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Patient Success Stories

The New York College's Integrative Health Center / Holistic Health Center and Teaching Clinics have treated many patients successfully. Here are just a few of their stories...

Chronic Back Pain"Just a Memory"...

"Just a Memory"

It's never too late to become Holistically healthy. Just ask Ruth Gould, who after living with chronic back pain for years, developed sciatica at 81 years old, and found relief at The Integrative Health Center at Stony Brook.

"Last October, I had just gotten a clean bill of health from my doctor," Ruth recalls. "That afternoon, I bent down to get something, and when I stood up, I felt an excruciating pain from my rear end down to my foot."

For ten days, Ruth lived with the pain. She thought about calling her doctor but knew that he would prescribe painkillers and she didn't want to take medications that could possibly have adverse side effects. As the pain became increasingly unbearable, Ruth grew more depressed and frustrated. Finally, she decided to go to the Wholistic Health Center .

"I didn't know much about Holistic Medicine," Ruth admits, "But I hoped they'd have something that could help me."

At the WHC, Ruth met the patient coordinator,th Riley R.N., who assessed her condition, reviewed her medical history and discussed with her the options in Holistic health care.

"I knew that acupuncture was a choice" she says, "but I didn't want needles. So when Beth suggested Amma Massage and explained to me that it has a high success rate with sciatica, I decided to give it a try."

Amma is a specialized form of Bodywork Therapy. Like Acupuncture, Amma focuses on the balance and movement of energy within the body. Whereas the Acupuncturist inserts needles into the energy pathways to stimulate and move the energy, the Amma Therapist relies primarily on the sensitivity and strength of the hands.

When Ruth first met her Amma Therapist, who is also a registered nurse, she immediately felt comfortable and confident. Her introduction to Holistic health care included a treatment of Amma, which began with observation of her tongue, the taking of various pulses, and evaluation of many signs and symptoms that reflected the state of her internal organs.

'Within a few treatments," remembers Ruth, "my sciatic pain disappeared, and even the back pain that I had lived with for years, began to improve."

Over the next few weeks, Ruth felt less discomfort during the treatment, and began to look forward to her weekly "fix." Her course of treatment also included recommendations for dietary changes and suggestions for specific vitamins and supplements.

By avoiding coffee and foods like eggplant and tomatoes Ruth would be helping to relieve the inflammation that caused her sciatic pain.

Today, almost ten months later, Ruth is a weekly patient, a loyal advocate of the WHC and a friend to everyone on staff.

"Since last October, I've only missed three weeks," she says. "Amma has become an important part of my schedule, and most important, today my sciatic pain is just a distant memory."

"I didn't want to spend the rest of my life in pain!"

Frank had lived with back pain for so long, that he couldn't remember a pain-free life.

"I couldn't get up from my desk at work without my back tightening up on me," he remembers. "Every time I played a round of golf or a half hour of tennis, I was in agony. I went to doctor after doctor, but nothing worked. No one could help me. I was only in my 40s and didn't want to spend the rest of my life in pain."

From his sister, Frank heard about Holistic medicine, and out of desperation, decided to give it a try. At the Wholistic Health center, he was treated with new and unfamiliar therapies - including Amma Massage and Acupuncture - and Frank discovered a totally new approach to health care.

"When we analyzed my diet, I realized that I was eating a lot of tomato sauce and grapefruits - both highly acidic foods that may have aggravated my back. Changing my diet was an important part of my treatment."

Weekly sessions of Amma were supplemented by acupuncture treatments, administered by one of the center's acupuncturists. Acupuncture, which dates back 5,000 years when it was first used in China as a healing art, uses fine needles at specific points to stimulate, disperse and regulate the flow of "chi" or vital energy, and to restore a healthy energy balance.

Acupuncture is a new way of thinking for Westerners that is difficult for many to "get" at first. But current research is beginning to convince Americans that although they cannot see the flow of energy, it does exist. When patients feel immediate relief from their pain, or see themselves getting better, this is proof enough.

For Frank, acupuncture treatments provided instant relief when his back was in spasm. "I actually felt the pain leave my body," he recalls.

