Lina Rubiano, specialist in Chinese medicine: “The great pandemic is the lack of self-care”

Lina Rubiano, specialist in Chinese medicine: “The great pandemic is the lack of self-care”
Lina Rubiano, specialist in Chinese medicine: “The great pandemic is the lack of self-care”

When Lina Rubiano (Bogotá, 1984) traveled to Tianjin to learn Chinese medicine, she had to abandon her Western training, based on Aristotelian logic, and recover her spirit as an apprentice—or Jinzhēn, as she calls it in her book. At first, everything was confusing. She couldn’t understand the intricate connections that were being proposed to her: that movement in the body occurred for the same reason that tree branches moved, or that the way in which trees clean toxins and generate oxygen explained the function of the liver. Much less did she understand the statement of one of her first teachers, who maintained that the origin of Parkinson’s was not in the brain. Her mind, forged in the heat of classrooms and hospitals, “short-circuited,” as she relates in her first book, Revelations for healing with Chinese Medicine.

Published by Grijalbo in November 2023, this book quickly became a best seller: It reached its fourth edition in just a few months and began to be distributed in Spanish bookstores in June. In nearly 400 pages, Rubiano seeks to help the reader understand the perfect design of the human body, which is aligned with the sky and nature, and to discover how its five elements—water, wood, fire, earth and metal—manifest themselves in the internal organs. When this perfect balance is broken, after some time developing in silence, illness appears.

In the text, the author’s anecdotes from when she was a student in China, where she graduated with a master’s degree in Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Tuina, are mixed with her knowledge as a doctor from the Universidad de la Sabana, in the same way that her consultations include laboratory tests on one side and her unusual forms of observation on the other; she is guided by the color of the lower eyelid, or by the depth of the pulse. In her office in Bogotá, she explains to PAÍS why Chinese medicine, millennia after its creation, can help us stay healthy in the midst of modern life, with bodies overloaded with stress and constantly on alert.

Ask. When one approaches the complexity of Chinese medicine, one wonders how it is possible that a system of energy channels in human beings was discovered thousands of years ago.

Answer. That’s wonderful, because the canal theory evolved, and it’s not esoteric at all. There are many people who think it was a revelation. In reality, it wasn’t. The first discoveries were made because of the possibility they had of dissecting bodies. The Judeo-Christian tradition has an issue with the sacredness of the body: if you can’t touch it, profane it, after death, you can’t investigate it either. In China, they did a systematic study with cadavers. They realized that the canals were communications of circulation, of arteries. They began to say: if we put a tube through the ankle and we go up, how far does it go? The first studies that were done were 5,000 years ago. They didn’t know that there was a division between arteries and veins because circulation is a very recent description in medicine. It was discovered and described by William Harvey at the end of the 1600s. They realized these communications: what happens if what the foot is having is the same as what the head is having; So they could treat a headache in the foot, or in the hand. The great strength of Chinese medicine is that it is the largest observational and interventional study in all of humanity. Why? Because they have been around longer and because they have treated more people.

P. It is also a preventive medicine…


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R. The trick to health is not when things are happening. We all like to think like this: it’s not going to happen to me. And no one is exempt from any disease, just as no one is destined to have one. Habits are key, and Chinese medicine has always talked about that. The doctors who were paid in ancient times were those whose patients did not get sick. The doctor stopped getting paid when the patient got sick, because what is the function of medicine? To keep the person healthy, and not to treat them when they are already sick.

P. There are relationships that Chinese medicine had already suggested and that modern science has since been able to prove to be true. Which ones do you remember?

R. The geniuses of the 21st century are now saying that diseases are related to emotions. There are people who still don’t believe in that. Chinese medicine has always said that. Recently, a long and complex discipline called psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology has been described, which unites the neurological, the psychological, the immunological and the hormonal. That clearly makes sense, because if the body is not separate, why wouldn’t a hormonal situation impact the emotional, or why wouldn’t something emotional impact the intestinal state? We are a complex network of diverse aspects that are all linked. We cannot separate them.

P. In a world with everything in balance, what would happen to the pharmaceutical industry?

R. Here we come to the point: is it really in the system’s interest for people to get healthy? Why hasn’t there been much publicity about preventive systems that can help people in the long term? Because it’s not profitable. Nobody makes money selling celery, beets, broccoli. Taking broccoli and turning it into capsules, that does make money. The only way to get out of that control is to learn from your own body. The body knows how to be healthy. Nobody has to teach the body. You have to give it what it needs to be healthy.

An acupuncture session, in a file image.miljko (Getty Images)

P. She said that while writing the book she had a personal crisis. It’s funny, because people expect a doctor to know how to heal…

R. That was the worst part of the story. I have a professional responsibility to the people who seek me out, so I can’t be wrong for those people, but in the long run I’m only human. I had a depression at that time, which was limiting me from being able to carry out this project. I really like to write. When I was little, I wrote poetry. Taylor Swift would have made a lot of money with those poems… I even became a bit of a jerk. swiftie. There is a phrase that defines what my book is: I can do it with a broken heart (I can do it with a broken heart.) And another one that says: I cry a lot, but I’m so productive (I cry a lot, but I’m very productive.) My book basically has blood, tears and a lot of coffee…

P. In this issue of depression, does Chinese medicine help?

R. Of course. For Chinese medicine, the heart and mind are united; the heart-mind is a concept known as the ShenMental illnesses are treated in the heart, which is the emotional integrating center, and if it is altered, it alters all emotions. Because one thing that Chinese medicine has is that emotions are in the organs. It is not like you have fear or anxiety and I treat you with psychology. No, anxiety is treated in the spleen; for fear, the kidney is treated. For nostalgia, the lung.

P. What is the main reason people are asking for medical advice right now? What would you say we are sick of today?

R. It seems to me that the great pandemic is the lack of self-care, because everyone knows what they have to do. Everyone knows that you have to exercise, that you have to eat well, that you have to relate properly. Take a survey. Everyone knows this. But then the question is why people can’t do it, or can’t sustain it over time: because those three guidelines require the person to take care of themselves, and for human beings it is much easier to take care of others than to take care of ourselves.

A patient in China, during a moxibustion session, in an archive image.VCG (VCG via Getty Images)

P. So we are not as selfish as we think…

R. I see it more as a form of self-harm. It’s sad, because at its core it’s a lack of self-esteem. Sometimes people ask me what I think about suicide, but then what do I think about people with diabetes who eat a sweet every day and know they’re killing themselves. What’s the difference? Both will lead to death. This difficulty in self-care is a difficulty in trusting ourselves.

P. In his networks it is seen that he is a believer, in a religious sense, and for many it may seem contradictory, if he applies oriental techniques

R. What I tell people is: there is no way that you can heal if there is no connection with the spirit, because we are clearly more than matter. And for me, God is in all of this. Knowing that the reason a miracle happens is because of the purity of the mind of the person who is there, then it has to exist. The more we purify the mind, the healthier we will be.

P. In her posts on social networks, the topic of searching for love is constant. It seems that one of the main reasons for consultation is broken hearts.

R. That’s a phrase we hear a lot from women and not from men: ‘I feel broken. I feel like something’s not right.’ We’re constantly sending contradictory signals to our bodies: we want faithful love, but we can’t be true to ourselves. I see more people who suffer from doing everything the wrong way. We come back again: when human dignity is recovered, that’s when you see a strength in people that’s like: where do you get that strength from! Yes, because when you recover your dignity in self-care and in love, things are different.

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