Welcome to The Now Age, our tribute to the fascinating and ever-evolving landscape of alternative wellness. From Reiki to plant medicine, we're taking a closer look at how holistic healing can factor into the modern woman's lifestyle—with curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism.
Listen—we get it. As the wellness landscape grows ever more crowded with buzzy treatments and "cure-all" methods, the prospect of sifting through it all to find something legit can be just a tad overwhelming. But quite frankly, that's our job as editors: As we spend our days trying the most talked-about healing techniques and products, we inevitably land on some winners. And sometimes, they're good enough to become bona fide rituals in our own daily routines.
With that in mind, we're sharing some of the New Age–leaning treatments that we might have initially approached with some skepticism but ultimately found ourselves coming back to again and again. From sound bathing to cupping, find some of our favorite alternative healing techniques below.
"I actually pitched a sound bath as a zany story idea when I was an editor at Elle.com. Little did I know that it would be a totally transformative experience; one that I'd willingly seek out again. I attended my first 'bath' at Maha Rose Center for Healing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and was deeply struck by how enlightened I felt when I left the building two hours later. As the leaders of the class played rhythmic patterns on their crystal bowls, I fell into something that resembled more of a meditative trance than a nap.
"The research surrounding sonic healing is fascinating: Pioneering scientists have found that it can have a powerful impact on our brains, lowering stress hormones and even boosting our immunity. Personally, I liken the feeling to one of those mind-bending, highly vivid dreams—you know the kind that makes you see the world a little differently when you wake up? I'm a huge proponent of any kind of intense guided meditation, and sound healing definitely fits the bill."
— Victoria Hoff, managing editor, The/Thirty
"The first time I ever got Reiki was coincidentally in a hospital for a wellness event. I was a high-strung, broke intern feeling like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders (so dramatic, I know), so the promise of a free, quick-healing treatment was idyllic.
"I sat in a chair while the loveliest, warmest older woman positioned her hands over me, hovering them for about 10 to 15 seconds at a time before moving on to a different area of my body. I treated it like a game—my eyes remained closed for most of the treatment, but every now and then, I'd peer open just a crack to see if I could guess where her hands were. Amazingly, even though she never touched my body, I could feel the heat radiating from her hands, channeling a calming energy through every limb. She wasn't touching my left arm, but I knew immediately that that's the area she was focusing on. When she was done, I felt incredible—like I'd just woken up from a nap. This same woman treats the oncology patients in the hospital who actually request and look forward to her visits, which really speaks to the power of this ancient practice."
— Lindsey Metrus, managing editor, Byrdie
"I've received Reiki twice, and both times my skepticism was completely eclipsed by the otherworldly feeling of the treatment. Both happened to be administered by Reiki master Kelsey Patel in group settings, and though my eyes were closed, I could feel when she was approaching me: An electrical current ran through my body, like I was vibrating, before she even touched me. Crazy physical sensations aside, I felt this huge catharsis and peace during and after the treatment. It's really like the most incredible, highly intuitive guided meditation I've ever experienced."
"I was prescribed Adderall at the end of my junior year in college to help with my focus. However, when I was no longer going to class all day or studying all night, I wanted to find a more natural option. It'd been years since I filled my last prescription, and I've never been able to find anything that allows for the same results without any of the side effects (things like nervousness, difficulty sleeping, and loss of appetite).
"Sun Potion's Mucuna Pruriens Powder ($27) contains 15% L-dopa, a naturally occurring amino acid that transforms into dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that allows for more dynamic functioning of the brain, and higher levels of dopamine have been linked to enhanced brain function, elevated mood and energy levels, and a more balanced nervous system. So while Adderall can increase anxiety and nervousness, the Dopamine Bean works to calm those responses down while still allowing you to crank out efficient (and coherent) work.
"After sipping my coffee mixed with adaptogens for about 20 minutes, I felt a palpable calm wash over me. It wasn't lethargy or laziness—it was a blissful, soothing energy that was difficult to pinpoint. This is a supplement that cleanses the mind in minutes and rebuilds your stamina just as quickly. Truth be told, I can't believe it took me so long to try it."
— Hallie Gould, senior editor, Byrdie
"Whenever anyone asks me about the best 'gateway' alternative treatment—particularly anyone who I know to be typically skeptical of such things—I always recommend acupuncture. It's not just because it's one of the most widely researched techniques in this category but also because I can personally vouch for the effects. When I lived in New York, I visited an acupuncturist on a weekly basis, and we worked together to address some serious reproductive issues I was having. Within a matter of weeks, those issues—which had been plaguing me for years at that point—were completely rectified.
"Beyond that, I've found that it's such an effective way to curb my stress levels, boost my immunity, and just improve my overall well-being. No joke: I once went in to see my practitioner with terrible congestion, and 90 minutes later, I left the building with a clear nasal passage. (I learned later that there's a study to back this up, too!) I'd think it was sorcery if there wasn't such fascinating science behind it."