Dr. Leon Hammer, MD
Physician, Scholar, Friend
A Remarkable Life and Career of Healing
Dr. Leon Hammer, M.D. has had a remarkable life and career. He has a wonderful ability to think independently of establishment constructs and because of this has made invaluable contributions to the world of medicine and healing. Born in 1924 in New York City, he served in the United States military during and after World War Two as a Navigator, Aerial Gunner, Captain and Physician. He attended Cornell University and Cornell Medical College, and then went on to study at the William A. White Institute of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry.
Until 1971, he practiced psychiatry and psychoanalysis, directed a child guidance clinic and Drug Abuse Councils on the Southeast Shore of Long Island, taught at Adelphi University, and was Psychiatric Consultant and Associate Professor at Southampton College in Southampton, New York.
After working with Fritz Perls and Gestalt therapy for three years and with Alexander Lowen and Bioenergetics over a period of eight years, he began a study of Chinese medicine in 1971. For the next three years, he studied in England with Dr. J.D. van Buren.
In 1974, he began a twenty-seven year-long apprenticeship with a Chinese Master in New York City, Dr. John H.F. Shen. During this time, Dr. Hammer spent four months studying in Beijing, Dr. Leon Hammer, M.D. His study and work with Dr. Shen had a huge influence on his work, eventually leading him to develop what has become Contemporary Oriental Medicine.
In 1975, Dr. Hammer achieved certification to practice acupuncture in New York State and later also became a registered acupuncturist in Maryland, where he studied and taught at the Traditional Acupuncture Institute. In 1985 he was granted honorary ‘Diplomate in Acupuncture’ status by the NCCA.
Dr. Hammer has practiced Chinese medicine since 1973. He has lectured and taught in places as diverse as Spain, Poland, Italy, Holland, Germany, England, Australia, and Japan, as well as all over the United States. He served as a member of the Commission for Evaluation of Acupuncture Schools, and was appointed a member of the National Blue Ribbon Committee for Initiation of the Herbal Examination. From 1991 through 1998, he was a member of the New York State Board of Acupuncture. In 2001, Dr. Hammer received an award as “Educator of the Year” for participation and contribution to excellence in education from the American Association of Oriental Medicine. In 2002, he received an award from the Traditional Chinese Medicine Foundation for “Building Bridges of Integration” between Oriental medicine and Western Medicine.
In April 2001, Dr. Hammer helped found Dragon Rises College of Oriental Medicine in Gainesville, Florida. He served as Chairman of the Board and as a faculty member, offering direction and guidance to students and practitioners. The school is distinguished not only by its strong focus on diagnosis, especially Contemporary Chinese pulse, but also by its curriculum, Contemporary Oriental Medicine. COM stresses psychology, along with a methodology for thinking in Chinese medicine, and integrates parts of various models including TCM and Five-Element into a unique whole. The College is accredited by the National Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental medicine and licensed by the state of Florida to grant Master’s degrees in acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Dr. Hammer was first published on the subject of Chinese medicine in the American Journal of Acupuncture in 1980, and subsequently has written numerous articles on a range of subjects within the medical field. His first book, Dragon Rises, Red Bird Flies (Eastland Press, 1990) was also translated and published in Germany and Spain, has become a classic in the field. His second book, Chinese Pulse Diagnosis, A Contemporary Approach (Eastland Press, 2001), has been described as a seminal work. In 2008 his third book was published: The Patient-Practitioner Relationship in Acupuncture (Thieme). He has written a compendium of the herbal formulae of Dr. John H.F. Shen (Thieme, 2012, with Hamilton Rotte), and, most recently, Eastland Press published Dr. Hammer’s The Handbook of Contemporary Chinese Pulse Diagnosis (2012).
He has a great love of nature and ecology, and a passion for ensuring that all creatures are treated with equal respect and compassion. Dr. Hammer greatly enjoys sailing, kayaking, cross-country skiing, and tennis, although sometimes he is happiest just sitting and watching the birds, trees and mountains from his window. He is married with children and grandchildren, and currently lives in Florida.
