Traditional Chinese Medicine – A Balance of East and West [transcript] [audio]

Guest: Dr. Ivan Figueroa-Otero

Presenter: Neal Howard

Guest Bio: Retired pediatric surgeon, Dr. Ivan Figueroa-Otero, is certified in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. He is the author of the award-winning School of Life trilogy: Spirituality 101: For the Dropouts of The School of Life, Spirituality 12: For the Disconnected from The School of Life, and Spirituality 103: The Forgiveness Code. Dr. Figueroa focuses his holistic medicine practice in the use of medical acupuncture treatments, as developed in Traditional Chinese Medicine. He uses needles and laser acupuncture for kids and adults alike in the San Juan, Puerto Rico area. His goal is to help patients in their search for total balance, in order to achieve physical, mental & spiritual wellness. This in turn stimulates the reprogramming of their lifestyles, nutrition habits and stress control skills.

Segment Overview: Ivan Figueroa-Otero, MD talks about his holistic medicine practice and the use of medical acupuncture treatments, as developed in Traditional Chinese Medicine in order to help patients in their search for total balance, in order to achieve physical, mental & spiritual wellness.


Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. Thank you so much for joining us. Our guest today is Retired Pediatric Surgeon Ivan Figueroa. He’s certified in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture and he’s going to tell us his story, a very, very interesting background. Welcome to Health Professional Radio, Dr. Ivan Figueroa.

Dr. Ivan Figueroa: Thank you Neal. It’s great to be with you.

N: Give us a little bit of background about yourself. I know that you are as I said a retired pediatric surgeon, also certified in traditional Chinese medicine. Talk a little bit about your background as a surgeon and then the transition to traditional Chinese medicine.

F: As you grow in life, I was telling some friends of mine, “Your life’s purpose changes as you grow in more knowledge. The more abundant your knowledge becomes, the more ample your mind becomes, the more open to alternative things.” And as a pediatric surgeon, I was pretty fixed into what I was doing. I was very good. There was a canal one of the best in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was in practice. I did a lot of great things for my kids and children, yet during that period of time, there was something I was missing. So now you’re looking for that goal or purpose and joy moment and I still had it missing. That’s how it started. Turned around. I grew older. I started opening up to complementary types of medicine since I studied Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine is very global, very holistic, very integrative. Then it mainly changed my view of the way I looked at medicine. I do not see it as opposing views. I see it as complementary views, because the problem, medicine is a knowledge that accumulates to history in many ways. The tendency to modern medicine is to discard whatever the old things are and then just utilize what science-based medicine occurs. As we reviewed it, we know how many times we’ve been wrong about this. I’m not going to go into details but the past and the thing done in the past can be integrated, we will research them and find the results for them. So basically, I was able to get the best to work. I tried to think and I tell my patients, “Let’s go for the less complex, the less expensive, a way to bridges. So I’ll give you the choices – you can grow this way, the quicker way, or surgery or whatever it is or you can try, give it a chance.”. For example a person with a knee problem, a meniscus problem in the knee, the tendency now is to go rapidly into Arthroscopy. I reviewed the literature and they really know evidence-based medicine that Arthroscopy literally does solve the problem. There’s a placebo effect in the surgery. So I tell my patients before you go to that, give it a chance that acupuncture, change in nutrition, exercise to strengthen your muscles and see what happens. You have nothing to lose.

N: Now you were named “Holistic Physician of the Year” back in 2011 by National Awakenings Magazine.

F: That is the fun part of my life. I was hyped in surgery at 61 years old and I started practicing alternative complementary medicine. And then at 70 years old, I got a glimpse as if I had to do something else. I need something else, something else to challenge me. So I went into writing. And then I thought I’m going to share my life story, what sinked in throughout the years. Those experiences are mainly opened up to different views of thinking. I wanted to share my life. When I shared that, like the trilogy called the School of Life trilogy – A Review for the Final Exam. So then I started writing in different levels, in a non-sectarian manner, because I believe God is bigger than most religions and when I think about God, I think about a God that’s bigger, bigger than my own views. So I’m ample to be wrong when I write but I’ve served my views. Do you understand? So then I started writing about that life book. It’s my jewel in the crown. The title of the book was ‘Spirituality 103 The Forgiveness Code: Finding The Light In Our Shadows’, which basically covers the way to get rid of guilt. Guilt is one of the most infectious of diseases and you’re hurt deeply and very silently and it would carry in a subconscious mind up to the present. I’ve managed to find a way to decode that guilt, to restructure and to forgive it. Remember in the Bible, “God forgive them for they do not know what they do.”, and these are really people who were mistreating Him and Jesus says that very clearly. So I understand and the Buddha says the same thing, suffering is just increment of the reality of your own life. And we never judge anybody without really putting yourself in their shoes. So I think the message is clear. There’s nobody who wants to make you guilty. We make mistakes to learn. So I call the expenses of suffering that I’ve accumulated in my life as lessons of love. So that’s the way I write my note.

