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Here's to Your Health: Beneveda

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Photo provided by Beneveda Medical Group | Dr. Thom Lobe administers his aura-reading machine

You heard it here first: fitness and health is big in L.A. Knowing that you would not want to be uninformed of the recent trends, we bring you Here's to Your Health, in which we explore new local offerings in health and wellness. Consider trying them, consider mocking the Hollywood fools who try them, or consider staying on the couch and watching reruns of The Bachelor. Whatever floats your boat. This week, we start with...

Beneveda Medical Group

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In a bright office on a Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills, Dr. Thom Lobe, the founder of Beneveda Medical Group, explains the importance of energy flow in my body. "Energy affects everything," he says, as I sit amidst Star Wars-y computer screens and lights. "What's the difference between being alive and dead? Chi. Prana. Life force. Energy."

I was in a reclining chair in Beneveda Medical Group, a spa-style health center that combines Eastern and Western medicine, of which Lobe is the founder and medical director. After practicing pediatric medicine for 30 years and teaching alternative medicine on the side, he wanted to capture the potential of new technology that combines his two areas of expertise. From there, Beneveda was born.

Lobe began my late-afternoon session by leading me down a short hallway and into a room with a single computer. Linked to the computer was a small box with a glass plate that I was told would “read my aura.” I placed each fingertip of my left hand on the surface, and up on the screen popped a picture of each tip with what appeared to be an electrical field around it.

Interesting enough. But I didn’t want him (or you, gentle readers) to think that I would be taken in quite so easily. If there wasn’t a scientific explanation for my little finger pictures, I was out the door. Lobe humored my skepticism, and patiently explained that the machine tracks something called the galvanic skin response (GSR). GSR - which has been studied since the late 1800’s, and was a technique touted by Carl Jung - is the level of resistance the skin has to electrical currents, which can predict emotional arousal.

In other words, the ability of your skin to resist or conduct electrical currents can demonstrate your state of emotion - whether you’re stressed, anxious, nervous, fearful, and yes - even sexually aroused. The correlation of the currents to various parts of the body has been compared to acupuncture: the same way that acupuncture points correspond to the body, electrical currents run through the body, starting with the skin.

Looking at my results, Lobe took the tip of a pen and gestured to the computer screen, which now featured a read-out of my aura in the form of a female figure with a border of different colors seeming to shoot off her body. "See right here?" he said. "Your energy is a little off around your head."

Perfect. But alas - not surprising. To remedy my domal imbalance, Lobe led me into a room with a lounge chair and several large stacks of A/V machinery where I would receive something called neuroacoustic therapy.

By producing sound frequencies that cause brainwaves to essentially self-adjust in time, neuroacoustic therapy has been compared to Chinese gongs and chanting. The practice is used to achieve a desired state of mind - in this case, relaxation - and ideally, the brain relaxes so deeply that it, as the body’s governing organ, relaxes the rest of the body.

I was given a blanket, headphones and Florida senior citizen sunglasses (read: covering the whole face), and told that for the next 20 minutes, I'd experience something akin to a "trip."

For the first time since arriving, I panicked. Had I unwittingly signed up for some sort of electric kool-aid acid test? Was I going to have a seizure? I could imagine the headline: Intrepid Reporter Found Dead in Neuroacoustic Therapy Room, Victim of New Age Medicine Gone Wrong.

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But, journalistic duty beckoned me forward, and Dr. Lobe stepped out of the room and closed the door. Music began to play and lights began to flash in front of my eyes. At first I felt terror. But slowly, as I became calmer, my fears of death gave way to tranquility. I did not hallucinate, I did not jump out a window, I did not combust. In fact, before I knew it, Lobe was back at the door and I was as relaxed as Ice Cube on a Friday.

He immediately read my aura again, and this time, my head energy was visibly evened out. Barring a significant technological hat trick, it would appear as though the procedure had worked.

The final stop of my tour found me in another lounge chair (I'm starting to like this kind of medicine) surrounded this time by Beneveda’s piece de resistance, The Energy Enhancement System (EES). EES uses scalar fields generated by computer screens to rejuvenate the body’s cells, which can make a person look younger, have more energy and feel happier overall.

“There’s nothing in here that’s a magic switch,” said Lobe, as I sat on a recliner amidst the screens. But “energy has to flow, and if it doesn’t,” the body won’t work properly.

So, did it work for me? Well, I do have that youthful glow, but I have it so often anyway it’s really difficult to say what causes it. Either way, Dr. Lobe’s practice is a classic case of science vs. faith, and questions whether the effects of Eastern medicine -- which have up until now been based on first-hand experience, hope and testimonials -- can be tracked. If the skeptics among us can see it, will they believe it?

I suppose you'll just have to decide for yourself.

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