Sunday, April 30, 2000

A prescription for cosmic chaos

New Age healer urges relaxation

        FORT MITCHELL — This week you may gain weight, get 1.5 percent smarter or fight with your spouse.

        I'm not sure why. Something about the planets lining up and disrupting energy on Earth.

        My source is Nancy Holbrook, owner of Spice of Life Health Choices in Fort Mitchell. To combat the cosmic chaos, she invites everyone to join her at 7:30 p.m. Monday for a circular walk to the inner soul.

        Behind Indigos restaurant on Dixie Highway, Mrs. Holbrook has constructed what may be the first labyrinth in Northern Kentucky. These maze-like patterns are all the rage in California. People are supposed to find spiritual peace and as they stroll toward the middle.

        “It helps balance out the energy in the area,” Mrs. Holbrook says.

        Half the time, I have no idea what she's talking about. Still, I can't help liking this sunny, sandal-wearing mom, whose mission is to help people relax and heal themselves. It's a big business. In 1997, four out of every 10 Americans tried alternative treatments such as acupuncture or hypnosis, says the Journal of the American Medical Association. They spent $21 billion on such methods and visited alternative healers more often than primary-care physicians.

        Fueling the trend are New Age gurus like Deepak Chopra, one of Mrs. Holbrook's inspirations. Dr. Chopra's many books on mind-body healing have made him a multimillionaire.

        There isn't much scientific evidence to support alternative medicine. Mrs. Holbrook says people are feeling better, and that's good enough for her.

        This is an important week, she says. From May 5 to 16, the sun and six planets will come into alignment — a bona fide astronomical event that scientists say is no cause for alarm.

        Nevertheless, “People might be gaining some weight,” Mrs. Holbrook says. “People might be feeling dizzy.”

        Her solutions: pray for world peace, walk a labyrinth and try to relax.

        “The mind and the brain and all this thinking, it makes people nuts,” she says.

        Her passion for alternatives began after her mother died of cancer, despite an arduous course of treatment. Mrs. Holbrook, 51, decided there had to be a gentler form of healing.

        Around 1988, she started selling nutrition supplements. Then she became a reflexologist, trained to relieve pain by rubbing people's feet. In recent months, her business has become self-supporting, but at first it depended on financial help from her husband, Lanny Holbrook, a well-known lawyer and property owner in Fort Mitchell.

        When people feel pain, their energy fields are supposedly disrupted. “Energy workers” use the electricity coming off their own fingers to smooth out those fields and relieve the pain, Mrs. Holbrook says.

        As wacky as it sounds, this technique, therapeutic touch, has become popular with some nurses in mainstream medicine.

        There's also something to be said for the placebo effect — treatments that work because we think they will.

        Last week, I arrived to interview Mrs. Holbrook with a bad case of indigestion. She cheerfully whirled her hand in the air near my stomach. “I'm creating a vortex of clockwise energy,” she said.

        One of her friends pitched in, tapping my cheeks to connect with my stomach's energy channel, or something like that. Then she held my head between her hands.

        In all the commotion, I sort of forgot about my stomach ache. Soon enough, it was gone.

        Karen Samples can be reached at 578-5584, or by e-mail at

        Karen Samples is The Enquirer's Kentucky columnist. Her column appears on Sundays and Thursdays in The Kentucky Enquirer. She can be reached at 578-5584 or email her at