The New Normal: Five Health-Boosting Holistic Therapies

Hospitals, meet healers: From acupuncture to reiki, these therapies may be just what the doctor ordered.

healthy holistic therapies

Illustration by Paul Tuller

Boston boasts some of the country’s finest physicians, but we also have a healing community that doesn’t involve stethoscopes and syringes. These days, alternative wellness isn’t so alternative. While it may be too soon to break up with your doctor, the medical community is increasingly endorsing unconventional treatments that promise to help relieve pain, improve health, and—if nothing else—bring peace of mind. “Some are age-old,” says Don Levy, medical director of Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Osher Clinical Center for Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies. “They’re just being rediscovered, reformulated, rethought.”


Reiki, a Japanese healing and meditation practice based on the transfer of energy, is believed to boost immune health, reduce stress and pain, and even inspire the release of pent-up emotions. Practitioners get energy flowing either through targeted contact or hands hovering just above the body, leading to a state of deep relaxation. Give it a try at Brenner Reiki Healing, where practitioner Elise Brenner offers community clinics in Newton the first Friday of every month for just a $10 donation.

324 Central St., Auburndale, 617-244-8856,


No time to stop and smell the roses? A visit to Pour le Corps could have a similar effect. The Back Bay day spa offers facials and body wraps employing aromatherapy, a nearly 6,000-year-old practice that uses plant-based essential oils—applied topically or inhaled—to rejuvenate the mind and body. Hope for improved mood, pain relief, and lessened anxiety after the treatment. Your luxurious day of pampering is just a bonus.

224 Clarendon St., Boston, 617-262-8855,


If you’ve dabbled in alternative wellness before, you’ve probably tried acupuncture—a popular technique that uses thin stainless steel needles to stimulate certain areas of the body and minimize discomfort in others. But don’t go just anywhere for these precious pin pricks. Newton’s Kiiko Matsumoto, a renowned expert in the field, is behind an eponymous, internationally known style of acupuncture that uses touch to glean information about patients’ health.

1223 Walnut St., Newton Highlands, 617-244-2637,


Boston Hypnosis’s Brian Mahoney, a certified master hypnotist with 14 years of experience, promises he can help you lose weight, stop smoking, ditch bad habits, overcome fears, and more. How? By using hypnotherapy to induce a trancelike state that he claims gives clients laser focus and opens the mind to positive suggestion. And no, it’s not like the movies—you won’t find any swinging pendulums here.

48 Melrose St., Boston, 617-542-4444,

Zero Balancing

Cambridge Health Associates is one of only a handful of local clinics offering Zero Balancing, a therapy that applies pressure to the bones, joints, and soft tissues to encourage vitality and energy flow. Practitioners say it can help alleviate aches and pains, restore range of motion, improve mood and sleep, and sharpen concentration.

335 Broadway, Cambridge, 617-354-8360,