This week on the 20 Minute Fitness podcast we’re getting into a topic that we have not touched upon before: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). We had the pleasure to welcome Dr. Marcus Gadau on the show, a leading TCM practitioner in Germany who studied Chinese Medicine combined with Western Medicine in Beijing and then got his Ph.D. in Evidence-based Chinese medicine in Hong Kong.
Marcus tells us about two significant experiences that he had with TCM as a teenager, which later on led him onto this path. He was trying several Western treatments for both his sports-related injuries and his acne, but they didn’t seem to work. So he decided to look for an alternative solution, found a man who was practicing Japanese acupuncture, who ended up curing him with TCM.
Listen to this week’s episode to learn about the basics of TCM, how it differs from Western medicine and TCM’s principals for managing emotions, stress, and diet! And next week, when we release the second half of the episode, we will be talking about sleep, exercise, and sexual wellbeing from the perspective of TCM.
Three Things You’ll Learn
1) What Is TCM & How It Compares To Western Medicine
TCM has many branches just like Western medicine does, and the process from the patient’s side is also not that different. Just like in Western medicine, a doctor makes a diagnosis based on your symptoms and gives you a prescription that you can pick up at a pharmacy. However, one key difference is that TCM only uses entirely natural remedies that will not have a damaging impact on your liver or kidneys.
Another core difference between TCM and Western medicine is that while Western medicine tends to excel in treating life-threatening conditions, TCM is better at treating chronic illnesses. Additionally, unlike Western medicine, TCM has a preventative focus built on the philosophy of why should we focus on fixing the body when it’s “broken”, when we can focus on preventing it from “breaking”.
Press play to hear more about how TCM differs from what we know as conventional medicine in the West!
2) How To Increase Life Expectancy: Emotions
TCM puts a very high emphasis on your internal state, which is why they believe that moderating your emotions and thoughts is one of the most important factors. Having too much anger and not having internal peace can damage your health. This is why you should always release your anger in ways that are healthy, such as by going for a run.
A study has found that working 10 hours a day instead of 7 can increase your chances of developing heart disease by 60%. This proves that too much stress also has a negative impact on your health. In line with this, TCM advocates for a “medium” and calm emotional state and striving for being content to maximize your longevity.
Listen on to hear more about regulating your emotions and why it will benefit your health according to TCM!
3) How To Increase Life Expectancy: Diet
Another area where TCM can teach us something new is diet. While the Western world usually goes for the extremes with its diets, TCM suggests following a more balanced approach. They say that you should eat a little bit of everything (i.e. all three macronutrients), do not eat too much but also not too little and eat regularly.
Seasonality should also play a key part in regulating your diet. Depending on the season, your body might need different amounts of fuel and you should always aim to fill your diet with seasonal whole foods.
Tune in to learn more about the diet you should follow according to TCM and how your emotional state can also dictate what to eat!
Resources Mentioned During The Episode & Further Reading
- Live Well Live Long: Teachings from the Chinese Nourishment of Life Tradition and Modern Research
- Peter Deadman’s book about Chinese health cultivation, which was a huge resource in the preparation of this talk and a great book recommendation: Live Well Live Long. Peter Deadman (2016). ISBN-10: 0955909643
- Marcus’ acupuncture study mentioned in the beginning: A multi‐center international study of acupuncture for lateral elbow pain ‐ Results of a randomized controlled trial. Gadau et al. (2020). European Journal of Pain. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ejp.1574
- Early Chinese inventions: Great Invention Through History. Messedie (1988).
- Iatrogenic death (preventable death arising from medical treatment or advice) is 3rd most common cause of death in the US: “Is the US really the best in the world?”. Starfield B (2000). Journal of the American Medical Association.
- Working ten rather than seven hours per day increased the risk of developing heart disease by 60%: “Overtime work and incident coronary heart disease: the Whitehall II prospective cohort study. Virtanen et al. (2010). European Heart Journal.
- UK Stress Management Society reports that workplace pressure is the single biggest cause of of sickness in the country: https://www.stress.org.uk/
- A Finnish study showed that men who are often angry have a double risk of having a stroke: “Anger expression and incident stroke: Prospective evidence from the Kuopio ischemic heart disease study”. Everson et al. (1999). Stroke.
- The most common answer when asking stroke patients whether something special had happened before the stroke (2h) was an outbreak of anger or an intense negative emotion: “Triggering risk factors for ischemic stroke: A case-crossover study”. Koton et al. (2004). Neurology.
- 1/4 of our DNA changes in response to the seasons: “Widespread seasonal gene expression reveals annual differences in human immunity and physiology”. Dopico et al. (2015). Nature Communications.
- Study suggests that people on Okinawa ate significantly fewer calories than the average Japanese and gained less weight with age, had more DHEA in their blood, and had a longer life expectancy: “Caloric restriction, the traditional Okinawan diet, and healthy aging”. Willcox et al. (2007). Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.