The oil-dispersion bath in anthroposophic medicine – an integrative reviewReport as inadecuate

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine

, 8:61

First Online: 04 December 2008Received: 26 August 2008Accepted: 04 December 2008


BackgroundAnthroposophic medicine offers a variety of treatments, among others the oil-dispersion bath, developed in the 1930s by Werner Junge. Based on the phenomenon that oil and water do not mix and on recommendations of Rudolf Steiner, Junge developed a vortex mechanism which churns water and essential oils into a fine mist. The oil-covered droplets empty into a tub, where the patient immerses for 15–30 minutes. We review the current literature on oil-dispersion baths.

MethodsThe following databases were searched: Medline, Pubmed, Embase, AMED and CAMbase. The search terms were -oil-dispersion bath- and -oil bath-, and their translations in German and French. An Internet search was also performed using Google Scholar, adding the search terms -study- and -case report- to the search terms above. Finally, we asked several experts for gray literature not listed in the above-mentioned databases. We included only articles which met the criterion of a clinical study or case report, and excluded theoretical contributions.

ResultsAmong several articles found in books, journals and other publications, we identified 1 prospective clinical study, 3 experimental studies enrolling healthy individuals, 5 case reports, and 3 field-reports. In almost all cases, the studies described beneficial effects – although the methodological quality of most studies was weak. Main indications were internal-metabolic diseases and psychiatric-neurological disorders.

ConclusionBeyond the obvious beneficial effects of warm bathes on the subjective well-being, it remains to be clarified what the unique contribution of the distinct essential oils dispersed in the water can be. There is a lack of clinical studies exploring the efficacy of oil-dispersion baths. Such studies are recommended for the future.

Arndt Büssing, Dirk Cysarz and Thomas Ostermann contributed equally to this work.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1472-6882-8-61 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Arndt Büssing - Dirk Cysarz - Friedrich Edelhäuser - Gudrun Bornhöft - Peter F Matthiessen - Thomas Ostermann


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