The East West School of Planetary Herbology is the oldest continuously running herbal blog in the country.

Dr. Michael Tierra

Herbalist Michael Tierra in the Garden
Another Use for Ragweed: Treating Coughs Caused by Post Nasal Drip
In a previous blog, I described ragweed as one of the most notorious herbs known for causing severe allergies and, at the same time, taken internally to relieve ...
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Sugarless Herbal Cranberry Relish
The winter holiday season is fast approaching with all foods we all look forward each year. As an herbalist, I like to create new delectables that are not ...
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Perspectives on Devil’s Claw from a South African Herbalist
The African continent is a treasure trove of medicinal herbs. Recently Lesley and I visited South Africa first as tourists, to experience the vast Kruger National Game Reserve ...
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Is He Shou Wu Safe?
The root of he shou wu (Polygonum multiflorum), also known as “fleece flower,” has been popularly in use for centuries as a rejuvenative longevity tonic as well as ...
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Breathe Away Your Stress and Anxiety
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”  -- Thich Nhat Hanh “Take a breather,” or “Slow down and take a ...
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Loquat: The Cough Killer
Loquat leaf (Eriobotrya japonica et spp.), is named pi pa ye in the traditional Chinese materia medica. The name of the loquat fruit, pi pa, references its resemblance ...
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Lemongrass: An Overlooked Medicinal Herb
There are so many reasons that otherwise great botanicals are overlooked for their therapeutic uses. One example is echinacea, arguably one of the most popular medicinal herbs in ...
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Garlic and Ginger, not Echinacea, for Colds
The secret to successfully treating the common cold and cough is to differentiate the type based on Traditional Chinese diagnostics (TCM) principles. Chinese medicine differentiates between three main ...
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Mahanayaran Oil for Pain and Injury
Are you ready to hear about a medicinal named after a supreme god? Because of its rejuvenative healing properties Mahanarayana tailam (oil) is honored with the name of ...
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Goji Berries for Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative condition affecting the central part of the retina (the macula). It is the leading cause of loss of vision in people ...
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Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang: A formula for chronic fatigue and long Covid
In this discussion, TCM organs describe functions that do not perfectly correspond to what we know regarding the Western anatomical organs. In traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qi ...
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Shen Qu: An Extraordinary Digestive Aid
Shenqu, called by various names “massa fermentata,” “Chinese yogurt,” and mysterious ferment,” was first recorded in the Yaoxing Bencao (ca. 600 ACE.). It is one of the best ...
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Better than Turmeric? Guggul for Pain
Of the hundreds of herbs Ayurveda has to offer, guggul is one of the most important ones to add to your toolkit.  Guggul and guggul-based formulas are among ...
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Bacopa: The Herb You Don’t Want to Forget
Research has shown that regularly taking Bacopa monnieri for eight to twelve weeks can improve your memory. “Nootropic” is a pharmaceutical term first used in 1972 to describe a pharmaceutical ...
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Triphala and Ghee for Dry Eyes and Other Eye Problems
Triphala consists of three phytonutrient-rich fruits Emblica officinalis (Amla, or Amalaki) also known as Phyllanthus emblica; Terminalia bellerica (Vibhitaki); and Terminalia chebula (Haritaki). Each of these eliminates all types of ...
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Eating Garden Weeds 1 of 2: Lamb’s Quarters
It seems that each year it is getting increasingly more difficult to depend on my garden to produce enough to barely pay the water-shortage-in-Northern-California water bill. And yet, ...
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Book Review: Scheid and Ellis’ “Handbook of Formulas in Chinese Medicine”
“It is quite important to know what kind of a patient the disease has got as to know what kind of disease the patient has got.” – ...
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Oatmeal Qi Tonic Porridge
A selection of Chinese tonic herbs The Importance of Qi in the Body Qi means “life energy.” The source of Qi in the body is food, air and ...
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Treating Gum Disease with Astringent Herbs
Unfortunately, too many people think about their teeth only in crisis stage. A common pre-crisis symptom is receding gums. This is a widespread condition when the gums pull ...
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TCM and Western Clinical Tongue Diagnosis
When was the last time you visited a doctor and the first thing asked of you was to show your tongue? Western medical practice of tongue diagnosis as ...
