Andy Ma originally came to New Zealand for a year in 2009 to improve his English language skills, but quickly fell in love with the country and decided to stay permanently.
It helped that he discovered there was a huge demand for traditional Chinese medicine. He soon opened a clinic in Meadowbank and Pukekohe and, most recently, in the Riverside Arcade in Warkworth.
Andy learned Chinese medicine at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, recognised as the best in the world in the discipline. He followed up his studies with a three-year apprenticeship from a master Chinese medical practitioner.
He says his interest in the art was spurred while growing up. His childhood ailments and sports injuries were all successfully dealt with by traditional methods.
“I thought it would be a good thing for me to learn. It is so rewarding to fix people’s health,” he says.
As his New Zealand practice has grown, Andy has been able to partner with other practitioners with specialist expertise in herbal medicine, acupuncture, tui na massage and paediatric massage – enabling the TCM Clinic to offer a comprehensive service.
TCM Clinic is also recognised by ACC as a health provider suitable for treating injuries.
Andy says a holistic approach is characteristic of Chinese medicine and when treating clients, it’s essential to look at the whole body, not just the part causing trouble, and consider factors such as lifestyle, diet, environment and relationships to find effective solutions to health problems.
He says Chinese medicine can often treat chronic conditions when conventional methods have failed to diagnose the problem.
“We see a lot of people with digestion problems, fatigue, anxiety, aching joints and children with skin issues or persistent colds or coughs,” he says.
Andy says he often gets letters of thanks, particularly after treating elderly people who have previously been unable to stand straight and have suffered constant aches and pains.
“They are so grateful they feel so much better,” he says.