by Mario Fontes
Interpreting Chronic Illness
Jerry Kantor highlights a fresh approach to the understanding of acupuncture, homeopathy, and conventional medicine in his book Interpreting Chronic Illness. In just over 200 pages, he leads us on an epic quest for a new model (“a sea change”) in the understanding of chronic illness, complete with literary references to sailing ships and to Homer’s six-headed monster Scylla and whirlpool Charybdis.
Kantor is obviously a deep thinker, and it comes across in every sentence. His book is a product of profound meditation and great insight. Even so, it’s very readable and you don’t have to be an expert in conventional medicine, acupuncture, and homeopathy to understand it. For experts, however, it offers a very clear and detailed explanation of the convergence of these three modalities as related to chronic disease.
Kantor is well qualified to write about his subjects. A nationally certified homeopath and licensed acupuncturist, he is the only homeopath-acupuncturist with an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School, where he has been a Teaching Associate in Anesthesiology since 1999. He is also past vice-chairman of The American Association of Integrative Medicine.
Interpreting Chronic Illness is actually more like three books in one: two major works and one workbook. The first part is a description of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Kantor outlines the basics and then insightfully proposes changes to the 3,000-year-old tradition. Not only is it brash and brilliant, but with his explanation, it makes perfect sense. (Only those readers who have studied TCM will likely appreciate this brief example: For millennia, the sense organ that TCM has associated with the heart is “taste.” Kantor, however, has changed this to “touch.”)
In the second part of the book, Kantor takes on chronic disease both as a whole and at the same time through three different yet, as Kantor shows us, convergent therapeutic systems. He devotes a chapter to each of the five sense dimensions—touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight—and uniquely categorizes chronic disease in terms of illness, function, and core dilemma. He also outlines the stages of life that correspond to each of the five senses and the therapeutic interventions that are best suited to them.
In essence, he is advocating the fusion of TCM patterns, connecting them to conventional medical illnesses, and then linking both with homeopathic medicines. Here is one example of correspondences from the dimension of touch:
Core Issue Synchrony-Isolation
Homeopathic remedies Apis, Bovista, Hamamelis
Kantor tackles tough subjects, offering new ways to look at Schizophrenia, Autism, Lyme Disease, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Cancer. He shares his deep understanding of our homeopathic materia medica and explains more than 80 remedies in clinically useful TCM terms. This can be a useful tool for experienced homeopaths to expand the way we think about our medicines. For those familiar with the basics of TCM, Kantor presents common concepts in terms of homeopathic remedies.
The third section of the book is actually a workbook on how to create your own “Sense Dimensional Mandala” for meditation. Kantor leads us through a series of introspective, soul-searching questions and then asks us to evaluate ourselves and develop imagery to represent our current state as it relates to touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. It was not until I actually made my own Mandala that I understood that this was the end of Kantor’s journey where the reader integrates all the concepts laid out in the book.
This really is a monumental work, and in some ways I think it is too condensed. It could have been easily drawn out over several volumes. One other small item of note: Kantor writes that Calcarea carbonica is made from tortoise shell (when it is actually made from oyster shell).
Kantor’s book has given me a wider perspective on homeopathy and TCM. A few years ago, I wrote an article for the Townsend Letter on combining homeopathy and TCM in practice [“Homeopathy and Chinese Medicine: Uniting Two Forms of Energetic Medicine,” February/March 2009]. I focused on the similarities between the two systems—where they overlap and the similar pattern differentiations. After reading Kantor’s book I’ve definitely gained a deeper understanding into the fundamentals of the five sense dimensions and how they can be recognized across conventional medicine, TCM, and homeopathic medicine. Reading this book can help us broaden our homeopathic understanding of our patients.
This review originally appeared in the Autumn 2012 issue of Homeopathy Today, the magazine of the National Center for Homeopathy, and is used here with permission. For more information, visit http://www.nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mario Fontes, LAc, MSOM, CCH is a Licensed Acupuncturist who holds a Master of Oriental Medicine degree. He is Board Certified in Herbal Medicine by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and is a Certified Classical Homeopath by the Council for Homeopathic Certification. Mario maintains a non-invasive approach to his practice located at the American Medical College of Homeopathy in Phoenix, Arizona www.altmedctr.com • (602) 332-8079.