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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Local PractitionersOffer Reiki, Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Dec 30, 2011 11:56AM ● By Kim Childs

Anyone seeking complementary and alternative medicine in the Boston area is lucky to have an abundance of practitionersfrom which to choose.

In Woburn, registered nurse and Reiki master Kate Genovese uses what she calls “the gentle healing art” of Reiki to heal and nurture her patients.“I started using Reiki in 1991 when I fell upon this gentle modality and became a practitioner,” recalls Genovese, who recently opened Woburn Reiki. “As a nurse, I use this touch with many of my patients with illnesses, and even with hospice patients to help ease their pain.” Genovese says that Reiki can offer relaxation, reduced anxiety and overall well-being by promoting balance in the body. It also fosters restful sleep, she adds, and helps to restore immune function and improve circulation for overall healing.

“I use Reiki in my practice to promote pleasure as well,” says Genovese. “One of its greatest benefits is the opportunity for people to let go and enjoy the experience of being nurtured and cared for.”

Newton is home to the nation’s oldest acupuncture school, the New England School of Acupuncture (NESA). The school features a teaching clinic that is open to the public, where interns in the final year of a master’s degree program in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treat such ailments as headaches, arthritis, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, asthma, digestive problems and women’s health issues. “NESA integrates excellence in education with public service,” says Interim President Sue Gorman. “In the last year alone, our interns provided more than 17,000 affordable acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments to the community.”

Gorman says that NESA clinic patients experience personalized care under the supervision of experienced clinical faculty. “NESA interns take body, mind and spirit into consideration when designing the right treatment for a patient’s unique concerns,” she says. “They also provide individualized Chinese herbal medicine treatments, and our on-site dispensary is stocked with an extensive selection of herbal products.”

The NESA clinic offers patients both Chinese and Japanese acupuncture, the latter of which is characterized by particularly gentle techniques, including non-insertive needling. Gorman says that NESA’s research department conducts ongoing studies to develop more evidence-based data on the benefits of acupuncture.

In Arlington, Madelon Hope directs the Boston School of Herbal Studies, where she and her colleagues teach students to identify medicinal plants and use them for physical and emotional health. “Modern-day herbalists are reconnecting to a time when people used local plants for medicinal purposes,” says Hope. “We’re empowering people to assume responsibility for their health, as our ancestors did.”

Hope says that the decisions people make about treating their health issues have ecological and political significance. “Pharmaceuticals are found everywhere in our environment and are designed to resist breakdown,” she says. “Medications such as anti-depressants, painkillers and antibiotics are found in drinking water around the country, so we may be consuming Prozac, for example, whether we prefer to or not.”

Hope says that choosing to use herbs such as skullcap, lemon balm or linden for anxiety or mild to moderate depression will not only enhance a person’s mood, but will also keep unwanted substances from entering water and food supplies. “Medicinal plants help strengthen our bodies without overtaxing our environment,” says Hope. “They tend not to have the negative side effects associated with so many medications, and they address underlying issues rather than suppress symptoms.”

Katja Swift is the founder of the CommonWealth Center for Herbal Medicine in Brookline. She says that herbalism is particularly effective for treating chronic diseasesthat are prevalent today. “If I were in a car accident, I’d want to be taken to a hospital,” says Swift. “But for chronic health conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, Lyme disease, and autoimmune disorders, herbs are often a better answer.” Swift explains that she and her partner RynMidura have helped CommonWealthclients with these and other conditions, often in cases where conventional medicine was ineffective.

“This is because herbs support the body’s innate healing processes,” Midura says. “Your body is its own best doctor, and herbs help it to heal, whether by providing specific nutrients,
gently stimulating organ function, or helping to re-establish balance in the body’s ecology.”Midura says that herbal medicine can produce deeper and longer-lasting healing
than pharmaceutical or surgical interventions because it allows people to be involved in their own healing.

“Much of our work is educational,”Swift adds. “We want our clients to understand exactly what we’re recommending and why.”

For more information about: Kate Genovese, call 781-883-4711 or visit; New England School of Acupuncture, call 617-558-1788 or visit; Madelon Hope, call 781-646-6319 or visit; and Katja Swift or RynMidura, call 617-750-5274 or visit