The path to health

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

 At the opening of the re-done medicinal healing garden last weekend at Nova Southeastern University in Broward County, people started taking off their shoes. Talk about a relaxed university event.

Elizabeth Marazita demonstrated
how to use the reflexology path.

The reason: the reflexology path in the heart of the garden. You walk over stones of various sizes and shapes (there's a handrail for safety) and it's best done without shoes. The path is the first one in Florida and the first on the U.S. East Coast. It's an outgrowth of an Asian practice that enhances well being and reduces pain.  George Hanbury, Nova’s President, took the first walk, which incorporated five different kinds of stones meant to represent five Chinese elements: water, wood, fire, earth and metal.

The soles of the feet have 7,000 nerve roots, explained designer Elizabeth Marazita of Geneva, Switzerland, and five kinds of stones affect various areas of the body by the way you step on them. Directions are given in the pavement for each section, such as: “Step from heel to toe over the stones to acupressure internal organs” and “Rock the ball of the foot over the white stones to target the lungs and thyroid energies.’’

 Assistant  dean of the College of Pharmacy, Carsten Evans, liked the idea of a medicinal garden to broaden his students’ understanding of how many people of the world use plants in healing. He began researching the reflexology path after a suggestion from a colleague. He found a research paper on the benefits of reflexology in The Journal of American Geriatrics Society, and then he found Elizabeth Marazita via the Web and she came to the U.S. in January to construct the walk.

The scientific paper concluded that walking a reflexology past three times a week for 16 weeks

A gentle, colorful patch of the healing garden.

reduces blood pressure and reduces pain.

Davie nurseryman Jesse Durko worked with Evans in planning the plants, which include absinthe or wormwood, tithonia, rudbeckia, lion’s tail, echinacea, lemon grass, allspice, osmanthus or sweet tea, sweet acacia, seven species of bamboo, horse radish tree, a dwarf ylang-ylang, sorrowless tree and many others, making it a colorful, butterfly attracting area as well as a healing area.

Durko wanted low maintenance plants that don't require much tending. Wildflowers were in abundance. "I painted the ground with colors,'' is how he described his approach to the design.

Healing can come from many sources.