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Dr. Joseph Samuels/Oriental Medicine

I will be giving a public talk on Chinese herbology at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at the YMCA’s Healthy Living Center Auditorium, 4127 W. Norvell Bryant Highway, Lecanto. This talk will give all participants the opportunity to ask questions.

The traditional Chinese pharmacy is by far the oldest, largest and most complex medical pharmacy in the world, containing literally millions of different medicinals. The Chinese culture mastered herbology thousands of years before this country was formed and we are very fortunate here in the United Stated to have access to this medical knowledge.

Although it is not known exactly when the first medicinals were created, through artifacts and ancient texts the scholars of the East believe this medical science began approximately 5,000 years ago.

For the first 3,000 years in its history, there was an astonishing amount of experimentation performed by many different physicians in many different regions throughout the East. The physicians of this period experimented with just about everything they could get their hands on. Substances ranging from parts of plants to parts of animals and everything in between.

By the end of this period, the traditional Chinese pharmacy was for the most part perfected. As far as the last 2,000 years are concerned, traditional Chinese medicine has virtually remained unchanged.

Safety is an important part of herbology. Taking an herbal formula just because you went into a store that sells herbs and the person behind the counter said you should take this herb for your medical condition, or because the product is all natural, does not mean in any way it is going to be safe or effective for you.

On the contrary, this is very dangerous behavior. Herbs are just as potent as Western pharmaceutical drugs and under certain conditions can be just as dangerous if given to a person with the wrong constitution.

I see examples of this every week. A new patient will come into my office and say this herb was recommended to me by so and so, or I did research on the internet and they said I should take this herb for my medical condition. The problem with this thought process, from an Eastern perspective of medicine, is that everyone has a different constitution. Maybe a patient has a medical condition that would prevent them from taking a specific herb or maybe a patient is taking a Western pharmaceutical drug that would interact with an herb in a negative way.

Here in the state of Florida, doctors of Oriental medicine are primary health care physicians who specialize in traditional Chinese pharmacology. They are also required to study Western pharmaceutical drug interactions and thoroughly understand how to combine these two medical sciences in a safe and effective manner.

Remember, if you or a family member would like to incorporate acupuncture or any other modality of Oriental medicine into your health care plan, always make sure the only person who treats you is a doctor of Oriental medicine.

Dr. Joseph Samuels is medical director of Citrus Alternative Medicine, one of the few nationally certified diplomates of acupuncture in central Florida and a leading authority on oriental medicine in Citrus, Marion and Hernando counties. Citrus Alternative Medicine is at 2639 W. Norvell Bryant Highway in Lecanto. For more information, call 352-746-5669 or visit the website at www.citrusalternativemedicine.com.

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