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Revitalising touch (Amended)
31 Scotts Road
ANTI-ageing isn't a new topic for Singaporeans, what with the onslaught of supplements, detox regimes, face and body treatments that have bombarded the consumer since the concept was introduced here almost 20 years ago.
But while the practice has mostly taken a western slant, Asian therapies are starting to take hold.
A China-based healthcare company, for one, wants to set a new paradigm for anti-ageing healthcare and focus on functional medicine with its first clinic outside its home country. "With optimal health management, a male can be an average of 27 years younger than their chronological age, and women can be an average 29 years younger," says Chen Li, founder of Life Infinity Clinic, quoting from the book The Real Age Makeover by Dr Michael Roizen, an American anti-ageing expert. Dr Chen had also previously headed Procter & Gamble's technical marketing and training for their SKII skincare brand as well as over 10 other beauty and health brands.
Life Infinity, which has facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hainan, opened in Singapore last week, and has the backing of leading tycoons in China. In Singapore, it's backed by Hong Kong-listed real estate company, Fullshare Holdings. The firm will also back Life Infinity's move to open in France.
Only 25 per cent of one's health is dependent on genes, she says, while 75 per cent is about how you manage your health by reducing chronic diseases, which is now the key problem in modern society.
According to the World Health Organisation, a third of cancers can be prevented. Even 90 per cent of death caused by cardiovascular disease can be prevented. Yet, in some countries, cancer odds are 50 per cent for men and 33 per cent for women above age 45.
"If you don't manage chronic diseases then it's going to get worse. Most people have one chronic disease. if you manage it well, you can live with it for the rest of your life. The secondary chronic diseases can be deferred by 40 to 50 years. Otherwise, the primary chronic disease will lead to the second one or even the third one within 3-5 years," she says.
The key now is to tackle chronic diseases that cause inflammation and which are linked to many health problems. Explaining Life Infinity's approach, Chen Jun Ping, an immunologist and neuroscience specialist who manages Life Infinity's medical team and product designs, notes that Life Infinity practises a blend of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine.
Chronic diseases take 10 to 20 years to manifest but there are subclinical symptoms. Inflammation is in fact the cause of many conditions and a lot of the problems are interconnected. "Dynamic balance of internal and external factors is the best approach," explains Dr Chen Jun Ping, who used to work on clinical trials at the endocrinology department of University of Oklahoma's Health Sciences Centre.
Caroline Low of 125 Medical Clinic, an associate of Life Infinity, points out that anti-ageing is an extension of "good doctoring" which is conventional medicine practised with thought. "People think anti-ageing is for the rich, but actually, any female who's done a pap smear and a mammogram and any male who's checked his prostate is already practising anti-ageing. It's about basic medicine," she says.
Talking to patients as individuals is also vital, as it's the doctor's interpretation of the results that's important, Dr Low says. "Are your numbers optimal? It shouldn't just be "normal". A doctor should recognise what works best for you. Anti-ageing is about individualised medicine."
Life Infinity's services
Through its linkup with Life Infinity, 125 Medical Clinic will be offering alternative healthcare assessments that are quite different from the standard healthcare investigations.
The Age Management menu will do detoxification screening and anti-ageing screening for males and females. That screening will look at hormone imbalances, leaky gut syndrome, adrenal fatigue/burnout and metal toxicity.
Meanwhile, a la carte tests include saliva and urine tests, hair mineral analysis and liver detox screening. Inflammatory markers (AA:EPA Ratio) can also be taken, and ultrasound tests done for breast, pelvis, prostate and abdomen.
Chronic disease screening will include diabetes, heart, hepatitis, renal and cancer tests.
Besides the medical tests, Life Infinity also has a spa offering various body massages, including manual lymphatic drainage massage, deep tissue and aromatherapy massages. For sleep management therapy, Life Infinity has a specialised nerve conduction medicine developed by a Chinese doctor.
The consultation fee starts from S$250 for anti-ageing treatments and S$150 onwards for follow up consultations. The other service that Life Infinity hopes to provide is medical concierge services, especially for Chinese nationals seeking treatment in Singapore, says Tanny Kea, partner and general manager of Life Infinity Singapore. Meanwhile, it will periodically organise visits and talks with its panel of doctors in Singapore.
Drink to your health
ELO Bath Lab
City Square Mall 180 Kitchener Rd, #03-03/09
THE theory that we would benefit from more oxygen in our bodies has been around for a while. Now, Singapore's Hyflux Technologies - better known for its desalination plants - has invested S$8 million in Kaqun Europe for the technology of oxygen-rich water for both drinking as well as soaking in.
While tap water has only about 5-7 parts per million (ppm) of dissolved oxygen in it, ELO water contains up to triple that amount, 15 to 19ppm, says Leon Koo, general manager for ELO Water. ELO water, which is a result of 10 years of research, uses a proprietary technology which enables oxygen to stay in the water in a stable and bound form. The technology behind ELO Drinking Water is complex and different from other brands of oxygenated water in the market.
"ELO is not produced by simply pumping oxygen into the water - a method used by some oxygenated water companies. The ELO technology creates a very stable oxygen content in the water that is easily assimilated by the body. Unlike alkaline water products in the market, ELO Drinking Water's pH level is only slightly alkaline (not exceeding pH8)," Mr Koo explains.
Also, ELO Drinking Water comes in the form of bottled drinking water and is not produced by a home water processing or filtration system. So what are the effects? When ELO Drinking Water is consumed, the oxygen in ELO Water is quickly absorbed by the body to increase the body's tissue oxygen level. The increase in tissue oxygen is greatly beneficial for cellular functions, says the company.
