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Be Your Own Boss

10 Steps to Open and Run a Spa Business

By Business, Health No Comments

Plan, create, and put into action!

Determined to run your own spa business? It can feel a little overwhelming to imagine everything that needs to be done so that you can finally open your doors to the public. As with many tasks that seem larger than life, planning is required. Often times, brilliant ideas begin with creation, a passion or purpose that desires fulfillment. As much as dreaming and developing ideas is an integral part of starting a business, it is just the beginning. Next, some more concrete plans need to be set into place. Once plans are generated, the final phase is putting those plans into action.

In this article, we will run you through ten steps that can help you open and run a spa business without feeling overwhelmed or unsure of where to begin. We take you from the initial process of creating ideas, all the way to the final steps of putting your plans into action and actually getting your company up and running.

These 10 Steps Can Help You Open and Run a Spa Business

As promised, here are the ten steps you can follow if you are in need of some guidance and direction or do not know where to begin. Don’t fret about a dream or idea is too large. Breaking the process down into easy-to-follow bits helps make the bigger picture more tangible.

Get clear on your vision and determine your ‘why’

Before you begin with the actual arrangements to get a spa going, it is important to get clear on your vision and determine your reason ‘why.’ By clearly defining why you are opening a business, you can enter into this new adventure with passion and interest, rather than merely opening a company to make money.

Clients can definitely tell when someone is in business for the wrong reasons. Additionally, by defining your ‘why,’ there is a great chance you will find making the necessary preparations to be even easier and procrastination might become less of weight dragging timelines down.

 

Decide on your services or specializations and create a menu

When opening a spa, it is important to keep in mind exactly the types of services you intend to provide, along with any specializations. If you choose services that are unique enough, you can also specifically use them to market your business.

Be sure to create a menu that makes it simple for clients to decide which services they would like to book, along with transparent, clearly defined pricing. Customers appreciate honesty and transparency, so the more this can be present, the better.

 

Seek out investment or arrange personal investment

Opening any business requires money. Once you know your reason for opening up a spa business and have decided upon which services to provide or even if you would like to fulfill a niche or offer specializations, it is time to really get the ball rolling by seeking out investment.

There are two primary ways to go about coming up with the money to open a company. Either you can search for outside or bank investment, or you can arrange personal investment, which is money you have saved up yourself. Regardless, speak with a financial advisor and be sure you are certain how much initial funding you will need in order to get your spa doors open to the public.

 

Scout out the competition and decide on a location accordingly

Once the investment has been secured, it is time to make everything even more concrete by deciding on a location for the storefront. It is ideal to choose a location that is well-situated but also does not exist within too close of a proximity to the neighboring competition.

Scout out the competition and research some business statistics on the area. Settle with deciding between two or three different possibilities. In the end, you will need to agree on just one. Once the location for the spa has been determined, sign a lease and get ready to set up shop.

 

Begin the interview process and employ qualified professionals

With all good businesses come outstanding, qualified employees. A proper, in-depth interview procedure is necessary to ensure the quality of your professionals, as well as their skill-sets and abilities. If you have settled upon any niche or specialized skills, you will need to also find qualified professionals to execute these services.

Research wages and salaries for such occupations and pay your employees fairly. Excellent treatment and proper compensation of staff leads to happier workers and in return satisfied customers. You want to make your spa is a place that not only clients enjoy showing up to, but your employees as well.

 

Complete any remodeling and design the aesthetic of the spa

Now that many of the vital details and elements of opening a spa are set into place, you will want to begin remodeling and designing the location. Decide upon an aesthetic, bearing in mind which energy you would like to emit when a client steps foot through the door.

In general, spas should present a relaxing, tranquil, and calming environment where clients can arrive to truly unwind and decompress. This peaceful vibe can be accomplished by selecting earth tone colors, a clean and sleek interior, and a warm and welcoming linens and accessories. Hire an interior design specialist if need be, which can help give your company achieve an even more professional look.

