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Traditional Therapies Meet High-Tech Big Health at Wellness Expo

With its mixture of digital mugwort diffusers, organic ginseng and oxygen-rich refuges, this year's China International Health Industry Expo saw Traditional Chinese Medicine fuse with cutting-edge tech to bring Big Health to the mainland.

Photo: Moxibustion: A classic Chinese medicinal therapy given a distinctly high-tech twist.
Moxibustion: A classic Chinese medicinal therapy given a distinctly high-tech twist.
Photo: Moxibustion: A classic Chinese medicinal therapy given a distinctly high-tech twist.
Moxibustion: A classic Chinese medicinal therapy given a distinctly high-tech twist.

The faith many mainlanders have in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is actually on the up, with sales in the sector showing steady growth – all of which will have been good news for the 2,000 exhibitors that gathered in Guangzhou for the China (Guangzhou) International Health Industry Expo. Also known as the Inter Health Expo, the event showcased a wide range of health and wellness products, including foodstuffs, tonics, detox treatments and medical / healthcare devices, as well as a wealth of health-management services.

As a sign that all in the sector is not quite as traditional as once it was, there was also an emphasis on the role TCM can play in Big Health – the Chinese government's healthy living initiative that seeks to combine traditional remedies, western medicine and fitness / wellness regimes into one national holistic programme. Perhaps departing still further from classic TCM precepts, there was also robust representation from the biotechnology sector, which has attracted a lot of attention with its ongoing bid to reverse engineer a number of traditional remedies to establish just how and why they are effective.

Strictly on the more traditionalist side, though, was the Hong Kong Tin Bo Tong Group, with the company showcasing a wide range of ginseng products – including oral solutions and cosmetic preparations – at this year's event. As well as being the sole mainland agent for wild Korean ginseng, the company also operates a 1.67 sq km proprietary ginseng farm in Dandong, a mainland city on North Korea's western border. According to the company, by controlling the source, it can guarantee the quality of its medicinal ginseng.

Maintaining that the sector is in robust shape, Lu Xuejin, the company's Business Director, said: "Mainland consumers remain committed to TCM and the demand for such health products has never been higher. For our part, we have looked to capitalise on this by developing a number of new TCM health supplements in partnership with several mainland companies.

"We also have our own range of TCM skincare products, something we are now looking to expand. In addition to our core ranges, we can also customise products for clients on request. In the past, this has seen us repackage pure ginseng powder into client-supplied branded containers."

Photo: Bench-testing the benefits of bird’s nests.
Bench-testing the benefits of bird's nests.
Photo: Bench-testing the benefits of bird’s nests.
Bench-testing the benefits of bird's nests.

Lu's faith in the sector was backed by a spokesman for Guangzhou Tung Hong Medicine, a distributor of ginseng, wolfberry, bird's nest and notoginseng (Tianqi) TCM products. Assessing the current state of the market, he said: "As their awareness of health and wellness issues has increased, more and more mainlanders have begun to seek out good quality TCM treatments. It's a demand that we can meet as all our ginseng, for instance, is naturally grown rather than subjected to an any accelerated ripening process.

"Similarly, our red ginseng is produced in the traditional fashion – pot-fried with glutinous rice in order to remove any moisture. This helps preserve the ginseng while also enhancing its potency."

Photo: Tin Bo Tong’s ginseng range.
Tin Bo Tong's ginseng range.
Photo: Tin Bo Tong’s ginseng range.
Tin Bo Tong's ginseng range.
Photo: Omega 3: Everyone’s favourite fatty acid.
Omega 3: Everyone's favourite fatty acid.
Photo: Omega 3: Everyone’s favourite fatty acid.
Omega 3: Everyone's favourite fatty acid.

Healthy Tech

In addition to the many stands offering TCM products, this year's event also saw a number of companies looking to promote their healthy tech gadgets. One such company was Shenzhen Zofu Technology, which had on offer a compact, touch-controlled essence extractor.

Highlighting the benefits of the device, Yang Donshou, the company's Sales Manager, said: "Many people like to prepare their own health drinks and this machine can extract the essence of the user's favoured fruits or vegetable in five easy steps, releasing 90% of the nutrition, while only losing 5% of the active ingredients."

Quite a different application of technology was on offer from Guangdong Oxyfull Technology, with its eye-catching oxygen capsule somewhat hard to miss. Essentially, the capsule offers a closed, oxygen-rich environment designed to help patients with low blood oxygen level conditions, such as hypoxemia.

Emphasising the capsule's benefits, Marketing Manager Lei Huiyuan said: "The oxygen density within the capsule is about 25-30%, which is well above the 20% typical in most environments. This, obviously, makes it ideal for anyone whose body is struggling to take in enough oxygen. While it's really targeted at elderly care institutions, spas, gyms and leisure clubs, it could be used at home providing there was enough space."

Photo: Oxyfull’s oxygen-full therapy unit.
Oxyfull's oxygen-full therapy unit.
Photo: Oxyfull’s oxygen-full therapy unit.
Oxyfull's oxygen-full therapy unit.
Photo: A welcome mat: Bottom comfort from Bullsone.
A welcome mat: Bottom comfort from Bullsone.
Photo: A welcome mat: Bottom comfort from Bullsone.
A welcome mat: Bottom comfort from Bullsone.

Overall, despite keen competition from many of the other high-tech companies on show, two businesses in particular managed to cut through the clutter – Dongguan-based Aitiannian Health Science and Technology and Shanghai's Bullsone. In the case of the former, it was its moxibustion treatment bed that caught the eye of many attendees.

Much of its appeal lies in its combination of moxibustion – a classic TCM therapy that sees mugwort burnt close to the body as an aid to the circulation – with intelligent design. Simple to use, once the mugwort cones have been placed in the appropriate recesses the bed delivers a whole-body treatment. To date, the bed has proved particularly popular with spa owners as one operator can tend to several patients on different beds simultaneously.

While appearing low-tech, Bullsone's sitting mat actually combines gel polymer technology and anti-bacterial materials with a unique double honeycomb design, making it comfortable, supportive and hygienic. According to the company, it represents a huge boon to those looking to maintain the correct sitting posture for any prolonged period.

Photo: Future fit: The proposed Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area Smart Health City.
Future fit: The proposed Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area Smart Health City.
Photo: Future fit: The proposed Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area Smart Health City.
Future fit: The proposed Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area Smart Health City.

The 2018 China (Guangzhou) International Health Industry Expo took place from 28-30 June at the Guangzhou China Import and Export Fair Complex. The event featured more than 2,000 domestic and overseas exhibitors.

Long Kui, Special Correspondent, Guangzhou

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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