I’m Doris, I’m German, and I’m over 50 - I don’t use concrete numbers anymore. I’m a TCM doctor and the founder of the four Body & Soul clinics
. I have been in Shanghai now close to 25 years. I have pictures of my family coming in 1995, pictures in front of the Pearl Tower with no other buildings around whatsoever.
My home is here. I’m not an expat anymore. For the first five years, you are still comparing. Now, there’s no comparing. You know, you have bad days in your home country as well. There are too many people who blame their misery on Shanghai and that’s absolutely not fair. This city is just amazing. Everything is possible, but you need to speak the language. If you cannot sing, don’t even try to study Chinese. You need to have a feeling for music. That’s a matter of fact.
People tell me they have been living here for many years and they know Shanghai in and out. Only if they speak Chinese. Shanghai people are different. If you cannot talk to the people, you don’t know the people. They have humor, they are alert, and they are very, very knowledgeable. They talk to you to learn from you. When they learn that I’m a TCM doctor, they go “wow” because it’s so hard to study, even for Chinese people. They admire the hardship that you went through to achieve something,
There is no TCM doctor who has never studied western medicine, because we need to identify severe diseases. When I came here, I wanted to learn massage, but then my friend enrolled me in a bachelor course of internal medicine: five years, all in Chinese. She didn’t tell me. For the first two years, I never thought that I could finish it; it was so hard. Even now, I don’t think that I know enough. Every day, there are new developments in the medical field. I am constantly reading medical newspapers. My job is never boring. Never. Every patient is a new challenge. My favorite thing is to find a solution.
A lot of patients do not understand TCM. It’s not necessary, though, because they also don’t understand Western medicine. They only need to trust the doctor. You wouldn’t ask a western doctor, why does he give aspirin when you have a headache, would you? So why would they ask me about the herbs I prescribe to treat their headache? I understand that because they have never been confronted with it before, but it’s about the trust that you build up with your doctor.
People need to understand that medical systems grow out of the philosophy of a country. It’s difficult for western people to believe in Chinese medicine because they don’t understand the philosophy. Chinese medicine has, for example, two vital substances that flow in our bodies: one is blood, as in western medicine, and the other one is qi. We only treat the qi. Qi is the life force, like in Star Wars — or Kung Fu Panda, when shifu talks about the energy. It’s the qi.
To keep the qi flowing, the only things the patient can do by themselves are eat healthy, control their weight, exercise regularly and sleep regularly. It’s not about giving them herbs to stay healthy, because western medicine also doesn’t give you medicine to stay healthy. Medicine is there to cure disease, not to maintain health.
Also, in Shanghai, the spring and the autumn are very short. The body needs time to adjust. People switch on the air conditioning too fast, and it’s like artificial weather. They make it too cold in summer and too hot in winter. The body needs to fight with the seasons a little by itself so it’s not good to put the air conditioning on too cold or too hot. It’s still better to use clothes to regulate.
This year, we have our company’s
15th anniversary. I didn’t even think about celebrating because I used to forget those dates. I nearly forgot my 10th anniversary with the company. You just don’t realize how time flies.