 

Buy all the needed equipment

Once everything has been designed, you will want to purchase all of the needed equipment for completing the services that are featured on the business menu. Create a list of which devices or machines are required for each room, along with keeping a steady stock of the spa essentials such as hygiene products, towels, robes, oil, and more.

 

Come up with a marketing plan or hire marketing experts

You have gotten everything together to get your spa doors open but you are unsure of how to get clients coming in. In this modern day-and-age, marketing is a massive aspect of running any successful business. Not only are the original marketing techniques essential, so are digital marketing tactics.

Upon opening your spa, you will also need to have social media pages and a website ready. Hiring a marketing expert for digital marketing, too, can assist in bringing through more customers. A solid digital marketing plan is most important at the very beginning of opening your business because if visiting clients are happy with the service provided, they will start spreading the news through word of mouth to their friends.

As the news of your excellent spa spreads, appointments will get booked up and you can place less emphasis upon a digital marketing plan. Additionally, be sure to have a strong, memorable logo, along with business cards and deals of the week to entice new patrons

 

Get all the final touches in order to begin operating

Any other aspects that have not yet been tackled? Now is the time to get all the final touches squared away so that you can begin operating the spa. Cross your t’s and dot your I’s; you will want to make certain that nothing got skipped over as to leave a lasting impression upon future clients.

Has a schedule for the employees been devised? Do you have enough individuals hired? Is your menu exactly as you want it or do some alterations need to be made? Do you have enough supplies to last you until the next shipment? Are your website and social media platforms up and running? Create a to-do checklist and run through it a few times just to be sure.

 

Launch an opening party and get ready to open your doors

Once all the final touches have been made, it is time to initiate the final, and possibly one of the most important steps of opening a spa; the launch party! A launch party, although it can cost some money, is one of the major ways to bring in an initial influx of clients to your location.

Inviting an entire room full of people to take a look at your spa and get a feel for it themselves, can be an immensely beneficial tactic. Furthermore, be sure to offer attendees and first-time customers an incentive to book an appointment. The best way to do this is to create limited-time offers for first-time clients only, where they either receive a free additional service or a discounted service.

 

Finals Thoughts on the 10 Steps to Open and Run a Spa

Although the entire process of opening a spa may appear daunting at first, once broken down into steps, there is a lot of work to be done but somehow the tasks appear more manageable. Running a business is never easy, but if you are passionate about the bodywork industry and are dedicated to running a spa, the accomplishment will be unbelievably rewarding.

Interested in studying Massage Therapy or continuing your education in Holistic Studies? Searching for massage schools or career colleges in San Diego? ICOHS is a non-profit vocational school offering programs to become a Professional Massage Therapist or a Holistic Health Practitioner, as well as providing a continuing education option for those involved in Holistic Studies already.

Ready to get on board and work alongside dedicated, passionate educators who are determined to support their students and watch them succeed? Reach out to us today and request more information.

Lymphatic Massage at ICOHS College

What Is a Lymphatic Drainage Massage? [Info & Benefits]

By Community, Fitness, Health No Comments

A cleansing experience that promotes wellness and relaxation

Although massage therapy is a familiar practice amongst most individuals, in particular, those interested in more holistic ways of living, the term lymphatic drainage massage may not seem as intuitive. This immensely cleansing form of massage therapy is commended for its plethora of voiced benefits which help to stimulate the body’s natural lymphatic system.

But what on Earth is a lymphatic system and what is it responsible for? Why are lymphatic drainage massages even performed? In this article, we will be answering all of these burning questions.

What Is the Lymphatic System?

In order to better understand what a lymphatic drainage massage is and what it does, first one must conceptualize the lymphatic system and its responsibilities throughout the body.

The word lymph in Latin actually means “clear water”, so it comes as no surprise that the lymphatic system contains lymph fluid that is carried throughout the lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels of the body. Lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes are two parts that make up a bigger system, known as the lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system has a few major duties including helping large molecules such as lipids and hormones enter into the blood, returning fluid back to the heart, and surveilling the immune system which in turn prevents infection and other sicknesses from entering as easily.

With this all being said, it is quite obvious that the lymphatic system is definitely an important one.

