An interview with Ms. Doris Rathgeber,
Founder and General Manager of Body & Soul Medical Clinics
Doris Rathgeber left her home in Germany and came to China with her husband 25 years ago. She was then deeply drawn by the charm of Traditional Chinese Medicine and enrolled at the Shanghai University for Traditional Chinese Medicine and got her bachelor’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Later, Doris founded Body & Soul Medical Clinics in Shanghai, which now has two branches in the city, offering TCM consultations and TCM treatments such as acupuncture, cupping and Tuina-massage to the patients, along with physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic, functional medicine, orthopedics, and psychological consultations. The clinics feature laboratories to perform Western diagnoses and pharmacies to give both Western and Chinese medication solutions. Doris actively joins in the promotion and education of TCM. She has given speeches in several international organizations and activities. SpaChina invited this German expert to share her insights on TCM’s role in health management.
Could you share with us your ideas about health management from the perspective of TCM?
There is an important concept in TCM, which is “Qi”. TCM’s goal is to treat “Qi” so that it runs smoothly in the body. We believe that Qi stagnation is the cause of many pains and problems of the body. There are many ways to treat “Qi”. In TCM practices, we have Tuina, cupping, moxibusion, acupuncture, TCM medicine, etc. I think spa also has great potential to help guests improve their Qi through massages and treatments and thus restore them from fatigue and other sub-health conditions. Furthermore, exercise and sports are perfect ways as well, though I don’t think modern people have enough time to work out regularly.
According to your observation in the business, is there a huge need for health improvement among Chinese people?
I think yes. Most Chinese people today are suffering sub-health conditions. Various pains are the most common cases, along with stress, sleep disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure, mental diseases and skin problems. Our clinics have been in run for 17 years, compared with the patients of the early years, patients today always have much more complicated conditions.
TCM is a great approach to treat and cure these problems. Take acupuncture for example. Acupuncture is able to solve almost every type of pain. When the needle is placed in the body, it stimulates our peripheral nerves which immediately send the message to the brain: “Please help me.” Then the brain will release three kinds of hormones each to relieve the pain, relax the body and make one feel happy. So I always call acupuncture a vaccine to combat pain. Acupuncture can treat many gynecological diseases as well.
Nowadays patients have a higher demand to privacy. They don’t want to stay together with twenty or thirty people in one room. Apart from this, I discover that most patients lack the ability to tell what the major problem is and what the minor ones are when they are suffering some body conditions. So we always talk with them or do small sessions in our clinics in order to expand their knowledge on this point.
What health-related trends can you predict in the following two to five years among Chinese people or people living in China?
As I just mentioned, different pains are common cases today. I believe this will continue. Pain management will be one of the big trends in the future. Regarding this, we always suggest our patients to improve the situation through a holistic approach that covers diet, exercise, mentality and sleep.
Another trend I can see is the promotion of TCM among young people. Many people have a wrong understanding about TCM. Whenever TCM is mentioned, they immediately compose a picture in their brain of a very old TCM doctor with long white beard taking bitter herbs from shabby cases. This is not the case today. Moreover, time-honored TCM theories and practices recorded in the ancient books can be used to cure many modern diseases and sub-health conditions. What we need to do is to carry out more promotion and education of TCM among young people and transform the bitter black soup into some other forms which can be taken more easily and with pleasure.
The combination of TCM and SPA will go further. Both TCM and SPA hope to help people reach a state of balance. Today, a plenty of spas have already introduced the TCM concepts. We can move one step further by giving specialized training of TCM knowledge and massage techniques to our spa staff. We may even teach them some basic skills of how to examine guests’ tongue coating so that they are able to carry out more accurate acupressure. This will largely improve guests’ trust and interest to your spa. It provides more opportunities to make personalized programs and thus increase revenue.