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7kg weight loss in 7 days with clinic’s mix of TCM and Western medicine

7kg weight loss in 7 days with clinic’s mix of TCM and Western medicine
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7kg weight loss in 7 days thanks to clinic’s mix of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine, and detox diet

The picture-perfect shores of Austria’s Wörthersee are about 7,200 kilometres (4,500 miles) from China, but traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has become a regular part of the treatment for guests at Original Mayr, one of Europe’s most exclusive medical clinics, which overlooks the lake’s calm waters.

TCM has also seen a new wave of interest in mainland China, thanks in part to the 2023 TV series Gen Z, centred on a university professor specialising in TCM who launches a project to mentor young talent.

It aired on Shanghai’s Dragon Television and the Youku streaming site, garnering more than 250 million views.

The Chinese TV series Gen Z attracted more than 250 million views and increased the popularity of TCM in mainland China. Photo:

Clinic focuses on healthy gut microbiome

Original Mayr, outside the southern Austrian city of Klagenfurt, opened in 1976 as the first residential clinic to offer the Mayr cure, founded on Austrian doctor Dr Franz Xaver Mayr’s principle that good health stems from a healthy digestive system and mindful eating.

Starting in 1901, he espoused fasting and a healthy gut microbiome, decades before those ideas became fashionable. Today, well-heeled guests from around the world stay for a minimum of seven nights and can pick from a range of programmes.

I was a guest of the resort. My experience involved a detox diet of just 600 calories a day, in which I was asked to chew everything 30 times.

As a food writer, I expected my stay to have been hellish. In truth I never once felt hungry and left feeling remarkably energised – as well as almost 7 kilograms lighter after just seven days and nights. I was 108kg (238lb) when I checked in, although I am 1.95 metres (6ft 5in) tall.

A typical breakfast included buckwheat bread served with sheep’s curd and artichoke dip, or sheep’s yogurt and olive oil (above). Photo: Original Mayr

Lunch was the biggest meal of the day; one day it was a sweet potato gnocchi with radicchio and pecorino. Photo: Original Mayr

Although there was little of it, the food was surprisingly good. One breakfast was buckwheat bread with sheep’s curd and artichoke dip.

Lunch was the biggest meal of the day; one day it was a sweet potato gnocchi with radicchio and pecorino.

Dinner was always soup, in most cases a vegetable bouillon which was essentially calorie-free.

I also drank dissolved alkaline powder to rid me of internal acidity, and swallowed an array of supplements before setting off on bracing daily walks on the forest-covered hillsides. I also did some gentle morning yoga and sessions with a personal trainer.

Dr Ursula Muntean-Rock, Original Mayr’s head doctor, says the mix of TCM and Western medicine at the resort is “a perfect match”. Photo: Original Mayr

TCM consultation takes holistic approach

The most moving and powerful part of my stay, however, was a TCM consultation with Dr Ursula Muntean-Rock, the resort’s head doctor, who trained in TCM for three years in Beijing and has been practising it for more than two decades.

Muntean-Rock employs Chinese diagnostics, herbal therapy and acupuncture. The clinic has always offered different approaches to finding the roots of problems, but few take the same holistic approach as much as TCM.

“Our bodies are the ‘cars’ for our souls and the soul and the body have to work together,” she says. Chinese medicine, with its thousands of years of history, has developed systems to help keep the ‘car’ running smoothly and to prevent it from breaking down.

When she first sees people, she prefers not to look immediately at their file. “This already makes me think in one direction. I love to get to the Chinese diagnosis without knowing the history. Mostly I like to start just by reading pulses.”

Within seconds she tells me that my qi, or “petrol” side as she calls it, is a little bit low on energy, while a check of my pulse shows my blood pressure is high.

In a 45-minute consultation, she also asked questions about my overall health and well-being, physical and mental, and checked my face and tongue for signs of ill health.

Happily, she deemed my heart – “the house of the soul” – to be “quite good”. She also says I “seem to be a very wise man: you can just watch a lot, make the decisions and not panic”.

She is clearly right – although my wife would beg to differ.

A TCM abdominal massage focuses on rebalancing the internal organs to help restore the digestive system. Studies suggest it may also help improve sleep. Photo: Original Mayr

TCM treatments target imbalances

An acupuncture session followed: needles are inserted into specific points on the body called acupoints that send a message to “rebalance” the flow of energy.

This was my first acupuncture treatment in many years – and reminded me how simultaneously soothing and powerful it can be. I vowed to have regular sessions once I got back home.

I also had abdominal massages, or chi nei tsang, which focus on “balancing” the internal organs to allow for the free flow of qi. This is said to be beneficial for digestive disorders, fertility problems, stress and anxiety, emotional imbalances and chronic pain.

Original Mayr resort is on the shore of the Wörthersee outside the southern Austrian city of Klagenfurt. Photo: Original Mayr

TCM, Western medicine combined are ‘a perfect match’

During her consultations, Muntean-Rock is compassionate and empathetic.

“We have so many people coming here who have already seen a lot of specialists and still don’t know what to do. So, we said, why don’t we just add together medical knowledge from around the world?

“When you take the lab work, plus the Chinese tongue, pulse and face diagnostics, sometimes you can give Chinese herbs, but sometimes Western medicine is the only thing that you need. But what you have is a maximum of therapeutic possibilities.”

The writer undergoes an endurance test as part of his initial consultation. Photo: Original Mayr

“Acute symptoms are definitely cured better and faster by Western medicine,” she says.

A week-long Mayr medical diagnostic programme with examinations, diagnostic tests, massages and other treatments costs €2,550 (US$2,750) per person for 7 days; rooms from €260 per night (single occupancy), €240 per person per night (double occupancy).

Muntean-Rock’s tips for better gut health

  1. Eat at regular times, and avoid using devices or watching TV while eating. Chew your food at least 15 times before swallowing to aid digestion.

  2. Drink a teaspoon of alkaline powder dissolved in water daily to clear acidity in the body.

  3. Sleep at least seven hours a night.

  4. Walk outside for 40 minutes daily, ideally in nature.

The Chuan Spa at the Cordis Hong Kong hotel in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Photo: Cordis, Hong Kong

Other global resorts that feature TCM programmes:

  • Langham Hotels around the world offer a Chuan Spa, which partners with TCM experts on consultations and specialist therapies.

  • Sangha Retreat by Octave Institute in Suzhou, China offers an “Immersive Body-Mind Recovery Journey” starting from US$800 (HK$6,200) per night.

  • Atmantan Wellness Resort near the Indian city of Pune offer a five-night wellness programme from US$2,380 per person.

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