Today, three years since he became a patient at the Wholistic Health Center, Frank enjoys an active, sports-oriented life that includes not only golf and tennis, but participation in an over 40 basketball league!

MigrainesA Patient Finds Relief....

A Patient Finds Relief

The headaches were brutal, remembers Michael Spicer. "At one point, they'd wake me up in the middle of every night. I felt like a truck was rolling over my head while someone was banging on me. My eye felt like I had been stabbed. I had a terrible taste in my mouth that made me feel like I had been poisoned. At 3am I'd have to take a pill to control the pain and after three years of this, I knew I was getting addicted to the medication, but I didn't know what else to do."

Dr. Spicer, a Roslyn dentist, husband and father- like thousands of other Long Islanders and millions of Americans- suffered from migraine headaches. Since he was 28 years old, he'd dreaded the migraines that usually came two or three times in a week and interrupted his life. They interfered with his dental practice when he couldn't work because of their severity. Some medications were effective, but they came with side effects. One drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure was also used to treat migraines. But while it took away Dr. Spicer's headaches, it also lowered his blood pressure to dangerous levels and left him depressed. Another drug also cured the headaches, but brought with it the threat of a heart attack.

"I missed out on so much with my family," he remembers. "By the time I got home from work, I had to go right to sleep. Either I had a terrible headache or if I had taken a pill for the pain, I was a zombie."

Three years ago, through a friend, Dr. Spicer heard of the New York College Wholistic Health Center, and skeptical but desperate, decided to give it a try. He had never even heard of Amma Massage, the healing modality that would, along with herbs and dietary changes, cure his migraine headaches and change his life.

"If someone had told me that a form of massage therapy, combined with herbs would get rid of my migraines, I would have told him that he had a wild imagination," says Dr. Spicer.

But within six weeks of walking through the door Michael Spicer's migraine headaches completely disappeared.

For Michael Spicer, now 48, the path to Holistic health was a process that began with becoming educated and more aware of his body, and taking responsibility for his own health care. Through a nutritional consultation, he realized how many of the foods he was eating, including citrus fruits, berries, chocolate, nuts, and especially dairy products, contributed to his migraine headaches.

"I didn't eliminate them," he admits, "but now I minimize them and am more conscious of what I eat."

Conscientiously, Dr. Spicer came several times a week for Amma and took the herbal teas and capsules prescribed by his therapist-some to take preventively, others at the onset of a migraine.

Today, other than an occasional migraine headache that might be an offshoot of a sinus infection, Dr. Spicer is migraine free, and an advocate of Holistic health care for himself and his family.

"Once you start feeling better, you begin to listen to your body and to live differently," he says. "My way of thinking began to change. Instead of treating a symptom, I now focus more on eliminating the cause of the symptom."

Lou Gehrig's Disease"A New Lease On Life"...

"A New Lease On Life"

On his 44th birthday five years ago, Mark Ostaseki was given devastating news. He was suffering from Amyotrophic Laterial Sclerosis (ALS), better known as "Lou Gehrig's disease." There is no cure for this degenerative disease which causes muscle paralysis and ultimately death. Although clinical trials are underway for new treatments, Mark was not eligible for them.

He was told that the disease typically progresses over a three to five-year span, during which time he could expect to become increasingly incapacitated. Soon after, Mark learned that a relative had also been diagnosed with ALS. She died within 6 months.

"I became very depressed," Mark said. "But I knew that depression wasn't going to do me any good. I had to get out of it and take an active role." Mark learned of the Wholistic Health Center and began going for Massage treatments.

"I know this sounds crazy but in a way my diagnosis was like a re-birth because I've made so many positive changes in my life since then," he said.

When Mark first visited the Wholistic Health Center, he gave an extensive personal and medical history. All new patients do this to enable practitioners and patients to devise the best, most individualized course of treatment.

"My diet was terrible, I had poor circulation and digestion, high blood pressure and cholesterol," Mark explained. "I immediately improved my diet, increasing vegetables and cutting out excessive red meat, alcohol and sweets. He added, "I also started taking T'ai Chi and Qi Gong which helped me become more aware of my body and helped me to let go of my need to control things, which causes so much stress."

