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Meet Christine Chiu of TRU Leaf Labs – Pharmacist Formulated CBD Products in Carlsbad

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christine Chiu.

Christine, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a Clinical Pharmacist, mother of two daughters, and a small business owner of Price Rite Pharmacy and TRU Leaf Labs – Pharmacist Formulated CBD Products. I have been a passionate healthcare professional for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Los Angeles, then attended UC San Francisco, where I graduated with a Doctorate in Pharmacy. During my time at graduate school, a series of externships at UC San Diego Medical Center brought me to San Diego. I completely fell in love with the city and have been calling it my home ever since.

Has it been a smooth road?
Like most people, my life has been a set of challenges. I became a single mother taking care of two little girls, working full/time, running my own retail pharmacy without any physical, financial or emotional support from any family members. There were many nights I would cry myself to sleep then put on a smiling face for my girls in the morning. But I’m proud to say I have never missed any of their activities or school plays.

In my profession, I also endured many challenges. My previous pharmacy was located in La Mesa and we had countless break-ins. The last straw was when we were held up twice in one week by the same perpetrator. The saddest part was that he was later found by the police after overdosing on the drugs he stole. He was a US Veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq and had struggled with PTSD. I believe the robbery was a desperate attempt to self-medicate and numb himself. This news broke my heart as another example of how our healthcare system can leave those less fortunate without the resources to care for mental health. While I can’t go back in time to help him, I try my best every day to better the lives of my patients to the best of my ability.

After this last robbery, I moved my pharmacy to Carlsbad. In a safer neighborhood with no windows, I thought my staff and I would surely be safe, but addiction knows no bounds. We were broken into in the middle of the night and it took the perpetrators only 58 seconds to wipe out all of our controlled drugs! And now, with the COVID-19 lockdown, we can’t seem to catch a break. Big-box pharmacies are doing well but many doctors are moving towards telemedicine sending prescriptions to pharmacies close to where patients live. Our business has plummeted, but at the same time we are grateful to be able to keep our doors open.

The only thing that keeps me going is my passion for rescuing senior dogs. I now have 3: Paisley – 16-year-old Shih Tzu who comes to work with me every day, Leo – 12-year-old Corgi mix who my daughter foster failed five years ago, and Darla – 11-year-old Pitbull who is my shadow. Darla, in particular, has faced many challenges. She was terribly abused with a broken jaw that was skewed 45 degrees. Since her rescue, she has undergone a five hour reconstructive surgery and is regaining her confidence in people and love every day! These dogs, and all rescue dogs, give me and my business purpose. I am a regular volunteer and donate medication and finances to senior dog rescue organizations in San Diego.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I’ve owned Price Rite Pharmacy for over 29 years and launched TRU Leaf Labs – Pharmacist Formulated CBD Products three years ago. Both businesses are operated out of our compounding pharmacy located in Carlsbad.

The story behind TRU Leaf Labs is an interesting one. It’s a story in which education wins against a budding industry that has been riddled with misinformation, false claims, and dishonest products. We were originally approached by doctors from The Neurology Center about CBD, which at the time was widely unstudied and a mystery to the medical community. I hired another Clinical Pharmacist who poured herself into months of clinical journal research at the UC San Diego Medical Library, studying the mechanism of action and any medical research available. Together with the doctors, we began administering CBD to our patients with chronic disorders, cases where traditional medications had failed. We were amazed to see these patients improve with a brighter quality of life and for once, hope for the future. After these results, we committed ourselves to producing our own line of CBD products – based on scientific research, formulated by Clinical Pharmacists, and compounded on-site in small batches by California Certified Compound Technicians.

From there we took off! We searched across the entire US for the best-in-class organically grown hemp and purest CBD isolate (THC-free). We only purchase ingredients that are lab tested and we even do two additional rounds of testing after receiving the ingredients at an independent lab to ensure that what’s on the label is what you get. Nothing more, nothing less. We check for pesticides, heavy metals, solvents and ensure there is zero, not even a trace of THC. We also researched terpenes, which are organic all-natural extracts from flowers and plants. Terpenes have their own health benefits and are very complementary to CBD isolate. When combined together in specific ratios, they can better target specific uses such as better sleep, uplifting mood, daily wellness, helping dermal conditions, and easing pain/inflammation. We now have thousands of customers that I am in regular contact with, checking in on their progress.

We also create a medical chart for patients who are interested and notate which CBD products and dosages we have tried, what’s working, and what’s not. We love to engage with patients through CBD education, managing their progress, and titrating dosages, if needed. The results have been phenomenal.

I am most proud of two things in my life. First, I work closely with UCSD Skagg’s School of Pharmacy. We were chosen as a graduate pharmacy education program for 4th-year students, residents and fellows. Students come to learn about retail pharmacy operations with an emphasis on CBD education. This is a huge honor that not too many retail pharmacies are granted. I have also been a speaker for several talks on “all things CBD” at UCSD Pharmacy School. Education is my passion.

Second, my heart belongs to helping the helpless. We donate 10% of all pet product sales to animal rescue organizations in San Diego. For 2019, we donated to Lionel’s Legacy where I rescued Darla (@miss_darla_the_pittie). My goal is to succeed so that I can donate to not one but many organizations all over the world. My heart goes out to those fighting for abused and neglected animals day in and day out. They are the true unsung heroes!

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I think Carlsbad is a great place for any business operating in health and wellness. The Carlsbad residents are particularly interested natural products and have a great appreciation for education. They are informed consumers which, for any business with honest products that require customer education, is a dream.

Pricing:

  • Pure & Potent CBD Oil 1500 mg/750 mg $149/$99
  • Pain Support CBD Oil 750 mg $129
  • Sleep Support CBD Oil 750 mg $129
  • Mood Support CBD Oil 750 mg $129
  • Daily Support CBD Oil 750 mg $129
  • RELIEF Pain Relief Cream 500 mg $79
  • SOOTHE Itch Relief Cream 500 mg $79
  • 3AM Terpene Spray $39
  • Calm Terpene Spray $39
  • Boost Terpene Spray $39
  • Pet CBD Oil 500mg $89
  • Pet CBD Oil 150mg $59

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