Many of us don’t see our Western doctors until issues like digestive health, anxiety or inflammation-related autoimmune conditions have affected us to a point of severe dis-ease. Unfortunately, the Western medical field has been slow to produce lasting treatments or identify lasting maintenance programs for these types of chronic conditions. With the recent trend of functional and alternative medicines, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, patients are looking beyond the walls of traditional clinics to reverse current conditions and prevent more significant ailments. But what is Traditional Chinese Medicine and when should people look to it to treat today’s most prevalent and challenging health issues?
To get answers to these questions, we spoke with Simone Wan, L.Ac, M.S. and founder of new Traditional Chinese Medicine brand IN:TotalWellness that is aiming to modernize traditional herbal remedies by getting them directly to consumers in the form of effervescent drink mixes.
What Does Traditional Chinese Medicine Treat?
“Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treats a number of issues and approaches treating ailments from a holistic perspective. A variety of symptoms are treatable such as pain, IBS, colitis, infertility, neuropathy, arthritis, insomnia, stress and depression. TCM can treat chronic and/or acute problems as well.”
Tell us about your background in TCM?
“After graduating from a four year, full-time program in New York City, I began practicing in Manhattan focusing on treating infertility and pain. I had a 99% success rate treating infertility in women under 40 using herbs and acupuncture. After a few years, my husband and I moved to Fairfield, Connecticut where I began working for a neurology group (Associated Neurologists of Southern Connecticut) treating disorders such as pain, neurological disorders, insomnia and migraines. A few years later, I was recruited to work at St. Vincent’s hospital to treat cancer patients and have been there ever since. In my almost 15 years of practice, I have seen and treated pain, anxiety, depression, and insomnia the most.”
What does it mean to be a TCM doctor?
“There are some practitioners that just learn acupuncture, and others like me who have a Diplomat in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This means I am trained in herbology, an intense program that requires in-depth knowledge of hundreds, if not thousands, of herbs used in TCM. There are an estimated 6,000 species used in TCM.”
What kind of patients would come to your clinic? Had Western medicine failed them or were they looking to complement one with the other?
“Both women and men of all ages visit me in my clinic. I’ve seen infants for colic and people in their 90’s for pain. Western medicine plays a huge role in people’s health care. Sometimes a client would visit me to avoid using Western medicine as many pharmaceutical medicines come with risky side effects. Women, for instance, who have tried InVitro fertilization, would come to me after Western medicine had failed them, and would find success with TCM. TCM has the benefit of helping the whole body become healthier, and in the case of eggs that are underperforming, TCM can help increase the health of those eggs, which results in a better fertility success rate.”
Who is TCM for?
“TCM is used all over the world by diverse ethnicities. It is a complete system of medicine and, in my opinion, should be integrated into the Western medical system in a more systematic way. My experience leads me to believe Western medicine is wonderful for emergency situations and TCM may be better for chronic conditions.”
What is the current state of TCM?
“TCM is growing in popularity and is being more integrated in the United States. Mayo Clinic, a highly respected hospital, was the first of its kind to hire a TCM herbalist to whom other doctors can refer patients. I hope to see this in other hospitals so that we can have a more integrated health care system, similar to Australia and China.”
Where is TCM going next?
“TCM has huge potential in the U.S. market. As millennials become more educated with the internet at their fingertips, we’ve seen an increase in their dietary supplement intake. According to the Fiscal Times, 68% of millennial reported that they took some type of supplement in the last 30 days, compared with 50% in 2009.”
Why are you moving beyond your clinic walls with the new elixir mixes?
“I think herbs are an amazing way to not only treat symptoms, but boost nutrition in the body. The herbs in these elixirs are rich in antioxidants, immune boosters, adaptogens and anti-inflammatories. Herbs in their natural form, however, are bitter, tart, sour, and generally taste like dirt. So to inspire people to take their herbs, I designed formulas with natural flavors that are popular in the U.S., used an effervescent delivery system which helps the formulas easily digest, and added potent extracts for efficacy. I think TCM should be more available to the general public so I made it my mission to do that.”
Why are you choosing to enter the market at this time?
“I have had this idea for 17 years after I suffered a burn accident from a pressure cooker explosion. I became dependent on opioids and antidepressants and experienced severe side effects from the medications, including depression and a near suicide. I ultimately used herbal remedies instead of the pharmaceutical drugs to help relieve me of my pain, anxiety and insomnia, and it worked. I realized that these remedies should be more accessible to everyone — not only people who could afford to pay for an herbalist. It took me a long time to find the right time to commit to launching a company as my kids are now in grade school and it took two years to find the right manufacturer and perfect the product. I also think the market is prime for something like this as many Americans are looking for alternatives for pain, anxiety and sleeplessness. These three issues in particular plague many people, young and old.”
Do you think TCM is having ‘a moment’?
“I think TCM has been having a moment since celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Michael Phelps have been publicly vocal about the benefits of its role in their lives. I also think that many people are looking for alternative ways to treat their ailments and finding it less attractive to take pharmaceutical medicine. With pharmaceutical medicine being the fourth leading cause of death according to the CDC, it doesn’t surprise me that people want an alternative.”
What should people with an interest in TCM treatment do as a first step?
“People interested in TCM can start researching how acupuncture and herbs can help them. There are lots of websites out there that explain TCM. They can also visit an acupuncturist. One of the easiest ways to try TCM is to try IN: TotalWellness’s easy to use formulas to see if TCM herbs works for them!”
By Margaux Lushing