Bodil Meleney, a practitioner of traditional Chinese herbal medicine from Takoma Park, MD is happy about the growing popularity of these methods, but also commented that there is a tendency for people to self-medicate when it comes to alternative supplements. Ideally, it’s better to consult an herbalist or other alternative therapy practitioner.
“I do think Takoma Park has been very open [to alternative health], but I think the area is still into ‘self-health,’ often without understanding what they are buying,” Meleney said.
An Emphasis on Wellness
“Although conventional medicine is essential in clearly defined cases, Meleney and Mary Morrison, an acupuncturist who founded Your Access Acupuncture, also based in Takoma Park, agree that alternative health practices can offer individualized attention to patients that conventional medicine doesn’t necessarily offer,” reports Mary Tablante of Tacoma Park Patch, “In fact, Meleney, who was a registered nurse, said it is possible for her treatments to work with any other doctor’s recommendations.”
“Nutrition is a huge component in getting better, or in wellness … the focus is on wellness in Chinese medicine,” Meleney said. “In Western society there has been, until recently, little focus on wellness, but rather, ‘run to the doctor and get a pill that’s going to work instantly.’ My specialty is to create formulas that are specific and targeted for that person.”
“If you come in and say you have asthma, I know what you mean in my mind … but [that label] doesn’t really have any meaning in Chinese medicine,” she said. “I’m more interested in how you experience asthma — shortness of breath, how long [it lasts], where you are when this is happening, [if it’s] some type of pattern … all these details feed the treatment and help me understand you better. I don’t have any ‘cookie-cutter’ treatments for people.”
Acupuncture treatments are effective for improving the immune system, but an even easier method is simply getting enough rest.
“We’re going through the deepest part of the year where it’s all about being quiet and still, but in our culture right now, it also ramps up the holidays,” Morrison said. “We have nature that’s about to go into deep rest, [and] that is what’s happening in our bodies. When we keep going, going, going, we deplete vital chi [the body's vital energy] to fend off different pathogens.”
Meleney and Morrison stressed the idea of patience and that collaboration and mutual assistance between patient and therapist can make all the difference.