Mark began regular Massage treatments, specifically Amma, which he credits with improving both the circulation and digestion. Later, he added Acupuncture.

"In addition to my physical health, my mental outlook improved. Rather than be depressed, I decided that taking care of myself was my most important job," said Mark.

Today, Mark is far from incapacitated as had been predicted five years ago. "Ironically," he stated, "my overall health is better than ever. My cholesterol and blood pressure, which were always high, are back where they should be."

His ALS is progressing from a general weakness in his left shoulder down his back and into his right shoulder. But it has yet to stop Mark from living life to the fullest.

"I get around, travel, do everything I want to," he said. "Very little is known about what causes ALS and there is no cure. But the treatment I've had at New York College has slowed the progression of my disease drastically. For that I'm thrilled and blessed."

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome"Holistic Medicine Changed My life"...

"Holistic Medicine Changed My life"

For attorney Gladys Bank, a once healthy life was interrupted by chronic fatigue syndrome, only diagnosed after many months and thousands of dollars of MRIs and other tests. Medical specialists prescribed various medications - including tranquilizers - and dismissed her as overworked, overstressed or psychologically imbalanced.

"It was the worst nightmare imaginable," says Gladys. "No one knew what was wrong with me. One day I had numbness in my leg, the next thing I knew I was totally debilitated. I struggled to stay awake behind the wheel on my way home from work; I would fall asleep sitting straight up on my living room couch. When I finally had to leave work, I spent every day at home, sleeping and crying. My worst fear was that there was something terribly wrong with me that they hadn't found."

When Gladys heard about New York College, she was leery of receiving an Oriental diagnosis and healing treatments about which she knew nothing - but desperate enough to give them a try. "For the first time in months, someone believed in me," Gladys recalls. "When Sharon Borzone said that my symptoms made perfect sense because everything was along the same channel of energy, I felt this incredible sense of relief. If this finally made sense to someone, then it could be fixed."

Over the next year, Holistic health care became a familiar term to Gladys, and an important part of her every day life. Her treatment included radical changes in her eating habits, starting with eliminating sugar, salt, dairy and alcohol from her diet. Amma Massage was prescribed twice a week, supplemented with several acupuncture treatments and herbal therapy that consisted of a daily dose of wheat grass.

"I felt improvement almost immediately," remembers Gladys. "As I saw my first glimmers of hope, I began to believe more and more in the concept. It took a year to be symptom free, but now I'm back to work full time plus, I have more energy than ever, and I feel empowered to be totally responsible for my own health."

Today, Gladys goes for monthly maintenance Amma treatments and is very conscientious about her diet. "I never cheat," she admits. "I'm very careful because when I'm not, even if I cheat a little, I feel it. So it's not so much will power that keeps me serious, but fear."

For Gladys, Holistic health care has become a new way of living that has helped her both to restore and maintain a state of optimum health. Turning to Holistic Medicine was a desperate last hope - which has become a permanent way of life.

The success story of Gladys Bank is just one of thousands of patients whose lives have been changed by Holistic Medicine. Therapies that have been used successfully for thousands of years in Eastern cultures - like Acupuncture, Bodywork or Massage and Herbal Medicine - are finally becoming respected modalities in this country and beginning to change the face of health care in America.

PregnancyGetting Pregnant Holistically - One Success Story...

Getting Pregnant Holistically - One Success Story

When Sharon and Ronald watched the changing color on their home pregnancy test, they were in disbelief. After more than two years of trying to get pregnant, the miracle had finally happened - Sharon was "Holistically" pregnant!

It had only been a few months since Sharon (who asked that her last name not be used to protect her privacy) had become a fertility patient at the Gynecology Clinic at New York College. Her treatment consisted of prescribed daily herbs mixed and cooked into a tea, along with weekly Acupuncture treatments.

The Acupuncture was the easy part, admits Sharon. Taking the herbs was a greater challenge, since the taste was anything but pleasant.

"It was like stirring a witches brew, with a combination of leaves, berries and twigs," she says. "Most people I know would never have done this. It was definitely not the easy way out. But I truly believed in Holistic Medicine and was willing to give it a try."

