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Dynamic Materia Medica: Syphilis - A study of the Syphilitic Miasms through Remedies

Dynamic Materia Medica: Syphilis - A study of the Syphilitic Miasms through Remedies
by Jeremy Yaakov Sherr, FSHom
Dynamis Books: London, 2002, Hard cover, 280 pages, $57.

Give a man a fish, and he will have food for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and he will have food for a lifetime.

     —Chinese Proverb

A homeopathic materia medica that covers eleven remedies might be considered by some a modest work. But there is nothing small about Jeremy Sherr's offering in his new book, Syphilis: Dynamic Materia Medica. Sherr asks us to put an unusual amount of effort into the reading of his book, and in return, we receive far more than a list of symptoms or an explication of these eleven remedies. Sherr invites us to use both sides of our brain to understand these remedies: in doing so, he broadens our perspective on the syphilitic miasm, the remedies included, and the homeopathic point of view.
     Integral to this book is the substantial offering of information from provings, which serves as a foundation for the remedy pictures and allows the reader a first-hand experience of the symptoms. By supplementing the academic treatment of each remedy with poetry (both original and classical), anecdote, myth, commentary, and portraits of contemporary figures (Saddam Hussein, Hannibal Lecter, etc.), Sherr encourages the reader to expand his or her interpretive resources. For Sherr, homeopathy is truly a harmony
of science and art, a creative process that demands analysis and imagination.
     Sherr separates the discussion of each remedy into a left brain and a right brain viewpoint, marked by color-coded pages to remind us when this is occurring. The scientific description of symptoms is presented in a discrete but parallel line to a philosophic or poetic discussion of the remedy. I found remarkable the discussion of Androctonos amoreuxii hebraeus (scorpion), which combines proving symptoms, anecdotal notes, biological information on the scorpion, and a portrait of Saddam Hussein. The final touch is Sherr's powerful poem, Jacob's Ladder, which interweaves references to the biblical story with the scorpion proving symptoms. It renders a vivid remedy portrait that the reader will never forget.
     Sherr draws from a broad range of remedies and sources to illustrate the syphilitic miasm. He covers the familiar Mercurius, as well as the rare plant remedy, Stillingia sylvatica, which is "little known and underproved" yet appears in black type in the repertory under syphilitic remedies. Throughout the text, he sprinkles excerpts from a sixteenth century epic poem on syphilis by Girolamo Fracastoro, which portrays both the historical and mythical picture of the disease.
     Sherr uses this book to illustrate his concept of "the Verb," which he derives from Hahnemann's reference in the Organon to "sensation and function," the means by which a healthy organism manifests its dynamic harmony (Organon, ?9). As Hahnemann states in ?10 of the Organon, it is a disturbance of "sensation and function" that produces the symptoms we call disease. Viewing the vital force as an energetic, living entity, Sherr demonstrates how to consider the motion or verb that underlies the remedy symptoms. At the end of each remedy picture, he highlights the qualities of "sensation" and "function" that provide a lucid insight into the characteristic activity of that remedy. We, in turn, are inspired to look for the resonating verb running through a patient's symptoms.
     The book itself is beautiful—it is printed on high quality, heavyweight, glossy paper, with a sturdy hard cover. Between the covers, Sherr's discussion of the syphilitic miasm is refreshing in its unique approach, expansive yet focused. If he writes the complementary volumes on the psoric and sycotic miasms, we will be lucky. If not, we have here a map to perceive the other miasms on our own. By sharing his deep understanding of the remedies, Sherr provides us with the tools to read any proving and gain a clearer understanding of remedies, ultimately leading to a better application of remedies in our practice.
     In his poem, The Periodic Shuffle, which introduces a chapter on the "Syphilitic Zone of the Periodic Table" (i.e., Iridium to Plumbum), Sherr reminds us:
     "It's not what we can gain in life
     but what we leave behind,
     while winding back to Hydrogen
     the universal mind."
In this groundbreaking book Sherr invites us to open our minds and listen to all the voices of the remedies we encounter.

About the author:
Nancy Zorensky received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and worked as a professional photographer, martial arts instructor and mother, all the while studying alternative medical therapies. When she discovered homeopathy ten years ago, she dropped everything else and devoted herself completely to this medical art which rendered results like she'd never seen before. She lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and has a classical homeopathy practice in Denver, Colorado.