Saying it saved her, Abate brings holistic healthcare to LES

Catherine Abate and her son, Kyle Kliegerman, onboard the Oct. 22 fundraising cruise for the holistic healthcare clinic at 150 Essex St. Photo by Bob Buchanan

Catherine Abate and her son, Kyle Kliegerman, onboard the Oct. 22 fundraising cruise for the holistic healthcare clinic at 150 Essex St.
Photo by Bob Buchanan

BY HEATHER DUBIN  |  Alternative medicine is gaining increasing acceptance in the Western world. In the case of Catherine Abate, president and C.E.O. of Community Healthcare Network, she not only accepts alternative medicine — she firmly believes it helped save her life.

Diagnosed with stage-four uterine cancer in May 2012, Abate’s positive experience with holistic medical practices prompted her to bring these same modalities to Community Healthcare Network’s Downtown Health Center, at 150 Essex St. on the Lower East Side. The nonprofit C.H.N. provides medical care to underserved New Yorkers at 11 federally qualified healthcare centers.

In an interview last week, Abate spoke about the new Essex St. integrative health center — which will incorporate alternative therapies with traditional medicine — as well as about her own personal journey regarding her condition.

Abate has always worked in public service, striving to help others. An attorney, she is a former New York state senator, and before that was the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Corrections.

C.H.N.’s Essex St. center caters to 6,000 patients a year. According to Abate, this population has “a tremendous interest” in acupuncture, herbal supplements and medication, but lacks access to them.

“Medicaid and private insurance doesn’t cover it, and there’s a great need,” she said.

State, city and federal grants help cover the cost of medical services currently offered at the center. While there is a sliding-fee scale based on income, patients are never turned away.

Abate noted that C.H.N. centers are sited in the poorest and most underserved areas of the city. They have sites in every borough except for Staten Island.

The Essex St. center offers complete primary care, pediatrics, nutrition, social services and other basic medical care. While these services will continue, Abate wants to add holistic medicine as an integral component to improve patient health. The program is in the planning process, and Abate anticipates the revamped facility’s opening next February.

“It’s the perfect site to do this,” she said.

The demographic the center serves is mixed ages with the majority of patients under age 50, while the ethnic breakdown is mostly Latino and Asian. Abate also noted that many patients suffer from chronic diseases, such as asthma, obesity, hypertension and diabetes. These patients are familiar with and eager to try alternative therapies that could potentially benefit them.

Thanks to federal money, additional exam rooms have already been constructed to accommodate the expanding center. As part of the holistic approach, there will be more time focused on personal nutrition. Yoga, acupuncture, energy healing, reflexology and meditation will also be part of the new program. Abate wants patients to take ownership of their care, and she thinks these modalities will help them do this.

“We want the patients to feel better about their care, and improve communication between them and their provider,” Abate said. Three years ago, she started a health literacy program. Results show patients, during an office visit, do not receive useful information that encourages them to go home and change their lifestyle, which is often essential for dealing with their health problem.

“Whether it’s positive thinking about their healing, stopping smoking or eating healthy, or cleaning up their home environment from mold, or whatever,” she said, “there has to be better communication to really make them a partner in their healthcare.”

Abate feels this improved informational dialogue empowers patients, providing them with more balance and control, which will improve their overall health and well-being.

She understands this firsthand.

“I don’t think I’d be in the shape I am in today if I didn’t use the complementary and alternative-use therapies,” Abate said.

Her initial diagnosis, following her first operation in June 2012, gave her 12 months to live. Abate, who is in her mid-60s, turned to Western medicine for surgeries and chemotherapy, and saw an immunologist, which is a field she wants to implement at the center. But she also went to a life coach and energy healer, who taught her the power of the mind.

“Mind, body and spirit come together,” Abate said. “Everyone has the power to heal themselves. I had a lot of healing, and I’m not saying chemo didn’t have something to do with it. But even my oncologists would say, ‘It wasn’t just the chemo.’ ”

One doctor told Abate that he thought her mind was one of her most powerful weapons in her recovery.

The healthcare C.E.O. believes visualization, diet and acupuncture all help effect a change of attitude toward life.

“It adds up, I’m feeling strong,” she said. “I’m not totally cured yet, but I’m on the right path.”

Abate still receives some low-dose chemo treatment, but she has spent many months playing tennis, and, as she put it, is doing “quite well.”

She partially attributes her health status to alternative therapies.

“I’m not suggesting people turn away from Western medicine,” she said. “I’m suggesting Western medicine becomes that more effective when you also utilize holistic and integrative approaches.”

