EDITOR’S NOTE: Most Americans know very little about Traditional Chinese Medicine. Across the globe, a substantial percentage of people rely on various forms of Eastern medicinal practices, including Traditional Chinese Medicine. Texas Health and Science University (THSU), based in Austin, teaches a number of Traditional Chinese Medicine practices, so we asked Roberto Guerrero, a graduate of the school and local practitioner who is now the academic dean at the new San Antonio branch campus, to share his own introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine and his experience as a student at THSU.
What attracted you to Traditional Chinese Medicine?
I first became interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) because of my involvement in the martial arts. At the time, I saw TCM as something esoteric that I would someday be interested in exploring. As luck would have it, I hurt my back and was diagnosed with a spinal disc herniation. A few weeks went by, the anti-inflammatory medications weren’t providing any relief, and I was still in pain. A martial arts instructor called me to check on my absence from class, and I told him about my condition. He suggested I give acupuncture a try. That same day I picked up the telephone book and made an appointment for my first acupuncture treatment. My first appointment was an entirely new experience, but at the end of that hour I felt so much better. After three more appointments, I was back to my normal activities. My curiosity had been awakened, and I wanted to know all I could about this ancient medicine that at the time seemed so foreign to me.
What is it like to learn Traditional Chinese Medicine here in the U.S.?
I had been doing a lot of reading on Traditional Chinese Medicine, and I knew that I wanted to study at a school where the classics like Synopsis of the Golden Chamber and Warm Disease Theory were taught. When my wife and I decided that we were going to study TCM, we started visiting schools. We didn’t want to study a westernized version of Chinese medicine, and we felt that the inclusion of the classics was a good indication of the schools adhesion to traditional studies. At the end, only the Texas Health and Science University (THSU) in Austin was a good fit for us. It is wonderful that THSU now has a branch campus right here in San Antonio!
Would you consider your career in Traditional Chinese Medicine successful?
Success means different things to different people. I believe anybody can have success in anything if you are willing to work hard enough and long enough. My wife and I are at a point on our lives where, rather than talking about the monetary rewards, we gauge our success by the number of lives we can touch. Through our practice we have been able to touch many lives. Traditional Chinese Medicine is the kind of medicine that you share first with your family, then with your friends, then with everyone else who is willing to listen. Every morning when I leave for work, instead of saying “Have a good day,” my wife says, “Have fun!” In my book, that is success.
What do you suggest for those interested in learning more about Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Studying Traditional Chinese Medicine, for a westerner like myself, can be challenging. There are a lot of new terms and philosophical theories that you must memorize and learn to apply. But once you get passed that, TCM is a very commonsensical form of medicine. If you are interested in TCM and you are the kind of person who wants to make a difference through your work, I’d say that you have come to the right place. People need and are looking for what we have to offer; they just don’t know it is called Traditional Chinese Medicine. As a practitioner, I can say that we need more people with the passion to help others who can share the healing and healthful benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Roberto Guerrero, L. Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist who owns Alamo Acucare in San Antonio. He also serves as the academic dean and teaches acupuncture classes at the Texas Health and Science University’s San Antonio branch campus. He can be reached at 210-641-1417. For more information about the Texas Health and Science University’s San Antonio campus, visit www.thsu.edu.