By Je’Don Holloway Talley
For the Birmingham Times
The plan for Alex Reynolds was to find programs that dealt with spiritual growth and healing for the mind and body. In the course of her study, however, she discovered more than she anticipated — benefits for the whole person.
“I immediately learned that holistic care is a proactive approach to health care that treats the whole person, not just symptoms and disease,” she said. “Holistic care can consist of life and spiritual coaching, as well as prayer, meditation, yoga, dietary changes, herbal remedies, and crystal healing.”
In 2005, Reynolds, an Ohio native, left her studies at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University, where she met her husband, George Thomas. The couple moved to her husband’s hometown of Birmingham, where Reynolds embarked on her journey of marriage and motherhood.
The beauty of nurturing a family—her husband and two children—led Reynolds to consider a profession in holistic care, which offers several self-care options, including acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, homeopathy, and aromatherapy. The 36-year-old mind, body, and wellness practitioner works from her Birmingham-based home studio.
Reynolds began her studies at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, Ariz.: “I started right after my youngest child was born in 2012, I finished the program in 2014, and I’ve been practicing for four years.”
Her first clients were her family.
“My family and clients are one and the same,” Reynolds said. “I would never recommend anything that I wouldn’t use to empower my own family. [We are] conscious of what we eat, and we incorporate physical activity into our daily lives as a family.”
When her family is under the weather, she treats them with herbal and homeopathic remedies before reaching for over-the-counter medicines.
Though Reynolds is trained in holistic care, she points out that herbal and home remedies have been around for years and people are becoming more interested in them.
“My grandmother used them, and so did her mother and grandmother,” she said. “I truly believe that as a community, young black millennials are exploring their heritage more, and the reemergence of holistic practices is gaining speed.”
The first step to a healthy lifestyle is simply water, Reynolds said.
“The first question I always ask people, is ‘Do you drink enough water?’ In most cases, the answer is, ‘No,’” she said. “I designed a plan to help all my clients develop good water-drinking habits, because water is the ultimate cleanse. It flushes toxins and waste from the body and transports nutrients to where they are needed. If we don’t drink enough water our kidneys won’t have enough fluid to function properly.”
Water flushes metabolic waste out of the body through the bladder, she added. Without proper water intake, our bodies will instead hold these toxins in.
Creating a specific holistic-care regimen can have a powerful and positive effect on an individual.
“The regimen challenges individuals to look within themselves and change things that no longer serve them positively on their life’s journey,” Reynolds said. “Clients start to realize that they are important, and that self-care is a must in order to cultivate the type of lives they desire.”
Diet is a key to improving overall health, as well, Reynolds said.
“When you are thirsty you drink a glass of water, right? God created us with the intuitive capability to make decisions without the influence of doctors or the media. It’s the same with our diets. Listen to your body. When your body feels like it needs to cut back on meat or sugar, do it.
“When we decide to eat or drink things without considering the effects they will have on our bodies, we feel tired and sluggish, and we can sometimes develop skin issues. By incorporating more water into our daily diet [and eating nutritious food], we begin to see our energy boost and our skin clear up.”
At the root of it all, though, is balance.
“You have to have a balanced diet,” Reynolds said. “My dietary changes have been fairly organic because I want to avoid the domino effect that poor eating habits will have on my overall health. I eat less meat than average and have totally taken pork out of my diet, but I’m not a vegetarian.”
A healthy lifestyle also involves aligning the mind, body, and spirit, which are integrated and inseparable.
“When we experience stress, for example, the symptoms manifest in the body through headaches, colds,” she said. “When there’s sickness in the body, our spirits feel weighed down, and this also can cause mental and emotional distress.”
A holistic self-care regimen is easy to start, Reynolds said.
“Getting started is simple,” she said. “Get an oil massage or add essential oils to your bath water to heal the skin and supply vitamins to the body. Try regular meditation; eat fresh fruits and veggies; get efficient rest and regular exercise. All these things are very important.”