Over time different systems were developed for the characterization of individuals according to their physical and psycho-vegetative traits which until today play a role in complementary medicine. This pilot study aimed at investigating if the concepts of polar constitutional types of anthroposophic medicine and according to Kretschmer can be further clarified using empirical method.
96 participants, preselected by two polar body mass index (BMI) ranges (17–19.5 kg/m2 and 27–31 kg/m2), were categorized using both classification systems. Anthropometrical measurements were carried out and differences in the autonomic regulation were assessed using a questionnaire. From 12 participants showing a pronounced polar constitutional type, production of reactive oxygen species, proliferation, autophagy, and glucose uptake by lymphocytes, monocytes and granulocytes were measured in vitro .
Correlations between the BMI and the strength of constitutional classification were found for both classification systems. Additionally, a strong correlation between the two systems themselves could be seen. Analysis of the overall questionnaire score of autonomic regulation did not yield significant correlations. However, using a modified 11 item score, reliability (Cronbach α = 0.656) and a differentiation of polar constitutional types was demonstrated (p < 0.001). Regarding the immune function slightly varying levels of reactive oxygen species, autophagy in granulocytes and differences in the strength of inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation by dexamethasone and cyclosporine A were detected. However, most of these in vitro results did not reach significance.
This study represents a first empirical approach toward the classification of anthroposophic constitutional types.