Center Has More Than One Solution for Healing
By Mark Todd
If you suffer from chronic fatigue, depression, pain, and many
illnesses, there are a variety of ways to get better. The choice
solutions continues to grow, according to Dr. Charles Lefler,
Brevard's Center For Integrated Health and Healing next door
Transylvania Community Hospital.
"Since I was interested in natural healing before getting
school, I guess you might say I've had a long term interest in
alternative healing methods," Lefler said.
"Among the many things which we learned in medical school
were to be
observant as possible, listen very carefully to what our patients
us, base our approaches on scientific evidence, and do no harm
In my practice of medicine, I've always tried to listen to my
patients, and over the years, I heard more and more of them saying
preferred to do things naturally or perhaps they would say they
want to take patented drugs," Lefler said.
So, over time, Lefler has expanded his practice and staff of
practitioners to include not only the standard approaches taught
University of North Carolina medical school, but also a growing
of alternative approaches, both new and old.
His business partner, Juli Stempel is a true believer. She is
licensed massage therapist and helps run the business side of
practice. She has found in some cases that alternative medicine
helped her and others where standard medical practices involving
medication weren't getting the job done.
She has had three serious health issues during the last 20 years.
One, trigeminal neuralgia, is a neuropathic disorder of the trigeminal
nerve that causes episodes of intense pain in the eyes, lips,
scalp, forehead, and jaw. An estimated 1 in 15,000 people suffer
trigeminal neuralgia, although numbers may be significantly higher
to frequent misdiagnosis. It usually develops after the age of
although there have been cases with patients being as young as
years of age.
The condition can bring about stabbing, mind-numbing, electric
shock-like pain from just a light wind or a finger's glance of
cheek. It is believed to be among the most severe types of pain
Stempel said, "I spent two and a half years in hell. Conventional
medicine said there was treatment, no cure. A nutritionist had
tree in 10 days. I lived off steamed vegetables and lean meat
years, then went back on a normal diet." Stempel had to
caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and mold, or aged cheese, from her
Also, she had a raging case of acid reflux and chronic sinus
which cleared up after she learned to eat according to her blood
Before she got better, she used to have trouble just walking
stairs, she said. "I literally cried," she said.
After regaining her health, she resumed working and is a licensed
massage therapist. Most people don't know it, but there are at
200 specific techniques in the massage field, she said. Relaxation,
improved circulation, and removal of waste products from the
all among the positive benefits of massage, she said.
She had opened a wellness center in town, and said she found
she was a
parallel path with Lefler. The two decided to join forces. " Stempel
said as the community grows and attracts more residents, many
of them older and retired, it is now more feasible to offer
non-traditional and sometimes non-insured services to those who
the interest and ability to participate, she said.
"There are times when drugs are required. But sometimes
drugs can be
replaced with other therapies with excellent results," said
"Traditional medicine is wonderful. But it doesn't cure
Alternative treatments are low cost, many times, and they successfully
address things conventional medicine cannot. We need to support
natural abilities that the body has to heal," she said.
According to Lefler, the New England Journal of Medicine defines
alternative medicine as any medicine which did not originate
medical school or is currently not taught and practiced in most
Using that definition, many of the currently accepted practices
medicine were originally alternative, such as radiology, radiation
medicine, hypnotherapy and anesthesia, he said, adding that he
in the significance of spirituality in healing.
"Over the years, many patients got better without taking
pharmaceuticals. Many medications that we were told were great
withdrawn from the market. Many published articles were followed
other articles purporting to contradict the previous article
professionals. In short, there was a lot of information to be
and sifted to try and determine what was right or wrong," he
"I found that the more my patients realized that I wasn't
for their interest in non-conventional approaches to health and
healing, the more they told me about what they had done, or wanted
do, or were afraid to do in the case of conventional medicine," Lefler
"In medical school at the University of North Carolina,
I believe that
I got a tremendous background in conventional medicine, but I
believe that I was educated to think for myself, observe carefully
to care for patients as fellow human beings to be loved and assisted
their endeavors to maintain health or return to health. I was
taught to treat people as widgets to be managed," he said.
"I try to listen to each patient who comes to me and ascertain
they want, how they want to pursue their goals and what knowledge
make available to them that they may not already have. I have
patients who wish totally conventional approaches to health and
care, and I am prepared to do that as a board certified internist.
I also have many patients who want to know what I think about
non-conventional approach to health or healing," Lefler
"Finally, I have many patients, perhaps most of my patients,
to blend the conventional and the non-conventional. I try to
my current knowledge and many times I have to tell them that
have to do some research about their question.
There are many developing technologies that are still considered
alternative and some experimental," he said.
Audiovisual entrainment (AVE) is such a technology, Lefler said.
David Siever has developed several devices that are based in
knowledge of neuro-physiology and electrical engineering.
This technology is being used quite widely around the United
Canada to do such things as improving sleep, decrease symptoms
migraine and Fibromyalgia, (which includes chronic fatigue and
among other things. It has been used by professional athletes
enhance performance by decreasing tension and anxiety associated
performance, said Lefler.
Lefler said it has been used in Canada in school settings to
dramatically impact the educational capabilities of children
Attention Deficit Disorder.
In what he said might be a bit of oversimplification, Lefler
the treatment to an orchestra playing a specific piece of music. "Each
player is playing according to the music in front of her or him.
intensity, louder, softer, etc. is affected by the conductor.
view, each part of the brain knows what it is supposed to do,
or so it
thinks. It has learned reaction patterns and pattern think," he
"I like to think of AVE as reminding the brain that it
can follow the
conductor to produce a somewhat different musical outcome than
pattern that it routinely follows such as to have a migraine
response to certain environmental stimuli," said Lefler.
Brain Wave Technology (BST) is another developing approach
to allow an
individual's brain to realize that it can train its own programming,
"Although the data are small at this point, it is nonetheless
impressive for the brains of people with diverse problems in
dramatic improvements in physical conditions," he said.
"At this point, this is clearly alternative and clearly
large bodies of data. However, it is something that is well thought
out, has good scientific basis and has been producing results,
are being collected and will be published. Thus even though I
consider it experimental, I think that certain individuals may
try this new modality (treatment) just as someone may participate
protocol at a university for the treatment of some disease, a
which is clearly experimental but felt to be potentially helpful
professionals," he said.
Jennifer Bailey, a therapist who works at the center, said the
process is easy and painless for the patient, who sits back in
chair and relaxes while a few electrodes are placed on his or
"The brain trains itself, most of the work being done subconsciously.
In fact the less the "try," the more successful the
outcome, in my
experience. It really is a process of letting go and releasing
patterns and thought structure to embrace a clearer, more peaceful
experience," she said.
Unlike more traditional therapies, this one is not covered by