December 11, 2017

Lauren Dulberg, Chinese medicine doctor

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Practice makes perfect

Lauren Dulberg
Lauren Dulberg
Lauren Dulberg
By Sorrel Moseley-Williams
For The Herald

New York
Lives: Almagro
Education: BA in Anthropology from University of Arizona, D.OM, MSTOM L.Ac from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine
Profession: Owner and doctor of Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Buenos Aires
Currently reading: Just Kids by Patti Smith
Last film: La Grande Bellezza
Gadget: My guide to the I Ching

Although she and her Argentine husband were settled in the US, Chinese medicine doctor Lauren Dulberg was keen for change and therefore happy to start afresh in Buenos Aires. That was two years ago, and the couple and their two sons are now based in Almagro where her practice is also located.

Lauren says: “I first came here in 2006 and I was coming to meet Jesse and Max, friends of mine who live in England. They told me to stay in a great hostel in Palermo called Casa Jardín that doesn’t exist any more, and that was Marcelo, my husband’s, hostel. He was pretty much the first guy I ever asked out on a date, with the line ‘I hear there’s really good steak in Argentina...’

“We hung out the whole time I was here for the 10 days, then he came to visit me in New York a few months later and we fell in love. We had a long-distance relationship for about a year and a half, and we were living together while I studied Chinese medicine, which is a six-year degree programme. Then we decided to move here a little over two years ago.”

After moving around the US between Arizona, New York City and California over the years, the time came when the couple considered making the jump to the southern hemisphere. Lauren, who went backpacking around India for six months when she was younger and who’d always dreamed of living abroad, relished the new opportunity.

She says: “We made the move for various reasons. When Noah (who is now aged four) was four months old, we transferred to San Diego as we were tired of the snow. We’d been in California for two years when we decided we wanted another change; in addition, Marcelo missed home so we thought we’d try out Argentina.

“I’m licensed in New York as an acupuncturist but decided not to work there as the kids were very little and we wanted to enjoy them, and Argentina is easier in that way. In the States, I’d have to work a lot more and here you can enjoy life.

“We used to come back and forth quite a lot, for a couple of months at a time when Noah was a baby and I had some vacation from school, so I came to Buenos Aires quite a lot and was pretty familiar with it. Marcelo, who’s from Hurlingham, had also bought our house, an old PH, way before we met so we had a home to move in to.

“The house, which is in Almagro, had been rented for several years so we fixed it up and undertook some renovation work, and once that was done I opened up my practise a month later.”

One of very few Chinese medicine doctors in Latin America, she says that while opening a clinic was relatively simple, obtaining medicinal herbs and her tools of the trade is not. “Setting up a business wasn’t too hard, mainly a question of finding good massage tables. My husband’s really crafty and refurbishes furniture so he pretty much made my clinic. When we moved here, we had 12 suitcases between us and that’s when I brought in a lot of supplies for the initial start. You don’t need that much for an acupuncture clinic, needles and beds mainly. Often I can’t get what I need for work – my needles and herbs, basically – so I have to rely on friends bringing them in for me. That’s been really difficult to adapt to.

“It’s takes around 4,000 hours of study and practise in China and is equivalent to doing a doctorate. The UK and the US copy that model but there isn’t a legitimate Chinese medicine school in Latin America. Some doctors might have studied in China for a month or taken a 40-hour course but this medicine is very complex and it takes years to be able to know how to diagnose. It’s continual study. I heard that there’s a similar kind of course in Brazil that could take half the time it does in China or the US, but it’s still not enough. Argentines are quite embracing of new treatments but people often don’t know the difference between something legitimate and something that’s not.”

While her two sons are being brought up bilingual, Lauren says she still finds speaking Spanish difficult. “The children are quite bilingual as I only speak to them in English while their dad only speaks to them in his native tongue plus they go to Spanish-speaking nursery and play in Spanish. Their English isn’t so bad and in fact they speak their own mixed-up language to each other when they’re playing. Sometimes I have no idea what they’re saying!”

“But the biggest cultural difference for me has been adapting to the language. I’m definitely not fluent but between my practice and the children, I can only take one class a week. It’s been the biggest adaptation for me.”

As for her precious spare time, Lauren enjoys her children as much as possible and also puts pen to paper to write songs when she can.

“My alarm clock is my kids and they wake up saying ‘mommy’! I spend as much time as I can with them. The days I work I see my patients between 9am and 5pm and when I have time, I try to do yoga, and meditate. I’m also a singer/songwriter specializing in folk music and sometimes perform at Folk You. It's a mommy's life but it means I spend time with my kids and my friends, play music and hang out with my husband. Pretty mellow!

“One of the places I like to go out to is this great café called Musetta in Almagro, and we also frequent Ninina café in Palermo. That’s where the boys’ birthday cakes came from. I’m always up for trying new places or closed-door restaurants and I also really love Don Julio steak house. But I probably don’t get out as much as I should.”

She has had a chance to travel around the country, however, and recently spent Christmas and new year in southern Argentina.

Lauren says: “We just got back from three weeks in Patagonia, near Bariloche, then Villa la Angostura and spent every day in the lakes, eating chocolate and trout, and hiking. I loved it so much. We drove there with a four year old and a two year old and we did it! I was impressed with that part and felt very accomplished. We try to get out of the city a lot, to an estancia or to Tandil.”

As for her most Argentine characteristic, the Chinese medicine doctor says she was already into drinking mate long before living in Argentina was on the radar. “I always drank it, even before I came here, when it hit the US in the late 1990s. I drink that frequently and I also enjoy the abundance of good cheap red wine. I’m not a huge consumer but I do appreciate that. And I definitely eat more meat than I used to.”

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