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Healing Arts Liniment: This liniment is used as a complementary therapy in the treatment of muscle sprains, strains, bruises, arthritic aches and pains, joint pains, sports injuries, and closed traumatic injuries. Hong Hua OilFor the temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with simple backache, arthritis and strains.
Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines (The Clinical Desk Reference)A complete listing of 1280 Products with 850 formula descriptions. The scene of China traditional medicine store or old Chinese pharmacy,Chinese herbal medicine ceramic pot and cabinet. This item will be sent through the Global Shipping Programme and includes international tracking.
Most purchases from business sellers are protected by the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 which give you the right to cancel the purchase within 14 days after the day you receive the item. By clicking Confirm bid, you are committing to buy this item from the seller if you are the winning bidder and have read and agree to the Global Shipping Programme terms and conditions - opens in a new window or tab. By clicking 1 Click Bid, you are agreeing to buy this item from the seller if you're the winning bidder. This is a private listing and your identity will not be disclosed to anyone except the seller. 200,000 Ugandans have signed up to a company believing it will cure all their illnesses and help them make a fortune. Kampala, Uganda: On the corner of a bumpy, red-soil road in the rural town of Iganga in eastern Uganda, there lies a small store. Inside, almost a dozen people sit crammed on makeshift benches around two edges of the stifling room.
A couple of customers compete with a baby wailing as they read out lists of products to the shop attendants who pick them off the shelves.
Wasswa explains that the test works using a traditional Chinese understanding of the body whereby different points of the hand relate to different internal organs. Next Wasswa points me to the corner where a woman is standing on a small machine and holding onto a pair of handlebars to which she is harnessed. Similar machines can be found in many gyms these days and are meant to help tone muscle, but the uses Wasswa presents are quite different. In the airless room, Wasswa runs through a few more devices ? a face pain remover, a blood pressure reducer, a necklace that removes radiation ? before squeezing past bodies and chairs to get back to the first patient we met. The roster of the young and healthy-looking patient’s conditions seems extreme, but Wasswa is not perturbed. Back in the light and noise of the waiting-room-cum-pharmacy, Wasswa shows me some of these products. This small store in eastern Uganda employs a handful of staff and, according to Wasswa, receives dozens of patients each day. Similar stores can found all across the country, from Kasese in the west to Soroti in the east, and from Gulu in the north to Entebbe in the south. TIENS ? also known as Tianshi ? is a multinational company based 10,000 miles away in the Chinese metropolis of Tianjin. TIENS first began tapping into the Ugandan market in 2003 and it has grown steadily ever since. The company has even bought the most prominent advertising spot on the Health Ministry’s official calendar, a particularly brazen move given that none of its outlets are registered health facilities. Patients who come to TIENS seek help for a whole range of conditions ? from malaria to paralysis ? but they tend to tell similar stories of how they arrived here.
In many areas of Uganda, public health facilities are virtually inaccessible, while those who do manage to reach them may find their walls crumbling, their clinics under-staffed, and their shelves bereft of drugs. In this context, stores like Wasswa’s ? with its quick turnaround, attentive staff and fully-stocked shelves ? offer an appealing alternative. On the Friday morning after my tour of Wasswa’s clinic, the courtyard next to the outlet is packed. The next patient tells a very similar story before two mothers relay how the toothpaste cleared up their respective children’s skin rashes and burns. Every now and then over the next few hours, many more attendees are invited to recount their experiences of using TIENS products. To begin with, I report whenever I feel something, which is every single time the tip touches my hand, completing the basic electric circuit. In the bright, clean reception of Beijing Clinic, a private health facility in Kampala, I relate my experience to a young Ugandan doctor, who trained and qualified in China, specialising in traditional Chinese medicine.
Next, I show him the TIENS Information Guide, a booklet from which it seems Julius and Wasswa get most of their information.
However, the doctor’s amusement soon turns to horror as he reaches the section of the booklet advising distributors on what steps to take when patients are suffering from different diseases. He recalls that last year, he was consulted by police after a man suffering from kidney problems died suddenly from liver failure.
