If you live in New York, there’s a common saying that walking down the city streets is the equivalent to being in fight or flight mode. Urban dwellers live with the added stress of noise, pollution, overpopulation, and traffic, so it’s no surprise that they seek particular attention to take care of their health. But with all the wellness centers, workout classes, diets, supplements, and spas around the city, The Juhi Center is bringing health back to its basics with an Eastern medicine approach to heal the mind, body, and spirit, naturally.
The Juhi Center’s founder Juhi Singh, L.Ac has dedicated her life to Eastern medicine, specializing in acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and oriental medicine. After being diagnosed with Chrons as a young adult with no options besides an invasive and dangerous surgery, Singh began practicing Eastern medicine. The results ended up saving her life (surgery-free) and launched her into a career of providing alternatives to her patients who are told Western medicine is the only way. Singh’s impressive client list is a testament to her unparalleled skill, having worked with the Co-Chief of Sports Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center on the treatment of high-performance athletes, to Fortune 500 cooperations, to a women’s hospital in Haiti. She’s been featured on CNN, ABC, The Emmys, and more, on her practice that’s kept her clients running at an optimal level.
Singh opened her center last September with a focus on four pillars: Ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, and facial rejuvenation. Patients get a personalized treatment protocol that includes Ayurvedic diagnosis, acupuncture therapy, education, and empowerment, creating a virtuous cycle of healing from a team of top practitioners who she consults case by case. The center is an oasis within the city, complete with a salt room, facials, and an infrared sauna. But Singh’s love for her patients and hunger to heal lies at the heart of her center’s success. Below, Singh discusses her approach to health, being a woman in the medical industry, and how she hopes to merge Eastern and Western medicines so that no patient is ever left without options.
What was your introduction to Ayurvedic medicine?
I was born in Bombay and brought up surrounded by both allopathic and herbal medicine. I officially moved to the USA at the age of four but returned to India every summer. Growing up, medicine for me was more than symptom-numbing, quick-fixes, and magic pills. Medicine was my daily life, contingent upon self-knowledge and care. Makes sense right? But when I got very sick, it was the last place I turned.
My family and I spent a lot of my life between New Jersey and India. So when I was diagnosed with Chron’s/Colitis at 16 – an inflammatory disease of the intestines causing horrifying abdominal pain, improper digestion, ulcers, internal bleeding, and weight loss (which is ultimately life-threatening) – my family had the opportunity to seek out the best in care. For three and half years, my parents dragged me from one doctor after another in desperate search of an answer. Many of the extraordinarily well-trained physicians were able to keep me alive with high doses of medications. However, by 19, those very powerful drugs had a severe and irreversible effect on my organs. By 19, the only solution offered to me by the top specialists in Western medicine was a life-altering colostomy. Still sick extremely sick, barely 90 lbs, and as a last ditch effort, my parents consulted my aunt, an Oriental Medical Doctor herself. Together they formulated a plan for me to stay in India for two months to receive Acupuncture and be placed on an Ayurvedic diet specific for my disease and constitution. In two and half months of following the prescribed diet plan and acupuncture regimen, I was in remission. I’ve remained in remission with few and occasional flare-ups for nearly 20 years. Not only did I defeat the disease, but I felt a revolution in my spirit. At that moment, I decided to change course in my studies from going to Western medical school to Eastern medical school. I knew even then that I never wanted a patient to come to me without knowing the options they had available. And very quickly, all of this energy of desolation, fear, and condemnation from my distant experience with modern medicine, was transformed with my triumph and became the powerful impetus for my life’s work and practice today.
How do you approach each client with your specific practice?
I approach every client as an individual, a human being, a unique ecosystem of emotions, experiences, and DNA. I don’t even think of my patients like that, to me, you are not a label, you are a person. My first task with each patient is to understand the person, their needs physically and emotionally. Often, people want to tell me the symptoms right away – those are important, but why go there first if that’s all they are, symptoms. It’s physics; the reaction is the result of their actions. I want to know who you are as a person and what is happening to you on a daily basis: what you eat, what kind of exercise you are getting, and how you sleep. With knowledge of your actions, we can adjust them to fit your desired outcome and desired life. The approach is both scientific and holistic.
How did you come up with your four pillars?
