Dr. Mao – The Tao of Wellness
Tao of Wellness
Jonathan: Hey, everyone! Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus living the Smarter Science of Slim show. Very, very excited about today’s show, because we have a first. A first. Maybe the first ever, because our guest today is a thirty-eighth generation doctor of Chinese medicine, which I’m no expert. I’m sure he’ll correct me if I’m wrong, but that means in his lineage, there was thirty-seven ancestors preceding him, all of which dedicated their lives to the same thing he dedicates his life to, so it must be in his blood. That’s awesome.
He runs a practice in Santa Monica called the Tao of Wellnes, and he has treated Sheryl Crow, Jim Carrey, many other celebrities. He also puts out a great, great deal of free information, which is awesome. He’s the author of Secrets of Longevity and is currently featured as an expert on Yahoo Health and writes a wonderful blog, and you can learn more about him at his business website, which is TaoOfWellness.com. That is spelled T-A-O-O-F-W-E-L-L-N-E-S-S.com, and he is none other than Dr. Mao. Welcome to the show, Dr. Mao.
Mao: Thank you, Jonathan.
Jonathan: Dr. Mao, thirty-eighth generation, tell us a bit about your story.
Mao: Well, first of all, I was born in the lucky sperm club. No, in all seriousness, it’s just one of these things. In China, many, many families actually have many generations in their family going back however many lineages, but in our case, it so happened that back around 730 AD, our first medical doctor ancestor decided that well, he was going to continue his family in this line of career, if you will, our livelihood.
Subsequently, no one dare to break that tradition, so I think I’ve been very fortunate, obviously, and as a result, we founded a university in our grandfather’s honor, Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine here in Los Angeles as he was the closest ancestor to our memory, if you will.
Jonathan: Brilliant! The idea of Chinese medicine, I can’t think of anyone better to describe and help introduce this concept to our listeners, having done this for nearly forty generations. Obviously, Chinese medicine is medicine from China, but can you dig a little bit deeper to explain what you actually have dedicated your life to?
Mao: Well, I would like to say, first and foremost, a little personal story that really caused me to decide this is what I want to do. When I was a child, I fell from the rooftop of our three story house, and I banged my head pretty good, because then I was in a coma for about a month. When I came out of the coma, I was very, very sick. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t walk, and so my father, who was a doctor of Chinese medicine and an acupuncturist, used all the range of methodologies within Chinese medicine to heal me, and I’m a living proof that Chinese medicine is in fact really incredible in its ability to heal all kinds of illness.
Over the years, and I’ve now been in practice for close to thirty years, I’ve really come to appreciate the power of the body’s ability to heal, because ultimately, Chinese medicine guides the body to heal itself, so it recognizes and empowers the individual to activate his or her own inner healing powers, and that’s really, in a nutshell, what Chinese medicine is all about. It’s a medical system that supports your body’s own self-healing capabilities.
Jonathan: The thing that resonates with me so much about this way of thinking or just more of a Eastern approach to medicine in general is two things. One is, obviously, this has gone on for generations and generations and generations, and one has to imagine that if a technique for wellness was ineffective, people would stop doing it. This is not something that was invented ten years ago. This is not something that a pharmaceutical company came out with two years ago and put eight billion dollars of R and D into, so they have a vested interest in getting everyone to use it. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the only reason something would have continued for the hundreds, if not thousands, if not tens of thousands of years, in your medical tradition, is if it actually worked.
Mao: There’s no question, Jonathan. The time-tested component of Chinese medicines is very strong, but let’s just look at I think the body’s ability to heal has predated everything, every medical system, and so what I’m really happy doing is using acupuncture in Chinese medicine to support that body’s innate wisdom, which by the way, is superior, and it’s not going to go in and out of fashion. For example, to this day, the advancement of Western medicine and the scientific technology, everything we know, we still can’t get rid of a cold. Truthfully, but what gets rid of a cold is your body, your body’s own immunity.
Your body is going to develop antibodies to fight off the invaders. The body is wise. The body has a capability, and we need to recognize that and nurture it and work with it so that your body can heal itself, and that’s really at the root of what Chinese medicine is all about, and that’s why this system has worked for thousands of years because we tapped into your body’s own capabilities, and that will never cease to work.
Jonathan: It’s a little disappointing. I have to say I’m a little disappointed on behalf of the Western world. Hopefully I don’t offend anyone here, but a lot of the reason the Paleo movement is becoming so popular is there’s people out there saying the body is not broken. We are not sick intrinsically. We are not meant to age and become diabetic and have cancer at the rates and become obese. The body isn’t broken. Chinese medicine has been rooted in that belief since its inception whereas some Westerners are just now coming to that realization.
Mao: That’s right. I hope it’s not a disappointment. I think it’s actually great news for everybody. I think people can really celebrate that “Wow, we are naturally prime to live to be a hundred?” and I got to tell you, absolutely, your body wants to live to be a hundred, and all you have to do is to give what it needs to thrive and then get out of the way, and we’re always in our own way. That’s the problem.
Jonathan: It makes so much sense, Dr. Mao. Like a car, a car is designed to run for two hundred and fifty, three hundred thousand miles, as long as you just change the oil and give it a clean gas, don’t run over a bunch of potholes. If you don’t destroy it, it will perpetuate itself. We’ve seemingly made it so complicated. Why have we added all this complexity?
