22.12.2021 – People & Living | Parents We Love

Romina Baumann: About TCM, herbal therapies and common sense

Translated by Deepl

Romina Baumann is a TCM therapist and talks in the interview about fast food and super food and why we should organise our turmeric latte - like the rest of our diet, by the way - with common sense.

Romina, you are a therapist of traditional Chinese medicine. In short: TCM. Somehow it is expected that you are at rest within yourself.

I can feel myself quite well and also notice when my Qi is stagnant, i.e. when I am not balanced. Nevertheless, it is sometimes difficult for me to quickly find my balance again. For example, when both children want something from me at the same time, it is often difficult for me. It's even more difficult to do justice to myself.

Do you take time for yourself with two small children?

Yes, when I'm working. It's like a holiday for me. I love it and I'm totally involved. Here I can listen, give tips - I have someone who listens to me. At home, since Nathan was 1.5 years old, I have taken out the sewing machine every now and then and sew. Or I knit. Creativity is very important to me, it's me-time for me.

Originally you trained as a pharmaceutical assistant and then studied art theory. How did you end up as a TCM therapist?

Through my own TCM therapist. She told me about TCM nutrition therapy. Until then, I didn't know that there was a nutritional theory in Chinese medicine that had nothing to do with Chinese food. I was flashed - and a new world opened up to me.

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In what way?

I really knew a lot about nutrition through my training in the pharmacy. Knew the classic food pyramid - and always questioned it strongly. How is one system supposed to work for all people? Then I realised that in TCM it is completely different. Namely, it is individual. TCM is tailored to the individual and his or her needs.

So you quickly completed a training course at the TCM school and specialised in phytotherapy. What is that exactly?

At first I wanted to focus on nutrition. But I realised that with the herbal knowledge I already had, I had to add herbalism. The exciting thing is that I do this phytotherapy according to Chinese medicine, but with Western herbs instead of Chinese ones.

Meaning?

I use our herbs, but I use them according to the craft of TCM. Our herbs are classified in TCM literature, but the discipline is younger. I find that extremely exciting, because on the one hand, our herbs suit me - I know them in my sleep. And it seemed only logical to me to use them as well. Because if you read TCM and understand the basic structure, it's like you have to take your climate into account. That's the way nature intended it: You find what you need. But there are fields where Chinese herbs have more experience, are better researched and also have a stronger effect. Herbs that strengthen the essence, for example. It is a very old science. And in the case of Western herbs, we still know too little about Chinese teachings.

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'Today you can buy everything always and everywhere. That has brought a lot of pathogenic things with it.'

Chinese dietetics has a long history and tradition. What about the Western tradition?

In its origins, every cuisine probably has its healing properties. There is much in our traditional dishes - such as sauerkraut and dried beans - that makes a lot of sense nutritionally. Unfortunately, much has been lost via industrialisation and the appreciation of fast food.

Rotten from fast food?

So to speak, yes. Today, you can buy everything everywhere and at any time. That has brought a lot of pathogenic things with it. The consumption of sugar and white flour has increased immeasurably. Everything comes ready-cooked and with lots of additives and preservatives. Then there is our absurd consumption of milk. Hardly any other country consumes as much cow's milk as Switzerland.

What is the problem with cow's milk?

There is no problem. It is just made for calves and not for human children. What is a little baby cow all about? It has to grow as fast as possible and gather strength to run from birth. For us humans, it's about all the energy flowing into the brain first and it has to develop. In addition, cow's milk is cooling and moisturising in the pathogenic sense. This means that it cools the digestion, which then becomes rather sluggish and the moisture then burdens the whole body.

Kooperation

Bei Tadah dreht sich alles um die Vereinbarkeit – im Online-Magazin mit spannenden Interviews mit Eltern und im ersten Schweizer Coworking Space mit Kinderbetreuung. Ob mit oder ohne Kind – schaut doch vorbei auf tadah.ch. Oder direkt im wunderschön eingerichteten Space in Zürich Albisrieden.

What are the implications?

For example, many people are constantly bloated and feel that this is normal. But it is not. A lot of cow's milk or cream consumption promotes this. Many digestive complaints are due to cow's milk consumption. But it also clearly depends on the constitution of the individual. People who tend to be overweight, for example, I really advise against cow's milk. Often it is also the people who tell me: I only eat salad and still don't lose weight. If the whole body is hypothermic and therefore everything works much slower, then the food can't be burnt properly either. So they should eat warmer and cooked food, then they would also lose weight.