 

All About the Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Lymphatic drainage massage is much as its name implies; this form of massage therapy stimulates the lymphatic system, encouraging it to work faster. This system moves lymph fluid throughout the entire body, dispelling any toxins that may have accumulated within the cells.

The body naturally undergoes two processes of circulation, first arterial and then venous, and the specialized stimulation that is generated by a lymphatic drainage massage mimics circulation, acting as a third wave.

As the body is once more awakened, so are the lymph vessels and nodes, and the result is a natural drainage that takes place after the massage. Why does this become beneficial? Certain medical conditions, in particular, can generate a buildup of lymph fluid, so draining this liquid by means of a specialized massage technique is said to be helpful.

 

The Potential Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage

While many do claim that lymphatic drainage massage possesses certain key benefits for the body, it is important to remember that actual scientific evidence of the efficacy of manual lymphatic drainage massage is limited. In fact, an article published in 2009 in The Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy states, “manual lymphatic drainage techniques remain a clinical art founded upon hypotheses, theory, and preliminary evidence.”

With this in mind, the benefits we are about to cover are widely based on the personal experiences of those who have received lymphatic drainage massage or upon hypotheses, theories, and preliminary evidence.

Lymphatic drainage massage and other decongestive lymphatic therapies (DLTs) are said to reduce swelling and increase circulation throughout the body, primarily any systems connected with the lymphatic system.

Some lymphatic drainage massage therapists also suggest that this technique decreases the appearance of not only swelling but also cellulite, so aside from the claimed health advantages, this style of massage therapy also may possess a more aesthetic purpose.

Although evidence is limited, the following conditions may benefit from lymphatic drainage massage procedures:

Stress and insomnia
Any digestive challenges
Fibromyalgia and arthritis
Pain and swelling, in addition to migraines
Lymphedema
Various skin disorders

Be sure to always communicate confidently and clearly with your massage professional so that they understand your intentions in receiving lymphatic drainage massage, as well as any medical conditions you may possess. This will help to make sure you get the most out of your treatment.

 

Do Not Opt for Lymphatic Drainage Massage If…

If you have been diagnosed with any medical condition, it is extremely important to consult with your doctor or medical professional before scheduling a lymphatic drainage massage appointment. Those with congestive heart failure, circulatory problems, blood clots, kidney challenges, or any type of infection should NOT opt for lymphatic drainage massages because this could potentially become dangerous.

Preparing for a Lymphatic Drainage Massage? Keep This in Mind…

If you are in favor of lymphatic drainage massage and its purported benefits, you may have gone forth with setting up an appointment to experience this form of bodywork for yourself.

Whether this is the case, or if you intend to soon arrange a lymphatic drainage massage, there are a few tips you may want to keep in mind prior to your appointment:

Drink plenty of water during the hours leading up to your scheduled massage appointment. Massage can generate dehydration, so you will want to also consume H2O afterward to replenish any fluids lost throughout the treatment. Additionally, drinking the appropriate amount of water daily encourages the lymphatic system to work accordingly, greater promoting self-healing.
Lymphatic drainage massage can leave you feeling quite tired, so try and schedule your appointment on a day where you can take it easy post-treatment. Get some rest, have a nap, and maybe even hit the hay early that day.
Depending on what is within your comfort zone, try to wear as few articles of clothing as possible during your lymphatic drainage massage because your massage therapist will need to be able to easily access the majority of your body during the therapy.

Final Thoughts on What a Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Now that you know more about lymphatic drainage massage you can decide whether or not this would be the right massage therapy technique for you. Although there is a loyal fanbase that stands behind regularly receiving lymphatic drainage massage treatments, this style of massage therapy certainly is not tailored to all.

While there are available methods of performing lymphatic drainage massage on yourself, it is always recommended to schedule an appointment with a professional massage therapist that specializes in this technique, as to ensure the results you desire are accomplished. Normally upon meeting with a professional, they will inquire about your medical history and ask for your reasons for requesting a lymphatic drainage massage. From there, the two of you can devise a plan and schedule together that would be best suited to your personal needs.

