Alternative medicine grows in Sugar Land, Missouri City

No longer a niche of the West Coast, holistic and alternative medicine and therapy providers have become a sizable presence in the Sugar Land and Missouri City area.


Nearly a third of U.S. adults have tried some type of nontraditional medicine or therapy, according to the National Institutes of Health.


“[Clients] want to avoid surgery,” Lonestar Cryotherapy owner Robert Garza said. “They want to avoid a lot of medications; they want to do something as holistically as possible.”


His Sugar Land practice uses intense cold to ease muscle pains. Reasons vary for why people seek complementary, alternative and holistic treatments although pain management is a common motivation according to NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.


“I do think people like alternative medicine because it has fast results and more visible results,” said Erika Yigzaw, chief strategy officer for the American College of Healthcare Sciences.



What is “alternative?”


The NCCIH defines complementary medicine as a nonmainstream practice used in conjunction with conventional medicine. Complementary medicine usually falls into the subgroups of natural products or “mind and body practices.” By comparison, alternative medicine is a nonmainstream practice used in place of conventional medicine. NCCIH does not classify treatments as being specifically “complementary” or “alternative.”


Complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, can include chiropractors, dietary supplements, reflexology, yoga and aromatherapy, to name a few, according to the NCCIH.


A 2016 report by market research provider IBISWorld cited an aging population, a greater awareness of health and wellness spurred by the Affordable Care Act and increasing disposable incomes as reasons for the demand for these treatments.


The report also suggests that people without coverage also turn to CAM because it can be cost-effective and more accessible.


In Sugar Land and Missouri City, the population age 60 and older rose by 6 percent and by 7.8 percent, respectively, between 2009 and 2015. From 2010 to 2015, median household incomes rose by 3.3 percent in Sugar Land and by 7.5 percent in Missouri City, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Between 2010 and 2015, the median household income in Sugar Land rose from $101,611 to $104,939. During that time in Missouri City, the median household income rose from $81,854 to $87,955, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


The NCCIH conducts a survey of complementary or alternative medicine usage every five years.



Spending expected to rise


IBISWorld and the NCCIH have each noted a correlation between spending on nontraditional medical providers and higher than average incomes.


In 2012, an estimated $30.2 billion—about 1 percent of all U.S. health care spending that year—was spent on out-of-pocket alternative medicine costs, according to the survey. Results from that year are still being analyzed, an NCCIH spokesperson said.


Community Impact Newspaper reported at least 10 such new businesses in 2016 compared to at least six the previous year.


Complementary and alternative regulations vary nationwide, and different Texas agencies license and certify some health care professionals but not all. Texas Medical Board spokesperson Jarrett Schneider said his office only licenses physicians and specific positions but does not inspect the facilities of alternative medical providers unless prompted by consumers.


“We’re complaint-driven, primarily,” he said.


Chiropractors and acupuncturists have their own state boards rather than the state medical board or the Department of State Health Services. The TMB and the department said they were unaware of specific regulations for opening a complementary or alternative medical business in Texas, but Theresa Buede, owner of ReConnect Chiropractic and Holistic Center in Missouri City, said she followed standard city health codes to open her business in March 2016.


“I’m a big advocate of partnering—not eliminating—with conventional medicine,” she said.



Alternative medicine grows in Sugar Land, Missouri CityAlternative medicine in Sugar Land, Missouri City


In the last three years, new complementary and alternative medical businesses that opened in Sugar Land and Missouri City ranged from Indian herbal medicine and yoga therapy to halotherapy, which allows customers to sit in rooms ventilated with salt-infused air to help respiratory illnesses and skin conditions, such as dermatitis and eczema.


Garza and Sandy Hinderliter, owner of Salt of the Earth halotherapy, do not take insurance because carriers do not cover their services.


Hinderliter said she chose Sugar Land for her practice to because it was close to home and close to customers from Katy and Houston as well as locals.


“Obviously, people have their own personal reasons but maybe feel like they didn’t get the quality of life they wanted with taking the medications,” she said of her clientele.


Alternative medicine grows in Sugar Land, Missouri CityAyush Wave Ayurveda Wellness and Yoga opened in Sugar Land in July. Owner Shwetha Reddy, who earned degrees in ayurveda and pharmacology in India and the U.K., said she chose Sugar Land because the southwest Houston region had a growing demand for the ancient Indian system of full-body healing methods.


