An Insight into Alternative Medicine with Dr Carlo Barbieri

An Insight into Alternative Medicine with Dr Carlo Barbieri


Dr. Carlo Barbieri is one of the leading health specialists at Lefay Spa & Resort Lago di Garda, developing their retreats and ensuring each one is an all-encompassing wellness experience. With a background in medicine in multiple Italian cities as well as Beijing, China, we believe Dr. Barbieri is an interesting and unique resource in the medical field. We were fortunate enough to ask him some questions about his background, what his training means for your holiday at Lefay, and much more!  

Dr. Barbieri, you have such a fascinating and international background, being an Italian doctor who has studied traditional Chinese medicine in Beijing. What drew you to learn about Chinese acupuncture/medical techniques? 

After graduation,  I felt the need to have a broader view of the human body and the relationships between health and disease and I didn't want to specialize on one part losing sight of the whole. I realized that Western medicine is very effective in treating acute pathologies but is much less satisfying in analyzing all the variables that affect a person's health, otherwise known as epigenetics. I had read that classical Chinese culture did not separate the psyche from the body and man was seen as an integral part of nature so any change in the animal, plant or mineral world had immediate repercussions on health. We are discovering this now. 

Why did you choose to join the professional team at Lefay? What is your favourite thing about the resort? 

Working as an acupuncturist in my studio always gives me a lot of satisfaction but being able to collaborate with Lefay allows me to follow a quest for a few days observing the change that happens as the program evolves. Certainly this is what fascinates me most! 

Lefay focuses on combining this traditional Chinese medicine you studied with scientific Western practices. Can you please explain this combination a little bit more in-depth along with the benefits? 

What Chinese medicine provides is a deep awareness of the relationships between the model of life, health and disease. Becoming aware that what we think, how we react to stress, food choices, the sport we practice, the relationships we have, the environment we live in, sexuality, and many more influences the health we enjoy at all times. Chinese thought processes all of this through a sophisticated system of analogies and symbols built around a yin/yang binary logic. Our medicine provides fundamental parameters and being able to integrate them with those used by Chinese medicine guarantees greater benefits! 

Classical Chinese medicine has focused on stress as a cause of poor health - how do treatments at Lefay alleviate stress? 

Lefay has numerous protocols at its disposal to help fight stress. First of all, the very structure of the resort and the place where it was built are designed to be relaxing. Then certainly the proposed treatments, the food, and the exquisite hospitality allow a re-balancing and invigorating break before returning to daily life. 

What can travellers expect from treatments at Lefay that they cannot find anywhere else? 

Lefay's strength is certainly its method. A guest is never left to themselves and the proposed choices are never random but are part of a global rebalancing that is defined after the first energy visit with the doctor. The possibility of interpreting one's symptoms with a multidisciplinary approach is always a strength. 

Many of the treatments at Lefay revolve around energy transferring and balancing. What are the health benefits of energy balancing for those that aren’t as familiar? 

Chinese medical vision follows the Chaos Theory of contemporary physics. Any disturbance of the energy of a level is reflected in the overall system - or as Lorenz famously said, "A flapping of wings in Brazil can result in a tornado in Texas." So any emotional and physical imbalance of the body is reflected in the health of the individual. The game is to understand it and have the chance to recover a balance before you can potentially develop a chronic disease 

What’s the most common misconception about traditional Chinese meditation practices? 

To think that meditation involves turning one's thoughts to some deity or is aimed at something transcendental. The most important idea in meditation is simply to focus on abdominal (diaphragmatic) breathing. Doing this empties the mind and produces a stimulus to the vagus nerve that reduces the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and consequently stress. In China, the benefits of meditation would be defined as a practice that serves to empty the heart of the emotions that flow into it, where the heart is seen as the mind. This helps the flow of energy, reduces Yang and tones Yin." 

Can you talk a little bit more about two of the energy massages offered in the Detox programme - specifically “La luce oltre la Nebbia” and “Rugiada del Mattino.” For those who may be unfamiliar, what are those massages and what are their health benefits? 

Regardless of the poetic license that is used in the Spa to define a massage, there is always a connection between a name and an action. The "La luce oltre la nebbia" is a massage performed with Chinese techniques that works on channels and energy points with the action of moving the stagnant energy typical of people who have an unhealthy life and feeding system. The "Rugiada del mattino" is instead a lymphatic drainage massage carried out with French school techniques that act to eliminate lymphatic stagnation. 

Do you have any treatments yourself regularly? 

Excluding the massages I undergo to test the quality of new therapists, my favorite massage when I'm stressed is the "Massaggio dell'imperatore" 

How does Lefay equip guests for successfully combating the ill effects of stress after their retreat? 

The retreats have been revised and calibrated to help guests understand what has been the worst deprivation suffered during these last two difficult years and to take a pause for reflection. Just like an orchestra: the guest brings the musical instruments, we help them  tune them and then they choose what they want to play. 


It was so fascinating to hear more about Dr. Barbieri’s approach to retreats and treatments at Lefay and on health in general! He has a wealth of international knowledge and it was incredible to hear from him! Lefay SPA Lago di Garda offers holidays in sleep enhancement, stress relief, weight management, and more!  If you’re interested in a retreat at Lefay SPA Lago di Garda, click here for more information! 


Talk to one of our Wellness Travel Specialists on 0203 397 8891 or contact us here to discuss tailor-making your ideal wellness holiday! 



Photo of Dr. Barbieri

Carlo Barbieri graduated in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Verona. In 1986 he spent his first six-month period at the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Beijing. Back in Italy, he won two scholarships for a two-year medical-scientific project for the application of acupuncture in the Antalgic Therapy wards of the Civic Hospital of Padua and Vicenza. 

Between 1988 and 1990 he returned to China and attended the Academy of Harbin, in Manchuria, where he trained during his residency. Back in Italy, Carlo became a lecturer at MACME (Medical Association for Chinese Medicine in Europe) and opened two studies in Milan and London, where he joined the British Acupuncture Council.  


In 2008 he obtained a second master’s degree in “The Integration of Western Medicine with Oriental Medicines” at the La Sapienza University of Rome and began his collaboration with Lefay SPA, where he is currently the main medical expert in Chinese Acupuncture.