Interested in studying massage or holistic health? Searching for massage schools in San Diego? ICOHS is a non-profit vocational college offering programs to become either a holistic health practitioner or a professional massage therapist.

Our dedicated and passionate educators create a personalized experience for each student, helping them to reach their career goals. Reach out today and request more information.

Massage Treatment for Arthritis – by Lailanee Person

By Health No Comments

Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of your joints. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 54.4 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis and is usually found in adults over the age of 65 but can still affect people of all ages including children. Arthritis can cause a range of symptoms and impair a person’s daily tasks like walking comfortable, sitting up straight and using their hands. The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoarthritis is a slow progressive condition which is caused by wear and tear of a joint, including the cartilage, joint lining, ligaments and the bone. This arthritis is often found in the hands, spine, hips and knees. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for osteoarthritis, and although there are some treatment options that aim to slow the progression of the disease, most treatments are focused on reducing pain and improve function. These treatment options include physical measures such as weight loss, physical exercise, and assistive devices; drug therapy including topical drugs, oral medicines, and joint injections; and surgery to repair or replace the joint.

In contrast to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is caused when the body’s immune system is not working correctly and results in pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints in the feet, hands and wrists. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis, affecting more than 1.3 million Americans, and is considered one of the more debilitating forms of arthritis when left untreated. Fortunately, modern advancements in treatment options have made it possible to stop or at least slow the worsening of joint damage, and specific treatments have been developed to target the inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Although there is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis, an alternative way to address the symptoms that come with arthritis is through massage therapy, whether it be from a licensed massage therapist at a spa or self-massage at home.

Research has shown that massage can lower the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol, and boost production of serotonin, and lower production of the neurotransmitter substance P, often linked to pain, and improve sleep as a result. A clinical study was done in 2015 involving a 55 year old woman who suffered from RA for 14 years. Over the course of 5 weeks she received one 60 minute swedish massage on her upper limbs and at the end of 5 weeks she was finally able to perform daily tasks. Another study led by Tiffany Field, Ph.D. in 2013, examined the effects of moderate pressure versus light pressure massage therapy on 42 adults with rheumatoid arthritis in the upper limbs. The adults were randomly assigned to a moderate pressure or a light pressure massage therapy group. The affected arm and shoulder were massaged once a week for a four-week period and the participants also had to perform self-massage daily. By the end of the one-month period, results of the study demonstrated the moderate pressure massage group had less pain, increased grip strength, increased wrist flexion, increased elbow flexion and increased shoulder abduction. The study also found that participants in both groups experienced a reduction in depressed mood and anxiety.

In conclusion, Arthritis is a condition that affects almost 55 million people in the U.S. and 350 worldwide. The pain from arthritis can affect a person’s most simple daily tasks like gripping, standing, and even walking. Research shows that consistent massage and even self massage can reduce stress, reduce pain symptoms, and in some cases, improve and increase joint mobility. Massage therapy can be a wonderful compliment for someone being treated for arthritis and has proven itself to be valuable as complementary medicine.

Bethany Foster, 2013, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Massage Therapy
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279200281_Rheumatoid_Arthritis_and_Massage_Therapy__Case_Study
Desert Health, Studies on RA and Massage Therapy

Study Finds Massage Beneficial for Rheumatoid Arthritis


Ali Duarte-Garcia, MD, 2018
https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Rheumatoid-Arthritis
Hannah Nichols, 2017, Medical News Today
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7621.php

Susan Berstein, Arthritis.org
https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/massage/massage-benefits.php

Epigenetics, Meditation and Massage – by Norriah Mease

By Health No Comments

For one moment, close your eyes. Go into the dream space, allow yourself an opportunity to imagine. What does your perfect life look like?
What does vibrant health feel like to you? Invite yourself a few moments to simply bask in this radiance pouring out from within.
Now, I invite you to come back into your body, back into this room. How did that feeling differ from your state of normal?
Is this state in another world or is it part of your everyday experience? If this seems foreign and unfamiliar, and is not a part of
your daily living, admit that to yourself. You may have negative associations with this truth, however, not all hope is lost. What if I told you,
that new research has proven, there is an affordable way to get there, it starts with your desire to do so. Before you allow that wave of discouragement,
or hopelessness wash over you, thinking to yourself, “I’ll never get there” take a few moments to absorb this information.

