Like many good ideas, this one began as a side hustle. Back in 2014, Beatrice Liu-Cheng began distributing Traditional Chinese Medicine products on the side while caring for her mother, who had cancer. They were products her mother used to manage her symptoms and Liu-Cheng, who worked at P&G for 10 years, wanted to make them available to a wider audience.
Her entrepreneurial endeavours led her to discover Oriental Remedies Group (ORG) which was at that time run by physician Leong Weizhen. Impressed by her, Liu-Cheng offered to help with the sales and marketing aspects of the business. The patient load tripled within three months, which led both women to realise they were on to something.
In 2019, Liu-Cheng joined ORG as co-founder and CEO. “As a caregiver, I understand how difficult it can be for patients and their family members. I realised I wanted to spread awareness that prevention is better than cure. Also, I realised that if my mum had seen a good TCM physician 10 years ago, there would already have been tell-tale signs that her constitution was not good,” she says. “I want to improve the quality of life for people with chronic conditions.”
Currently, the company has a multicultural team of over 40 employees across three clinics, with a fourth opening soon. They include 10 bilingual Ministry Of Health-registered physicians and there are plans to hire seven more graduates next year with a double degree in biomedical sciences and TCM from Nanyang Technological University next year.
Herbal TCM medicine takes time and people can get impatient. We want to help speed up recovery and to improve the patient’s quality of life with the tech-enhanced treatments.Beatrice Liu-Cheng, CEO of Oriental Remedies Group
A unique aspect of ORG is how the physicians incorporate TCM treatments such as acupuncture, cupping and herbal medicine with tech-enhanced therapies like Electro-Lymphatic Therapy (ELT), Far-Infrared Therapy (FIT) and Negative Ion Therapy.
She explains, “For example, a patient with eczema might be prescribed a herbal medicine regimen with ELT as their skin might be too sensitive to the alcohol used during disinfection to benefit from acupuncture. If a patient seeks pain management treatment, instead of conventional TCM heat lamp treatment that can cause burns if left on the skin too close for too long unsupervised, we use far-infrared emitters with wavelengths that penetrate deep into the skin without heating the surface.”
TCM has seen a surge in demand among younger patients
Patient numbers, especially among younger patients, have increased more than 10 times since 2019, thanks to these innovations. Common ailments include metabolic issues, pre-diabetes treatment, fertility issues, energy and performance optimisation, and cancer support.
TCM has also seen a surge in interest due to Covid-19. Patients often seek treatment for long-term symptoms such as coughing, breathlessness and fatigue. “Patients are prescribed herbs depending on whether they are qi deficient or yin deficient. We have seen symptoms improve within one to three weeks,” she observes.
Furthermore, ORG’s physicians can communicate in both English and Mandarin. So, even those who cannot speak the latter can understand their treatment plan. According to Liu-Cheng, the clinics do draw patients who are non-Mandarin speaking and not Chinese as well.
Working hand in hand with western medicine
Western medicine can also benefit from TCM treatments. For instance, the team works with an oncologist who refers patients who may need help managing certain cancer symptoms. They will then determine if certain herbs are contraindicated.
As Liu-Cheng continues to work on her mission to make TCM more accessible to a wider audience, she focuses on ORG’s tagline — “Feel better faster”. She says, “Herbal TCM medicine takes time and people can get impatient. We want to help speed up recovery and to improve the patient’s quality of life with the tech-enhanced treatments.”