Alchemy of wellness: Eastern medicine practitioners help clients create change

  • Leta Herman checks Penny Herter’s pulse before beginning treatment at Herman's Alchemy Healing Center in Northampton, May 7, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Leta Herman gives a moxibustion treatment with artemisia to Penny Herter, of Amherst, at Herman's Alchemy Healing Center. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Leta Herman holds a "moxa" of artemisia she will burn in a moxibustion treatment. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A copy of Leta Herman and Jaye McElroy’s “The Big ‘Little’ Gua Sha Book,” on display at Herman’s Alchemy Healing Center in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Raili Raud provides an acupuncture treatment for Nick Duska, of Gill, at Leta Herman's Alchemy Healing Center. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

For the Gazette
Published: 5/20/2019 2:00:33 AM

At Leta Herman’s Alchemy Healing Center, Leta Herman and Jaye McElroy are waiting to change your life. Through workshops and Eastern medicine, they say they treat patients who are looking to make a personal change.

The pair met 10 years ago when McElroy did some marketing work for Herman.

“What we realized is, I was helping people be well,” said Herman. “Alchemy is about really flying in your life, and living your full potential. When I was working with people, they would get in a really good place but they wouldn't have the strategies of how to live their life in a way that worked for them. Then Jaye came along and I was like well, she can do alchemical life strategy work.”

Herman is a certified practitioner of the American Association for Bodywork Therapies of Asia and a licensed massage therapist. She works with acupressure, using the Five Elements; the 13 Ghost Points, a type of acupressure which clears trauma; and other techniques to heal patients.

The Five Elements are a Chinese teaching which believes that everyone has certain energies inside of them including wood, water, fire, earth and metal, each representing an inner strength that guides our actions. Herman and McElroy say they use the Five Elements to treat patients and help them find their ‘true nature.’

McElroy is a Five Elements life coach with experience in writing, advertising and business.

The center offers a variety of treatments where they help patients to remove what Herman calls “chaotic energy” through techniques such as cupping therapy, stone medicine, moxibustion and Gua Sha. The center also offers Ling Shu alchemy treatments, which last half a day, and teaches the Nine Palaces, a method of balancing different parts of a patient’s life such as family, work, sleep and personal pleasure.

Herman says she works to clear what she calls the “energy blockages” of patients before passing patients onto McElroy, who guides them in how to take action towards personal growth.

“When someone comes to me they often say, ‘I don’t really know what you do,’” Herman said. She works with 20 to 40 people a week, depending on the waitlist.

“People travel all over the world to study with Leta,” McElroy said. “The work that Leta does is rare. A lot of people in the world don’t know how to do it.”

The healing center moved from Belchertown to Center Street in Northampton in April 2013, and then relocated to its current spot at 17 New South St. about a year and a half ago.

“We moved to Northampton and then I invited (McElroy) to become part of the practice,” Herman said.

They completely renovated the space, creating rooms for each of their treatments. Dogs run freely and the scent of incense lingers in the air.

Herman and McElroy say modern life can increase anxiety, and warn against overuse of cell phones and social media.

“I would say in 20 years, anxiety has gone up hugely. I would say about 20 percent of the people I saw had chaotic energy, and now I would say it is about 80 percent,” Herman said. “Now it is rare that I get a new client that doesn't have anxiety and I don’t know if it is the constant media bombardment but it is like your energy is scrambled.”

Taking time for yourself is key, McElroy said, suggesting yoga, exercise, or just sitting with your thoughts.

“The challenge is that there is not enough time in the day to do things that are fun and self-cultivating,” McElroy said. “When you wake up, there are people are trying to get your attention. You need to be selfish, in a good way.”

Western medicine has begun including Eastern medicine for treatment options, and doctors have referred their own patients to Herman, the pair said.

Herman said the center’s practices have been effective in treating addictions and PTSD. “In Chinese medicine, they believe that you can release that cellular memory and free the person of the weight of that experience,” she said.

“In the Valley people really accept it and love it,” McElroy said. “We have a lot of people who come here and they don’t necessarily like to go to the doctor, they love to come here.”

Branching out

Herman and McElroy are also authors. Together they have published “The Big ‘Little’ Gua Sha Book,” which teaches readers to learn and love the ancient healing art of Gua Sha, “The Energy of Love,” a book about applying the Five Elements to your own life, and “Inspired Action: Stage One Alchemical Journal.”

Herman and McElroy started a publishing company, Born Perfect Ink, which they say gives them the ability to be more creative in their publishing techniques while providing resources for other authors.

They also started their own podcast, called “Inspired Action,” where they discuss health, personal growth and conduct meditations.

“That’s definitely been a lot of fun,” McElroy said. “I am really surprised how much we love it.”

The company is renovating more rooms in their building, and Herman and McElroy say they will hire more specialists to do treatments and plan to add massage therapy to their services.

“It is really about cultivating your authenticity,” said Herman. “Be your authentic self.”

“I think that’s the theme of the whole thing,” McElroy  said.

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