A group of medical practitioners are running an alternative medicine center in Carrboro where they aim to help students and other patrons maintain and improve their personal health using both traditional and alternative medicine.
The Wellness Alliance, headquartered at Ray House and just 1.5 miles off campus at 301 W. Weaver St., has been serving the Carrboro and Chapel Hill communities for nearly 25 years.
Jean Parker, who specializes in therapeutic bodywork, has been working for The Wellness Alliance for 20 years now. She stressed the role of The Wellness Alliance as a vehicle for growth through which patients can strengthen their own minds and bodies, even outside of the scope of traditional medicine.
“What alternative medicine does is try and activate the natural healing mechanisms in our body,” Parker said. “I think we can activate the body’s own wisdom to heal.”
Instead of focusing their treatment efforts on the use of prescription drugs, she and her colleagues say they aim to use therapy, dietary changes, supplements and other natural methods of treatment to supplement the body’s own immune response.
Susan Delaney, a naturopathic and homeopathic physician, has been at Ray House since it opened its doors in 1994. She said she believes there has been a shift in popular culture when it comes to people’s views on alternative medicine.
“When people think about herbal medicine or homeopathy they think, ‘Oh, you know, this is California woo-hoo, foo-foo.’ But this is a form of medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years,” she said.
Delaney said this craving for change in healthcare options is echoed in the student body, too. Many of the patients she already sees at the Ray House are UNC students.
“Conventional science is trying to embrace and open its doors as much as they can to natural medicine because the culture has changed," she said. "People want something different.”
Even those who are not familiar with the work of the Wellness Alliance, like Thomas Harley, a first-year chemistry major at UNC, are intrigued by the new possibilities that their work presents.
“I’ve always been interested in sort of finding new and different ways to treat illness,” Harley said.
After a visit to Campus Health last week left him uncertain of what actions he should take to craft a healthier lifestyle, Harley found himself more open to the idea of alternative medicine.
“Maybe if there was another course of treatment available, I would’ve felt more comforted by it. I want more options.”
Those options are exactly what Delaney and the practitioners at Ray House aim to provide, along with further ways to inform the population about the different methods that she and her colleagues use to promote health and wellness in her community.
Delaney said she is excited about the growth of alternative medicine, claiming there has been a shift in public and scientific opinion on the fields she and her colleagues specialize in.
“Who knows," Delaney said. "Maybe in five years student health at UNC will have some of these services for you. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
The Wellness Alliance will celebrate its 25th anniversary in December and hopes to continue to serve the community at large for many years to come.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.