Review in the American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine, Spring 2013
Reviewed by Leonard Torok, MD
Practicing Orthopedic Surgeon in Ohio since 1978. Trained by Dr. Saine in homeopathic medicine 1993 to 1996. Practice of homeopathic medicine has focused on the treatment of patients with cancer since 2003 and on homeopathic dermatology since 2011 with his wife, Dr. Helen Torok, a dermatologist in Medina.
“…the integration must be artfully done to be meaningful and the author has achieved that”
In Interpreting Chronic Illness the author has taken on the enormous task of integrating traditional Chinese medicine together with homeopathic medicine and doing this within the background understanding of Western, biochemical medicine. The author proposes a theoretical construct to integrate these very different approaches to treating patients and understanding the purpose or mechanism of disease production and resolution. As any of these systems of therapy can consume a lifetime of study, the integration must be artfully done to be meaningful and the author has achieved that.
Practitioners of any of the three branches of medical practice can find within this book a useful introduction to that type of practice they are unfamiliar with. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine will likely gain the most from this publication. Short sketches of frequently prescribed homeopathic remedies are related to the energetic pictures of health that are diagnosed in Chinese medicine. A homeopathic remedy picture can complement the use of acupuncture in Chinese medicine in much the same way that an herbal medicine can complement traditional Chinese medicine. To gain a working knowledge of Chinese herbal medicine is a daunting task. This is also complicated by the difficulty of not having easy access to Chinese herbal preparations for consumers in the Western world, whereas the homeopathic remedies described in the book are readily available and inexpensive. So practitioners of Chinese medicine are here provided with a practical and powerful adjunct to their armamentarium.
Homeopathic and Chinese medicine both interface via the energetic information system that influences or controls health. The author’s description of this control system, based on the philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine, can help bring together the two professions as allies in healing patients.
For the classical homeopath, this work relates most directly to a study of the working mechanisms of what we conceptualize as the Vital Force. The Vital Force is often described as immaterial, immeasurable and almost indecipherable in its actions. The author deciphers the actions of the Vital Force in a framework familiar to Traditional Chinese medicine: five element theory, specifically relating it to the five sense perceptions. Each physical sense is related into a holistic framework encapsulating both the physical perspective of a sense and its energetic properties (thought or feeling).
The author’s conceptual model of disease/illness is both thought-provoking and comforting for classical homeopaths as it brings some of the “mystery” of homeopathy into a theoretical construct. For instance, it presents to the homeopathic patient more than his role in helping match a totality of his/her symptoms with a totality of a remedy, it points him towards understanding the intent of the Vital Force in producing their disease. Bringing this deeper level of awareness to our patients offers us the possibility of making a treatment curative (preventing future recurrences of disease) by treating a “larger totality.”
Homeopaths rely upon the Vital Force to carry out cures according to the Law of Similars. Chinese medical philosophy details its own view of the workings of this immeasurable force. We would all like to know the truth of how and why patients heal themselves of disease. In seeking truth, we have to admit our limitations and be open- minded to new avenues of thought. It is in this spirit that I would recommend this book to homeopaths.