Garza must be certified by the manufacturer of his business’s cryotherapy tank, which uses extreme cold on the whole body or in localized places. The treatment is popular with athletes.


“Some clients are referred from doctors, like [the Sugar Land Skeeters] players, and some are coming on their own,” he said. “It’s become more prevalent in Houston over the last year.”


Alternative medicine grows in Sugar Land, Missouri CitySimilar to Hinderliter, Buede said she chose to open her practice close to home. She pursued a holistic healing career after battling cancer for 13 years until 2011. Her treatments include an infrared sauna, massage therapy and a saltwater flotation tank for sensory deprivation—meant to relax and detoxify the body.


“My focus here, everything here is to identify and noninvasively treat toxic buildup [in the body],” she said. Buede only accepts it for some services.


A physically active and health-conscious population in Fort Bend County motivated Garza and Alvaro Medina to open their respective practices in Sugar Land.


Medina owns Medina Chiropractic Sports and Spine, he said. His student-athlete days inspired him to become a chiropractor, and Medina opened his practice last April and accepts insurance for all treatments.


He is licensed by the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners and inspected by the state for use of X-ray technology.


“We can neither prescribe nor take patients off medication,” he said. “That is out of scope for us.”

SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

Here is what to know about rent, mortgages and utility bills during the coronavirus. (Courtesy Fotolia)
FAQ: Paying bills in the time of coronavirus

What to know about rent, mortgages and utility bills during the coronavirus

About 97% of Fort Bend County's survey respondents answered they are washing their hands more frequently to be more prepared for the coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Survey: 53% of Fort Bend County residents feel stay-home order is enough to keep county safe

The survey also examined the effect the order is having on households' finances and respondents’ abilities to work.

Constellation Field began collecting personal protective equipment donations April 1. (Courtesy Sugar Land Skeeters)
Constellation Field in Sugar Land opens as a donation location for personal protective equipment

The Sugar Land Skeeters stadium will be collecting donations 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Texas Tribune: Some local elections in Texas moving ahead despite coronavirus spread

A handful of towns and special districts still plan to go ahead with their May 2 votes, arranging polling places despite calls from the president on down directing people to stay at home to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Lake Travis Fire Rescue is one of hundreds of emergency service districts serving millions of Texas residents across the state. Firefighters, EMTs and medical professionals said they are concerned about the availability of personal protective equipment as the coronavirus public health crisis continues. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
First responders, medical professionals across Texas worry about inadequate personal protective equipment supplies

In a survey of emergency service districts across the state, two-thirds of respondents said they were concerned about a shortage of equipment such as masks, goggles and gloves.

A portion of Scanlin Road in Missouri City will be under construction starting April 1. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Construction on Scanlin Road in Missouri City to begin April 1

City officials estimate the street repairs will take two weeks to complete.

Missouri City City Council held a virtual special meeting March 30. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Four takeaways from Missouri City’s March 30 special City Council meeting

Council was presented with a clean financial audit, discussed the search for a new city manager, moved toward postpoining the May 2 election and more.

Fort Bend County
Fort Bend County extends emergency declaration to April 30

The declaration was initially signed March 12 and was extended twice by Commissioners Court.

In a March 31 news release, Fort Bend ISD announced online learning would continue through at least May 4.
JUST IN: Fort Bend ISD extends online learning through May 4

The district had previously suspended in-person classes until April 10.

Patrick Jankowski projects more than 150,000 regional job losses due to the coronavirus. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Houston economist predicts more than 150,000 job losses this year due to coronavirus

While sectors that are considered nonessential and cannot deliver their goods and services remotely are most at risk, the economist said all jobs are on the line if the shutdown continues after May.

Gov. Greg Abbott updated Texans and issued an executive order regarding the state's response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis during a March 31 afternoon press conference. (Screenshot via livestream)
'Now is the time to redouble our efforts': Abbott issues executive order for state on COVID-19 extending school closures, clarifying essential services

Gov. Greg Abbott updated Texans and issued an executive order regarding the state's response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis during a March 31 afternoon press conference.