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Dragon Rises, Red Bird Flies
Eastland Press, 2005
Behind the acupuncture, herbal remedies and sophisticated diagnostics of Chinese medicine lies a “congenial system of healing that embodies unification of body and mind, spirit and matter, nature and man, philosophy and reality”. In this groundbreaking and comprehensive work, Dr. Hammer offers a new model for appreciating the traditional healer’s effective and profound respect for individual integrity and energetic balance. Explaining, and moving beyond, the five phase (element) system, he shows that this Eastern practice is as much a spiritual science as a physical one.
Accessible to the layman, yet a resource for the professional in any healing art, this book examines the natural energy functions of the human organism as a key to mental, emotional and spiritual health. It offers new insight into disease, showing how it is not merely an invasion from the outside, but rather a byproduct of a person’s unsuccessful attempt to restore his own balance.
Chinese Pulse Diagnosis - A Contemporary Approach
Eastland Press 2001, Revised 2005
Pulse diagnosis, one of the jewels of traditional Chinese medicine, is a profoundly subtle instrument for the early diagnosis and prevention of disease. Yet far too often, in the haste of modern education and practice, it has become a neglected art. Chinese Pulse Diagnosis: Revised Edition offers a clear and practical path toward a much deeper understanding of this traditional diagnostic method, while recasting its interpretation in the context of our own times.
The book is organized in seventeen chapters, which are presented in an advancing hierarchy of complexity. The early chapters consider such general issues as terminology, classification of pulse qualities, historical comparisons of positions and depths, the effects of age and gender, and a methodology for taking the pulse. The middle chapters provide an in-depth look at each of the individual pulse qualities, identified by felt sensation based on such characteristics as rate and rhythm, stability, volume, depth, size, and shape. The types of pathology associated with each of the qualities are also discussed. Later chapters examine the significance of the qualities when found across the entire pulse, or large segments of the pulse (left or right side, across the burners), and at different depths. The relationship of the various pulse qualities to psychology and prognosis are addressed in separate chapters. A final summary chapter on interpretation, supported with case histories, draws everything together to show how this information can be formulated into a rational diagnosis.
Key information in the book is organized and richly illustrated in over one hundred tables and graphic drawings. Individual chapter tables of contents and extensive indexes provide convenient access to every aspect of this important subject.
Handbook of Contemporary Chinese Pulse Diagnosis
Eastland Press 2012, Ho-Chi Book Publishing Company 2015
Pulse diagnosis is a subtle yet highly effective instrument used in Chinese medicine for the diagnosis and prevention of disease. The method set forth in this book is unsurpassed in obtaining the greatest amount of physical and psychological information about an individual. Although based on traditional methods, it is contemporary because it recognizes that pulse diagnosis must continue to develop over time. In the hands of master pulse diagnostician Dr. John Shen, his apprentice Dr. Leon Hammer, and their students, it has evolved in recent decades to better reflect modern times and lifestyles.
This handbook summarizes the key elements of Chinese Pulse Diagnosis: A Contemporary Approach in a portable edition. It is the result of the very hard work, by many practitioners, of extracting the essentials from each area of this subject. The present volume offers a clear and practical path toward a better understanding of traditional pulse diagnosis, while recasting its interpretation in the context of our own times.
The Patient-Practitioner Relationship in Acupuncture
The Patient-Practitioner Relationship in Acupuncture is written for acupuncturists and practitioners in the fields of alternative medicine searching for effective ways of connecting better with their patients in all their diversity. It teaches the skills necessary to guide patients through emotional, psychological, and spiritual difficulties as part of the healing process. Dr. Hammer bases his work on the universally accepted and fundamental role the therapeutic relationship plays in the practitioner's ability to heal and his lifelong observation that both the patient and the practitioner benefit from this vital relationship.
Drawing from his long and extensive personal and professional experiences and writing in an easily understandable and at times anecdotal style, the author avoids psychological jargon as much as possible. The material is presented independent to pathology and is organized into two parts: The first part outlines the basic tenets of the therapeutic relationship, and the second, main part presents individual, issue-oriented chapters addressing the varied life situations, personalities, and emotional reactions with which the acupuncturist or practitioner is confronted in everyday practice.