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Protection for You and Yours: A Holiday Gift Idea
Every December we try to offer some possibilities for gifts you can make or buy to enhance your holidays. It's our version of Oprah’s “favorite things.” This year ...
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Ashwagandha, Milk, Energy, and Sleep
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is described as a rasayana in Ayurvedic medicine. In Ayurveda, rasayanas are used as Traditional Chinese medicine uses tonic herbs, and they correspond to the ...
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Draksha: Ayurvedic Grape Wine Medicine
Asava and arishta, meaning “distillate” in Sanskrit, are two naturally fermented alcoholic extracts used for making Ayurvedic wine medicines. Draksha in Sanskrit means “grape” and draksharista therefore means ...
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Huckleberry Fruit and Leaf for Diabetes
Many years ago, while visiting Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I happened upon a local herb shop.  While perusing jars of dry herbs, I noticed one that contained huckleberry leaves ...
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Coix: An Underutilized Medicinal Food
“Let your medicine be your food and your food, your medicine.” The sovereign dictum of Hippocrates is aptly epitomized by the use of Coix (Coix lacrymi-jobi, also known ...
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So Much More than “Swamp Water”: Liu Wei Di Huang Wan
My acupuncture teacher, Dr. Miriam Lee, said she never studied herbs but she had a very busy practice in San Jose, treating up to 100 patients a day ...
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Can homeopathy stave off harmful effects of vaccinations?
Many mothers are afraid to give their babies and young children vaccinations. Pro and con arguments on both sides make for heated debates. To help with the decision ...
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Rediscovering Boneset for Influenza
In the midst of the current pandemic, I'm surprised how little mention there is of boneset, once considered the number one remedy for influenza and deemed a ‘miracle ...
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Boost Your Immunity This Flu Season
So far, 14,000 people have died and 250,000 people have been hospitalized during the 2019-2020 flu season, according to preliminary estimates from the CDC, which estimates that influenza was associated with more than ...
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Saffron: An Herb Worth Its Weight in Gold, Part 1 of 2
Recently Lesley and I toured Jerusalem and various parts of Arabia featured in the Bible. One of our stops was the country of Oman, where the best quality ...
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Balthazar’s Gift: Frankincense
Have you ever wondered what the Holy Family did with the three gifts brought to them from the far-off lands in the East by, according to tradition, the ...
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Healing Soup at the Award-Winning East West Free Clinic
“Let food be your medicine.” -- Hippocrates I founded the East West Free Natural Health Clinic in Santa Cruz, California, in July 2014. It consists of a group ...
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Horny Goat Weed: Herbal Viagra for Men and Women
It is virtually inevitable when lecturing on herbs that a man might surreptitiously take me aside and ask for an herb to improve sex. The first herb that ...
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Herbs and Acupoints for Better Sleep
Sleep is a period of reduced activity where we leave waking consciousness to drift into a land of dreams and deep rest. It is a restorative process that ...
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Cat’s Claw, Dragon’s Blood and Quassia in Costa Rica
On our recent second visit to Costa Rica, we re-experienced the wondrous biodiversity of its plants, exotic wildlife, volcanoes, and hot springs but also a rare insight into ...
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Healing Breath: Remedies for Stress
“The perfected breathe all the way to their heels, unlike ordinary folk who breathe only as far as their throats.” Zhuangzi, 3rd century BCE[1]  “Take a breather,” or ...
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Lemon Balm: For More Than Just Depression
The renowned 16th century English herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper, described the use of lemon balm for depression by quoting Serapio who said the herb  “caus(es) the mind and heart ...
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Amla: Super Antioxidant Fruit of India
Oxidation in the body is a natural process caused when wandering electrons called free radicals react with other molecules. Oxidation has both positive and negative consequences. A positive ...
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Korean Hand Therapy
Korean Hand Therapy (KHT) was discovered by Tai Woo Yoo, OMD, PhD, a South Korean acupuncturist, in 1971, when he found himself unable to sleep with a headache ...
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Hawthorn Oxymel
Oxymel is one of the oldest herbal preparations. The word is derived from the Latin oxmeli meaning “acid and honey” and indeed it is extracted and made with ...
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Mung Bean for Hypertension
Mung Bean for Hypertension Hypertension is a major risk indicator for heart attack and stroke. In the United States, approximately 75 million people (29%) have high blood pressure ...
