South Philadelphia: Whole Body Wellness

This neighborhood bulletin board is full of holistic services

With so many advances in modern clinical medicine occurring, many people may think these options are the best of the best. However, numerous people continue to rely on ancient methods of healing from around the world. In the area south of South Street, a healthy lifestyle is important and many people take part in healthy eating and holistic healing practices. Throughout the area there are many holistic healing centers and healthy food markets.

This neighborhood bulletin board is full of holistic services
This neighborhood bulletin board is full of holistic services

Holistic healing is a lifestyle choice. Instead of working on compartmentalized pieces of your health one at a time, being holistic is to have them all work together. It is a personal choice people make and is not for everyone. Yet for the area south of South, there is a lot of evidence of this lifestyle.

There are numerous centers within the area near South Street, such as the Art of Wellness  at 647 Bainbridge St. and Queen Village Holistic Health at 953 Sixth South St. These healing centers offer various holistic procedures, including acupuncture, yoga, massage, meditation and psychotherapy.

Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. It is a way of healing through stimulation of various points on the body with needles. Through this stimulation it is said that one is able to achieve a balance within their body. Bonnie Sheppard has been participating in holistic healing practices for the past 30 years. A healthy lifestyle is “at the very top of the list” for Sheppard. Of her practices, Sheppard says, “I do acupuncture and have taken vitamins for years. I also meditate. I had a [acupuncture] treatment today and I find it very helpful.”

Healthier Sweets
Healthier sweets

In addition to acupuncture, there are numerous yoga centers throughout South of South Street, such as Practice Yoga Studio at 804 South Fourth St. Yoga is designed for relaxation, combining physical poses and breathing exercises. It improves one’s flexibility, posture and helps strengthens muscles.

Although there are many holistic healing practices, eating well is a major factor in healing the whole body. There is not any one “holistic diet” you should follow. One basic idea that spans all food lifestyles, though, is to eat foods that are actually food from the earth, not “food” products from factories. Essene Market and Café at 719 South Fourth St. is a natural foods market that carries many organic items and produce as well as a very large number of seeds, nuts, legumes, grains and free-range meats and cheeses. Jennifer Kulb, 37, is an employee as well as customer of Essene. Kulb’s diet of choice since last May is only eating raw foods. Her reasoning for going raw? “I’m mostly raw because my budget is tight. I like to eat things that haven’t been heated so the nutrient density is still high,” Kulb explains. “I enjoy it. A lot of people don’t feel very good after they eat but they think that’s life. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

A woman who works in the neighborhood and eats at Essene everyday for lunch takes a break.
Camille D'Attilio works in the neighborhood and eats at Essene everyday for lunch.

Eating only raw foods may be a bit extreme for some people. There is also the option of becoming a vegan or vegetarian. When one is a vegan, he or she does not eat any animal products, including eggs and dairy. When one is a vegetarian, he or she does not eat any meat products. Steven Clofine, 60, describes himself as “a vegetarian who is close to vegan.” He limits his dairy intake. His main reason for being a vegetarian is that he does not want any animal products in his body. Clofine was an organic farmer for years in the ‘60s and ‘70s and now continues only eating organic vegetables. “I think the taste is better. There are more nutrients released. A lot of the chemicals sprayed on the plants kill the nutrients then the plants spend their energy in their growth warding off the toxins from the chemicals.”

Still others feel that one does not need to completely eliminate an entire food group to eat healthfully. Hannah Nichols is a young woman living around the area around South Street  and also a customer of Essene. Eating healthy is important to her and her main discipline is to read labels. “I like to know what ingredients are in food and I like to know where things come from.” Although she was once vegan for some time, she has begun to eat meat again, but she limits herself to about once a month. “I don’t like the way it makes me feel. There’s all this information out there about controversy and environmental reasons to not eat meat and what’s good for you and what’s bad for you and I need to take it all in and decide for personal reasons why I don’t like it.”

As Nichols described it, it is a personal choice. A great number of people in area are choosing to eat healthier and live healthier lives. It is not difficult for the residents of the area to accomplish this with all of the resources available to them south of South Street.

The Art of Wellness gave Emily a wellness consultation and we followed along. They talked about diet, stress and mind-body healing.


  1. I agree as well. Yoga is an outstanding practice. Research now documents its ability to lower measurable levels of stress hormones and indicators of inflammation. Practitioners doe experience an improvement in their It does contribute to their
    health and well-being.

  2. Very well sai, as I completely agree. Holistic healing is a lifestyle choice, which works on the mind, body, and spirit connection plus working on those underlying issues – but if you are not nuturing your physical body with the proper healthy foods this will bring down your energy in many ways. The holistic approach is all about the “whole” you – very well written and I quite a agree!

    Many Blessings
    Nicole Lanning

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