She used to receive holistic treatments weekly when she was sick, but now only goes every couple of weeks. Abate does practice daily visualization and takes herbal supplements.

“I wake up with gratitude every day,” she said. “I see the beauty in things and in people, and the promise of the world.”

To help foster this same hopefulness for others, Abate has submitted grants for the holistic program. She wants the therapies to be free or low-cost for patients.

With that goal in mind, a boat cruise fundraiser around Manhattan was held on the evening of Tues., Oct. 22, with 240 people paying $250 per ticket. Demonstrations of alternative therapies were conducted onboard the boat.

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People value both complementary and conventional medicine

27Oct

(NewsFix) A survey shows that people who use complementary medicine are not dissatisfied with the traditional approach.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), which includes acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal remedies and massage, is used by an increasing number of people. Researchers at the Centre for Alternative Medicine Research and Education at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in the US surveyed 831 CAM users and found that most people were also still seeing a traditional doctor.

It seemed that the combination of CAM and traditional medicine was seen as more effective than either used alone. CAM was seen as helpful for headache, back and neck conditions, while the conventional approach was preferred for high blood pressure.

But most of those surveyed did not tell their doctor about their use of CAM. The most common reason for this was that they didn’t think the doctor needed to know, or that the doctor didn’t ask about it. One third said it was not the doctor’s business and 20 per cent thought the doctor wouldn’t understand. Only 14 per cent were afraid their physician would disapprove.

The survey suggests that patients no longer see their physician as their sole health care provider. He or she is, rather, one of a team. The other members of the team could include acupuncturists, herbalists and so on. What seems strange is that it’s rare for any members of this team to communicate with one another!

How chakra therapy improves your health

Chakra therapy balances 7 chakras

Chakra therapy is meant to help balance the body’s energy. (Shutterstock)

There is a common misconception regarding practices like chakra therapy; some individuals feel it is an alternative to traditional medicine. In reality, even though chakra therapy can be used alone, it is most effective when used as a means to supplement other treatments.

Chakra therapy improves your health by addressing an individual’s spiritual and emotional energy needs.

“Many people are aware that they are more than their body, more than their minds, or feelings. They intuitively feel there are underlying issues beyond any physical problem, issues perhaps lying in the invisible energy body,” Dean Ramsden, creator of the field of “Relational Energy Healing” — a synergistic approach combining chakra development, chakra relational cords, and astral energy healing, told Saludify.

“Even so, chakra work should never be used to replace first consulting with a physician, or as an alternative to following medical advice,” he added. “But it can add a tremendously important piece to anyone’s healing process: the personal and interpersonal energetics that underlie many disease processes. The value of energy work is to add the human element of the healing process back into medical care, by addressing the energy body and its needs.”

What are the fundamentals of chakra therapy?

Chakra therapy, according to MindBodyGreen, is the practice of balancing seven energy centers within the body known as chakras. Each chakra is located in a specific area of the body down the midline, and each location is responsible for the balance of certain emotional energies.

The seven chakras are:

  • The Root Chakra: Located at the base of the spine in the tailbone area. This chakra center is responsible for feelings of being grounded and stable.
  • The Sacral Chakra: Located two inches below the navel. This chakra center is responsible for our ability to accept others and new situations.
  • The Solar Plexus Chakra: Located in the upper abdomen. This chakra center is responsible for confidence and control.
  • The Heart Chakra: Located just above the heart. This chakra center is responsible for our ability to love.
  • The Throat Chakra: Located at the throat. This chakra center controls our ability to communicate.
  • The Third Eye Chakra: Located in the center of the forehead, between the eyes. This chakra center is responsible for the ability to focus on the bigger picture.
  • The Crown Chakra: Located at the very top of the head. This chakra center is responsible for feeling connected spiritually.

When all seven chakras are balanced with energy output, the body feels its best. Sometimes, however, those who adhere to this form of therapy believe chakras can become unbalanced or blocked. This happens when feelings of doubt, insecurity, negativity, and worry creep into our lives, restricting the life force.

For example, someone who lack social confidence and thus experiences anxiety and stress related to that condition may have an unbalanced Sacral or Solar Plexus chakra. In the same way, someone who might have their Sacral or Solar Plexus chakra closed or unbalanced due to external pollutants, may start experiencing lack of confidence and anxiety.

But each chakra also regulates energy towards different parts of the body and has a direct influence on the physical health. In that sense, the body is a multidimensional being with physical, emotional, spiritual and energy fields that affect each other.

“The core principle of chakra healing is that personal consciousness, how awake we are, affects any physical healing process or ongoing health,” said Ramsden. “By positively influencing an underpowered chakra, a healer can assist a client in deepening their grasp on what is necessary to deal with in regard to their illness or personal problem.