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Nutmeg: for Insomnia, Anxiety and Better Intimacy
Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), a common kitchen spice with a warming, spicy energy, is used to add flavor to desserts and hot drinks. Called jaiphala in Ayurveda and rou ...
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Chyawanprash: A Delicious, Nutritious Herbal Tonic
Once when comparing relative merits of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine with an Ayurvedic doctor in India, the good doctor acknowledged both systems as having merit ...
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Common Misconceptions about Herbal Medicine
Recently, someone wrote me in response to an article I wrote on the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) principle of dui yao, a principle of formulation where one might ...
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Fish Oil Not What You Expected? Try Herbs for Cardiovascular Health
A recent article published in the New York Times has questioned the value of one of the sacred cows of the supplement industry: fish oil. This is based ...
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I Tried Everything for Shingles. Here’s What Worked.
For the last 3 1/2 weeks, I’ve been suffering from shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. It is a terrible condition. There seem to be many cures and treatments for ...
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Salmonella contamination of kratom
Recently the CDC announced that some 40 cases of salmonella associated with individuals who took certain batches of kratom. I’ve checked many of the sources I buy kratom ...
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Remembering Victoria Fortner: Herbalist, Healer, Friend
Victoria Fortner, herbalist and artist, was a beloved elder and member of the American Herbalists Guild. She passed away nearly four years ago from cancer in Potosi, Missouri, ...
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Intranasal Calamus Oil: Effective Treatment for Down Syndrome and Autism
I have been treating a young man with Down Syndrome mostly with acupuncture over the course of years. His mother has him in a home with other people ...
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How to Prevent Flu with Herbs
An old Chinese folk adage “Trying to cure disease after it has begun is like trying to forge weapons while the battle is underway” carries the same meaning ...
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What’s a Tonic?
"Tonic" in TCM specifically refers to herbs that:
  1. increase Qi, usually through enhanced absorption and mitochondrial replication
  2. nourish Blood, usually by regulating red and ...
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A Recipe for Chinese Three Treasure Tonic Tea
While acknowledging all the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles of healing, a branch of TCM called Taoist Traditional Chinese Medicine (TTCM) does not emphasize the use of herbs ...
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Herbal Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis
  I really like when I can use a standard protocol for a disease and receive consistently good results. This is especially true when it is a condition ...
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Kratom: Uses, Dosage, Administration, and Contraindications
See Part 1 of my series on kratom here. I work at a local free clinic alongside other students and colleagues dispensing healing advice, free herbs and acupuncture ...
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Kratom: The Herbal Pain-Relieving Answer to the Opioid Epidemic?
As of the beginning of August 2017, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published notice of the state of the opioid epidemic in America. They estimated that of ...
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Not All Sugar Is Bad: Glucose for Your Brain, Nerves, Heart and Muscles
Could you ever imagine yourself as being ‘sugar deprived?’  Do you find yourself unable to sleep soundly throughout the night, getting up frequently to urinate, feeling exhausted ...
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Tinnitus Treatments by East West Teacher Holly Hutton
What's that sound? Why won't it go away? Tinnitus, commonly known as "ringing in the ears" and the perception of sound where no external source of sound is ...
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Treating Arthritis, Lower Back and Joint Pains
Arthritis, joint and back pain is so prevalent throughout the world that there really is no point to describe how many sufferers there are. It is safe to say ...
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The Three Levels of Healing
In my previous blog on treating H. pylori-induced stomach inflammation with herbs, I touch briefly on a fundamental difference between conventional and complementary medicine: namely, that conventional medicine prefers ...
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Herbs for H. pylori and gastric inflammation
Recently, a colleague sent me the following question: A friend in Canada tested positive for H. pylori bacteria. Of course, the Western doctor he goes to wanted to ...
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Two Acupoints for the Price of One: GB 20 and Krikatika Marma for Allergies, Headache and More
Acupressure applied to Gall Bladder 20. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are 361 charted acupuncture points on the body. Acupuncturists generally recognize any active point ...
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An Unforgettable Educational and Cultural Experience: East West Students in China
Michael Tierra with a view of the Huangshan mountain range. The East West Herb Course and TCMZone organized a special training for our advanced and graduate East West ...
