When it comes to making yourself feel better, if you’re like most people, you head for the medicine cabinet or the doctor’s office. But for centuries, much of the world has depended on ‘holistic’ methods to maintain physical and emotional wellness. Local practitioners of these ancient treatments say their approaches most definitely have a role in today’s health scene—maybe even an increasingly important one.

Afua Bromley, licensed acupuncturist at Acupuncture St. Louis, says the variety of services offered at her practice treats the whole person. “We believe in a multi- disciplinary approach to wellness. We have acupuncturists, a naturopath and several massage therapists on staff. We’ll soon add a Reiki specialist, yoga and Pilates classes, and a clinical social worker,” Bromley explains. She believes a holistic treatment plan can be particularly effective for women’s health issues. “Women tend to be very receptive about their health. When we first see a patient it’s usually because they are at the end of their rope or because conventional medicine has failed to help them,” she says. “It’s worth seeing if an alternative might help. Because there are no potential side effects in our treatments, it can’t hurt to try something new.”

Bromley sees female patients seeking help with a host of issues, including fertility, menopause, PMS, pre- and post-natal care migraines, chronic aches and pains, digestion problems and stress. She bases her treatment plan—which may include acupuncture needle work, nutritional counseling, herbal supplements or traditional Chinese massage—on a lengthy intake completed during a patient’s first visit. “Using tongue and pulse diagnosis, I am able to ascertain which energetic channels or meridians in the body are off. I can detect imbalance between systems that could be causing a variety of different health problems,” she says. Bromley’s treatments aim to open energy pathways and improve health symptoms.

Sometimes, patients come in for what they think is one problem only to find that its cause is something unrelated. “Once I had a patient who was having digestion troubles, with pain and bloating after eating. After treating her a couple of times, we discovered her digestion issues were an extension of polycystic ovarian syndrome,” Bromley says. “Her physician had missed the diagnosis. Sometimes we are able to put the pieces together like a puzzle.”

Bromley says one of the main goals is to educate patients on things they can do to help themselves. “Sometimes, people are doing damaging things without even knowing it. We can make nutritional and lifestyle recommendations that complement treatment so that people don’t have to come in and see us all the time.”

Chiropractor Rob Elder of Metro Chiropractic uses Nutrition Response Testing (a nutritional analysis method) and chiropractic adjustment to treat many women’s health issues, including menopause, osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia. “Proper nutrition is the foundation for everything. Even with chiropractic adjustments, if the diet is poor, our bodies don’t have the tools they need to function properly,” says Elder.

Women especially, says Elder, have many diet misconceptions. “For example, many are confused about how much fat they should eat. A lot of women—especially those dealing with menopause—actually need good fats in their diets. When you’re abstaining from fats altogether or getting too much of the wrong types of fats, that can be the root of other problems,” he says. Sometimes ‘good’ foods aren’t good for certain people. “Allergies and food intolerances can have an impact on your overall wellbeing. Discovering those issues with testing can be very helpful.”

In addition to nutritional counseling, Elder also uses the Chiropractic BioPhysics technique to correct postural problems that could be causing pain and other health issues. “When the spine is out of place, it puts pressure on your nervous system, which causes it to malfunction. The technique I use is the most researched in the field. We look at the spine, and when necessary, restructure it with exercises and adjustments and then track progress over time,” he says.

Elder says his job is to find the root of what is wrong with his patients, find out what their expectations are and develop a treatment plant to match those expectations, whether the goal is reducing hot flashes or easing the pain of fibromyalgia. “I have been in this field for more than 18 years, and I’m used to offering different treatment options to my patients.”