Seth McLaughlin, family nurse practitioner, and holistic and aesthetic nursing licensed massage therapist, practicing alternative medicine at Ageless Skin and Laser Center. (Photos by Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press)
Not that long ago, manual therapy and other forms of alternative medicine were considered taboo and not the effective form of healing they are today.
Brandy Canada, a licensed massage therapist and owner of Triggerpoint Massage Therapy in Johnson City, has seen her line of work and alternative medicine come full circle in the 14 years she’s been at it.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Canada said.
That’s not only because it’s a way for her to make money, though Canada admits that’s the reason she initially got into manual, or massage, therapy, but more because of its positive changes on so many lives around the area. The big shift came with the help of Johnson City’s proximity to Asheville, N.C., an area that is known as being very accepting of a holistic approach to healing. Alternative medicine is a broad term, Canada says, and contains everything from a massage therapy-induced increase in metabolism, blood flow and arthritis relief to treatment of fibromyalgia and an improvement in skin and hair quality through herbs and supplements.
Surfing was Canada’s first big break with manual therapy, on the shores of the Hawaiian islands, treating muscle problems for competitors.
“I started with a broken surf board,” Canada says. “I took a dry erase marker and wrote on the board, ‘$1 a minute for a massage,’ and got a sun tan in between massages.”
Since her days of traveling the world as a massage therapist, Canada decided to raise a family in Johnson City and says she now chases a 10-month old instead of surfers and waves, but hasn’t lost site of her profession. Triggerpoint Massage therapy developed with the help of the region’s changing opinion on the effectiveness of alternative medicine.
“This is something that needs to be brought to people’s attention,” Canada said about alternative medicine, noting that she’s fought against the anti-alternative medicine taboo since she began.
She says she knows her business is working because of all the nurses and doctors who frequent her business and other businesses like hers in the area.
It’s uncommon to see a chiropractor business that doesn’t also have a massage therapist, she said.
Insurance companies, including BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, will offer two massages a month to qualified people through certain plans. The massages can have long lasting benefits for many, including the opportunity to avoid surgeries through preventative means, which saves money also.
So, why not save the money? Many leg injuries, like the repairing of tendons, Canada said, would be right in the wheelhouse of massage therapists, and, if taken care of ahead of time, could keep those legs away from the knife.
Seth McLaughlin, a family nurse practitioner with Ageless Skin and Laser on Med Tech Parkway in Johnson City says his integrative medicine is gaining popularity. These treatments include lifestyle medicine, IV nutritional therapy, therapeutic bodywork, integrated medicine, thorough testing and advanced skincare. Though Ageless Skin and Laser has a great deal of ailments to work on, they don’t work with insurance companies, McLaughlin said.
“Anything insurance companies touch, they ruin,” he said, explaining past cases when he did accept insurance plans when they altered the treatment far too much for his liking.
Some of the issues McLaughlin had in the past with alternative medicine, like that done by Canada and in his business is misinformation or the lack of education with physicians.
“There was a whole generation of physicians not being educated on alternative medicine,” McLaughlin said.
That’s clearly changed now, with McLaughlin saying that about 80 percent of the patients he has walking through the door utilize alternative medicine one way or another, sometimes just through herbs or supplements. Whereas in the past, McLaughlin said, people thought he and his colleagues were killing people by giving them herbs and supplements.
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