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Tonic Herb Master Ron Teeguarden Visits East West Seminar
by Beverly Jennings, RH (AHG), MT, East West School of Planetary Herbology Graduate East West students were fortunate to have the opportunity to spend an entire day with renowned herbalist Ron ...
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Where Music and Herbalism Meet: Notes on “Arcana”
“Northwest Passage” The amazing music of composer, Alex Shapiro Featuring the world premiere of ARCANA: SUITE FOR PIANO  commissioned by and dedicated to and performed by Michael Tierra, ...
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Curing Pills: Don’t Leave Home without Them
The most widely used Chinese herbal formula comes with the boastful name, “Curing Pills.” In North America and Europe any herbal preparation with such a name would be ...
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Triphala and Elderberry for IBS
My clinical experience using the Ayurvedic formula Triphala is extensive, based on literally thousands of cases over the course or 25 years. It is only within the last ...
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Calm Your Mind, Silence Your Thoughts with Bindi Tapping
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a little spot on our head that we could tap to clear our mind of troublesome thoughts, fears, anxieties or ...
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Colds, Flu and Fevers: Just Sweat It Out
One of my favorite movies, Where the Wild Lilies Bloom (1974), tells the story of a family of five Appalachian children who use herbal folk healing they learned ...
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East West Free Clinic Update: Bleeding and cupping treatment for severe back pain
Michael Tierra applies cups to a patient
with severe back pain at the East West Free
Clinic in Santa Cruz. We have encountered many extreme acute chronic conditions ...
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Untangling Yin Deficiency with Heat
As we continue this blog series on Yin Deficiency (with Heat), I want to make clear that the description of Heat hereby discussed is confined to the organic ...
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The Concept of “Heat” in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Heat is an extremely common condition in Traditional Chinese Medical Diagnosis. In Ayurveda Heat can be described as pitta and there are two broad classifications: Pitta prakriti describes ...
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Hawthorn Fruit Wine: An Herb for Healing and Opening the Heart
How beautiful in autumn shadows, the blood red berries of hawthorn are!  Drooping in small clusters along thorny branches they transform the final seasonal rays of the sun ...
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Faith, Herbs or Placebo?
In desperation, a family with strong ‘old world’ roots brought to my office their beloved father, a humble Italian man who was diagnosed at Stanford hospital with late ...
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Studies substantiating the energetic properties of herbs based on flavors and organ meridians
Can the claims of traditional herbal medicine be substantiated scientifically? Because trials are expensive and because there is no profit in sight for researching and bringing to market ...
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A Better Way to Reap the Phenomenal Benefits of Noni
Mention “noni” (Morinda citrifolia) to anyone who has tasted the fermented fruit, and the conversation is over. Some people would rather die than have to ingest fermented  -- ...
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Introducing: the East West Free Herbal Clinic
East West Free Clinic herbalists Maureen Flash, Erin Massengale, Michael McEvoy, Beverly Jennings. I have always had the desire to be of service to the poor and indigent ...
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New York Attorney’s Botched Attempt to Regulate the Herbal Industry
A much-touted recent investigation by the New York State Attorney general’s office claimed national store brand herbal supplements sold at GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart in fact did ...
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The Low-FODMAP Elimination Diet
My last two blog posts attempted to answer two questions: 1. Is it really necessary for all or even the majority of the 18 million people who are eliminating ...
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Perceived Gluten Sensitivity and Traditional Herbal Approaches
Gluten sensitivity and the TCM Spleen The unique concept of the ‘Spleen’ in TCM encompasses far more than the standard Western physiological organ. The TCM Spleen is a ...
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Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity — Fact or Fiction?
12/1/2014 In my 40 years of involvement as an herbalist in the natural health movement, I’ve seen a panoply of questionable diets, wonder-cures and pseudo-diseases (what herbalist, David ...
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Cayenne: Another Rude, Crude, Unsung Hero
Like garlic, cayenne pepper (Capsicum annum) is one of those rude, crude herbs that has staunch friends and enemies. Regarded as a virtual panacea by many, others find ...
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Ebola and Traditional Chinese Medicine: Nothing New Under the Sun?
While I don’t think it is appropriate for any herbalist or alternative practitioner to claim to be an expert in treating such an obviously dangerous disease as Ebola, ...
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