How does TCM cuisine work in general?

TCM cuisine is relatively simple: You should cook seasonally, regionally and organically. In addition, one looks at the temperatures of food. So you don't eat cooling vegetables like tomatoes or cucumbers in winter. That makes sense, because the tomato is also a vegetable that grows in summer.

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'Regular mealtimes are very important. But that is something that has been completely lost.'

Is it then a form of nutrition that, despite its individuality, is also suitable for families?

Theoretically, everyone would need something different. But there are standard ideas about how to eat. For example, children have immature digestion. That means they have to eat wholesome food. Oodles of hummus are unsuitable for a child because it digests that very badly. And too much raw vegetables, cold fruit juices or yoghurt every day are not healthy for a child because everything is cold. The basic rule is that children should eat warm food. Regular mealtimes are also very important. But this is something that has been completely lost. You shouldn't eat all the time, and you shouldn't eat on the go or in a hurry. These are basic ideas that are totally family-friendly.

Nevertheless, it all sounds complicated.

A lot of it is really common sense. But I often give my patients lists on which they can see which foods are ok for them and which they should leave out for now. Then there are also healing foods, for people who have a blood deficiency, for example, or who would like to become pregnant. Then, of course, they have to follow my therapeutic instructions. I actually see food as medicine.

Do you cook strictly according to TCM? Or is there an exception?

In the first year of my children's lives, I cooked strictly according to TCM. From the age when they could show what they wanted, they were also allowed to choose. Because I think they have to be able to try things out and show what they like. But the offer on my part has to be right. But of course I have to compromise from time to time in our everyday life.

French fries with ketchup or in what measure?

Recently I had such an incredible craving for gnocchi with gorgonzola - totally anti-TCM. It had to be done. So I can definitely make an exception. But we still don't have chips at home. But when we're out and about, it can happen. But not in the afternoon at 4 o'clock, but at our mealtimes. When they are out with my husband, there is an exception - and it's good that they have their own channel for that.

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'Many of these foods are good, but in abundance, even these superfoods are no longer super at all.'

You work in a practice with two midwives, an osteopath and a naturopath. Why do your patients come to you most often?

I have everything from the desire to have a child, to birth preparation, to the postpartum period and also life with a child across the board. That's great. But there are also many women who only have mild symptoms. For example, they have skin problems or PMS problems or are simply very interested in nutrition. And since it is extremely difficult to keep track of everything today, I try to help.

Good topic: Superfood! What exactly is really super about it?

There are trends, then everyone only eats goji berries and hummus. Many of these foods are good, but in abundance, even these superfoods are no longer super. Women in particular tend to indulge in these trends.

Should we eat meat?

Meat is a question of quality. Our meat consumption is simply too extreme. But today there is also a countermovement, or rather awareness is growing and people have the opportunity to buy healthy meat. But that is also a question of price. But one that is worth it. Because: the content, the nutrients and thus the effect of a piece of meat is much greater if the animal has been able to graze normally. But it takes this willingness to spend money to have a certain quality of food.

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'Many Western medical practitioners are now also willing to send their patients on if they are stuck themselves.'

You said that many women also come to you because of an unfulfilled desire to have children. What can TCM do?

It's clear that you first have to clarify what the cause could be from a purely medical point of view. Western diagnoses also help me in TCM to approach the matter correctly and to find out where we can then often help with TCM. Because often women have a Yang deficiency and pathogenic dampness, so they have a lot of coldness in them. Then I try to warm them up and remove dampness effectively with heat lamps, but also with herbs and with nutrition. Women often eat a lot of cooling yoghurts for breakfast and too few vegetables. Then there is the iron deficiency that many women have. I often have this and other things tested and then work not only according to TCM but also with nutrients.

So is there a path between TCM and conventional medicine?

Yes, absolutely. It even works great together. I never shy away from conventional medical tests. Especially with chronic gastrointestinal problems, for example, I often order a stool test. The view that I, as a therapist, am the only one who knows how it works - that's humbug. That's also not up to date. The combination often makes the difference. Especially in diagnostics, where TCM only works with external things, I am very happy about Western medicine.