Invite the overwhelm to turn into open space for learning. That part is simple, it is a one-word answer: Epigenetics. Let’s begin with
understanding what exactly Epigenetics is.​Epigenetics is the study of cellular and physiological traits, or the external and environmental factors,
that turn our genes on and off, and in turn, define how our cells actually read those genes. It works to see the true potential of the human mind,
and the cells in our body​.

[1] In other words, within each one of our cells, we have a genetic blueprint of our complete make-up. From the color of our eyes, to the height of our bones, the sound of our voice. Our cells carry our entire DNA strand in every single one of those nuclei. Every tiny cell in our body carries the exact information of who we are. The only differing factor for these cells instructions lies in gene activation or gene silencing. ​Gene silencing refers to a mechanism by which cells shut down large sections of chromosomal DNA. It is generally used to describe the “switching off” of a gene by amechanism other than genetic modification. That is, a gene which would be expressed (turned on) under normal circumstances is switched off by machinery in the cell. Gene silencing is done by incorporating the DNA to be silenced into a form of DNA called heterochromatin that is already silent.

[2]. New research is now pointing to the ability humans carry to silence predisposed genes (such as cancer) and even reverse the effects of these
genes through self-care and meditative practices. Science is just now discovering what we have known all along and this is that we are ​truly​ in charge of our health and happiness. Unfortunately, with this understanding it is now more clear that this is not how the average american, or even the average human is living their life. The environment of cells cannot thrive in high pollution. Pollution is beyond filling our lungs with CO2 emissions and fossil fuels. It delves into all aspects of pollution, to include toxic chemicals in our water systems, processed foods, and even in our soil. In order to achieve max potential on a cellular level,we must first start with cleansing its environment. Detoxing our bodies through organic healthy eating, drinking pure water, and exercise can be your step one. The body has a natural healing capability, but it needs help in order to achieve this. Without deep restful sleep the body cannot function properly, and without a healthy lifestyle and routine, the body will not rest. It is working overtime to rid itself of toxins. The cycle will continue to feed itself until something breaks the chain.

There are several gateways to implement mindfulness into your life. Some common practices include, but are not limited to, yoga,
dance, meditation, cooking, and even singing. Among the most popular are yoga and meditation. The potential health benefits of yoga include: ​Stress reduction.​ A number of studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being. ​Improved fitness.​ Practicing yoga may lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. ​Management of chronic conditions.​ Yoga can help reduce risk factorsfor chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga might also help alleviate chronic conditions, such as depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.

[3] Meditation benefits and types are extremely varied and vast. There are loving and kindness meditations used to align the heart and the mind taught by the heart math institute. Guided meditations which are similar to vision quests led by teachers. Kundalini yoga which uses a combination of breathwork, chanting, and postures to bring one into a meditative state. Zen meditations where the student allows their mind to become empty, returning themselves to a state of “nothingness”. Of course our favorite, meditations to provoke epigenetics, which allow the power of meditation to reverse disease, anxiety, and any “dis-ease” in the body.

A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation. The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says study author​ ​Richard J. Davidson​, founder of the​ ​Center for Investigating Healthy Minds​ and the William Jamesand Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where themolecular analyses were conducted. The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

There are many leading scientists all fascinated by this work. If meditation truly is our key to success, how CAN we teach ourselves to get
out of this over-stressed, over-stimulated reality we are in now. We can take a look on how to connect all of these beautiful practices and
teach ourselves to enter the world of stillness and unlimited potential waiting in the quantum field. The most effortless segway into inducing the
parasympathetic state and implementing a solid self-care plan I can offer you is receiving regular massages. Massage is widely used in all cultures
to evoke feelings of deep relaxation and reduced anxiety. The anxiety-reducing and mood enhancing benefits of massage are probably related
to changes in EEG activity, decreased levels of cortisol and increased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which acts automatically
to calm the body and brain during​ ​stress​. Numerous studies show that moderate pressure massage is more effective than light pressure massage for reducing pain associated with different medical problems including fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Moderate pressure massage also improves​ ​attention​ and enhances the body’s immune response by increasing the activity of natural killer cells. Functional brain imaging studies show that changes take place in many areas of the brain involved in regulating emotions and stress response including the amygdala and the hypothalamus.