At another private clinic in Kampala, Dr Wen, a highly-regarded practitioner with three decades experience, is similarly concerned. I contacted Uganda’s Health Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, repeatedly for comment, but received no reply.
Apart from the story of the kidney patient, I didn’t come across other rumours of deaths, but cases of the products not working as miraculously as promised were easy to find. Back in Iganga, with the courtyard seminar over and Wasswa busy talking to a small circle of attendees eager to hear more, Sarah*, 25, moves towards the back of the courtyard closer to where I am sitting.
During the seminar, she had given testimony telling of how she’d taken her baby boy, who was suffering from sickle cell anaemia, to several hospitals before she came to TIENS. Asked a few more questions after the symposium, however, her story reveals itself to be far less straightforward. Sarah and Robert reveal that they have each spent USH 460,000 ($180) on products so far, paying in instalments from what they could borrow or scrape together. It is not a coincidence that Robert, Sarah and a few others who spoke to me had all purchased exactly USH 460,000 worth of products.
In the symposium in Iganga, once Julius had waxed lyrical about various products, it was time for Wasswa to take over the stage to talk about another benefit of TIENS. After finishing his demonstration of TIENS’ disease-curing sanitary pads, Julius put down the product and strolled ponderously along the front of the courtyard before turning to face the audience. Over the next few minutes, Wasswa explained that this is what he had done and that he was not only receiving thousands of dollars every month now, but had been taken on international trips by the company, received huge cash bonuses and been given a brand new car. Wasswa said these words with a weighty earnestness, but they were not news to half the courtyard.


Sitting behind his desk at the TIENS-Uganda headquarters, located at the top of King Fahd Plaza on a busy street in Kampala, Kibuuka Mazinga Ambrose is delighted to explain how the business model works in more detail.
The first few levels can be reached simply by buying more products, which essentially brings with it a small discount on goods. The more people you recruit and the more they recruit in turn, the higher you move up the rankings, and soon you can just sit back and watch as the commissions roll in. According the company website, over 200,000 Ugandans have joined TIENS, eclipsing even the number of government school teachers in the country.
Given Uganda’s high rates of unemployment ? youth unemployment is over 80% according to some estimates ? the appeal of membership is clear to see. However, despite all of TIENS’ promises of wealth and perceived legitimacy, actually making money from the scheme is virtually impossible.
This feeling was perhaps most starkly expressed after the seminar as I spoke to Wasswa within earshot of three members, all of whom had been distributors for up to six months yet not come anywhere close to getting a decent income. I looked over at the three recruits who all just stared at the floor, looking sheepish and, I thought, ashamed.
Members could make money selling these products, but the idea of shifting all these goods is a non-starter.
If not from selling products to the public then, the bulk of the money in the TIENS system comes members’ own pockets as they pay to join, pay to move up the rankings, and pay to keep their accounts open. I later contacted Ambrose, Wasswa and Jamba George, another 8-star recruiter, for their response to these allegations, but they all declined. It should also be noted that TIENS is not just in Uganda, nor is it the only scheme of its kind. Back in the courtyard in Iganga, Robert is listing the products he was prescribed six months ago. Robert has no other jobs ? he says there are hardly any jobs available in the area ? and has five children to support.
He explains that a technical misunderstanding delayed him moving up a rank, but that it should be sorted out soon. Robert looks me in the eye for a few seconds before gazing out across the courtyard where a few groups of attendees are still standing around chatting. This article was made possible by a grant from the China-Africa Reporting Project managed by the Journalism Department of the University of Witwatersrand.
Find out more about your rights as a buyer - opens in a new window or tab and exceptions - opens in a new window or tab. By clicking Confirm bid you commit to buy this item from the seller if you are the winning bidder. Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount. A handful of people mill around the entrance in the glaring sun, waiting their turn to enter. Most of the remaining space is taken up by a shop counter, behind which are shelves piled high with vibrantly-coloured health products covered in Chinese characters.
