Chenot Palace Weggis – can you turn back the clock to look and feel younger?
By Karen Smee
For centuries, humans have searched for the elixir of youth and the secret to longevity. The ancient Chinese believed that ingesting long-lasting precious substances such as jade, cinnabar or hematite would confer some of that longevity on the person who consumed them. In Hindu scriptures, it was thought anybody who consumed even the tiniest portion of amrita would gain immortality. Fortunately, advancements in medicine and anti-ageing treatments have come a long way since ancient times, and there are a multitude of health and medical centres who can offer the secret to youth, such as Chenot Palace Weggis in Switzerland. As I was to find out, this is no ordinary medical wellness retreat….
Shining a light on physical and mental wellbeing, Chenot has been a pioneer of human health treatments for over 50 years. The group is perhaps best known for its ground-breaking Chenot Method® – a means to promote wellness with preventative actions, through a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach. Treatments are research-based and seamlessly layered to give scientific accuracy to an array of biomarkers within your entire body. The Chenot Method® is the intersection between technology, diagnostics, and Chinese medicine, meaning that they acknowledge the energy and strength of the nervous system, which has a role in symptoms of pain or dysfunction of the body.
At Chenot, they believe we can actually reverse ageing and the resulting inflammation that leads to disease. I was fascinated to try this out for myself, to see if the Chenot Method® could recharge my batteries, rejuvenate my dull skin, and give me back some of my lost vitality. I was certainly not disappointed; over my week’s long journey between diet, diagnostic assessments and Chinese acupuncture, and after an entire cleanse and detox of the body, I returned home feeling like a new person.
My programme at Chenot Palace Weggis, located on the beautiful Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, began with an in-depth medical and nutritional consultation to fully understand my health status, goals, and habits in order to determine the personalised treatments that I would need to re-set both my body and my mind. I was put through a series of tests to establish my stress levels and skin quality, and to determine the level of inflammation in my body. These were complemented by state-of-the-art diagnostic tests to establish my bone density, the age of my heart and lungs, and a review of my biological age.
In Chinese medicine, it is believed that the body is made of avenues of energy called “meridians.” When one of these avenues is blocked, it leads to inflammation and dysfunction, with acupuncture typically used to unblock the problem. As my consultant doctor, Shirin Hund, told me: “Typically, you go to your doctor when something is wrong, and you are either prescribed medicine or surgery. In Chinese medicine, we speak about the energy, the meridians, the imbalance. At Chenot, we do not talk about health in a fragmented way. Very few places do it like this.”
Dr. Shirin was quick to point out that advanced glycation (oxidative stress) and too much sugar in our cells can lead to ageing quickly and can put a strain on our hearts. Luckily for me, limiting my pudding and chocolate intake had kept this under control. At Chenot Palace Weggis, I found their vegan diet of 850 calories was ample. The intention here is that if you eliminate your animal protein, dairy, salt, oil, and caffeine, you give your digestion a pause. Mimicking a fasting process, you are not starving but you are eating in such a small quantity that the body thinks it’s fasting, and it starts this process of autophagy recycling damaged cells – effectively cleaning the body from the inside, working on the basis that digestion is the anthesis of healing. This is the core of the Chenot Method® and because of this, Chenot say the first three days are challenging – which is simply the toxins in your body making their way out. I must say that eating a three-course meal that looked like Michelin starred gourmet for 7 days, while looking out on the picturesque view of Lake Lucerne and the snow-capped mountains beyond, was not a trial at all.
In addition, and as part of the 6-day Advanced Detox Programme, Chenot Palace Weggis offers some of the most comprehensive facilities in the world, including a world-class metabolic and sports laboratory, an in-house blood analysis laboratory, an altitude room, a digital infrared thermal imaging machine, a Zen garden, four dedicated sleeping rooms, and anti-gravity exercise. However, perhaps the most staggering facility for me was the whole-body Cryotherapy chamber which is supposed to be very effective for the reduction of chronic-inflammatory diseases. Three minutes at -10°C was more than enough for me, and whilst it seemed somewhat extreme, I certainly found it refreshing, to say the least.