For Sharon, "Holistic health care" has been an important term in her vocabulary since 1982, when she first came to The Holistic Health Center to be treated for psoriasis.

"I'd had the problem since I was nine years old," she remembers. "I'd been going to dermatologists for years and received cortisone injections, but nothing worked. At that time, it was pretty bad; I was overweight and miserable. Through my cousin, I heard of the center and decided to try Holistic Medicine."

At her first visit, Sharon learned that she had numerous food allergies. She went on a special fast, supplemented by herbs and Amma.

"Within three months, my skin was totally clear," she says. "In addition, I lost ten pounds, needed less sleep and had a lot more energy. At that time, I vowed that Holistic Medicine would be my first choice - not my last - for health care."

Last year, when Sharon developed a pain in her hip, she returned to The Holistic Health Center for Acupuncture treatments. During a pre-treatment consultation, while answering questions about her diet and lifestyle, Sharon mentioned, "Oh, by the way, I've been trying to get pregnant." Never did she realize that this matter-of-fact comment would change the course of her life after trying for so long to become a mother.

When Sharon met Dr. Xu-Ping Fu, an Acupuncturist at The Holistic Health Center, she was immediately impressed by how concerned and caring she was. Along with Sharon's treatment program of herbs and Acupuncture came a heightened understanding of Holistic health, based on the principles of Oriental Medicine. This approach to health views the body as an energy system and aims to remove blockages in the energy channels in order to achieve a state of balance and well being. Before becoming pregnant, it was important for Sharon to reach a state of optimum health, and then to maintain it through pregnancy. Her commitment to take responsibility for her own health was an important part of the process.

Acupuncture and herbs have been used in combination for fertility problems for many years in Eastern cultures, explains Dr. Fu. But this is still a new approach for westerners and one that patients at The Holistic Health Center are first learning about. For most women, Holistic Medicine is still a last resort, after years of trying other methods to become pregnant.

Since last year, when Dr. Fu introduced the fertility program, she has treated eight patients, and so far, four are pregnant. Every case is different, she emphasizes. Women have different problems and there are many factors involved in becoming pregnant, including age, living conditions and stress. Each patient is diagnosed from an Oriental perspective, after which a treatment of herbs is prescribed and placement of Acupuncture needles determined based on the imbalance.

For women who have tried for many years to get pregnant, a positive pregnancy test is the best news possible, says Dr. Fu. "I've gotten hugs and flowers. One woman even promised that her baby's middle name will be named after me!"

While not a definite solution, Dr. Fu's personal experience over the years treating fertility with Acupuncture has had a high percentage of success. As for Sharon, now 34 years old, in her fourth month of pregnancy and enjoying her "pregnant glow," Holistic health care is now a way of every day living.

"Even my husband, who is more skeptical and looks through science books for medical proof, can't deny the results that have worked from going the Holistic route," she says. "For me, Holistic is no longer alternative, but my first choice!"

Pediatric Success StoriesWhen Jimmy was four years old, he began to have unconscious...


When Jimmy was four years old, he began to have unconscious episodes lasting from 10 to 30 minutes, that left him with terrible headaches. For six years, is family traveled from specialist to specialist, trying to find out what was wrong with their son. Diagnoses included complex migraines, seizure disorders and many prescriptions. As the episodes continued, Jimmy often had to be rushed to the emergency room when his airway became obstructed. Finally, Jimmy's mom, an RN herself, made a New Year's resolution to get to the bottom of her son's problem.

On January 9, 1998 Jimmy became a patient at the Holistic Health Center. After Jimmy's first Amma Therapeutic Massage treatment, he seemed calmer than he had in months.

As Jimmy began to have weekly treatments of Amma, to take prescribed herbs and make changes in his diet, his energy level increased, his balance improved and his seizures diminished. Getting better meant giving up most of his favorite foods, but to Jimmy it was worth the sacrifice, because as he put it, "I want to feel good."

Today, Jimmy is proud of his commitment to Holistic health care, as he recognizes how it has helped him to be more attentive in school, to achieve at a higher level, and to feel better in every aspect of his life. For his mom, the dramatic turnaround in her son's life made her into such a Holistic health advocate, that she recently enrolled in the Holistic Nursing program at The New York College!


