As more Americans focus on boosting their immune systems and overall health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, complementary and alternative medicine appears to be on the rise.
Cristin Smith is founder and CEO of Saffron & Sage, a holistic health club located in Little Italy. Since the start of the coronavirus crisis over a year ago, she’s seen a surge in both new clients and new members, particularly seeking treatments and natural immunity products.
“Existing members have upgraded their memberships, giving them access to more treatments, and we have seen a spike in immunity sessions being booked,” said Smith, who founded the company in 2014 and has over 500 members to date. “We have seen a large number of clients signing up for our Activate Membership, our holistic healthcare membership which is designed around data driven results. Our IV lounge + Vitamin Bar recently launched and has been booked solid since opening. Injectable nutrition has become a sought-after way of supporting the immune system and other key functions like detoxification.”
Acupuncture and Fire Cupping
Whether it is clients with compromised immune systems, healthcare professionals working on the frontlines or those seeking to prevent exposure or illness, patients are gravitating to modalities such as acupuncture, fire cupping, massage and breathwork, said Smith. As an added measure, just days before they are scheduled to get the vaccine, a large number of her clients are picking up herbal formulas from the Saffron & Sage pharmacy. These, she said, are designed to support their system’s and body’s responses to the vaccine.
The post-vaccine recommendations are centered around acupuncture and fire cupping, said Smith, the latter which drains excess heat from the body. As a final step, patients may receive a recovery IV that helps hydrate, reduce inflammation and muscle soreness, she said.
“Even those patients who are not ready or eligible to get the vaccine, we are customizing treatments based upon their specific constitution and providing them the prescriptions and treatments they need to strengthen and protect their lungs, support proper immune function and clear toxins from their system,” said Smith. “Clients have never been more focused on their health.”
Michaela Subido, membership director at Saffron & Sage, says aside from seeking complementary medicine, people that have just tapped into the holistic world are also searching to connect with other like-minded members in the community.
“People have been scheduling more consultations, both wellness and holistic healthcare, because they are looking to be more proactive about their health, dealing with heightened levels of stress and anxiety, feeling like they don’t get enough support from their doctors of western medicine and looking to explore alternatives,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of interest in acupuncture (for immunity and vaccine prep/post) and massage (lymphatic drainage). In general, people are craving community and connection.”
Melissa Nolan just opened Peaceful Warrior Acupuncture Incorporated in El Cajon earlier this year. The Brooklyn, New York, transplant said she was motivated to open her clinic in the midst of the pandemic because of the increased desire from members of the community to integrate alternative medicine to their health and wellness routines.
In January, Nolan opened the doors to her 900 square foot space, where she offers a variety of services via a private side as well as a separate community area, the latter through which she is able to see three patients at once. Peaceful Warrior Acupuncture has services such as acupuncture, fire cupping, auricular ear seeds which stimulate pressure points in the ear, vaginal steaming, telemedicine and herbal consultations and formulas.
Treating Mental and Spiritual
“Acupuncture can work as a preventative medicine and has the ability to boost the immune system, which we know is implicated through COVID-19,” she said. “It can help clear the chest and can relieve symptoms like digestive issues and fever. Cupping is also really good for that. Post-COVID, acupuncture is good for improving circulation and other pain syndromes that are happening after the recovery of COVID.”
Since launching, Nolan said she’s seen steady month-over-month growth in revenue. The main reason is not just the health benefits, she said, but also because holistic medicine can treat one’s mental and spiritual state.
“A lot of people are suffering from emotional imbalance, depression, anxiety and stress,” she said. “Acupuncture is great for treating the mental, the spiritual and physical levels. We treat the person as a whole, all of the aspects of a human being.”