14 Mar 2019
People have been turning to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for thousands of years. Many of these therapies, like aromatherapy and meditation, are relaxing, enjoyable and less invasive than more conventional forms of treatment. In Westchester County, alternative healing opportunities abound and it’s possible to find everything from acupuncture to homeopathy. Here, some of Westchester’s complementary medicine practitioners talk about their specialties and who may benefit from them.
Pamela Todd Battle, an acupuncturist and the owner of Flowing Rivers Acupuncture (flowingrivers.net) in Hastings-on-Hudson says she treats patients for a variety of conditions, including body aches, stress, anxiety and sleep difficulties.
“We can have a lot of fear and worry, but acupuncture can give us a time out from that,” Pamela says. Explaining more about acupuncture, Pamela notes, “It rebalances your system, improves your blood flow, and takes you from a stressful state to a restful state. Acupuncture is like tapping into the body’s pharmacy to help you heal.”
Acupuncture can be very restorative, she says, noting that “It supports your resilience to deal with the ambushes in life.”
Tamara Green, a licensed clinical social worker, and her husband, David Dachinger, a two-time Grammy nominated composer, know what it’s like to be ambushed. Their mindfulness-based audio/video program, Loving Meditations (lovingmeditations.com), came about after David was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2013. “We were overwhelmed and in a state of shock,” Tamara recalls.
During his grueling treatment, David practiced mindfulness, meditation and yoga. “When I was finally cleared, having had head and neck radiation with intense side effects, the doctor asked me how I had done so well,” David recalls. “At first, we had been, how will we get through this? Then we used mindfulness, meditation, and yoga.”
The couple’s meditation program is geared to cancer patients and caregivers but can be used by anyone. “We take people from a place of fear and stress to being more at peace with their life in the moment,” says Tamara. The couple, who live in Scarsdale, also have a book, Live Calm with Cancer.
Danielle Zinaich Strahl, a homeopath and member of the Westchester Healing Group (westchesterhealinggroup.com), treats all kinds of cases. “I see people for allergies, eczema, colds – all the way to cancer and autism,” she says. “I treat the whole person, not just the symptoms for the disease.”
Homeopathy practitioners employ tiny amounts of natural substances – plants and minerals – that they believe stimulate the body’s healing process. Developed in the 1700s in Germany, homeopathy is based on the premise that the body can heal itself.
Danielle explains, “We give minute doses, just enough to trigger the immune system because we can get stuck from stress, trauma, or grief.” Danielle, who has studied homeopathy for 20 years and been in private practice for five, says treatment is individualized. “If two people come to me with the same condition, they might get two different medications.”
A spiritual counselor for 20 years, Shira Adler, of Shira Synergy (shirasynergy.com) in South Salem, says that aromatherapy is good for stress relief and improving mood and focus. “If you use a couple of sprays a day, it can provide an adjustment to your baseline in terms of how you are feeling and your energy levels.”
Shira points out that aromatherapy is one of the oldest modalities. “It affects all three levels of your being simultaneously: mind, body, and spirit.” She notes, “All ancient cultures have some version of this complementary therapy.”
A couple of years ago, Shira began incorporating CBD (cannabidiol), the non-euphoric compound found in hemp, into her products because of its anti-inflammatory properties. “It also tends to have very few contraindications and side effects,” she says, and no prescription is needed because CBD is hemp-derived.
“CBD is neuroprotective,” Shira adds. “There have been studies on Alzheimer’s and dementia, and aromatherapy has been shown to be effective since the olfactory sense is the trigger for memory. With aromatherapy, I’m combining ancient plant wisdom with modern science.”
Natalie Deeb, who sees patients in Mount Kisco and North Salem, teaches and practices craniosacral therapy (nataliedeeb.com). She helps people who have breast cancer, lower back pain, vertigo, and emotional trauma. This form of alternative therapy features a hands-on approach in which gentle touch may be applied to the cranium as well as the spine and pelvic bones.
“It is more about releasing the energy and letting it go,” she says. “While we are working on the body, we are offering a different, spiritual perspective, a way of looking at things. So we acknowledge the physical illness, but we want to acknowledge what is happening on the spiritual level as well.”
Kristen Lu teaches Bodhi meditation, which she says can help with everything from depression to pain management to insomnia. You can do it once a week or every day, and it’s simple and easy to follow. In Bodhi meditation, she says, “You imagine all your stresses floating away. The idea is that when you are fully relaxed, then energy can get to all the different organs.”
Kristen began teaching this form of meditation in 2016 through the Greenburg Parks and Recreation senior program. You can find out about upcoming sessions at meetup.com/Bodhi-Meditation-Westchester.
Alternative healing options in Westchester County are many and varied. They offer another option for anyone looking to explore non-traditional medicine. Each person is different, but depending on what kind of health problem you have, it may be worth your time to see what’s out there.