As I peer in, three people are undergoing diagnostic tests, a woman is standing on a machine that hums loudly as it vibrates, and a few more patients are waiting slumped along the wall.
With the easy charm of a seasoned salesman and the swaggering self-assurance of Uganda’s national bird and symbol, the crested crane, Wasswa welcomes me in.
We watch as an attendant prods a patient’s left palm with a metal tip, making a little meter light up. Her whole body blurs in the dim light as the platform beneath her vibrates rapidly, its droning buzz filling the room. As the patient holds on to an appliance plugged into the computer, pictures of different organs flash up on the screen for a few seconds each as a dial next to it oscillates erratically. He picks goods off the shelves, ranging from capsules to toothpastes to body creams, and stacks them on the counter as he explains what they each do. Wasswa is also frequently heard on local radio advertising his services and has made quite a name for himself in the area.
There are now around 30 stores across the country, TIENS distributors regularly engage in outreach programmes to rural communities, and according to the company’s national chairperson, Kibuuka Mazinga Ambrose, TIENS-Uganda has an annual turnover of around $6 million. Typically, they say that they first went to public facilities (some told me they had even visited two or three), but were either not seen to or found the treatment ineffective. Although the government has promised to invest more in the sector, much of the country’s healthcare infrastructure is in decay. Over a hundred people sit on plastic chairs facing forwards while latecomers lean against the back wall.
He has just finished explaining the healing powers of TIENS toothpaste ? which as well as cleaning teeth, can be used to treat ulcers, angina and skin problems amongst many other conditions ? and he invites attendees who have used the product to give testimony.
We hear how a man with back pain can now walk, how another man was cured of vertigo, and how a woman’s child was once bed-ridden but is now running around. He sits me down and pulls across a thin curtain to give us a modicum of privacy from the handful of waiting patients. Frank nods excitedly when I do so and explains that I have a serious problem in whichever part of my body he is testing.
The doctor, who prefers not to be named, laughs as I explain the machines I saw in Iganga and the test I underwent in Kampala. TIENS customers are typically encouraged to undergo diagnostic tests in store, but most who go to TIENS have previously been to hospital and know some of the conditions from which they are suffering. This assertion is used to elevate them above Western medicines, which they say are made from chemicals and so can be harmful, but the claim is also used to suggest that there are no dangers involved in taking them.
A toxicology report found that he had had a toxic overdose and it was suggested that the TIENS supplements the patient had been taking without his doctor’s knowledge had either caused additional problems or reacted badly with other medicines. Many of those who told their stories directed them matter-of-factly at Julius or Wasswa, but Sarah had turned to face the crowd and spoken passionately as she’d explained how the products worked wonders.
He too claims to be a firm believer in the healing powers of TIENS, and acted as my translator throughout the seminar, seemingly on Wasswa’s instruction. Nor is it an inexplicable peculiarity that individuals with no reliable source of income had shelled out what little they had, and more, on TIENS products. Robert, Sarah and many others around them ? all recognisable by the golden lion-shaped badges they were wearing ? were not just TIENS patients, but members and distributors already. Not only does TIENS advertise on the Health Ministry’s calendar, but according to Wasswa, around ten MPs are members of the company and at the Iganga seminar, Stephen Wante, the mayor of Bugembe, made a guest appearance.
At the TIENS headquarters, where members can print out their balance sheets, many leave the office holding spreadsheets indicating that they are owed almost nothing, if anything at all.


Not only does each distributor have to compete with 200,000 other sellers as well as 30 well-established stores, but it doesn’t even make economic sense for customers to buy from individual members when they could sign up to TIENS themselves and get much lower prices anyway. And it is this same money that finances top-level distributors’ huge salaries, shiny new cars and trips around the world. The manager of TIENS-Uganda, a Chinese expatriate, and the company’s global headquarters in Tianjin did not make a comment either. The American firms Forever Living and GNLD also deal in health supplements and follow a multi-level marketing model, while TIENS’ presence on the continent seems to be particularly strong in West Africa, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.
