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ON THE MOVE

On the Move: Essex woman makes connection between wellness and being active

MARK LORENZ/FOR THE GLOBE

Charlotte Gibson, with her children, George,13, Anna, 11, and Olivia, 7, at their Essex home.

When her 9-year-old daughter was suffering from chronic debilitating headaches, Heidi Hanson sought a number of opinions through traditional medical avenues, including the family’s pediatrician.

“Months of extensive testing came up with no diagnosis,” the Hamilton resident said. “The doctor ultimately said, ‘Maybe she’s a kid who has headaches.’ ”

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Unsatisfied, Hanson reached out to a friend, Charlotte Gibson, in neighboring Essex.

Gibson “asked if we tried either acupuncture or talking to a nutritionist,” said Hanson. “Desperate, we scheduled an acupuncture appointment and then met with the nutritionist Charlotte connected us with. She listened to our plight and suggested a specific type of blood test, which revealed my daughter had a high gluten intolerance.

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“Within 24 hours of a gluten-free diet, my daughter’s headaches were gone,” she said. “This was a life-changer.”

Gibson’s recommendations were not by chance.

The acupuncturist and nutritionist were both members of Wellness Connect, an alternative-medicine clearinghouse created by Gibson three years ago in part because of the challenges she faced with her four children’s various health issues.

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“This led me to a variety of alternative practitioners, because I had hit a dead end with Western medicine,” said Gibson, 45. “Because of my experience, many of my friends began asking me for referrals for their children,” she said. “That was the birth of my business . . . I wanted to share with other mothers and caretakers the information I had gained.”

The Wellness Connect network has more than two dozen partners throughout Eastern Massachusetts, from a mindfulness instructor in Concord to an energy healer in Hingham to an acupuncturist in Gloucester.

“The days of doctors being the only voice for health are coming to an end,” said Douglas Worthen, director of mindfulness programs at the Middlesex School in Concord, and a Wellness Connect partner and client.

“It feels like a crime that many in our culture think that health is prescription pills from doctors,” he said. “As a state, nation, and world, we need to be more aware of the other health systems out there and know which professionals in these systems are respected.”

Greta Williams, owner of Acupuncture Family Care in Gloucester, said her practice is open to anyone, though she focuses on women, particularly mothers. “If you look at the world as a whole and you want to educate, affect, and improve the health of a community, you start with the family,” she said.

Wellness Connect sponsors numerous workshops to provide a proactive approach to healthy living.

Brett Perryman, head of investor relations at OMAM, a Boston asset management company, used Wellness Connect to improve the atmosphere at her company.

“Wellness Connect offers a broad range of resources and activities that target areas of people’s lives that are often neglected, but when addressed, can improve their lives more broadly,” said the Weston native. “Mindfulness, for example, is a small practice with big benefits. When we take time out to learn about ways to improve one aspect of our lives, the spillover effect can be tremendous.”

The Wellness Connect network, said Essex resident Faith Appleton Gist, “is like having a personal health consultant.

“Some people hire business consultants, personal shoppers, interior designers, whatever your needs are. But what about our health?”

For more details, visit www.wellnessconnect.info .

Contact correspondent Brion O’Connor at brionoc@verizon.net.
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