The next time you’re out in public, sandwiched in a pack of people—picking up groceries, dropping off dry cleaning, getting your car’s oil changed—look to your left and then to your right. Of the three of you, one of you has probably indulged in some form of reflexology or visited an herbalist.
This is likely because, according to a 2015 survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health, one in every three Americans has sought out cures for their conditions—from chronic to purely cosmetic—through alternative medicine. This loosely defined range of homeopathic medical therapies is often regarded as unorthodox by Western physicians.
But that hasn’t prevented millions of Americans from spending billions—yes, billions—of dollars every year on books, supplements and visits to what are often called “complementary health practitioners” that, with certain exceptions, are not covered by insurance.
Within, we take a closer look at Houstonians’ options for everything from acupuncture to cupping, speaking with practitioners and patients alike to find out what makes reflexology different from massage, why you’d want to stick a candle in your ear, and how aromatherapy—yes, aromatherapy—can aid in the care of cancer patients. Hey, who are we to argue with results?