If you've lived in Pittsburgh for any period of time, you know you can't travel more than a two block radius before you run into a billboard for Allegheny Health Network or UPMC healthcare. They're everywhere, and for good reason. They're medical backbone of our city. Medical professionals from around the world travel to Pittsburgh just to be a part of what we created here. Medical students from Pittsburgh and beyond vie for one of the few spots our hospitals offer in residencies. Pittsburgh has become one of the top medical capitols in the country - maybe even the world, and in a day and age when healthcare is one of the hottest topics in the news, that's something to be proud of.
When you live in a western medicine world, its hard to imagine anything else. What you may not know though, is that Pittsburgh also offers a whole other side to medicine - the eastern side.
Eastern medicine is often referred to as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and dates back thousands of years. Its known for its holistic approach that often includes herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, exercise, and dietary therapy, among others. It claims to be a long term approach that looks at each individual uniquely, the relationship between mind and body, and creates a treatment plan accordingly. Just like you wouldn't have to travel far to find a hospital in Pittsburgh, you don't have to travel far to find alternative medicine either.
There are a lot of different methods out there when it comes to TCM, all focusing on varying aspects of the mind and body. Lets get started.
Himalayan Salt Cave
East Liberty is home to Peace, Love and Zen whose goal is "provide a sanctuary where members of the community can de-stress while receiving state-of-the-art natural therapy." Their services range far and wide, but among them is a Himalayan Salt Cave. Haleotherapy, or "salt therapy" involves salt particles that are inhaled deep into the lungs to help loosen congestion, increase oxygen intake and cleanse the airways of smoke, dust, pollution, pollens and other allergens. All this takes place in the comfort of a lounge chair in what actually looks like a real cave. Those who have experienced it claim to have better breathing, improved skin, and an overall sense relaxation.
Part of the core practice in TCM is honing in on the senses, and how they respond to various treatments. Pittsburgh is home to a few that use just that method.
Reflexology has been practiced in China for over 4000 years. Through gentle manipulation of the feet, positive effects can be created elsewhere in the body. Beyond treating a myriad of medical conditions, reflexology also reduces stress.
There are a handful of places that offer this around the city, one in particular, Happy Feet, is located right in Southside.
If foot massages and salt caves aren't your thing, try floating. That's right, floating; and the folks at Levity on Murray Avenue can help you do just that. In "pods" that hold up to 1000lbs of dissolved epsom salt in just 10 inches of water, the body is free to fully float- allowing all muscle groups to relax to the extreme. As the body relaxes, it transitions into sleep stage one, one of the most restful states the body can be in.
Its no secret that Pittsburgh is a leader in medicine. As technology advances and options expand, its hard not to be intrigued by what modern medicine has to offer; But if you look between all the hospitals, urgent cares and doctors offices, you can find some pretty cool alternative options that were around long before our steel mills were.
Disclaimer: As always, consult your doctor before trying any new wellness treatments!