When looking at new health and wellness offerings in the Bluegrass, at least one overarching trend is clear: People are increasingly seeking new, alternative routes on the journey to well-being. From sensory shock and sensory deprivation to breathing in salt particles or absorbing alternative energy waves, we’ve collected a sampling of some of the alternative healing methods offered locally. These services – each of which is offered by at least one facility in the Lexington area – are designed to combat what ails you, be it stress, fatigue, chronic pain, inflammation, skin and respiratory problems or other issues.
As with any health regimen, we recommend conducting your own research and consulting with a doctor or other health care experts to help find what is best suited for you.
Scalar Wave Therapy
Dubbed as the state’s first “energy spa,” the Lexington Center for Integrative Health offers many services to promote natural health via energy enhancement and stress reduction, and is largely known for its signature treatment, scalar wave field therapy. The first of its kind in Kentucky or neighboring states, according to owner Stephen Ramsay, LCIH’s Scalar Wave Room offers escape from “electronic wave pollution,” which Ramsay describes as the disruption of cells’ natural electric waves from outside electrical waves. After being introduced to the therapy in Sarasota, Florida, the former pediatrician and his wife, Karen, a home medical equipment professional, wanted to bring the practice to a wider audience.
Designed to boost natural cell health and remove interferences to cellular function, LCIH’s Scalar Wave room utilizes an energy enhancement system consisting of eight generators, which resemble desktop computer screens and are precisely aligned in a way to generate bio-active energy fields – including “scalar waves” – while nullifying other electric waves in the room. Scalar waves are unique types of energy waves purported to enhance cell and bone regeneration, improve immune function, alleviate pain, detoxify the body, elevate mood and increase energy levels. Clients relax in the dimly lit room, leaving outside electronics behind, and are encouraged to “zone out,” meditate, or even fall asleep. The treatment can last from an hour-long session to an overnight stay.
Scalar wave therapy, like some of LCIH’s other treatments, ultimately combats stress on the cells, and Ramsay cited stress as the cause of most illnesses in adults. He compares the treatment to getting out of the city and into the country.
“We are not a culture that wants the effort to pursue optimal health,” he said. “[We are] living a life that drives us to ill health, even a life with lots of positive things in it. We have to choose things that balance that stress and unwind those stress hormones. Everything we do here brings down the stress hormones.”
The effects of cellular energy and how it relates to stress reduction might not be something that many people consider, says Ramsay, but the high-tech, electronic world that we live in is hard on our body’s cells and cellular function – even to the point of overt harm. Cells are like tiny chemical factories, he explained, with their own electricities – if their balance is off, the body suffers.
With its scalar wave field therapy program, LCIH, which opened in April 2016, works to help restore this balance and reduce cellular stress.
“It nullifies all electromagnetic impulses that are barraging our bodies,” Dr. Ramsay explained.
Ramsay said the treatment has been shown to eliminate tremors in Parkinson’s Disease patients, help manage inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, increase recovery time after surgeries or major injuries, relieve pain, reduce anxiety and depression, promote better sleep and improve mental clarity.
Scalar wave therapy is recommended once or twice a week. A routine, one- to two- hour session starts at $30, and Scalar Wave Night (all-night sessions) is available, as well as package discounts. For more information on scalar wave therapy and other services offered at Lexington Center for Integrative Health, which also include infrared sauna treatment, nutritional counseling and more, visit lcihealth.com.
Located in Brannon Crossing, the relaxing, manmade salt cave in the Bluegrass Salt Room is covered in thousands of pounds of pink Himalayan salt. Exposure to the salt particles is purported to treat a variety of respiratory and skin conditions. Photo by Abby Laub.
Popular in Europe for decades, halotherapy is a relatively new but growing treatment in the United States that typically involves a 45-minute session in a manmade “salt cave,” with participants breathing in microscopic particles of salt. Studies have shown that halo therapy (which gets its name from “halas,” the Greek word for salt) can help with respiratory ailments such as asthma, allergies, bronchitis and smoker’s cough, as well as cystic fibrosis, skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema and additional conditions ranging from depression to cystic fibrosis. The treatment is also designed to help alleviate stress and promote relaxation.