[5] Receiving regular massages can train your nervous system how to release and relax. Paired with a movement class you can relax your way into a meditation practice that ultimately leads to unlocking your true potential, living your healthiest life.

In conclusion, your potential lies in your hands alone. There are various tools such as nutrition, mindful movement, breathwork, yoga,
and regular massages that can lead you into a consistent meditation practice. Once you learn the techniques of stillness and mindfulness,
your hard work and consistency will be the key to telling your DNA which genes to silence and which ones to express. You can choose to live a full
life of radiant health and unlimited joy. This entire journey can begin with one tiny step as simple as booking your first massage, and wouldn’t that
be a fun chapter to write.

Reference Page

[1] Lipton, Bruce (2019) What is Epigenetics? Retrieved from https://www.brucelipton.com/what-epigenetics

[2] Zhang Y. (2013) Gene Silencing. In: Dubitzky W., Wolkenhauer O., Cho KH., Yokota H. (eds) Encyclopedia of Systems Biology. Springer, New York, N

[3] Mayo Clinic Staff (2018, October 04) Yoga: fight stress and find serenity. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/yoga/art-2004 4733

[4] Sakai, J. (2014, December 04). Study reveals gene expression changes with meditation. Retrieved from https://news.wisc.edu/study-reveals-gene-expression-changes-with-meditation/

[5] Lake, J. MD (2018, October 19). Massage therapy for anxiety and stress. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201810/massa ge-therapy-anxiety-and-stress

The Effects of Complimentary Alternative Medicine for the Poor – by Lindsey R. Hyde

By Health No Comments

By definition, ‘accessible’ means being reached or is within reach, as well as the capability of being used, seen, understood, or appreciated. A few common examples of this applied in society include ramps for individuals that navigate the world in a wheelchair, iPhone’s VoiceOver screen reader for people that have a vision impairment or color blindness, and vibrating street crossing buttons to alert those with both hearing and vision loss. Accessibility creates an environment where being an able-bodied individual is not the only standard from which the universe operates. It is all-inclusive, modifying what is already available and always expanding to give everybody the best chance at a successful life not determined by their disability or circumstances. Massage and bodywork, alternative medicine, body movement therapies such as yoga or Tai Chi, and self-care practices and education should be accessible by everyone. In the case of those who are homeless, living in poverty, or are low income, there are many barriers that can stand in the way of them receiving this care, cost, and knowledge being at the top of the list. This paper will discuss the physical and mental effects of being homeless or living in poverty, the positive effects of complementary alternative medicine in this population and why it is vital they receive it regularly, as well as what actions are currently being taken to address the issues of accessibility of this care and why it should matter to you.

According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2017 thirty-nine million people (12.3%) in the United States were living in poverty and almost four-hundred thousand of those people were San Diego residents (11.9%.) Poverty is measured by the U.S. Census Bureau using set income thresholds that vary based on the composition and size of a family. If that family’s income totals less than their threshold value, they are considered as living in poverty. In 2017, the computed poverty threshold for one person living in the United States was 12,488 dollars. With the average population per household being 2.54 that same year, two adults and one child, the poverty threshold was 19,515 dollars. In stark comparison, the median household income of the U.S. in 2017 was 61,372 dollars. Poverty is not just struggling to pay bills or missing a meal, chronic poverty puts physical, emotional, and mental stress and pressures on millions of families each year. The effects of poverty are generational and cyclical, and they extensively impact individuals of all ages, races, and ethnicities nationwide. The basic necessities of survival such as food, shelter, and clean drinking water become such a struggle to secure that things like healthcare, education, and entertainment are seen as frivolous luxuries. Children born into and developing in poverty have higher rates of delinquency, depression and anxiety disorders, lower academic scores, and higher prevalence of cognitive, attention, and behavioral problems. Poverty in adulthood is host to the development of numerous mental health disorders, physiological and psychological stress, and higher rates of suicide. Where there is poverty, there is a lack of education, crime, joblessness, and poor physical and mental health.