The six-year-old patient thinks he's playing a computer game, but in fact, he is using biofeedback to help his Attention Deficit Disorder (commonly known as ADD).

Eric's symptoms of ADD included a short attention span, a constantly wandering mind, an inability to focus, and dyslexia. When Eric's mother heard that biofeedback is effective in treating ADD, she decided to give it a try.

Biofeedback specialist Susan Antelis explains that the key to biofeedback is to teach the patient self-awareness skills in an objective manner. Biofeedback instruments measure certain aspects of a person's physiology - through skin temperature, skin response, muscle tension, heart rate, respiration and brain waves. The computer display then feeds back visual and auditory signals to the patient, holding up a mindful mirror for the patient to see. As a result, the person is empowered to take action - or non-action - using relaxation techniques to modify his stress responses and behaviors.

In Eric's case, we have to make it fun for him to learn how to concentrate and pay attention, says Susan. The 'hook' is the computer. I teach him to use his mind to activate the computer and I show him that he can control what his body and mind do and don't do.

A common treatment for ADD cases is a powerful prescription drug like Ritalin, she explains. Biofeedback, by contrast, is safe, non-invasive therapy. With kid-friendly software, Eric is hooked up to monitors that measure the warmth of his hands or the muscle tension in his hands.

In just a few sessions, he has learned to control his muscle tension. According to Susan, the normal course of treatment is 10-20 sessions.

The best part, she says, is that Eric looks forward to coming to The Holistic Health Center to play computer games. While learning to focus and control his body, he is having fun!


Kevin was five years old when he suddenly was always thirsty and began to experience unexplainable mood swings.

We were shocked when we learned that he was pre-diabetic, remembers his mother Debbie, and that unless he made dramatic changes in his diet, within a few years he would be insulin dependent.

For Kevin, that wake-up call was his first introduction to Holistic health care. At first, giving up candy and dairy products was torture for Kevin, says Debbie, but as he began to feel better he got over the sacrifice and felt proud that he was responsible for making himself feel good. Having several role models in the family made it easier, Debbie admits. Kevin's older brother David, who had suffered from chronic allergies, was feeling the positive effects since he changed his diet. And his older sister Christine, after suffering from ear infections and terrible stomach aches, had eliminated all dairy from her diet and felt great.

While most of my kid's friends are junk food and sugar addicts, they are also constantly fighting colds, ear infections and bronchitis, says Debbie. The five Grace kids, on the other hand, have become advocates of Holistic health. Their home medicine cabinet is filled with vitamins and herbs - daily vitamins for maintaining good health and herbal formulas prescribed by an herbalist at The Holistic Health Center to treat different medical conditions.

When they see their friends getting continuously sick, she adds, it just reinforces their commitment to Holistic health in their daily lives!


For too many years, Spencer didn't know what was wrong with him. When he had episodes of non-stop vomiting for more than 24 hours at a time, doctors gave him diagnoses that ranged from irritable bowel syndrome to chronic constipation, with different medications for each. For a year he took a beta-blocker that caused him to become bloated. In desperation, Spencer's mother Ronnie, took him to The Holistic Health Center.

After a full medical assessment, Spencer began a course of treatment that included weekly sessions of Amma Therapeutic Massage, periodic chiropractic adjustments, a regimen of vitamins and herbs, and a diet that eliminated all dairy and chocolate. As a Chocoholic, it was not easy for him to give up double fudge Oreo's, says Ronnie. When Spencer was able to throw away all of his medications, he became a believer. As he started to feel better and his vomiting episodes diminished, Spencer voluntarily chose to drink rice dream, a milk substitute made from brown rice, and began to take charge of his own daily vitamins and herbs.

Now 14, Spencer's health has improved so much that Holistic health care has become a way of life for the entire family. Spencer's teenage siblings have learned all about herbs and when they feel a cold coming on, they don't leave home without their echinacea. Now I get calls from their friend's mothers, says Ronnie, asking me what my kids are taking and where they can get some.


