What we now refer to as “alternative medicine” may have raised eyebrows — or even been considered taboo — at one point, but it’s now creeping into the mainstream. Consider Kombucha, a fermented ancient Chinese tea now available at most chain grocery stores.
Whether popping a probiotic, unrolling a yoga mat, using essential oils or undergoing energy therapies, about half of all Americans have tried alternative medicine in some way, shape or form, according to a 2017 study conducted by the Pew Research Center.
In 2016, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reported that Americans spent $30.2 billion on complementary health approaches including herbal supplements, chiropractic, acupuncture and meditation.
Through a new venture, 33-year-old Ben Miller, a Cutchogue native, is seeking to give practitioners a platform to share their wisdom on an array of holistic healing modalities, both ancient and modern, while improving accessibility to patients.
Since launching in 2017, Mr. Miller and his team, currently based in Delhi, India, have published five issues of Healers Magazine online. Each features articles that address both mental — stress, anxiety, depression — and physical ailments written by a team of mostly volunteer contributors seeking to connect readers with holistic healing methods.
“There’s a huge community [of healers],” Mr. Miller said in an interview last Thursday, adding that they were on track to reach 100,000 monthly readers within the next year. In conjunction with the online magazine, Mr. Miller worked with a team to develop a social network to promote the exchange of ideas about various healing methods. It now has over 500 members, he said.
Mr. Miller plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign that would help the team hire a web developer to refine their existing site, print and distribute the magazine and continue hosting live events to connect healers and patients. A pilot event will be held in Dubai later this year and will be replicated around the world.
Mr. Miller, a 2004 Mattituck High School graduate, has long been determined to promote social good. In 2011, at 25, he started YaySay.org to connect people with causes and organizations they support and enable them to purchase products from socially responsible companies that back the same causes.
“I had no interest working at a company that wasn’t a social enterprise,” he said. “[This] has the power to change people’s lives.”
His current effort with Healers is also very personal for Mr. Miller, who lost his mother to suicide in 2014.
That’s when his grudge against western medicine began, he recalled. As he grieved, he learned more about holistic healing. “I was in the same bubble that most Americans are in — the western health care bubble,” Mr. Miller said. “I hold a conviction that depression is not really possible if you’re informed about Eastern healing. I view it mostly as a spiritual crisis. Americans are spiritually unfilled and misinformed.”
Had he known better at the time, Mr. Miller said, he would have encouraged his mom to explore holistic healing.
In her honor, he invested a portion of his inheritance into various charities and social enterprises he thought she would have supported,including Healers. “My goal is to help people in her shoes, people feeling stuck with regard to healing,” he said.
Mr. Miller said delving into the startup and writing on the topics has helped him with his own depression.
Ultimately, he would like to make healing more accessible using technology: think of a dating app that matches patients with practitioners. “You could just pull out your phone and book an appointment a few minutes down the road with someone who could be doing any kind of healing modality,” he said.
Mr. Miller said that strides towards greater acceptance are being made, crediting some of that to “Heal,” a documentary streaming on Netflix that examines how two women with chronic pain use holistic healing — considering the body, mind and spirit — in the quest for wellness.
He believes Healers can take it further by fostering a community of open-mindedness. “Yes, it’s changing, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Initially, Mr. Miller said he was largely skeptical. “I don’t believe in all of it, but I do find it educating and rich, and better than the alternative, which is to live in a black-and-white medicine world,” he said.
Echoing most modern approaches to holistic healing, Mr. Miller said he that the methods he promotes through Healers should not entirely replace treatments and drugs that represent the Western medical establishment, but do deserve a spot at the table of options for patients.
“I absolutely believe there’s a place for both,” he said, noting that Western treatments can help, especially for treating acute symptoms.
“We’re simply encouraging people to explore alternatives,” he said.
For more information, visit healersmagazine.com. Mr. Miller will launch his fundraising campaign on Start Some Good, a crowdfunding website. To donate, visit www.heale.rs.
Top photo caption: Cutchogue native Ben Miller (center) with the team behind Healers Magazine, a startup he launched in 2017. (Courtesy photo)