practice that have evolved in different regions, cultures and time periods, mostly apart from Western, conventional medicine. Such systems include anthroposophic medicine, ayurveda, naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, and unani medicine. Features of whole medical systems include a tradition of use prior to the emergence of current conventional medicine, a holistic, non-reductionist ontological, epistemological and practice orientation, specific diagnostic and therapeutic typologies, and the use of a large number of medicinal products of herbal, zoological or mineral origin. Because of the different typologies in whole medical systems and conventional medicine, such medicinal products are often used for a number of different indications according to conventional disease classification.

One source of knowledge of clinical properties of such products is the experience of therapy providers. A systematic approach to documentation, assessment, and aggregation of physicians’ experiences with anthroposophic medicinal products (AMPs) has been developed: the Vademecum of Anthroposophic Medicines. This study provides a descriptive analysis of the 4th edition of the Vademecum. It comprised 799 different AMPs, used for 1,773 indications, based on 2,543 questionnaires submitted by 274 physicians from 19 countries. The 799 AMPs represented more than half of all AMPs on the market in Germany in 2015–2016. The 1,773 indications were supplemented with a total of 19,328 citations of 2,389 different literature references and corresponded to 544 different three-digit codes as defined by the World Health Organisation in its International Classification of Diseases, that is more than one quarter of all such three-digit codes.

This work shows that it is possible to document, critically assess, and aggregate experiential evidence among a large group of therapy providers for a large number of anthroposophic medicinal products in a systematic and transparent way. The Vademecum itself has a potential for scientific and regulatory assessment of AMPs; the study concludes that the Vademecum approach may be relevant for medicinal products from other whole medical systems.