From the time that Zachary was four weeks old, he was a regular visitor to his pediatrician's office. With continuous head colds, he was always on antibiotics. Then, at seven months old, Zachary developed eczema, and cortisone was added to the list of prescribed medications. After switching pediatricians, consulting with allergists and trying a multitude of different medications, the family was frustrated.

Nothing was helping, says his mother Jane. We worried about the possible long-term side effects of the cortisone and all of the antibiotics. We avoided taking Zachary to homes we thought were dirty or where there were pets. The next step would have been to put him in a bubble.

By the time Zachary was three years old, the eczema had spread throughout his entire body, including his face. He had become introverted and was miserable, remembers Jane.

If there is such a thing as fate, it took shape in Cathleen Caffrey, the patient coordinator for The Holistic Health Center, who was walking down the family's block one day, noticed Zachary's rash and suggested taking him to the center.

Zachary's treatment consists of acupuncture and Amma Therapeutic Massage once or twice a week, a variety of herbal mixtures, and a radically altered diet.

Zachary didn't mind any of it, says Jane, because he felt like he was taking part in making himself healthier. Over the next few months, Zachary's rash began to fade and he grew stronger and healthier. Today, at 7 1/2, 99% eczema free and a brown belt in karate, Zachary is a happy, healthy, bright, outgoing, normal kid. The Holistic Health Center restored my sanity and faith, says Jane.

High Blood Pressure"Medication Left Me in a Perpetual State of Lethargy"...

"Medication Left Me in a Perpetual State of Lethargy"

Pat was diagnosed with high blood pressure when she was 20 years old. At 35, she started taking medication that left her with unpleasant side effects. "I was always tired, never had any energy," Pat remembers. "I had such constant headaches that I popped Advil every day like it was candy."

After 15 years of living in a perpetual state of lethargy, Pat discovered a new approach to health care at The Holistic Health Center in Syosset, New York.

Practitioner Sharon Borzone explained to Pat that the aim of Holistic health is not just to treat symptoms but to remove the sources of imbalance and help establish the balance that reflects good health. It means taking responsibility for your own health and remaining an active participant in your healing.

"At first I was skeptical," admits Pat. "Changing my diet to eliminate all dairy, sugar and processed foods was terribly difficult, especially since I used to eat candy every day and have ice-cream every night. The concept of balancing my energy channels was a new language to me that didn't make much sense. But as I started to feel a difference, I became a believer."

Pat's treatment plan consisted of dietary changes, herbal supplements and weekly sessions of Amma Therapeutic Massage, a healing system that dates back thousands of years to ancient Chinese medicine. Amma involves deep tissue massage, application of point pressure and stimulation of energy movement.

"Never before did I feel so relaxed and aware of my body," says Pat, whose blood pressure has dropped over the last year enough to be able to stop taking medication. "I admit, I still eat ice-cream about once a month, but I take a much more active role in my health care, and I feel better than ever."

Scleroderma"Holistic Medicine was a desperate last hope"...

"Holistic Medicine was a desperate last hope"

For many patients of The Holistic Health Center, turning to Holistic Medicine was a desperate last hope - which has become a permanent way of life. No one knows more personally and profoundly than Janet, who was told she had six months to live, and today, 4 years later, runs a monthly support group for fellow patients at the center.

"We call our group `Celebration of Life,'" says Janet, "because that's exactly what we're doing - celebrating every little improvement and helping each other with setbacks along the journey."

A diagnosis of scleroderma 12 years ago turned Janet's life around. The disease caused her body to produce too much collagen, which, having no place to go, pooled and hardened in her joints and organs. "Scleroderma cuts off circulation and affects every part of your body, until you're a massive piece of stone," she explains. "I felt like I was wrapped inside a Chinese mummy."

At The Holistic Health Center, Janet's treatment consisted of wheat grass and other herbs for pain management, a strictly monitored diet, Amma Therapeutic Massage two or three times a week and emotional counseling. "At the Center, I've learned to focus on the positive instead of on my disease," Janet explains.

"I try to look at the past as behind me. What's already happened to me is over and I cannot change it. But the moment is now, and the future depends on how I deal with it."

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