Originally hailing from Naples, Florida, Bluegrass Salt Room owner Tiffany Richir first learned about halotheraphy from her Hungarian neighbor in Florida. She quickly became an apprentice in the practice before opening her own shop in Brannon Crossing in 2014 when she and her husband moved to Kentucky.
“The more I learned about it and the more I watched people get relief … the more interested I became,” Richir recalled, adding that she’s seen results in clients from boosted lung capacity and respiratory relief to clearing acne.
Richir said her own experience utilizing halotherapy has led to a boosted immune system. She added that her daughter, who was born with eczema, started salt therapy treatments at 6 weeks old and has never needed any type of medication.
The Bluegrass Salt Room is powered by a machine that mechanically cuts and grinds salt down to fine, invisible micro particles, which are then blown into the completely dry treatment room and dispersed through the air for inhalation.
“You have no sense that’s it is even there,” Richir said of the salt, adding that the process doesn’t have any agitating side effects. Guests are encouraged to relax and focus on their breathing, taking deep inhalations, and no electronic devices are allowed in the space. Richir said for many guests, results are immediate.
While most clients start out doing halotherapy about three times per week for major ailments, most people can eventually cut back when their symptoms are alleviated. Single sessions start at $35, and multiple packages and introductory rates are available. For more information on the Bluegrass Salt Room, visit kentuckysaltroom.com.
Source on High, pictured above, was the first place in Lexington to introduce flotation tanks. Fiberglass tanks swirling with 200 gallons of water that has an extremely high salt content, the tanks are designed to help a body float on the water’s surface to achieve total relaxation and release. Photo by Abby Laub
Sensory Deprivation / Float Tanks
Float tanks are officially a “thing,” and Lexington is home to at least two facilities carrying the sensory-deprivation service, with Gym Laird on the south side of town and High Street’s Source on High offering float services.
A 60- to 90-minute session in one of the fiberglass float tanks, which resemble large bathtubs swirling with about 200 gallons of water and an extremely high concentration of Epsom salt, is designed to help a user achieve total relaxation. Releasing tension from the joints is a major benefit of float therapy, which is also purported to help the body heal more quickly – other benefits range from increased blood circulation and immune system function, to pain management, stress reduction, increased creativity, sleep schedule maintenance and feelings of euphoria. The therapy has been used for athletic recovery and for helping combat everything from post-traumatic stress disorder to addiction.
Jim Laird, who owns Gym Laird on Regency Road, initially decided to bring a float tank to his strength-training facility because he was experiencing life-changing benefits from the therapy and was tired of traveling hours outside of Lexington to get it. But he also has many stories of the ways it has benefited his clients, and he’s been pleasantly surprised by who he sees coming through the door.
“The number of young people that really like the float tank has surprised me,” said Laird, adding that many of his repeat visitors are college and high school students. “I think part of it is because of modern technology – they’ve never really relaxed in their life, and for the first time they really shut off, and they seem to really, really like it.
“We have a whole generation of kids who have never gone to the park, laid down in the grass and just chilled,” he added.
Most float sessions range from 60 to 90 minutes, with prices starting in the $50 range locally. Visit www.gymlaird.com or www.sourceonhigh.com for more information.
Infrared saunas are offered at a growing number of health and wellness centers, including the Bluegrass Salt Room, Centered and the Lexington Center for Integrative Health. Sessions in the saunas are purported to help increase metabolism and have a detoxifying result. Photo furnished
Promoting detoxification, immune system enhancement, cardiovascular conditioning, relaxation and other health benefits, infrared sauna sessions are another alternative healing technique making “waves,” in Lexington and beyond. With heat powered by infrared waves rather than by steam, infrared saunas offer a much different experience from a typical sauna, said Lauren Higdon, owner of the Chevy Chase-area community wellness center Centered.
“It’s going to feel much more comfortable for many people because it’s not a moist air that you’re breathing in – it’s very dry air,” Higdon said. “To me, it feels like being out in the sun on a nice dry day.”
Seasonal depression is one of many ailments that infrared sauna sessions are purported to treat, and indeed, business at Centered’s infrared sauna tends to pick up during colder months and cloudy spells. She added, however, that “spring detox” season is another popular time for the treatment, which targets inflammation by penetrating infrared energy directly into the body’s mitochondrial cellular structure.
