WILMINGTON — For the last decade or so, Wilmington and Clinton County have added a number of businesses in what has traditionally been called complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) or, more recently, integrative medicine.
Definitions vary for these practices, but according to the Mayo Clinic, CAM is the popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medicine. Complementary means treatments that are used along with conventional medicine. Alternative means treatments used in place of conventional medicine.
CAM focuses on the whole person and includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. It includes mind-body medicine (such as meditation, acupuncture and yoga), manipulative and body-based practices (such as massage therapy and spinal manipulation), and natural products (such as herbs and dietary supplements), the Mayo Clinic reports.
Most CAM studies in the U.S. show that few people forgo conventional medicine. So the term “integrative medicine” is increasingly preferred. Integrative medicine combines, or integrates, the best of conventional medical care with the best of evidence-based CAM.
For purposes of this local update, the focus is on activities that take place outside a traditional healthcare setting such as a doctor’s office or hospital that are intended to complement but not replace a healthcare provider’s guidance.
Wilmington’s Dr. Janet Gick knows that everyone needs a primary care physician and access to medical specialists, but believes some complementary therapies can be beneficial as well. Dr. Matrka practiced family health for more than four decades and taught resident family physicians as well.
“Several modalities can be quite helpful,” Dr. Gick says. “Tai Chi improves balance which is especially important in the elderly to prevent falls. Acupuncture, yoga, and massage therapy can improve chronic pain or fibromyalgia. Even bathing in warm mineral springs can improve arthritic pain.”
Dr. Gick is not a big fan of ingesting large doses of certain antioxidants and supplements as a complementary routine, but that practice is not used by those businesses contacted for this article.
Jane Newman says when she and three fellow yoga enthusiasts (Sue Hanna, Tammy Reed, Theresa Rembert) started Main Street Yoga Center in Wilmington nine years ago, “We wanted to have a center dedicated to the practice of yoga based on our own experiences of how beneficial it had been in our lives.”
The business has attracted a mix of people with different goals in mind. “Some athletes come because of tightness and a desire to work on their flexibility,” she says. “Others find that it is very stress relieving and quiets the mind. It offers a lot of mental benefits like improving concentration and does a beautiful job of settling the nervous system.”
When practiced correctly under the guidance of professional instructors like those at Main Street Yoga Center, Newman says yoga can also relieve chronic pain, improve cardiovascular and general health and help with weight management.
Newman said her center does not get regular referrals from a doctor or group practice, but that more students are showing up on recommendations from doctors who see the benefit of yoga, including less reliance on medications in some instances.
“I have heard from yoga students that joint pain and muscle tension decrease with regular yoga practice and they were able to stop taking pain medication,” Newman says.
Women taking part in a recent class at the center offered various benefits they receive from yoga, including better posture, ability to relax and sleep better, and pain relief.
Licensed massage therapist Tabitha Speaight operates Dawn of Healing Therapeutic Massage in Wilmington. “My goal is to help clients reduce their pain level, increase their range of motion and learn to maintain themselves with an individualized self-care program,” Speaight says. “By evaluating every client as an individual I am able to work within the clients comfort level using a combination of myofascial release and medical massage. Most clients have reported an increase in range of motion and a decrease in pain along with being able to perform daily tasks with greater ease.”
One of Speight’s satisfied clients is 36-year-old Jonce Kessler of Sabina, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and who has lower back pain as a result of that experience, wear and tear from several years as an auto mechanic, and in his current vocation as an airplane mechanic. “She has changed my life for the better,” says Kessler, who adds that he sleeps better and can now play with his kids without pain.
A number of complementary services are neighbors of Speaight in her location on West Main Street, including providers who offer Reiki, bamboo fusion massage, salt scrubs, herbal wraps, aromatherapy and cranial sacral therapy.
Outside of Martinsville you can find Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm where offerings include gong meditation, reflexology, energy balancing sessions and natural aromatherapy remedies.
Area fitness centers as well as chiropractic offices have or have offered complementary services. Check with the Wilmington-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce or do an online search if you are interested in finding our more about local complementary health and wellness providers.