Refuah Pharmacy

November 24, 2022

A Place of Wholeness and Healing

B. Weinberg

It’s that time of year again, when the last of the multicolored leaves have been trampled underfoot. The chill in the air penetrates our bones as we pile on the layers. The comfort of our couch and a hot cup of tea has never seemed so enticing.

The glorious summer days are but a memory. Winter is fast approaching, and with it, the season of flu and colds which seem to settle in some families, keeping kids and adults home and under the weather for weeks at a time.

It’s at this time of year that the urgent care centers and pediatrician’s offices are full to capacity and some supermarkets are out of Kleenex tissues. Tea and Tylenol are two of the most popular items on the “menu.”

But it isn’t just those chronic ear infections or near-constant strep throats that are the hallmarks of winter. There are the regular aches and pains, random muscle stiffness, chronic headaches, and a lingering malaise that seems to envelop us as the season’s dreariness encroaches. Perhaps we’re struggling with elevated blood sugar or soaring cholesterol that we can’t seem to keep under control, no matter how hard we try. Or we are determined to go to bed on time, but our worries keep us twisting and turning under the covers until dawn breaks, leaving us with no strength to start the new day.

So we go to the doctor, get a prescription for what ails us, and try to shuffle along as best as we can. Just get through each day becomes our mantra.

What if there is another way? What if we can wake up each morning bursting with energy, without the chronic muscle aches or stuffy nose or stiff wrists from sitting at the computer for too many hours?

What if our children can easily fall asleep and remain asleep through the night, waking up bright eyed and bushy-tailed, with no ear infections or colds that keep circulating, keeping us home from work for days on end?

It’s high time we meet Isaac, the nutrition guru who has amassed quite a following in the past decade plus. Or perhaps you met him already.

Getting to the root

Humble, soft-spoken, and incredibly self-effacing, Isaac, the head of Refuah’s vitamin department, insists he’s nothing special—he’s just doing his job. Yet his legions of admirers from the Lakewood community and beyond—the tens of thousands he’s helped over the years—say otherwise.

A native of Uzbekistan, Isaac Shimanov is blessed with an innate understanding of humanity. He gets people, gets what’s troubling them, and has unerring instincts of how to help the human body rejuvenate.

Isaac has spent decades studying medicine. He understands not only what is bothering you, but goes one step deeper to the hows and whys behind the symptoms. Working in tandem with your pediatrician or general doctor’s recommendations, with incredible patience and compassion, Isaac helps you understand what your body truly needs for optimal functioning and how to treat the root of the problem instead of the symptoms. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

A legend at Lakewood’s Refuah Pharmacies, Isaac spends his days traveling between the three locations, guiding, advising, and consulting with adults and children of all ages and stages, explaining what ails them and how to fix it.

“Our Creator has given us the knowledge and wisdom to help our bodies heal,” says Isaac, who is as passionate about health as he is humble and refined. “It’s foolish to just pop Tylenol or take a sleeping pill to deal with the symptoms, which recur constantly no matter how many over-the-counter medications we throw at them. So much depends on understanding what’s really happening and how to fix what is broken.”

Conventional meets holistic

Isaac has a rare blend of intuition and experience, which makes him a pleasure to speak with. He has studied holistic medicine for years and can size up a situation at a glance, going to the true root of the issue which has often eluded many professionals. He works in tandem with the medical profession, encouraging people to take their medications and visit their doctors, while backing up their prescriptions with vitamins and supplements for maximum benefit.

“Today, a growing number of doctors recommend that their patients take supplements, such as vitamins and natural remedies, along with their medications, having seen firsthand the tremendous difference it makes,” says Isaac. “I have utmost respect for our doctors and speak with them all the time. They often marvel at the difference between patients who just take antibiotics and those who are on a regimen of probiotics along with the amoxicillin, a double whammy which knocks out the illness in record time.”

Isaac explains that the typical fast food dinner and reliance on energy bars and sugary drinks floods our bodies with too much sugar and processed carbs. Over time, this creates chronic health issues such as pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, IBS, and other debilitating conditions.

“A balanced diet, getting enough rest, steady exercise, and of course, a positive attitude are all so important,” he explains. “That is why my typical recommendation involves so much more than a jar of supplements. It’s easy to pop a pill, but if you want to see lasting changes, you need to put in the effort.”

Sometimes all that’s needed is a minor lifestyle change—joining a gym, taking a brisk walk every day, or going to sleep an hour earlier. Eating a healthy diet that is rich in nutrients and cutting out junk food can make a world of a difference. Learning how to deal with our daily stresses instead of letting them wear us down will give us a brand-new lease on life.

The man behind the products

The health food industry is not just an outlier anymore. Today, it’s a mainstream market to the tune of $5 billion a year, and it keeps growing. There is an endless amount of supplements and herbal medicines out there, each promising miracle cures with permanent results and no lasting side effects.

On the flip side, the industry not as closely regulated as medications are, which makes us vulnerable to the effects of the companies’ heavy advertising. In fact, a groundbreaking study in Canada led by Steven Newmaster, botanical director of the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, found that herbal products often don’t match the information on their labels. In a test of 44 popular supplements, a third of the products had only a faint trace of the main ingredient, and many had damaging “fillers” that negated their effects!

With such sobering warnings, how can we ensure that our dollars are well spent, that we are not merely investing in “snake oil” or some dangerous mirage?

That’s where trust comes into the picture. Just as you might hesitate to buy an expensive diamond necklace from a jeweler you never met, because chances are you’ll be taken for a ride, so too, it is crucial to know and trust the nutritionist who stands behind the products they sell.

Trust and knowledge are what bring so many Lakewood families to Refuah Pharmacy not only for lingering common illnesses such as flu or strep, but for more serious issues as well. Isaac has helped many women dealing with unexplained infertility and other issues, treated countless patients with diabetes, helped children consumed with anxiety and fears, and enabled people struggling with depression to get out of bed and resume their active lives.

He is familiar with our community and the various rhythms of daily life. “On Chanukah, people are dealing with heartburn from too many latkes, while our most common interventions during the Purim season are to treat hangovers. Before Rosh Hashanah, the chazzanim come to sweeten their voice, and on Pesach many people are struggling with digestion issues due to the matzahs.

“Then there are the year-round struggles to get a good night’s sleep, to get rid of a cold, to deal with dandruff. Our pharmacy is stocked with literally hundreds of remedies, many of them powerful combinations that we personally combine for maximum effectiveness. We don’t just sell you a potion—we actually explain how it works.”

Isaac stresses that it isn’t his own knowledge or ability but Divine assistance which enables him to treat so many conditions effectively. “I have found, time and again, that a ‘random’ person will bring something for me to read or let me know about an uncommon condition, and then a day or two later, I will meet someone who is struggling with the same symptoms!” Isaac shares. “It’s almost as if G-d was preparing the cure before the condition.”

One of the most pervasive and damaging conditions is also one of the most popular. In fact, it is so common that it is hard to find someone who has not been affected by stress and its sister ailment, anxiety. Let’s face it: life is challenging. We’re dealing with a lot of stuff, and the body absorbs our cues.

“Stress causes the human body to fall apart,” Isaac explains. “A person’s state of mind, and their emotional well-being, is the most important thing to focus on. We are living in a wonderful world that G-d created, where the cure for what hurts us is readily available in nature. We have the ability to restore our health and vitality through the proper vitamins, a healthy diet, restorative rest, and a positive attitude, which is the most important remedy of all.”