Mao: Well, I think, Jonathan, it goes back to the direction that the Western philosophy and Western medical system and after this reductionist model of looking at the most basic unit, the single cell, and going beyond that, the single atom, and then forgetting that what you have is not just one single atom or one single cell. You have an entire organism of cells, tissues, systems, organs and everything working in sync. Everything is working in homeostasis that balance.
I think in our pursuit in modern times of the parts, we have forgotten about the whole, and we need get back to looking at the whole and say “Does the mind affect the body? Does the body affect the mind? Does the spirit affect everything else? Does our relationship with our environment affect our health?” Of course, logically, you go, “Yes, of course, it does,” but yet, believe it or not, Western science just segregates everything, and nobody talks to each other.
That’s why we have a broken medical system where the specialists don’t talk to the generalists, the generalists don’t consult the psychologists, and nobody — so you’re treating patients in a fragmented way, and of course then the result and the outcome is less than satisfactory.
Jonathan: It sounds like you started to go in a direction there which makes me really happy, and I want to make sure I’m understanding correctly here, and that is the direction not of Western approach is wrong and Eastern approach is right, but rather that one focuses more on individual components, the other focuses more on the whole, and what if we actually leverage the best from both worlds? Does that appeal in work?
Mao: Absolutely, Jonathan. In fact, this is how we practice medicine. We do in a integrated approach. We have three offices, actually. Our headquarter office is in Santa Monica, but we have an office in Newport Beach, an office in Pasadena. Through our university, we train many, many doctors on practicing this, so integration. We take the best of both worlds so that Chinese medicine presents this holistic approach of “Hey, let’s look at everything, and let’s make sure everybody is in communication,” and then we don’t hesitate to collaborate with our Western medical counterparts, whether it’s a specialist.
In the case of reproduction, patients come in, and they’ve got a concern, which is they cannot get pregnant. If you think about it, nature has made every organism and gifting that organism with the capability to reproduce so that the gene can be passed on, and so why? What has happened? There’s so many people out there that cannot get pregnant, so this is the perfect venue by which we collaborate. We’ll work with a reproductive endocrinologist. They will do all the tests and figure out whether structural or hormonally or whatever might be that’s off balance or not doing well, and we add in acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Together, we can increase a patient’s live birth success rate by forty to sixty percent when we add acupuncture to an IVF cycle. That’s huge. That’s amazing considering that you’ll spend about $25,000 for an IVF, in vitro fertilization treatment, and then to increase your chance to success, not just pregnancy but we’re talking about live birth. That’s a beautiful statistic that allows us to work with reproductive endocrinologists. In fact, they reach out to us because they want to improve their success rate with their patients.
Jonathan: Dr. Mao, I’m delighted that we cross this bridge here to talk about fertility because, as you said, I can’t think of a better example of, going back to the beginning of our conversation, where what the body wants. The body’s innate intelligence. Obviously, no matter what your belief is – whether it’s creationism, evolution, whatever – we all would agree that one of the most basic wants of the body would be to reproduce, because if the body didn’t want to reproduce, if everything about the body wasn’t designed to enable reproduction, we would have died off as a species a long time ago, but this most basic of abilities is becoming hard. It’s a challenge to reproduce for many nowadays. I know you have an upcoming book that digs into this in detail. What is going on here?
Mao: Well, there are many causes, Jonathan, but one of the, I think, biggest causes is people are waiting a little bit too long, so you’re getting a little old. In terms of your eggs for women, the egg quality is not so good, and then for men, we’re seeing a lower level of sperm count and as well as quality of sperm. Age has a lot to do with it, but also, Jonathan, we have an environment that is not friendly anymore. I just was telling someone the other day that the credit card receipts you get where you sign that has a coding on it, that little plastic coding, that now has been implicated in lowering a guy’s sperm count. That’s bad news, and so just that simple thing.
We are now polluting our environment and making it very, very difficult for us to do something that’s as natural as reproduction. There are many other causes from environmental to stress to the overall health of people have gone down. If we look at our diets today, the diet of refined carbohydrates, it’s one of the biggest, I believe, enemies of our modern time today, because what that does is it causes a blood sugar instability, and in addition to that, that will signal your ovary, for women in particular, and create imbalance there in terms of maturing and producing eggs, follicles for pregnancy. There are many issues here, but I would say in general, we are an older population trying to get pregnant, and our environment is definitely making it very, very unfriendly and harsh for us to do so.
Jonathan: I so appreciate this overview of the synergies of Eastern and then a Western approach. This discussion of the body being innately wise and when we see things like fertility, the most basic of things the body would want, becoming a challenge, it’s time for us to take a step back and question just about everything we’re doing in terms of our bodies. This is great information, Dr. Mao. What’s next for you? Where can people learn more about your efforts and your wok?
Mao: Well, my brother and I are working on a book called Secrets of Fertility, and it should be coming out early part of 2014. It’s a very easy and simple book for people to learn about what they can do with their environment, their diet, what herbs and supplements can be helpful, what meditation and stress-reduction techniques can be very helpful. We continue to reach more and more patients through our actual clinical services, but through the book, we hope that we can inform the public and give them more self-help information. You can learn about all our activities on our website, TaoOfWellness.com. That’s T-A-O of Wellness.com.
Jonathan: Dr. Mao, this is brilliant. I am so appreciative of this, and I’m excited to continue this conversation, because I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface, so thank you so much for sharing your time with us today.
Mao: Thank you, Jonathan.
Jonathan: Listeners, our guest again today was Dr. Mao. Learn more about him at his clinical website which is TaoOfWellness.com. That again is T-A-O of Wellness.com, and remember this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better. Chat with you soon.