In a study published in 2015 done in partnership between San Francisco State University’s Institute for Holistic Health Studies, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, and Texas Tech University Health Science Centers, a direct correlation was found between level of education/income level and knowledge or lack of knowledge of 4 common complementary health practices. A correlation was also discovered between the level of education and ‘lack of need’ being a reason for not utilizing those complementary health approaches. During this research, a survey was used to poll people who have never used acupuncture, chiropractic work, supplements, and herbs, or yoga and their reasoning why. Those who did not graduate from high school were 29-58% more likely to have selected ‘lack of knowledge’ as a reason for non-use across all categories polled. Individuals with higher income levels polled less likely to select ‘lack of knowledge’ as a reason of non-use, for example, this bracket was 37% less likely to choose ‘lack of knowledge’ as a reason for not using chiropractic care. On the basis of education, voters with a higher level of completed education were significantly more likely to choose ‘lack of need’ as a response to non-use of complementary health. Those who attended college were 22% more likely to select ‘lack of need’ in response to non-use of chiropractor and acupuncture care. In conclusion, this data coincides perfectly with the sentiments mentioned above. Living in poverty drastically diminishes the opportunity for affording educational opportunities and utilizing healthcare services. It can be inferred from above that having a higher income equals better healthcare, less labor-intensive work, and potentially fewer injuries, thus creating less need for complementary health approaches.

A study published in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Center for Health Statistics further prove the disparities between income level, access, and use of complementary health approaches. Families with incomes over one-hundred thousand dollars had four times more out-of-pocket expenses ($6.2 billion) paid for visits to complementary health practitioners per year than those families making less than twenty-five thousand dollars (1.3 billion.) Natural products and supplement sales paid for out-of-pocket per year were twice as much for families with incomes between fifty and ninety-nine thousand dollars ($4.1 billion) than for those making less than twenty-five thousand dollars ($1.9 billion.) Furthermore, individuals in two of the highest income brackets spent significantly more than half of all the out-of-pocket expenditures for complementary health approaches ($21.1 billion/70.2%.) Those families were also willing to spend almost one-hundred and sixty dollars more on average per occasion while receiving complementary healthcare services or purchasing health products. These studies draw two main conclusions, higher-income individuals, overall, are either spending the most amount of money on alternative healthcare or have the knowledge and means to use it but do not feel the need to. While those with lower incomes and/or living in poverty contribute significantly less money to the purchases of alternative healthcare, the population even more vulnerable and most often forgotten in the world of complementary health services is homeless.

According to The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, over half a million people nationwide experience homelessness on any given night. Half of all homeless individuals reside in the top five states with the highest rates of homeless populations. California has the most total people experiencing homelessness at almost one-hundred and thirty thousand homeless individuals any given day, followed by New York, Florida, Texas, and Washington. 2019’s WeAllCount, point-in-time-count, San Diego results show at the very minimum, just over eight-thousand San Diegans live on the streets or shelters on any given night, making it fourth highest on the list of major cities with the most occurrence of homelessness. Thirty-six percent, of the homeless population in San Diego, report being physically disabled, twelve percent are under the age of twenty-four, ten percent are veterans, and three percent are families with at least one child. The effects of homelessness are much more extensive and physically dangerous than those effects of individuals living in poverty. The homeless experience more serious health conditions such as skin diseases due to decreased hygiene habits and access to clean running water, cold or heat injuries by constant exposure to the elements, nutritional deficiencies due to poor diet and/or starvation, drug dependency, alcoholism, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, and much higher rates of mortality, among many others. Psychological effects of homelessness include loss of self-esteem and self-worth, loss of ability and will to care for oneself, increased danger of abuse and violence, increased risk of taking part in or witnessing criminal activity and being incarcerated or otherwise being institutionalized, and development of behavioral problems including substance abuse.