"With increased oxygenation, our cells are able to produce significantly more (15 times more than without oxygen) ATP which is the "energy currency" of our cells. The improved cellular functions translate into better energy levels and a sense of overall wellness," says the company spokesman.
Another way to experience ELO Water is through a bath soak and the inaugural ELO Lab has recently opened in City Square Mall. "The bath water is different from the ELO Drinking Water because it contains even higher oxygen levels. Unlike the drinking water, the bath water is not of drinking water standards," he says.
Each bath soak is 50 minutes and a course of consecutive daily soaks for 14 days is required for maximum benefits. The bath sessions are done in individual suites for privacy and the water is at a warm and comfortable temperature of about 37-38 degrees.
The company hopes to conduct clinical trials on ELO water soon, but so far, its oxygen-rich ELO Gel for topical application has shown positive effect on skin wrinkle, colour, elasticity, hydration and radiance. A clinical study was conducted by Dermapro Skin Research Centre in Seoul, South Korea, an ISO-certified clinical trial institute, on 22 women aged between 49 and 54. The women applied ELO Gel over the trial period of eight consecutive weeks, and it was observed that skin wrinkle, colour, elasticity, hydration and radiance were significantly improved on the side of the face treated with ELO Gel. No adverse skin reaction was observed in any of the 22 subjects.
"While we are still awaiting proper clinical trial results, we have received user feedback on how ELO water has helped people with certain conditions. One frequent feedback we get is with diabetes control and blood glucose levels. However, we always caution users not to stop their diabetes medicines and advise them to always continue their medications and follow-up with their doctors," says Mr Koo.
Anecdotally, sports people have found that ELO water helps their stamina, and dementia patients also appear to do well. "We still need to verify these user claims with properly conducted clinical trials," he says.
The company maintains that its position for ELO is that it plays a supportive, adjuvant role in health, never to replace drugs and standard therapies.
Meanwhile, a doctor who's familiar with the role of oxygen in medicine says that the oxygen levels in this case may not be up to therapy levels, unlike in proven hyperbaric oxygen treatments. While declining to be named, he pointed out that this isn't an FDA-approved therapy which points to the lack of scientific evidence. Also, no research on oxygenated water has been peer reviewed in reputable medical journals so far.
"My concern is that those who use it as a supplementary treatment might delay getting scientifically proven treatments if they need to," he says. Pointing out that one liter of the water costs more than three liters of petrol, all it might do is to make the pocket lighter.
A pack of six 1.5-litre bottles of Elo Water costs S$63.80 and a single tube of Elo Gel, S$68, according to its website.
Bye bye, water retention
Supreme QX Beauty Spa
Scotts Road, Pacific Plaza #03-09/10
SUPREME QX Beauty Spa's bo jin facial and body session will have you squirming on the therapy table, but for the better - as you experience a natural lifting of the face and also "shrinkage" of the lower body as you sort out the water retention in your body.
Supreme QX Beauty Spa, in its new 1,360 sq ft branch at Pacific Plaza, believes in taking their beauty treatments down the remedial therapy road through the bo jin method taught by a Taiwanese traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner. Its founder Icemichelle Chen learnt about his unique method of applying pressure on the body's meridian lines a few years ago, and invited him to train her therapists. "I learnt and brought in the bo jin method because I wanted to offer more effective services to my clients, and rather than just rely on skincare products," she says. The spa uses the natural bSoul Luxe products from Tuscany, Italy, derived from eco-friendly phytoceuticals.
So the beauty treatment that you go for may not be relaxing at the time, but it's supposed to yield therapeutic effects which relaxes your body in the long run. Treatments start after a general TCM analysis, via a quick and painless meridian health check on your body condition with a machine - to check on areas of low or high qi (strength).
The TCM understanding is that the human meridian channel works like a drain, and on the face, when the channels are "blocked with toxins", problems such as acne, spots and wrinkles will surface.
After a cleanse and exfoliation of the face, and extraction if necessary, the therapist will perform bo jin on the face. She uses a stick made from horn, with a rounded tip, to rub, press or scrape points along the meridian lines on both sides of the face. The technique opens up the facial acupuncture points and nine facial meridians and promotes cell absorption. Applying the horn as your skin is fed with plant essential oils and specific ampoules helps to treat various skin conditions such as dull skin, sagginess and freckles.
It's certainly not as painful as face guasha (scraping), as the horn isn't pressed down so hard for it to go deep. The bo jin therapy is supposed to work deep into all layers below the skin (first layer: the skin, second layer: muscles, third layer: tendons, fourth layer: the periosteum, the fifth layer: pulse).
The pressure points go to the back of the head too, as the idea is to relieve the tightness of muscles so they don't pull on the face.
A detoxification mask is then placed on the face and the therapist will give a head and shoulder massage.
The TCM Face Bo Jin Therapy costs S$298, but is available for a trial price of S$98 now. The signature 60-minute Hormonal Balance Therapy for women (trial price now at S$138, UP S$198) also sees the horn applied along the meridian lines on the back and all the way down the sides of the legs to help release tight muscles and reduce water retention. Now, if you've a tight IT band and muscles, it will really hurt - but with Chinese therapy, it's always a case of no pain, no gain.
Amendment note: An earlier version of the article stated that Fullshare Holdings is a Taiwan-listed real estate company. It is in fact listed in Hong Kong and the article above has been revised to reflect this.