Alternative Medicine Strong Enough to Win Over Skeptics
By Nicole Bode
DNAinfo Senior Editor
MANHATTAN — I sat in a Midtown loft a few weeks ago surrounded by close to a dozen women trading advice on how to cope with medical conditions from Stage 4 Cancer to chronic anxiety.
Majorie Fein directed the discussion with sensitivity and confidence, offering a list of the best treatment options and explaining her reasons for each choice.
It was a conversation that could have taken place at any doctor's office or hospital in the city, but there wasn't an MD in the room. I was observing an advanced workshop for an alternative healing technique called "Eden Energy Medicine," a hybrid of acupuncture, yoga, kinesiology, and qi gong.
If the phrase "alternative healing" makes your eyes roll, consider the statistics: more than 38 percent of all American adults (or about 4 in 10) tried some form of alternative Medicine in 2007, according to the National Institutes of Health.
But that still leaves at least 6 out of every 10 people who think alternative medicine is quackery, even here in New York where yoga and meditation are as common as bagels and lox.
"There's a lot of really skeptical people that come to me," said Fein, who has a private practice in New York City and also leads workshops. "I tell them, 'you judge your belief in this based on the results that you get.' I'm not trying to prove anything, I want the results to prove it to them. Who can argue with that?"
My understanding of energy medicine, though limited, got started by accident last year, when I showed up at a Pilates session too exhausted to carry out most of the exercises. My teacher, who learned energy medicine from Fein, offered to show me some of the basic energy moves to get me back up to speed.
Some of the exercises felt incredibly intuitive, like when I placed my hands across my forehead in an exercise designed to reduce anxiety. It reminded me of when I was a child and my mom would put her hand on my head to make me feel better or check my temperature when I was sick.
Another exercise involved swinging my arms across my body one at a time to slap my opposite knee, to help connect the left brain and right brain to help people function more effectively. It felt like being back in a grade school gym class.
I'm sure that the moves I was doing must have looked bizarre.
But after about a half hour, I felt wide-awake and ready to spend the rest of the session on the Pilates machine. The feeling lasted for a few days, and was a bit like being hopped up on caffeine or sugar but without the jitters or late-afternoon crash.
Is that proof? I can't say. Then again, I have a hard time explaining why I pay extra for organic food or take vitamins when plenty of people believe it's a waste of money.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to stop going to the doctor when I get sick, and I gladly took antibiotics Thanksgiving week to get rid of a nasty sinus infection — a stance Fein staunchly supports.
"I am not a person who says don't go to the doctor," Fein said.
But when it comes to quality of life issues that fall outside the realm of conventional medicine or are fodder for a growing array of pharmaceutical commercials, energy medicine can be a welcome relief.
"When a person makes a connection that something that they can do actually makes an impact on their health, that is a real 'aha' moment," Fein said. "I love the way it empowers people."