Best of the Best! CCHM Faculty Feature: Dr. Joseph Kellerstein, D.C., N.D., FCAH, CCH, HOM
Dr. Joseph Kellerstein is not only a master classical Homeopath but also an ND and a Chiropractor. He brings a wealth of experience, warmth and expertise to CCHM and has been a core member of the faculty since 1998. He has influenced many of the successful Homeopaths who have graduated from our school in the past 20 years. Currently Joe oversees the Internship Clinic for 2nd and 3rd year students, who also look forward to his case taking workshops at the beginning of their second year. These workshops kick start the CCHM clinical experience for students. In addition to treating patients at the CCHM Teaching Clinic, Dr. Kellerstein sees patients in Oshawa and midtown Toronto at his private practice. You can find out more about him here. Below he talks about his journey to becoming a homeopath and how he fell in love with the art and practice of homeopathy. We are so lucky to have him as part of our beloved faculty...
University had done its job. After 4 years of studying sciences and having no particular goal I managed a soft landing in Chiropractic college. It was a strange new world. People were interested in Facilitating the body to heal itself by removing obstructions to vitality flowing from the brain to end tissue via the nervous system. This was accomplished by correcting “subluxations”.
The Vertebrae twisted out of place would compress nerves and prevent the transmission of “Innate intelligence” from the brain and predispose illness in whatever tissue was fed by the compressed nerve.
When a Chiropractor adjusted the spine it was to promote this flow.
What a crock of nonsense I thought this was. Surely science had progressed beyond this primitive eighteenth century idea. Who were they kidding? Certainly themselves. “Innate Intelligence”-give me a break.
I was a scientist. Medicine was about surgery and drugs. This was the real stuff founded in true scientific thought. What they were teaching was pseudo religious granola.
Odd how I never questioned foundational premises. What a good little robot I turned out to be.
Yet I knew instinctively that I hated the drug approach. I had seen it hurt people very close to me. Just a few years previous my mother, diagnosed with cancer, suffered through a lot of medical treatments with horrible side effects. These contradictions were relegated to a quiet corner of my mind with a 'do not disturb' sign on the door.
However, there was a competing stream of thought at College I could find acceptable: that Chiropractic normalized mechanics of the vertebrae and so might relieve pain by “smoothing out the kinks”. That was more like it—biomechanics. That sounded acceptable to a medical reductionistic mind. Sold!
In school I met some “old time” Chiropractors who understood these modern mechanical ideas but downplayed them in favour of the Vitalistic Center of the Practice. They tried to tell me that my reductionistic training was a handicap not an advantage. They babbled something about arrogance. They used funny words like Holism and were very careful with their lifestyle. It was just too flakey. But, I did well in Colleg, graduated, and went into practice.
It was through practicing that I learned I knew absolutely nothing. It was humbling. Reality hits the road and bounces back in your face. Treating the patterns of “bones out of place” helped me provide relief but only temporarily and the treatment had to be repeated constantly. Was this practice? Just fixing the same things over and over?
Feeling not only ignorant but frustrated, I looked for more to add to practice. Some way of helping people escape these patterns that recurred. Back then in the late 1970’s a group of primary care practitioners began a Naturopathic College at an abandoned art gallery in Kitchener. I joined the third class. The classes were held on 3 day weekends, once monthly.
That first weekend I attended a lecture on Homeopathy...a very bad lecture. The teacher read verbatim from Farrington’s Homeopathy and Homeopathic Prescribing. It was awful and yet as he read from the book I was captivated by the Philosophy just as if a door opened. Once this threshold was passed there has been no going back.
It has been a life of fascination.
From the little I understood, Farrington was saying that almost non existent doses of a substance could trigger the healing of chronic disease. That the way to choose from the vast Materia Medica was based on the portrait of Illness. The Life Force of the body, when distorted, suffered in illness, but the purpose of this suffering was to convey the image of the needed medicine.
This was both magic and medicine simultaneously and it spoke to my secret lifelong desire to be like Merlin-a wizard of Natural Science.
From deep down I wanted to climb this mountain toward mastery of Materia Medica.
That innocent class was the nudge that galvanized all those years of studying healing. But could it really work? Was all this just pie in the sky? It was fortunate that I had a private practice while studying. There was no proper internship I knew of. Everyone got remedies at the slightest provocation. Of course I knew nothing really about Materia Medica and most of those early prescriptions were doomed.
One day a young lady came in and showed me an enormous boil on the side of her neck very near the Mastoid Process. It was large, red, angry and could not bear the least touch or cold air. The patient refused my advice to get antibiotics. I offered a deal saying that I would try a natural remedy but if there was no change by the next day she would get herself off to a doctor and take the meds. She agreed.
Of course I gave a single dose of Hepar sulph 1m.
The next morning, only a short while after opening the office she presented herself and her totally clear neck with a lot of gratitude. As the story goes, she told me that the pain subsided soon after the dose and she felt different somehow. Slept well and woke free of the big red monster! The failures outnumbered successes for a long time. Despite this there was a feverish kind of desire to make this stuff work. I would not quit.
Not so long, after a regular patient asked me about her severe rosacea. It was ruining her life. The medical treatment used caused side effects and was not very effective. She was very warm blooded and slept with the window open all year.The feet were uncovered all night, every night. There was thirst for lots of cold water and cravings for all kinds of “junk” as she put it. Bacon and fats and spice and sweets. The eruptions itched and burned.
I prescribed Sulphur 200. One dose. Oops. There was a dramatic aggravation within hours. Her face turned into a crusty oozing mess and quickly became infected. The oozing turned to pus. The itch became intolerable. Her general heat became a burning fire. She refused any more antibiotics and suffered.
The next week she informed me that whatever I did to her, I had better stop it or she would consider using me as target practice. Thankfully that aggravation quickly receded and her face soon wore a radiant complexion. She has been free of that problem to this day-well over thirty years.
Successes like these, although slow in coming, convinced me of Homeopathy and my need to know more about Hahnemann. I would have patients report no longer than a week after starting a remedy and if there was no clear result I got impatient, demanding results of these stupid white balls and would re-study the case.
As the years went by there was constant study, many seminars with outstanding Homeopaths, and gradually the failures were overshadowed by some measure of victory. I began to see some clarity in Materia Medica and could relate some of it to the person in front of me.
On studying the Organon year after year, and comparing my own difficulties, it became clear that there was a need to have more questioning skills. NLP and Clean Language study was perfect for the job. It was dramatic help in acquiring descriptor rich cases so as to compare with proving data.
A close friend, Dr Gary Hardy, years later had a discussion with me wherein we both observed that the first requisite for a Homeopath was a drive sufficient to overcome all that initial failure and frustration. Now I know as well that good clinical instruction would dramatically cut down on the duration of that phase and this became a mission of mine.
CCHM gave me the opportunity to help students reach their goals of proficiency in a more timely manner by allowing me to teach Organon, Case Taking and Clinic. The three most practical tools of this profession. The pieces I never had taught to me that I felt could make all the difference.
Organon clarifies our goals, means and strategies. Case taking classes teach the skills of questioning. Clinic is supposed to show up close that this stuff works and how to work through problems when it does not. Raymond and Joyce -the founders of CCHM have generously allowed me to pursue my mission and in the course of this I have learned so much.
It is 20 amazing years or more now that I have been teaching.
There is no boredom in Homeopathy. The privilege of each case is the exploration of an alien world-this patient and their suffering. We get to know people as no other profession can.
The possibility of being witness to healing is always a thrill.
Thank goodness I was nudged into this miracle.