Tra­di­tional medicine takes root in 2 US states

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The world’s largest pro­ducer of prod­ucts for tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine (TCM) opened stores this week in New York and Cal­i­for­nia to cap­i­tal­ize on the growing in­ter­est in the al­ter­na­tive medicine prac­tice.

Bei­jing-based Ton­grentang Group Co Ltd, or Tong Ren Tang (TRT), also is open­ing an out­let in Van­cou­ver, Bri­tish Columbia, on Sun­day. The New York stores are in Man­hat­tan and Flush­ing, Queens, which has a large pop­u­la­tion of Chi­nese. The Cal­i­for­nia out­lets are in Los An­ge­les and San Fran­cisco, also home to a large Chi­nese com­mu­nity.

In ad­di­tion to prod­ucts, Ton­grentang also pro­vides health ser­vices like acupunc­ture and mas­sage ther­apy.

Founded in 1669 by the Yue fam­ily in a Bei­jing store­front, Ton­grentang was ap­pointed to pro­vide medicine for the royal phar­macy of the im­pe­rial palace of the Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911) for eight gen­er­a­tions of Qing em­per­ors span­ning 188 years. Ton­grentang be­gan ex­pand­ing over­seas in 1993 when it opened a re­tail phar­macy in Hong Kong be­fore it re­turned to China in 1997.

“Ton­grentang is a time-hon­ored brand in China so most Chi­nese Amer­i­cans, even sec­ond and third gen­er­a­tion, will rec­og­nize our name,” said Helen Wang, direc­tor of over­seas in­vest­ments for the com­pany.

She said the com­pany hopes to build off that brand recog­ni­tion. “We think the in­creas­ing in­ter­est in acupunc­ture will mo­ti­vate Amer­i­cans to con­sider TCM,” Wang said.

TCM orig­i­nated in an­cient China and has evolved over thou­sands of years. Prac­ti­tion­ers use herbal medicines and var­i­ous body prac­tices, such as acupunc­ture, to treat or pre­vent health prob­lems,

ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Cen­ter for Com­ple­men­tary and In­te­gra­tive Health, the US govern­ment’s lead agency for re­search on med­i­cal prac­tices that are not gen­er­ally con­sid­ered part of con­ven­tional medicine.

TCM has been gain­ing ac­cep­tance in the US and other Western na­tions, but is still con­sid­ered pri­mar­ily a com­ple­men­tary ap­proach to health care. The use of acupunc­ture as a pain­man­age­ment tool has been in­creas­ing along with Chi­nese herbal ther­apy which rep­re­sents a ma­jor part of TCM.

In 2014, the Cleve­land Clinic, a ma­jor US med­i­cal cen­ter, opened a herbal clinic as part of the hos­pi­tal’s Cen­ter for In­te­gra­tive Medicine.

Wang said a Ton­grentang out­let is not like a tra­di­tional US phar­macy. “We are sim­i­lar to a nat­u­ral health store in that we sell herbal sup­ple­ments and pro­vide ser­vices like acupunc­ture and mas­sage,” she said. “All of our ser­vice providers meet the li­cense re­quire­ments that are man­dated in each lo­ca­tion.”

Shares of the com­pany be­gan trad­ing on the Hong Kong stock ex­change in 2013.

The Ton­grentang lo­ca­tion on Madi­son Av­enue in New York City is an es­tab­lished TCM clinic, which will be ex­panded to in­clude a re­tail op­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to Wang.

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