“Infrared light actually goes into the fatty tissue – that’s where we tend to store heavy metals, toxins and a lot of the environmental stuff that we’re picking up every day,” she explained, “on top of preservatives, other chemicals in our foods and things that we may put on our skin with body products.”
Meditational music, complimentary aromatherapy and reading materials are all available options to enhance the infrared sauna experience at Centered, which sets its all-cedar infrared sauna to 130-145 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum benefit. The average person will sweat profusely during a session, Higdon said – and that’s a good thing, she added.
“Typically, the more you have going on, the more you tend to release,” she said.
The healing treatment dovetails perfectly with Centered’s overall mission to provide a holistic, affordable and community-centric approach to health, healing and wellness, and Higdon said that while as little as five minutes in the sauna can provide health benefits, she recommends engaging in 30-minute sessions at least once a week – and preferably twice a week – for people looking to detox or work through a specific issue.
In addition to the scientifically supported benefits that exposure to infrared waves can provide to the body, sessions can provide a good opportunity to reset the mind as well.
“I remind people to leave their electronics outside the sauna, not only because it’s good for their health, but also [because] mentally, it’s a nice time to detach,” Higdon said. “It’s just a good way to quiet the mind and let go, as well as releasing the body.”
Centered offers walk-in rates starting at $20 for 20 minutes, with cost-saving monthly packages also available. For more information on the infrared sauna treatments and other services offered at Centered, visit www.centeredlex.org/infrared-sauna-in-lexington-ky.
Whole body cryotherapy involves a 3-minute dip in a tank filled with freezing cold liquid nitrogen. Photo by Abby Laub.
Whole Body Cryotherapy
If standing in a freezing cold tank is on your bucket list, then you’re in luck – Lexington is now home to a Whole Body Cryotherapy facility. Located on West Tiverton Way, The Cryo House utilizes ultra-low temperatures – in the -110 to -160 degrees Celsius range – to temporarily cool the skin’s surface, which then triggers an anti-inflammatory response that activates organs, muscles, joints and skin to naturally heal and repair themselves.
The Cryo House owner, Tami Breitner, opened shop in 2016, after she used the therapy to treat rheumatoid arthritis. A wife and mother of two young children, Breitner developed rheumatoid arthritis after fighting parvovirus, a diagnosis she said was “devastating.”
“Before, I was athletic and could do whatever I wanted, and didn’t need medicine,” she said. “Now I had aches and pains and needed medicine, and I didn’t want to take it.”
Breitner, who also is a part-time intensive care nurse at Saint Joseph Hospital, traveled hours for WBC sessions, which she said helped keep her symptoms under control and ultimately allowed her to get off the medications she was on to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It was then that she knew he had to open The Cryo House.
“I became a nurse because I love helping people,” she said. “The biggest reward is seeing someone come in and they get out and they’re like ‘I haven’t been able to move like this.’”
Cryotherapy works by exposing the body to extreme cold temperatures for a short period, resulting in a dramatic increase in circulation, which can lead to increased metabolism, tissue repair, detoxification and immune function. The practice has even been shown to burn hundreds of calories, as the body fights to keep itself warm during the three-minute “dip” in the phone-booth-sized tank.
For some clients, weight loss is an added benefit, and many athletes use cryotherapy to speed up recovery, similar to an ice bath. Guests are bathed in liquid nitrogen, or refrigerated air, in almost no clothing. The extreme cold causes the body to draw blood away from the skin, shifting it to the core and engaging a life-saving response. Breitner explained that this then promotes blood filtration, detoxification and ensures the blood is more oxygen-rich when it rushes back to the extremities in the warmup that follows. The improved bloodflow allows painful areas to heal more quickly.
Breitner said cryotherapy has been shown to improve skin conditions like acne and vascular constriction, as well as reducing pain, improving workout recovery and alleviating symptoms of fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis and other conditions. Most patients visit two to three times a week for about a month to see drastic results before cutting back, and the Cryo House also offers a local treatment option if whole-body cryotherapy is not a good option for clients.
Prices range from $55 for a single chill to monthly unlimited packages at $15 per session. Visit thecryohouse.com for more information on the service.