Are you confronted with criticism?

Never. TCM has a good reputation in Switzerland - unlike homeopathy. There are many more scientifically sound studies. People have had super experiences. And it has a high reputation because of that. Today, many Western doctors are also prepared to send their patients on if they can't get any further themselves.

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Speaking of western medicine. Are your children vaccinated?

Restricted. But yes they are. But it is a huge discussion and a difficult topic.

What is your opinion on this?

The best for my children is not necessarily the best for the people. Vaccination has advantages, but also disadvantages, and unfortunately we do not yet know many of them. The fact is that multiple vaccinations are often a problem and carrier substances are toxic. Five vaccines in one and that for a two-month-old baby - I find that difficult. So I vaccinated much later and supplemented with herbal mixtures. This way, the toxic substances that are contained in the vaccine and are not good for the body can be better processed. It would be great if there were more individual vaccines and not just everything in combination. However, vaccination is by no means all bad. You should find the right way for yourself. And often it is a middle way. The consumer protection brochure is very helpful for information. It's 10 francs very well invested.

'You don't get slimmer or more beautiful from doing without.'

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What can be achieved with TCM nutrition for allergies?

Also a big topic. And also difficult for me to keep track of what is useful and what is not. It depends very much on the picture, i.e. whether someone was born with it or whether they got it. But you really have to take a good history and diagnostic tests into consideration.

Have allergies really increased?

In the past, people simply didn't know a lot of things. In addition, food has changed a lot. Fortunately, the body can also put away a lot of bad things and heal itself, but only to a certain extent. Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases and metabolic disorders are on the increase, and not only with allergic reactions. The range of symptoms is very diverse and the therapy can take longer. Allergies themselves are on everyone's lips. So it has certainly increased that people are talking about it. And new products related to allergies are constantly coming onto the market.

What do you mean?

Not that many people are gluten intolerant. But thanks to all the products you can buy in the big supermarkets today, many people are avoiding gluten. Because they have the feeling that gluten is not good for them. But it is no problem at all to eat gluten if you are not intolerant. You don't get slimmer or more beautiful from not eating gluten. People find it attractive to buy gluten-free toast. Or drink their matcha tea, or their turmeric latte - and they do it excessively. But it's the mix and the common sense that make it. And the latter is often missing. Due to oversupply and extremes, we also eat wrong. You can have everything at all times - that's simply not healthy.

'Unfortunately, our health system does not work in such a way that people go to the doctor as a preventive measure. They only come when they have something.'

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What are your professional goals?

The plan or goal is clearly to have my own practice one day. But I think I still need to gain some experience to be sure of what exactly I want. At the moment, I am fully satisfied with the topic of pregnancy and child nutrition. But what happens when the children grow up? Will I still like it then? I would also love to give cooking classes. Because there is a great need for them. Because people simply don't know how to cook anymore. Or they don't know much about food. For example, many people have never heard that it's best to make bread yourself with home-ground flour.

We'll get in line. Tell!

Whole grains that are milled become rancid relatively quickly. And these rancid particles cause us harm. This means that any wholemeal bread from the shop that has not been made from flour, that has been processed within 24 hours, is relatively bad. That's why I often recommend not eating bread at all. But there too it is a question of moderation: I don't have time every day to grind my grain and bake my bread.

Ok, more tips, please.

Eat cooked and warm. Soups, for example. And a warm breakfast like porridge is also great. Or chestnuts for a snack. Also, no cold drinks, so drink everything lukewarm to hot. Too much cold on the outside leads to cold on the inside. With children, it is also good to touch their bellies or feet and see whether these areas are warm or cold.

What if you get cold in the winter and you fall ill?

I have an emergency herbal pharmacy that helps well. But I am also not afraid to administer medication if it is needed. But the good thing about TCM is that it is preventive. Unfortunately, our health system does not work in such a way that people go to the doctor as a preventive measure. People only come when they have something. In the past, the TCM therapist was a companion. This was a scholar who was by your side and whom you paid. And only as long as you were healthy. When you were sick, he had no salary and had to make sure you got well again. A nice approach - we should find our way back to him.

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Since August 2020 Romina has her own practice for constitutional Chinese medicine and baby shiatsu.