Keep Tahoe healthy: Elevate Wellness Center reopens with tea bar, apothecary and workshops | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Keep Tahoe healthy: Elevate Wellness Center reopens with tea bar, apothecary and workshops

Claire Cudahy | ccudahy@tahoedailytribune.com

For Elevate Wellness Center's owner Melinda Choy, good health is about more than eating your veggies and chugging orange juice when you feel a cold coming on — it's about listening to what your body is telling you and searching for long-lasting lifestyle solutions over treating symptoms.

"We don't have a health culture that's built into our lifestyles; it's more like you take this medicine when you're sick. There is no real concept of how to bring that into your daily life," said Choy, perched on a stool at the "Communi-Tea" area of the center's new location in The Crossing.

Choy, a licensed acupuncturist, opened Elevate Wellness in South Lake Tahoe back in 2004.

"I built Elevate from renting a room in a chiropractic office to what you see now. We've had multiple locations, and with each move we have expanded and added to our services, slowly moving toward the dream of what I've envisioned for the community," said Choy. "This will be the final move."

Elevate Wellness now has a growing team of practitioners offering acupuncture; nutrition therapy; prenatal, Thai, Mayan and Chinese abdominal massages; midwifery and well-woman care; and neuromuscular therapy — to name a few.

The new, larger space allowed for the creation of an apothecary nook where Misty McBride, a certified herbalist and midwife, mixes up teas and tinctures — and even offers 30-minute consultations to create custom blends.

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"We do everything from digestive bitters to nursing nectars and throat sprays, stuff for babies and men, and nutritional teas," said McBride, who's been practicing for over 16 years.

She creates her tinctures by soaking therapeutic herbs in Tahoe Moonshine for six to eight weeks before pressing out the herbs. Once bottled, they can be purchased alongside the expanded line of retail products carried at the new location, ranging from matcha tea and all-natural skin-care products to supplements and bulk Chinese herbs.

"We added in the Chinese bulk herbs so that we could do customizable formulas for our patients. It's like going back in time to when people would walk into the pharmacies in Chinatown…You'd tell them what's wrong with you and they'd make the formula, which you'd cook into a soup," explained Choy.

Choy grew up in the Bay Area with parents who emigrated from China, and tang — a medicinal soup infused with a tonic of herbs — was cooked and served alongside dinner every night by her grandmother.

"Our goal is to educate the patient so that they understand how to make good choices for their bodies and their health and to get out of here," said Choy, who plans on offering classes on topics like creating good-for-your-gut foods full of probiotics, such as kefir or sauerkraut.

"We don't want to get people looped into this system of we take care of you. It's empowering the patient to be able to take care of themselves."

And this approach is obvious after one acupuncture session with Choy, who, prior to the treatment, sits and discusses each patient's needs and routines — from when and what they eat, to what time they go to sleep — and offers up suggestions on how to improve them. It's all part of her goal of getting each patient's body balanced in mind, body and spirit.

"There's a wide range that we treat with acupuncture, from pain management, stress and chronic illnesses to autoimmunity, infertility and hormone imbalance," said Choy.

By tapping into acupuncture points — pods of nerve endings — with needles, it's a way of signaling the brain to take action.

"They've found that it helps release natural endorphins in the body, that's why it helps with pain and inflammation," explained Choy. "You're also signaling a greater response to the brain to say 'Let's send more anti-inflammatories and more blood flow to this area.' It's increasing your body's natural signals to do it's own healing."

Ultimately, Choy wants Elevate Wellness to be a place where people come to get better, but also a spot for the community to gather — maybe enjoy a cup of nutritional tea — and discuss healthy living.

"We want to offer classes not just from our own providers here, but we also want to give a platform to people in town who have interesting things to say about health," said Choy. "We want to be the central spot in town to get natural and holistic health information."

Elevate Wellness Center — in conjunction with the new hot yoga-pole-barre-dance studio next door, OMNI — will be hosting an open house on Thursday, Feb. 23 from noon – 7 p.m. Fifteen minute free massages will be available by appointment, and tea and tonic tastings will take place from 2 – 4 p.m. OMNI will be offering free classes all day and early bird sign-up discounts.

Elevate Wellness Center is located at 2034 Lake Tahoe Blvd. in the shopping center The Crossing at the Y.

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