When he joined the company half a year ago, he thought TIENS was the answer to all his prayers, but he is still in pain and deeper in debt. I point out that even if he moves up a level and earns slightly more than now, he will still be earning a tiny fraction of what he has invested.
If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable. They are the main source of activity on this placid street, but their patient presence barely betrays the hubbub within. Someone steps out, usually holding a piece of paper, and the person sitting closest steps in. When the light goes green, he explains, it means that part of the body is fine, but if it goes orange it indicates a problem.
He tells me that he came to the store because of some mild pain around his mouth, but Wasswa breaks the news that there are more serious things about which he ought to be concerned. The company has established branches in 110 countries including 16 in Africa, employs over 10,000 staff globally, and reportedly enjoys net profits worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Doctors and nurses are over-worked and underpaid, and although services are meant to be free, in reality patients face many hidden costs. A red tarpaulin sheet shields the crammed attendees from the sun and gives the whole atmosphere an eerie pink hue. He takes out a battered looking hand-held device, pushes a 9-volt battery into its back and plugs a wire into it that branches into two metal tips. The man’s family could not afford to get a more detailed medical report, however, and declined to take the matter further. Robert says that he came to TIENS with kidney problems and maintains the products worked where hospital treatments failed. Julius explained that the louder you clap, the greater the benefits to your internal organs, before holding out his hands and going again.
They were here on Wasswa’s instructions to give testimony and help convince others to join too. This way, you receive a commission whenever they make purchases and also get rewarded if they recruit their own followers. In 2011 meanwhile, Vice-President Edward Ssekandi officiated a ceremony in which a distributor was awarded a car and organised for TIENS to donate some of its products to a government health centre. Meanwhile, back in Iganga, several members who had joined several months ago, attended every biweekly seminar, bought lots of products, and gone on recruitment drives, revealed that they had not earned any notable income either. Other members who had yet to make money also suggested their situation was down to bad luck or poor performance. Members have to buy products to move up the rankings and then continue to buy goods to keep their accounts open. Given all the money in the system comes from members, the only way this tiny elite profits is because the rest of Uganda’s 200,000 members do not. It is further notable that TIENS has offices in many Western countries, though the products there seem to be marketed more directly as mere food supplements. He just wishes, he says, that he could finish the treatment and be fully cured of his kidney problems as well as the other health conditions detected by the diagnostic test he underwent. These days, Wasswa drives a shiny four-wheel drive, wears sharp suits and even goes on jet-setting trips around the world. But in a country whose healthcare infrastructure is riddled with chronic problems and which, by some measures, ranks as one of the worst in the world, the last resort is often one that needs to be taken. He gives me one of the electrified points to hold in my right hand and says he will use the other to press points on my left palm. Frank lets me get away with one, but after that he frowns when I stay silent and simply keeps the metal point on my hand until I give in, sometimes rubbing my hand and even licking the metal tip if I am being particularly resistant. In fact, stories of TIENS products not fully working were even common amongst some of TIENS most ardent fans.
Sarah nevertheless insists that the TIENS medicines work and says the reason her son is still suffering is because his treatment is incomplete. For these returning members, TIENS is not just a medical supplier, but a livelihood, an investment, and a chance to follow in Wasswa’s jet-setting footsteps. A photograph of the Ssekandi shaking hands with TIENS’ president also has pride of place on the company website. It seems many others have also abandoned the scheme after finding they could not make it work.
What if someone has been working hard but hasn’t started getting an income after 6 months, I followed up. She bought half the products the boy needs for a full recovery but is struggling to find the money to purchase the rest. Firstly, he attributes this to the fact that his kidney treatment is incomplete; he too has had financial difficulties. Under TIENS’ model, there are eight ranks and you need to move up the levels to really start enjoying the benefits. Secondly, he explains that the TIENS diagnostic test revealed his kidneys are not his only problem; while his original condition may have improved, he now knows he is suffering from other conditions that need to be cured too. Herbal formulations may consist of 4 to 12 different ingredients and are taken in the form of teas, powders, pills, tinctures, or syrups.
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