When I retreated to the sanctuary of my room, I was delighted to see that it overlooked Lake Lucerne and the peaks of Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus, offering a relaxing space to admire the picturesque setting. Everywhere I went throughout the centre, I could feel there was an evident connection to nature, through use of colours, shapes, and space. Even the 21-metre indoor swimming pool, which is made from natural stone from the nearby Alps, reflects the view of Lake Lucerne and the mountain backdrop, which rather gave the sensation of swimming in a freshwater lake.
The weather was glorious – Switzerland at its very best – so I took the opportunity to take the cable car up to the top of Mount Rigi, with its stunning views over the mountain range and lakes beyond. After a two-hour walk back down the mountain, surrounded by the overwhelming scent of Spring flowers, I was certainly ready for lunch.
My afternoon was then spent with intermittent vacuum therapy, nestled inside a tube that squeezes the fluids from your lymphatic drainage. It was an odd feeling but I certainly felt lighter afterwards. By my third day, I was beginning to feel lighter all round, and noticeably less tired.
Chenot Palace Weggis has been nominated at the World Spa Awards for “World’s Best Detox Programme” for the second time in a row, and the daily spa treatments are core to the Chenot Method® detox. Starting with hydrotherapy baths which open the blood vessels and lymphatics, you are then wrapped in mud, where you really sweat. This is detoxification, which is good for very dry skin, the liver and the adrenal glands. This is followed by cold hydro jets, which bring your blood pressure up and shock your immune system. You then have an energetic massage with cupping, which is based on Chinese medicine. It moves stagnant energy to the right place, and they say the redder the imprints, the more toxic blood you have. It’s a strange sensation but at the hands of Dionysus, my Greek therapist, I was in heaven. Dionysus tells me that he trained for three months to perform the Chenot Energetic massage, and it’s a testament to this training that I can honestly say it was the best massage I have ever had.
Chenot’s current Chief Operating & Scientific Officer is Dr. George Gaitanos, who continues to evolve the Chenot Method® legacy of Dr. Henri Chenot. Dr. George has introduced many of the new advanced technologies, and is taking Chenot in a fresh direction with the Chenot Molecular Lab. Driven by science, the aim of this newest development is to unlock human potential by increasing mental and physical performance at any age. I asked Dr. George how it works. “By analysing the activity of specific genes, we can unlock the big picture of our health and can analyse the root cause of fast ageing and premature age-related chronic diseases,” he tells me. “Many companies are selling DNA tests or genetic tests which give you a static picture of your health, whereas we are providing a dynamic picture to which we then apply tailor-made treatments that will slow down the rate of your biological age and build resilience to the onset of age-related diseases. It gives us a chance to prescribe certain supplements so that we can see positive change, and this is something that is not being done in other institutions.”
I asked Dr. George if you really could turn back the clock and reverse ageing. The answer, he says, is yes, you can. “You can heal yourself by the way you live your life,” he tells me. “You want me to listen to you, but you are the person who personalises your needs. I have to become your partner, so I need to give you the tools. So, yes, you tell me, and I will help you feel better, slow down the ageing process and give you back the optimal health that you felt when you were younger.”
So, what does medical advancement look like in the future? Dr. George said, “We will reach a point in the future where we will be able to increase our own personal health, until the day we die. So, there’s a chance we will die healthy without disease or pain. The aim is to live until we are 100 and die healthy. Our focus should not be on trying to avoid disease; our focus should be on living happily and successfully. Doing little things every day that promote our health and our wellbeing. This is where we should be going.”
After four days of rigorous detoxification, exercise, spa treatments and putting myself through various machines, I was starting to feel very tired. But with the lake sunshine, my aching body and mind began to settle into a place of tranquillity and calm, aided by the mountain air (through hypoxic exposure treatment) and some neuro-acoustic rainforest music for deep relaxation. Who couldn’t find peace in this part of Switzerland?!
On the final day of my week-long treatment, I was given my full analysis of cardiovascular risk of disease (through a cardiorespiratory fitness assessment,) my heart health, and a minerals and heavy metals intoxication analysis. I am pleased to say that it was not as bad as I might have expected, but I noticed there were lots of useful pointers covering all aspects of my health, explaining how to continue my life healthier and happier. A firm reminder that the Chenot Method® is about prevention, not cure!
Armed with these test results and advice, I left Chenot Palace Weggis feeling as though I could take on the world. I truly did feel lighter, my brain was sharper, and I felt positively energised. I can even say I felt younger, as Dr. George promised I would do.