N: Now when it comes to forgiveness, the power of forgiveness, how can that improve our physical health? You said guilt is one of those things that we carry but is it forgiveness, other people forgiving us or us forgiving other people or a combination of the two?

F: No. The most important is for yourself, because you generate your own damage to your body and would go down to the autonomic system. Subconscious level – this is the behavioral, autonomic, sympathetic, parasympathetic, so there’s a connection and it creates a lot of problems in between GI – gastrointestinal, cardiac. So we hurt ourselves subconsciously by those emotional neurohormones. So basically, the forgiveness is we have to understand that our guilt, we made our mistakes, so that we can do better. Just look at your life. I’m sorry to say, go back in your life 20, 30 years and we have so many, at least I do. I mean that we do. So many things to feel ashamed about that it hurt me for many years and I could not get them out. So I met with psychologist or a friend or a third person to let them out. It was only my own bravery to look at my own shadows and find the beautiful light that I kept hitting away by my view. And that’s what I write about in my book and has been very well received by reviews.

N: You’re still in your role as an educator trying to integrate traditional Chinese acupuncture, also get that into medical schools, how is that going? How is that being received?

F: Very up hill. I’m also a member of the board of medical acupuncture. I’ll give you an exam so, doctors, what they do is take a national exam and I’m a teacher at the local at the point of course certified by physicians. Yet, there’s no way you can get this information into medical schools. It’s a wall of resistance of ignorance and fear. So I haven’t done very much and I’m not going to try to change the system. I just teach the guy who’s in front of me, the physicians but the guy can teach in that class. I’ll influence him with that and I’ll teach him whatever I’m sharing with you. I do not want to change the world. I want to change myself and by example as I would, people free themselves. That’s the way I think about the way we should be. And I’m less picky about myself that I worked as a surgeon – great, good practice surgeon. I was a flowing garden in medicine and I did research in everything but I was really not very happy with myself. When you expect too much of ourselves in general, physicians, surgeons whoever we are, I think they teach us that we have to be perfect, purposed and then talk about patients who received this purpose, right?

N: Now where can our listeners get a copy of your series?

F: The easiest way to get my books is go to Amazon and look me up, Ivan Figueroa and my book the Spirituality 103 The Forgiveness Code, Find the Light in Our Shadows. Right now, I have a special, one of the e-books for $0.99. So this is for people who love to read e-books. You can find my book and you can download it before it goes away from the special. Another way to get it and know about myself, go to my author page which is like my name Then you can see my life story, the rest of my book, the trilogy which is a beautiful way to read. I’ll be coming up with my 4th book pretty soon. I’m not going to say too much about it. We haven’t decided to announce it yet but I’ll be coming for my 4th book. And from then, I’ll go to the 2nd series for this is 200 series. I just finished the 100, 101, 1.2 and 103. Now, I’ll start with 200 series in which more of that stuff. I’ll be talking about the cancer in our genes. I’ll give you a glimpse. The cancer in our genes – well, that’s about coming up.

N: Great. I’m looking forward to talking with you again when that book comes out. We’ve been speaking with award-winning Amazon best-selling doctor turned author as he offers his prescription to living a life of health, success and forgiveness is Dr. Ivan Figueroa. Thank you so much for coming and I’m looking forward to more conversations with you.

F: Thank you very much. It’s great. I’m glad to be with you.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. Transcripts and audio of the program are available at and also at You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, listen in and download at SoundCloud and be sure to visit our affiliates page at

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