The four pillars of my practice are Constitution-based Nutrition, Sleep/Meditation, Acupuncture, and Exercise. These are a clear structure and practical translation of what you would receive as a prescription from me. If you break down the scientific effects of research into each of the pillars, you will also see that careful dosage of these four pillars create chemical and molecular balances that coincide with Western medicine’s findings. So instead of responding to symptoms by cluttering the body with more competing chemicals, prescriptions, and practices, I look at administering practical tools, plans, and routines for healthy living. I adjust the types of chemicals and energy going into your body on a daily basis to create the kind of output of health that you want for years to come. The goal is to create a balanced system by way of Eastern and Western medicine.
How is the spa different than other spas in New York?
The difference between what I experienced from my first few years of diagnosis with Chron’s/Ulcerative Colitis was the constant running around, bouncing off of one doctor to the other like a racquetball, lost in a sea of records, labs, and prescriptions, medical trials from any and every possible solution-seeking practice. And what I experienced in my very efficient two and a half months with a community of practitioners focusing together on my wellness, is the difference that I provide. So many people, like myself, have suffered unnecessarily from one professional’s failure to communicate with another. The more complicated the person, the more complicated the problem, the more places you go, the more room for error.
My center is made up of the top hand-selected medical professionals from all over the world. They are the practitioners that I would go to and who I trust enough to send my own family to, so they are the people I want you to see. We work together as a collective to collaborate and devise the best holistic diagnosis and treatment for each patient who comes to us. This center is modeled off of my success with combating illness using discoveries from the East and the West; this treatment is modeled off of the success of thousands of years of experience and the latest medical science, this is a completely integrated system with communication and empowerment between practitioners and patients. The roots are deep. It’s time that we solidify the marriage of Eastern and Western medicine for good. People need to know they have options.
Your trips to the St. Vincent orphanage in Haiti have dramatically improved the lives of many. How has that work affected your practice?
I started going to Haiti with my best friend Petra Nemcova nearly four years ago when she was spending a significant amount of time building schools through her foundation All Hands and Hearts. I saw how much help the country needed, so I did what I knew best. I started to help with my two hands. So much work needed to be done. I began returning regularly to work with a local orphanage for disabled children called St. Vincent’s and for a women’s hospital who are in large part, extremely poor, abused and HIV positive. In every place I visit, I intend to create a self-sustaining system of medical care for those who are limited in resources for helping themselves and their children.
Now, Haiti is my temple. I realized that the happiness I received from helping these women and children was what I needed to replenish and revive my soul. Some people go to church, some people go to synagogue, and some go to a temple to pray – I go to Haiti.
You’re an advocate for women having louder voices in the medical space. How are you using your practice to shine a light on this issue?
It is my mission to make the voices of anyone who is overpowered by some affliction, heard and helped. We’re in an era when women are raising their voices from every corner of the globe, and I am trying to empower women in this space so that they can be heard. I believe that there are two major steps I have to take here for womankind. First, is to create a point of reference in the field, an authority, and someone to whom women can look up to. And second, is to create someone who truly brings everything together from a medical, spiritual, informative, and practical perspective. I have studied both Eastern and Western medicine for myself and my community for over 20 years, and I see what’s missing first as a patient, and second as a clinician. The champions of the medical portion are heavily didactic and mostly male. The champions of the spiritual space are certified in holistic therapies and for the most part, female.
What’s one thing in the medical industry you’d like to see change?
I want to see more accountability in health companies, with medical professionals, and from individuals. I want medical companies and professionals to understand and care about the individual lives that they have the power to transform. I want information to be available to people from all walks of life, and I want them to have the ability and capacity to ask the right questions. People should seek to understand what’s happening to their minds, bodies, and spirits and ask why it’s happening. Finally, I want people to be empowered with the ability to change their lives, their health, and their happiness. I believe that only a true union of medicine, philosophy, spirituality, and practice can do this. By integrating these fields, merging Eastern and Western medicine, and collaborating between genuine individuals, we can create a set of common tools for anyone and everyone to bring with them to achieve wellness for themselves and their communities, whenever they need and wherever they may be. I want to gift everyone with a toolbox irrespective of your financial means.
To make an appointment, visit Juhi.Center.
**This article was originally published for Forbes.com