Alternative Health Therapies Gain Momentum

By Briana Vannozzi

For chronic pain sufferer and cancer survivor Patrice DeFrino, therapeutic Reiki is the only treatment — in her long list of attempts — to rid her severe neck pain caused by arthritis.

“I got to a point where it was interfering with my everyday activity. It was that bad,” DeFrino said.

It’s an ancient Japanese technique for stress reduction and healing. A practitioner works to help energy flow through the body along meridians.

“And it maybe sounds very simple and it actually is very simple. But when you can remove that energy blockage in the body, the body knows how to heal itself and it will and then the pain can be relieved,” explained Diana Harraka.

“I can feel the energy working like you can feel heat sometimes or some of the energy moving at times,” DeFrino said.

Harraka practices wellness reiki and acupressure at Malo Health and Wellness Center in Bergen County. She’s often a patient’s last resort after they’ve exhausted all other treatment methods.

“We work hand in hand with the medical community and doctors are now starting to refer patients,” she said.

“We are all here because we don’t treat diseases, we don’t treat organs, we treat the whole person. If you treat the mind, you can treat the body,” said Rouzbeh Sattari.

Alternative therapy methods work by putting the body back into balance. They’re known to help conditions like chronic pain, TMJ, fibromyalgia and even migraines.

More and more hospitals are bringing in therapists to treat pre- and post-surgical patients. The VA is finding much success for soldiers coming home with varying degrees of mental and physical trauma. For many patients, the alternative is grim.

“Put me on anti inflammatory, steroids, muscle relaxer, pain relief and physical therapy for six weeks, none of which helped. The next step would have been trigger injections which I didn’t even like the sound of that,” DeFrino said.

And the results, while at times inexplicable, are also indisputable.

“I would say my first session, my pain was a number 10 on a level from zero to 10. I would say after my first session, I would say it was down to a six right away,” said DeFrino.

And now, no pain at all for months.

“The word is getting out there and they’re seeing results and although a lot of it cannot be proven, there are dramatic changes in people that do have alternative healing done,” said Harraka.

State Sen. Tony Bucco has jumped into the fray to bring more clarity and awareness to the growing field.

“I think the insurance companies should cover this therapy,” he said.

And for critics, of which there are many, Harraka and DeFrino both say just try one session. It’s something you have to feel to believe.