I couldn't believe it. As a guy who hates needles, I had somehow found myself in a dim room, lying on my back preparing to have several small pins stuck into my skin.
In the name of curiosity and local journalism, I volunteered to undergo a brief acupuncture session with Alana Pollack Hammer at Greensquare Center for the Healing Arts in nearby Glendale. Hammer normally treats patients experiencing musculoskeletal pains, stress and anxiety or digestive disorders, but I only had a simple sore throat.
After quickly calculating which meridian points in my arms and legs led to my throat, Hammer stuck three needles in me, and to my surprise, it didn't hurt. Afterward, my heartbeat slowed and I experienced a warm, calm feeling. Over the next couple days, I seemed to be in a better mood than usual.
It turns out the upbeat mood was caused by the release of endorphins triggered by the acupuncture needles. Hammer said acupuncture has been shown to reduce body pains, as well as improve depression and even help migraines.
Hammer's acupuncture practice is just one piece of Greensquare Center, a two-building campus at 6789 N. Green Bay Road that offers services ranging from psychotherapy to reiki to hormone balancing. Since opening in June 2009, it has expanded from one hypnotherapist to a staff of 30 integrative medicine doctors and therapeutic professionals, some of whom have backgrounds in traditional medicine.
This weekend, Greensquare will introduce the community to a variety of natural treatments and therapies at a free event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The event includes classes that demonstrate reiki, nutritional strategies for beating cancer, yoga, meditation and Feldenkrais awareness through movement.
Hammer told a story about one of her patients, suffering from chronic pneumonia, who was able to get off antibiotics. With regular treatments over the last five months, the patient is still free of antibiotics.
"Oftentimes, people will come in and say their pain level is at 10 out of 10, and they will leave feeling a 2 out of 10," she said. "By tapping into meridians, we are not only opening up natural pathways in the body, but we are also helping to oxygenate the blood and move it around to the site of trauma."
Although the wide variety of services at Greensquare may seem unconnected, Greensquare Center director Hollie Nankin said the campus brings together a wide variety of natural wellness practitioners are bring together the mind, body and spirit.
"It's not just energy healing. It's not just fitness. We look at the whole person, and that's what integrative medicine does," she said. "It revolves around alternative ways of helping someone who wants wellness in their life, wants to prevent illness or wants natural treatment to help them restore energy."
Nankin said the practitioners do not see themselves as an alternative to traditional medicine, and they do not encourage their patients to get off their medications. Although, with time, the practitioners are usually able to help patients reduce their medications or eventually get off their medications.
"We get so many thank you letters. One of them was from a woman who had brain surgery for cancer, and was having a lot of pain and was taking a lot of medicine for that," she said."A year or two after surgery, she started seeing a practitioner for natural pain management, and she said it was the first time she had truly felt free of pain. It gave her a feeling of empowerment that she was going to restore herself"
Visit the Greensquare Center website for more information and registration information.