When Pope Francis was still Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, he became friends with a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dr. Liu Ming. Cardinal Bergoglio went to the good doctor for acupuncture (a form of alternative medicine where thin needles are inserted into the body) for eight years, from 2004 to 2012. He tells My Pope about what it was like to meet and treat the man who became Pope Francis.
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How did you meet the Santo Papa?
In September 2003, a patient I cured spoke to me about a cardinal who needed treatment. A few days later, Bergoglio called asking me if I could visit him in the Archbishopric. When I entered, he looked into my eyes for a minute at the very least. A very strange situation, but instead of making me uncomfortable, it gave me great confidence. We got along right away. He used to have a lot of health concerns; he said his gall bladder was removed and that he had a problem with his liver. He had also undergone lung surgery and he had heart problems and was supposed to have another surgery.
Was he taking many medicines?
Yes, a lot of pills. I told him to start a treatment right away. We first started with three times a week.
Did he go to your clinic?
No, never. I would go to his place. After a while, we would see each other twice a week, then once. After three years, we started to see each other much less, only every three months.
At the end of this cycle, was the Pope well?
Yes, he has stopped taking medicines for the heart and his diabetes. To this day, as far as I know, he is not taking anything.
What did the treatment consist of?
It was a combination of acupuncture and massages. Chinese medicine acts naturally. I often say that a person treated with Chinese medicine may live up to 140 years.
How was Pope Francis as a patient?
Very calm. Needles did not bother him. He is a very spiritual person. It has been an honor for me, treating a person of nobility who does not care for appearances. The first thing that struck me was the condition of his clothes. They were quite worn out, [and he wore] always the same shoes. And I would ask myself: How can such an important person be so humble?