When Hui-Man Chow was studying Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition at NYU, she was intrigued by the amount of information she was obtaining on food and diet. However, as someone who had grown up with the knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine, at a certain point she thought, “Can we talk a little more about herbs? ” Though she admits that the universal acknowledgement of the benefit of vitamins and supplements is a move in the right direction, she still believes that medical communities would do far better if they considered the use of alternative, holistic medicine. She is always excited whenever traditional remedies catch on. For example, she has noticed that more and more vets are buying Yunnan Baiyao to stop internal bleeding in “very ill fur balls. ”After getting her degree, Chow worked in a hospital and a pharmacy before joining forces with her friend, a registered nurse, homeopath, and acupuncturist. When her friend moved away from New York, Chow opened her own store, but she has since looked for an acupuncturist to join her, since she and the nurse made such a great team. As it stands, she has a masseuse and a crystal light therapist who work in the treatment rooms at the back of the store. Chow worked on the East Side for fifteen years but decided to make the move to the West Side when she realized that there were no supplement and nutrition stores in the neighborhood, aside from the Vitamin Peddler. In 2012, she set up shop across 72nd Street in the Bikram Yoga center. The store moved in 2015 and again in 2020, and it is currently at its third location on 72nd Street. She feels that the neighborhood embraced her because she gave them guidance. “Here’s where you get your questions answered, ” she humbly stated. Chow pointed out that though supplements are becoming available at more and more stores, it is rare to find the knowledge, quality, and guidance that Zen Medica provides. She often hears people who say “supplements don’t work, ” but she knows that many brands are made cheaply, contain heavy metals, or have already expired by the time they reach customers. Chow, on the other hand, knows the details of every company from whom she buys. She also makes sure to find out the medical background of each customer, including health issues, allergies, and any current prescriptions, so that she can guide them in the right direction. After all, supplements and herbs should be used “as part of a healthy lifestyle, ” so the more Chow knows, the more she can direct customers towards a holistic approach. Because of her in-depth interactions with customers, she is often able to greet them on a first-name basis. Overall, the quality of service is entirely different from a store that just happens to sell supplements. Zen Medica, however, stocks far more than simple supplements and herbs. It also carries essential oils, including Chow's own series (Bug Shield and Sleep Dreams are particularly popular). In addition, there is organic henna hair color, Japanese incense, and cold drinks. Lectures and community-based education events are held in the store on a regular basis. Chow mentioned that she is especially proud of the store’s original multivitamin, which is part of Zen Medica’s personal brand of vitamins. The multivitamin comes already divvied up into daily use packets, which make them convenient for travel. When I visited, Zen Medica had just come out with a prostate health supplement called ProstaZen and was working on a hot flash formula. As Chow asserted, “When people come in here, they get something resolved. ”
The excellent selection of herbs, flowers, leaves, roots, and seeds at Flower Power can spice up any home, flavor any cuisine, add zing to any tea, or add a little pizzazz to anyone’s day. There is so much to see and learn – glass jars packed with herbs, dried flowers hanging from the ceiling and a helpful staff willing to converse about the healing power of any item. After spending some time here taking in the aroma, we definitely walked away feeling calm and centered. And as we learned from neighboring shops, Lata Kennedy, owner of Flower Power, is the "main witch of the East Village. " She is described lovingly as a healer for all.