The homeless population and those living in poverty are subjectively in the most need of massage and bodywork, alternative medicine, body movement therapies, and self-care instruction and education, but are least likely to have access to it, let alone be able to engage in it. These types of therapies have the potential to be highly effective for reducing stress and anxiety, increasing blood flow and lymphatic drainage, lowering blood pressure, and soothing neuromuscular pain and discomfort. Such treatments are less expensive long term due to the focus being preventative, this can lead to fewer injuries and illnesses, fewer doctors’ visits and less reliance on prescription medication. High prices and the fight of getting insurance companies to cover complementary health prevents access to these alternatives for many low-income Americans and most of the homeless population.

A 2008 issue of Healing Hands, a publication of the Healthcare for the Homeless (HCH) Clinicians’ Network, explored the use of complementary and alternative therapies in homeless healthcare. HCH Manchester in New Hampshire developed an eight-week long training program working to educate and teach the homeless population ‘Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction’ (MBSR.) The program consists of two to three hour-long sessions once a week focusing on mindfulness meditation and yoga practices, with a full-day retreat scheduled in week six. Also on staff are a psychologist, social worker, and substance abuse counselor that are available at any time to better assist the participants. To track results, they use a quality of life survey before and after completion of the program to document perceived improvements. Outcomes include reduced pain and increased ability to cope with chronic pain, increased abilities in dealing with stressors and being able to relax, increased sense of well-being and enthusiasm for life, and improved self-esteem, clarity, and awareness. In addition to this program, HCH Manchester also offers clinic services including medical and mental health care, addiction counseling, health education, social services, assistance with food stamps, Medicaid, and disability services, and dental and eye care. For those who are homeless or living in poverty, you are always in fight-or-flight and survival mode. Getting a chance to think clearly, feel safe, cry, laugh, and feel emotions, and even just a kind word or gentle touch can mean the world to them. Everyone deserves the opportunity to feel human and to feel cared for.

Many organizations across the nation are realizing the need for alternative health for the homeless, low income, and improvised populations. New York Harm Reduction Educator works to put drug users and sex workers on the path of recovery, by providing syringe exchange, education, and outreach services. Other services include overdose prevention, counseling and family stabilization services, STD testing, support groups, sex education, as well as holistic health services. NYHRE provides meditation, reiki, qi gong, breathing exercises, and ear acupuncture throughout the city at several of their street-based syringe exchanges. The Care Through Touch Institute in San Francisco, California gives free chair massage at various shelters and churches, to the community of people who experience homelessness or are marginally housed. They also have a program called Comfort, Care, & Companioning Program that targets homeless and marginally housed seniors. This program provides a companion to give comforting massage, caring conversation, and companionship to support these individuals dealing with isolation and physical and emotional pain related to conditions arising from the aging process or illness and injury. Last but certainly not least, Everytable, a restaurant with a fast-food style twist, makes healthy foods quick and accessible to underserved communities in Los Angles, California. The meals are priced according to the neighborhood they serve, making them affordable to lower-income individuals and those living in poverty. The meals are healthy, fresh, and made from scratch and provided to communities with limited or no access to affordable healthy foods and sold at discounted prices.
While there are people out there doing great things and making big strides in creating more accessibility of complementary alternative medicine to vulnerable populations such as the poor and homeless, we still have a long way to go. Education and advocacy are the most critical aspects. Education of the health professionals and practitioners and education of those in need, as well as continually advocate for affected individuals and striving to make positive changes.

Works Cited
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Burke, A., Nahin, R. L., & Stussman, B. J. (2015, June 17). Limited Health Knowledge as a Reason for Non-Use of Four Common Complementary Health Practices. Retrieved July, 2019, from www.ncbi.nlm.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4470691/#_ffn_sectitle
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