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Complementing health

Local holistic health practitioners will share and demystify their skills at Holistic Health Expo

BRATTLEBORO—Why wait until you’re sick? Using complementary medicine — like massage — next to modern medicine — like cough syrup and doctors’ visits — can proactively protect one’s health.

That’s the message from 16 members of the holistic health community who practice therapies ranging from acupuncture to Reiki, a collective that will host Brattleboro’s first Holistic Health Expo at the River Garden on Main Street Friday, Nov. 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to come and learn more,” said Ruth Thompson, who provides Bowenwork therapy through her business, Body in Balance.

Bowenwork stimulates the body’s nervous, musculoskeletal, and fascial systems along with its energetic pathways. According to Thompson, practitioners use a sequence of small movements interspersed by periods of rest so the body can adjust to the change.

“The changes stimulate the body’s autonomic nervous system to rebalance,” she writes in her brochure. “Once this occurs, the body can initiate a healing response on structural levels.”

The Brattleboro area is unique, said Thompson, one of four members of the planning committee who met at the River Garden to discuss what visitors could expect at the expo. A multitude of complimentary options exist at people’s fingertips.

Thompson, a member of the American Bowen Academy, is new in Brattleboro. She hopes to meet more people and attract clients at the expo.

Alternatives to pain

Thompson studied Bowenwork after years of unsuccessful treatment for back pain.

According to Thompson, she broke her back in a toboggan accident when she was 28. After years of pain despite prescription pain killers, massage, chiropractic work, and physical therapy, she met a Bowenwork practitioner at a health expo.

Thompson, who said she would go to modern doctors and leave in tears, now lives relatively pain-free.

Those doctors would tell her to lose weight and exercise, she said. Then they’d write another prescription.

As soon as she finished her own studies in Bowenwork, Thompson knew it was what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. She left her corporate business development and marketing work for a natural-health-company position and opened Body in Balance.

Due to complications with what complementary health practices the state of New Hampshire recognizes, the Dublin, N.H. resident decided to move her business to Vermont.

Nationally certified reflexologist Amelia Kinney, owner of Favour Your Feet, said, “It’s my calling.”

In reflexology, the practitioner applies pressure to points on the feet, hands, or ears that are believed to stimulate different body organs and systems.

Kinney, who has been a sole proprietor for eight years, said she hopes the expo increases the public’s awareness of such modalities.

Clinical Herbalist Justin Garner, of Sweet Flag Medicinals Herbal Clinic & Apothecary, said that his business combines his passion for wild plants, education, and science.

Herbal medicine combines different sciences like botany, chemistry, physiology, and anatomy.

Garner, too, hopes to raise the public’s awareness and build new connections with fellow practitioners. This community has so many different therapies, but practitioners like him also tend to work independently, he observed.

Garner will hold two sessions at the expo on building immune function for the winter. The first session is at noon and the second at 2 p.m.

The Vermont Reiki Association is sponsoring a table for five regional practitioners, including Jamaica-based Reiki practitioner Margaret Miller of Jamaica Healing Arts & Wellness Center.

Reiki treatments use a series of light touches to promote health and well-being.

Color inspired Miller to learn Reiki, who hopes people will come by for a demonstration and mini Reiki session.

Miller, also a weaver, grew curious about the energetic properties of color as she worked on her designs.

Reiki has grown in acceptance among members of the modern medical practitioners, Miller said. Some hospitals offer Reiki volunteers at the request of patients.

One of the benefits of Reiki is it can reduce pain and anxiety, said Thompson. The body heals better when it is relaxed.

Times change, she said, noting increasing acceptance of alternative medicine.

“There was a time chiropractic was pooh-poohed,” she observed.

Working with the body

The planning team members are quick to say that they don’t diagnose like modern doctors. Instead they work primarily as educators and in conjunction with modern medicine.

The body is amazing, Thompson said. It will heal itself when it’s “put in its right place,” he said.

Visitors to the expo can expect to learn a lot about well-being and health, the planning members said. They hope other health-care professionals will attend.

“There’s going to be great vibrations,” Kinney said with a smile.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #331 (Wednesday, November 11, 2015). This story appeared on page A3.

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