martens Alternative health ventures thrive in Central New York
Stephen D. Cannerelli / The Post StandardWil Alaura, a bio energetic healer at Energy Wellness in North Syracuse, uses a pendulum to track the energy in Kathy Stofle’s body during a dowsing in “The Sacred Room.” Alaura also teaches a class in energy healing.
Debates have raged over America’s health care system, but the real revolution playing out across Central New York has been rather serene.
Our medical landscape has evolved so much during the last decade that someone returning to the area since the 1990s would hardly recognize the place. Consider:
The largest cancer treatment practice, Hematology/Oncology Associates, set aside an exam room for patients who want massages or energy treatments including reiki. The largest fertility practice, CNY Fertility Center, offers “integrative fertility care” that includes acupuncture and massage after the doctor realized Western medicine wasn’t helping everyone.
Reiki is offered at Syracuse’s Crouse Hospital; harp therapy at Rome Memorial Hospital. Upstate Medical University medical students take
MEDICAL PRACTICE STYLE GLOSSARY
Allopathic medicine, also known as Western medicine, is an approach that seeks to cure by producing a condition in the body different than, or opposite to, the condition that exists within the diseased state.
Functional medicine focuses on prevention and understanding a person’s core clinical imbalances that underlie various disease conditions.
Homeopathy, developed by a German doctor at the end of the 18th century, seeks to stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself by giving very small doses of highly diluted substances.
Holistic medicine looks at the patient as a whole person, including analysis of physical, nutritional, environmental, emotional, social, spiritual and lifestyle values. It focuses on education and responsibility for personal efforts to achieve balance and well being.
Integrative medicine combines conventional, complementary and alternative treatments for which there is evidence of safety and effectiveness.
Mind body medicine uses a variety of techniques, including meditation, to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms.
Naturopathic medicine emphasizes diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and natural therapies to enhance the body’s ability to ward off and combat disease.
Osteopathic medicine is based on a philosophy that the body should be treated as a unit, that it can heal itself, and that the body’s structure and function work together.
Western medicine is the art and science of healing, typically practiced in North America and Western Europe by medical doctors (MDs) and doctors of osteopathy (DOs) and allied health professionals including physical therapists, psychologists and registered nurses. It’s also called allopathic or conventional medicine.
The transformation also includes a variety of small health related businesses: a pharmacist started Bare Bones Health Wellness in Manlius to dispense nutrition and lifestyle advice along with vitamins and supplements; a nurse runs the Speedy Greens organic restaurant in Cicero, also providing reflexology and reiki; a retired investment banking vice president reinvented herself as a vice president (and reiki master) at The Spring in Fayetteville, a center for spiritual and cultural unity.
Even the man who calls himself a “medical intuitive” and carries a briefcase full of “biogenesis tools” has medical doctors signing up to take his holistic health practitioner courses.
“Really, over the past 10 years, so many people have understood that they need to be partners in their health. It used to be that questioning the doctor wasn’t acceptable, and you did what he it was usually a he told you to do. That whole paradigm has changed. The days of patients not being involved in their care have passed,” says Wendy Meyerson, who is moving Natur Tyme, the health store her pharmacist father created in the 1980s, to a bigger location on Erie Boulevard next year.
She hosts a radio show featuring doctors who field calls from listeners. Ten years ago, they were against things like glucosamine for treating osteoarthritis, but today she says they are more open. “I think they’re being more educated in their journals and the communications they get through their organizations.”
David Lassman / The Post StandardGeorgia Austin and Natalia Daughton opened Bare Bones Health Wellness in Manlius.
If doctors are more open to “alternative” therapies, perhaps it is because of their patients’ interest. About four in 10 American adults use some form of alternative medicine, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found in a survey in 2007.
Among patients who are most receptive are those with cancer.
“Cancer patients are very open minded,” says Maryann Roefaro, chief executive officer at Hematology/Oncology Associates, which has offices in Camillus, East Syracuse and Syracuse. “When you have that life altering diagnosis, you get a desire to bring anything in that will facilitate that journey.”
Ten years ago, Roefaro was an executive at Crouse Hospital. She presented an idea to offer integrative health therapies, such as reiki, “and most of the doctors looked at me like I was crazy.”
Today, the hospital has nurses trained in reiki, offers weekly meditation for employees, and hosts community forums on integrative health topics. And the oncology group, in addition to offering reiki and massage, supports a community wellness center in Camillus, where yoga, tai chi, meditation and other healing classes are conducted.
Roefaro says massage and reiki were not easy to sell to cancer doctors. “When we first started, none of the doctors would tell a patient not to do it, but they would not suggest it,” she says. “Today, I know that there are a handful of doctors who will suggest it.”