Thirteen years ago when Ravinder Valia, owner of Ravinder’s Day Spa on First Street, came to Hoboken, most people didn’t think of Hoboken when they thought of holistic skin care. And while it still may be a while until the mile-square—home of Frank and fondant—will be recognized as a mecca of health, holistic things are certainly brewing here. And thanks to the groundwork laid by practitioners like Valia and others, there’s already a lot you can do to treat your body naturally.
Holistic by heritage
Holistic health care is a method of medical care that treats the mind as well as the body. While that’s a relatively new concept here in the United States, across the sea this has been the approach to medical care for centuries. Valia, who is originally from India, discovered the principles of Ayurveda as part of everyday life.
“I have grown up into it, learning from my mother and my grandmother,” she says.
At Ravinder’s Day Spa, clients can indulge in massage, facials, reflexology, and oxygen infusions. But these luxurious services don’t just help clients look good, they also can be used to treat skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and scars as well as a host of other medical issues, including obesity and disease.
“If you don’t take care of the skin, skin eruptions can occur,” Valia says. “There’s more bacteria on the skin and people are more prone to other diseases.”
Valia says reflexology is popular because clients don’t have to undress; they just take off their shoes and socks for 30 to 60 minutes of treatment. Concentrating on specific points during this process can help speed up weight loss or relieve stress.
The number-one killer in this country, Valia says, is stress. When you decrease the stress levels, the person feels better, works better, and is healthier.
“You’re working the whole body—the mind, the body, and the soul,” she says.
In fact, her signature “facial” actually goes from head to toe with a combination of back massage, reflexology, and a facial with ayurvedic products that Valia makes fresh on the spot, specifically for each client.
“Most of the [commercial] products are carcinogenic,” says Valia. “We should stay as natural as possible.”
With nature in mind, clients are treated with masks made of things like yogurt and lemon juice as well as essential oils like sandalwood and lavender.
“I guarantee they won’t need a face lift,” she says.
In the days of yesteryear, an apothecary was a place you could go to get answers, herbs, and advice. And that’s precisely what Ariele Myers had in mind when she opened Ariele’s Apothecary in Hoboken a few years ago.
A licensed acupuncturist and board-certified herbalist, Myers recently made the move from her own location—where she collaborated with various practitioners, including energy workers, massage therapists, and nutritionists—into Devotion Yoga, which has a collaborative spirit of its own. The owners of the yoga space have been expanding their own wellness center and now offer services like Reiki and massage.
Connecting with and supporting likeminded people is essential, Myers says.
“I don’t think people think of Hoboken as a really health-conscious scene,” she says. “But I feel like there’s pockets of us here and if we stay strong, stay together, there’s a lot of options for us here.”
Fertility and family
Acupuncture has become well known for pain management and as a treatment for a variety of ailments including digestive, respiratory, neurological, gynecological, muscular, and skeletal disorders.
Here in Hoboken, one of the most popular uses of acupuncture is for women’s health issues—particularly infertility.
Myers says 85 to 90 percent of her business is now fertility related.
“I love helping people have babies and start their families,” she says. Ideally, clients come to her before they ever begin in vitro fertilization (IVF). Sometimes, acupuncture helps them avoid the need for IVF.
As those babies grow up, Myers says the moms keep coming back for advice, treatment, and homeopathic remedies for their little ones.
“I feel like a lot of parents are not wanting to give their kids antibiotics several times a year,” she says. “There’s so many options for our kids.”
Although treatment for children does not usually include sticking needles in them, Shonishin (energetically working the same channels used in acupuncture without puncturing the skin) and cupping (a suction remedy) can be used to treat asthma, lung weakness, eczema, digestive disorders, and even anxiety or attention deficit disorder (ADD) in young patients.
Balancing and empowering patients
Dr. Shi-Hong Loh, who is both a physician and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), agrees that women’s health issues are the most popular reason patients come to his practice these days.
For all women’s conditions—including cramps, endometriosis, infertility, symptoms related to pregnancy, postpartum depression, breast-milk production, menopause, migraines—acupuncture is the best cure, he says.
“What it does is it balances the woman’s reproductive system,” says Loh. “All those symptoms go away one by one, all those abnormalities will be taken care of.”
So what about the men?
Loh says things like erectile dysfunction are rarely an organic problem but are often caused by medicine or psychological issues.
With men’s health issues, there is often an extra layer that needs to be peeled back in order to see what’s causing the problem.
For this reason, Loh strongly supports patient research and empowerment prior to selecting a practitioner.
“It is important for a doctor to understand instead of just coming in and shooting needles,” says Loh. “You have to find out what causes that first.”
Comfort for cancer patients
Loh’s background is in oncology. He once served as chief of hematology and oncology at St. Mary’s Hospital in Hoboken. But after years of disappointment and watching his patients not get better from chemotherapy treatment alone, he decided to return to his roots.
“Throughout my years of practice in oncology, many of my cancer patients experienced long-term severe emotional distress before cancer developed,” says Loh. “When they’re in better emotional status, they responded better to chemo.”
Delving into his knowledge of Chinese medicine, Loh found that the best way to maintain health and combat cancer is by balancing and nourishing the mind, body, and spirit connection.
“Acupuncture is a good choice to help people through the hardship of cancer treatment,” he says.
And while he’s firm that acupuncture cannot cure cancer, he says it can relieve symptoms, strengthen the immune system, and help the person feel more comfortable.
However, a blend of therapies can prove quite successful. In his detailed report, “Qi Gong Therapy in the Treatment of Metastatic Colon Cancer,” Loh revealed how a patient’s tumor disappeared through the combined treatment of QiGong and chemotherapy.—07030
12 Hudson Pl., Suite 201
12 Hudson Pl., Second floor
Dr. Shi-Hong Loh
109 Grand St.
Ravinder’s Day Spa
367 First St.
A Quick Primer on Holistic Treatments Acupuncture: a system of complementary medicine which originated in ancient China and involves pricking the skin or tissues with needles to alleviate pain and treat various physical, mental, and emotional conditions
Ayurveda: the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing and is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems
Cupping: a therapy in which heated glass cups are applied to the skin along meridians of the body, creating suction as a way of stimulating flow of energy
Qi Gong: physical exercises and breathing control related to tai chi
Reflexology: a system of massage used to relieve tension and treat illness based on reflex points on the feet, hands, and head that are linked to every part of the body
Reiki: a healing technique in which the therapist channels energy into the patient through touch to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body