“Chakra healing influences our mental and emotional understanding of a wide variety of complaints we may struggle with, be it illness, or recovery after an accident. Chakra healing can also helps us tap into hidden energy body resources, so as to better cope with health challenges, or with emotional struggles such as the loss of a spouse, or parent.”

Chakra therapy balances 7 chakras

The seven chakras (Shutterstock)

Chakra therapy improves an individual’s health by returning the body to a balanced state so it may better deal with the physical issues affecting it. Balanced chakras can be equated to a decrease in stress which is a negative force inhibiting healing and causing health issues of its own within the body.

What to look for in a chakra healer

While it is possible to do things to balance chakras on your own, individuals who are under extreme stress from an illness or injury may benefit from the work of a professional chakra healer.

Ramsden cautions there are no real standards that chakra healers can be measured by, unlike the education and licensing of other professional helpers. But three things can help guide you to find a good energy or chakra healer.

“Firstly, has the healer undergone a training program, one requiring two to four years of ongoing study? A ‘trained’ healer will usually give a better and more professional healing than any untrained one,” he explains.

“Secondly, can you read or hear the chakra healer talk about their work, so you can first understand their approach? Read their web page, or their book, or listen to them speaking at an event. This will give you a lot of information about how well informed the healer is, and if they can help you with your problem or issue.”

Thirdly, indicates Ramsden, once you find a healer that interests you then only book a single session, just to try them out before committing to long-term work. After this first session you should get some form of immediate change or notice a difference.

If you don’t notice any change, move on and find another healer to try. Healers, like other professionals, should provide you with results.

How to find a complementary medical provider

When the time comes to find a traditional doctor, many people find the process to be relatively easy. Some doctors may be recommended by a friend, while others opt for a physician that has been treating their families for years. Certain health management and insurance plans may dictate certain “in-plan” providers, searchable by a particular location and practice. Finding an alternative medical provider, or one who specializes in complementary medicine, may not be as simple.

Practitioners who provide complementary and alternative medicine, known as CAM, are those who specialize in chiropractics, naturopathy, acupuncture and herbal remedies. Millions of people now see CAM providers in addition to their standard physicians. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that at least 40 percent of adults and 12 percent of children have used a CAM provider.

Complementary and alternative medicine is made up of a diverse set of therapies and healing philosophies. While traditional doctors may treat illnesses, many CAM providers are employing techniques to prevent illnesses in the first place. Dissatisfaction with traditional medicine has led many people to seek the help of CAM providers. In fact, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the majority of alternative medicine users appear to be doing so largely because “they find these healthcare alternatives to be more congruent with their own values, beliefs and philosophical orientations toward health and life.”

Men and women can find a CAM provider is several ways.

• Start with your doctor or another health care provider, who may offer a referral, particularly if this doctor is in favor of traditional medicine working in conjunction with alternative therapies.

• Some regional medical centers and hospitals may have CAM practitioners on staff. You can seek information from such organizations by calling them directly or going online to see a listing of staff.

• There are a number of professional organizations for CAM providers. An online search may yield various organizations that offer regional referrals.

• Contact state, provincial or municipal regulatory licensing boards for health care professionals. Health departments and boards may have information on nearby practitioners.

• To meet the rising demand for complementary and alternative care services, many health insurance plans have options for you to access these services. However, many plans provide only limited coverage for many CAM services.

• Referrals from friends and family members may yield the name of an effective local CAM practitioner.

Individuals should keep in mind that unless CAM services are covered by insurance, it is very likely that all expenses will be out-of-pocket. When searching for a specialist, be sure to find one who is qualified and verify his or her training, certifications and licensing before beginning any treatment.

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Public urged to use Thai herbs, vegetables

BANGKOK, 20 Oct 2013 (NNT) – The Ministry of Public Health has encouraged people to look after themselves and boost their immune system by using Thai herbal medicines and local vegetables.

Dr Thawatchai Kamoltham, the Director-General of the Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine, said on Sunday that the weather was changing from the rainy season to the winter, which was the time when people usually came up with cold, coughing, pneumonia or diarrhea.

He said the public should turn to Thai traditional medicine because it can help balance a person’s body with the changing environment. For example, medicines that have a sour taste can clear phlegm out of the body, bitter medicines can improve one’s appetite and treat sleep disorders, and spicy medicines can help improve blood circulation and induce the expulsion of gas from the stomach or intestines.

He said people should consume fresh-cooked meals that have sour, slightly bitter or sour taste, such as different types of tomyum, or hot and sour soup.

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