How To Get Access To Holistic Practitioners No Matter Where You Live
Frustrated with ever-shrinking doctors' visits, treating symptoms rather than root causes, and feeling generally discouraged after seeing your doctor? Unfortunately, you aren't alone. More and more Americans are seeking out holistic therapies and integrative doctors—59 million Americans, to be exact.
Holistic practitioners—a blanket term used here encompassing naturopaths, acupuncturists, integrative psychotherapists, integrative M.D.s, doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), chiropractors, and more—are health care professionals who take a whole-body approach to health and well-being.
Why see a holistic practitioner.
Holistic practitioners are pretty awesome. They work to get to the root cause of your issues, not just treating the symptoms. They spend more time with you—on average alternative medicine consultations last 90 minutes versus just 18 minutes with conventional doctors. They have a reputation for listening; in holistic medicine, the doctor is your collaborator, working with you to identify problems and create solutions. During a consultation, they will ask you about your diet, lifestyle, sleep, stress levels, supplements, and overall health history while conventional docs might not even give you a chance to explain why you are there.
It's easy to see why you would seek out the personalized patient-centric care of a holistic practitioner. But unless you live in a big city (and even then, tbh) it can be hard to find one in your area. And once you find someone, how do you know if they are legit? If you thought navigating the conventional medical system was hard, this is a whole new ballgame. By definition, alternative practitioners are on the outskirts of traditional medicine, so it can be hard to keep up with which credentials to look out for and which term means what.
How to see a holistic practitioner from anywhere.
Luckily, new tech-forward startups are finding ways to solve that problem. Enter: Begin To Heal, an online platform connecting patients with vetted holistic health professionals. Started by a former busy exec who found herself battling adrenal fatigue and frustrated by traditional medicine, Pooja Khanna finally found healing in holistic medicine. Determined to make this type of treatment more widely available, Pooja developed Begin To Heal. "The idea is to make alternative medicine as accessible as possible, especially to those who might be hesitant to seek less conventional methods of healing due to unfamiliarity with the industry," explains Pooja.
Begin To Heal is partnered with more than 200 licensed wellness practitioners, with services including everything from acupuncture, nutrition coaching, and integrative medicine to hypnotherapy, energy healing, reiki, spiritual coaching, ayurveda, and psychotherapy.
You can view practitioner profiles, sort by specialty, read reviews from other customers, and book your session, all through their website. The Begin To Heal team has even taken sample sessions with every practitioner on the site and verified their licenses and certifications.
And the best part: You can schedule virtual appointments, meaning even if you don't live in New York, where their in-person practitioners are based, you can have access to top holistic healers and alternative therapies through secure HIPAA-compliant video calls. Energy healing from the couch, anyone?
Plus, they offer online courses and guided meditations to round out your care. "Think of it like matchmaking for healing, and then add to it the comfort of being healed in your own home," Pooja explains. "Having it be an online service gives us the capability to create a global wellness universe."
Another New York–based health practice, Parsley Health, just announced they'll start seeing patients virtually as well with new telehealth memberships. Billed as a primary care practice with a whole-body approach, Parsley's online membership is currently available in four states, with plans to go nationwide over the next six months.
When asked why they had expanded to online services, Parsley Health founder and mbg Collective member Robin Berzin, M.D., said it's all about access. While much of Parsley's practice was already digital, with doctor-patient messaging services and video call follow-ups, the first visit always had to be in person. "People shouldn't have to wait for a Parsley Health center to come to their area. We wanted to make Parsley accessible to them now," Berzin explained. "Our new telemedicine memberships will allow anyone, anywhere to do all of their visits online, including the first one—and that's really special."
Worried you won't be getting the "full Parsley experience" by doing it digitally? Robin promises, "For many, it will be even better. The convenience of anywhere access means you can kick off your journey with us from your home or office." Can't beat that.
Another newcomer, Milwaukee-based WellnessScript, has created their own virtual holistic health care program. To get you started, they offer a symptom quiz to learn more about where you are coming from. From there, you can book a one-hour phone or video consultation, followed by two 30-minute follow-up sessions with one of their licensed practitioners. Founded by two physicians, WellnessScript is committed to providing quality functional medicine to anyone, anywhere.
While not all of the services on these online platforms are covered by major health insurers right now, in many cases FSA/HSA benefits and out-of-network reimbursements can be used to cover most of the cost. Hopefully, as alternative medicine options become more widely available, the price will go down, make holistic health care even more accessible. As Robin put it, "This is just the next step. We have so many more steps to take to make comprehensive, holistic, personalized medicine available and accessible to everyone who needs it."
Other ways to bring holistic health into your home.
If you aren't quite ready to make the jump to a virtual holistic practitioner, there are plenty of other ways to incorporate alternative and complementary medicine principles.
First, brush up on how to be your own best health advocate. Conventional doctors' visits can be frustrating, but with a little practice, you can shift the focus to a more holistic and patient-centric experience. Be prepared for doctors' visits by keeping a log of symptoms, writing down questions you want to discuss with them beforehand, and paying attention to your body every day. This way you can feel confident you are getting the most out of every visit—even if it is super short.
There are also affordable at-home options outside the doctor's office you can look to for holistic health. Acupuncture mats, like the Shakti Mat, acupuncture rings, and ear seeds make it easy to test the waters of this spiky alternative therapy at home. Or try an essential oil diffuser to add a powerful relaxation vibe to your home. There are also plenty of great smartphone apps for streaming meditation or beginner yoga videos. Another affordable trend we love is Epsom salt baths for inflammation and stress. No matter where you live, you can find ways to focus holistically on yourself and your health.
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Darcy McDonough, M.S., is the Senior Manager, SEO & Content Strategy at mindbodygreen. She holds a master’s degree in nutrition interventions, communication, and behavior change from Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. She has previously worked in nutrition communications for Joy Bauer, the nutrition and health expert for NBC’s TODAY Show.
McDonough has developed & lead nutrition education programming in schools. She’s covered a wide range of topics as a health & nutrition reporter from the rise in the use of psychedelics for depression to the frustrating trend in shorter doctors' appointments and the connection between diet and disease.