Thieme 2012, with Hamilton Rotte
A treasure trove of information for practitioners of Chinese medicine, this book gathers the herbal formulas of master practitioner Dr. John H. F. Shen for the first time. Not only does it incorporate the experience of Dr. Leon Hammer, who studied directly with Dr. Shen for nearly three decades, but it also presents the stimulus, rationale, and thinking behind many of the formulas. The result is a unique compendium of diseases spanning infancy to old age, with expert analysis and commentary by the authors, and the clinically tested herbal formulas used to treat each condition.
Logically organized in two sections: the first by standard medical systems ranging from cardiovascular to respiratory; and the second by life cycle progression and developmental milestones. It offers valuable insights on the etiology, symptoms, pathogenesis, and clinical signs of each disease, and combines pulse diagnosis with herbal medicine for superior therapeutic outcomes.
Building on the prominent Ding-Menghe lineage in Chinese medicine which dates back to the early 1600s, the book offers a window into the mind and practice of one of the greatest innovators in Chinese medicine. It integrates the knowledge and expertise of two foremost modern practitioners, and is the only complete source available on Dr. Shen’s herbal heritage. It is essential reading for all Chinese medicine practitioners, herbalists, and other medical professionals prescribing herbs.
Contemporary Oriental Medicine: Concepts
The Contemporary Oriental Medicine Foundation 2018
Contemporary Oriental Medicine: Concepts is a bold new volume by the acclaimed master of Chinese Medicine, Dr. Leon Hammer, M.D. The culmination of over sixty years’ experience, Concepts represents a lifetime of work, study, and devotion to the search for a true path to healing. Following on from the teachings of his mentor, Dr. John H.F. Shen, Dr. Hammer presents an evolved and updated understanding of the medicine of the renowned Menghe-Ding lineage of Chinese Medicine, of which he is now a successor. Concepts is much more than a practical manual, although it is brimming with valuable clinical advice. It also presents a new philosophy: a new way of looking at medicine, and at the world in which we live.
Contemporary Oriental Medicine is about so much more than just where to insert needles, or which herbs to prescribe. Rather, it represents a paradigm shift in healing and awareness, giving both patients and practitioners the tools they need to enact real recovery, and change their lives for the better. Exploring, among other subjects, theories on Ecology, ‘Terrain, Stress, Root, and Vulnerability’, the vital role of the Liver in Chinese Medicine, the critical importance of Lifestyle as a cause and resolution of disease, and Dr. Hammer’s remarkable insight into the ‘Separation of Yin and Yang’ and ‘Qi Wild’ as disease processes throughout life, this book brings together, for the first time, the truly outstanding body of work that constitutes the main tenets of Contemporary Oriental Medicine. A rewarding read and an essential addition to the libraries of practitioners and students alike, Contemporary Oriental Medicine: Concepts will change the modern world of Chinese medicine.
Contemporary Oriental Medicine: Methodology
The Contemporary Oriental Medicine Foundation 2019
Following on from Concepts, the first book in his Contemporary Oriental Medicine series, Dr. Hammer presents Methodology: an essential examination of the full diagnostic and management process. He focuses on the three key stages - Acquisition, Assessment, and Management - and describes each using a complete and thorough case history.
Methodology follows one patient, from her initial interview to her treatment plan and beyond, and describes in great detail the reasons, explanations, and importance of every step of the process. Highlighting Dr. hammer's focus on each patient as an individual, and the necessity of determining the true root of each condition, Methodology provides an invaluable guidebook to any practitioner of Oriental medicine. It offers a framework to allow practitioners to understand better the information they gather from patients, and multiple ways they can increase and enhance the quality and quantity of that information.
Whatever your style of medicine, you will find this book a vital companion and the key to many of the puzzles of practice.
Get Started with COM
If you would like to embark upon a rewarding journey into the fascinating world of COM, please subscribe to Dr. Hammer’s series of twelve Lessons. They are completely free of charge and are a compelling and informative education on the wonders of this healing system.
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