Diving Into Alternative Medicine

Diving Into Alternative Medicine

Can it contribute to wellness?

Words by Rebecca Deurlein

I decided that Sarah Knight was much more than a massage therapist the day I forgot to tell her what was hurting.

She hovered her hands over my body (how I knew that, lying on my stomach, my face buried in the cradle, I didn’t quite understand), then her hands moved to the exact spot of my pain, and stayed there, kneading out the knots, nimble fingers and strong hands working their magic.

I’ve had many massages from a variety of practitioners, but Knight, owner of Mystic Fae Metaphysics and Massage in Rosenberg, Texas, is what I call The Real Deal. There’s not a doubt in my mind she’s Intuitive with a capital I. She’s consistently in tune with whatever energy is emanating from my body. And that got me curious about the other practices that comprise alternative wellness—aromatherapy, Reiki, crystals, even aura readings—all of which have gained traction in the U.S as a complement to traditional Western medicine. The global community spent over $100 billion in 2021 on practices such as these, and that number is expected to triple by 2027, according to a study by Grand View Research.

What are we searching for? The answer is as individual as each person. Some need to de-stress, others want relief from pain, still others feel blocked from mental or emotional healing. Alternative practices seek to address these issues holistically, maximizing the mind-body connection and bringing everything into alignment for better overall health.

“The body is always in a natural state of healing,” Knight explains. “In Reiki, I focus on channeling energy to wherever the person needs it, and it always finds its path.” I asked her to show me how it works. Lying on the table with my eyes closed, in silence, I knew she was concentrating, her hands over me. Then she moved to my neck and shoulders, placing her hands on me. Unbeknownst to her, I concentrated on receiving her energy into my right shoulder, site of a recovering torn rotator cuff. Her hand—only the right one—trembled, and I felt an onrushing warmth in my shoulder. Was it in my head? Did I want it to happen? I’m not sure, but it was unmistakable, and the doubt I had brought with me began to chip away.

Knight says that every client has visions of some sort during Reiki—colors or memories, for example—and that many experience emotional release, usually in the form of tears. “I tell them to let it flow, let it heal. It’s obviously what they needed.”

Her clients report that after Reiki sessions, their emotions stabilize, they sleep better, and they have less stress. “It helps with alignment, cleansing, and healing,” says Knight. And how does she feel after pouring all that energy into others? “I feel peaceful and serene throughout the session, but toward the end, I feel overheated,” much, I would think, like a post-workout feeling. 

Knight is also a huge believer in aromatherapy and employs it in all of her treatments. “It’s nature’s medicine,” she says. “Aromatherapy passes the blood-brain barrier, contains strong antioxidants for immunity, and increases oxygen to the brain,” she says. “Eucalyptus helps with breathing, lavender and peppermint help with circulation, ylang-ylang lowers blood pressure and helps people to relax, so I use them all in my treatments.” 

She also uses reflexology as part of her massage therapy. She focuses on pressure points to help alleviate headaches, sciatica, and sinus pressure, for instance. And she teaches her clients how to find their own relief by using pressure points—say, pinch the eyebrows for a few seconds to help with sinus pain between the eyes. I’ve personally tried these methods, and I’ve found short-term relief, which, to me, is better than no relief at all. 

Occupying the office next to Knight is fellow metaphysics practitioner Nick Furnace, owner of The Reliquary (translation: a container for relics). Furnace is working on his PhD in metaphysics, and he operates in a slightly different realm—that of stones, crystals, and Tarot cards. It’s not something I would typically pursue, mostly because I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it. But Furnace points out that alchemy has been a part of philosophy since medieval times, across many civilizations, and that being open-minded to it may support healing.

“It’s not that far-fetched when you think about the fact that charcoal can purify water,” says Furnace. “If the carbon in the charcoal can detoxify, why can’t rainbow fluorite and other stones carry similar qualities?”

So, what does a visit look like? Furnace says most people are specific about what they need when they make an appointment. When they come in, he immediately begins reading their aura. He might use Tarot cards to help understand the person better or answer a question that is plaguing them, again using intuitive skills to read what each person needs. Based on his findings, he recommends stones meant to help “heal” or support those needs.

Interestingly, Furnace teaches metaphysics to about 35 students at a time, tracking his accuracy in his readings. “When I first started, I had 5% accuracy. My teacher joked that I practically had negative intuition,” he says through laughter. “But now, I have 92% accuracy, proving that you can actually learn the art of metaphysics. I always say that it’s a gift everyone possesses—you just need to find yours.”

While many may find all of it a bunch of hogwash, I find myself believing that it’s a possibility. I’m not alone. Clients return again and again saying they feel better from whatever was ailing them, and I’m not sure it matters whether it’s the power of suggestion, the healing touch, or metaphysics doing its work. 

“I would invite skeptics to do a thorough meditation as to their objections to these practices,” says Furnace. “Why do you believe what you believe? That’s the essence of philosophy. Maybe this isn’t for everyone, but I’m all for keeping an open mind.”