Barbara Close is, and always will be, a student of natural health.
Inspired by herbal remedies she witnessed as a child during visits with her aunt in the South of France, the wellness expert had begun training in massage in the 1980s when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. After watching her mother struggle with the limited western treatments available at the time and also managing her own eczema for years, Close was moved to study natural and herbal therapies for chronic stress-related conditions too. She traveled around Europe, exploring holistic systems and philosophies of the great minds in natural healing.
Drawing on that accumulated experience, in 1995, the massage therapist and clinical esthetician founded the Naturopathica Healing Arts Center & Spa in East Hampton. A collection of lovely “skin-loving” personal care products soon followed.
Now, nearly twenty years later, Close is earning her master’s degree in therapeutic herbalism and continuing to educate clients on how they can live more vibrant, healthy lives. Here, she shares the details of her own personal care routine and champions the importance of taking a moment for enjoyment
Live The Process: What sparked your interest in self-care and holistic health?
Barbara Close: Growing up, I visited my aunt in southern France, who used homeopathy and herbal medicine as her primary form of healthcare. We would visit “herboristeries” as well as mineral spas, and I was so inspired by the lineage of natural healing.
I was in massage school in the late 1980s when my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Watching her go through the process of handling an acute illness really opened my eyes to alternative forms of healing. It was so black and white from the medical point of view, and yet she was dealing with all of these debilitating issues like radiation burns and depression. Other than writing a prescription for antidepressants, there wasn’t a lot of choices for treatment.
My own experiences with eczema led me to study solutions for the chronic imbalances caused by modern life and stress. My interest in holistic health led me to seek out many of the great thought leaders of natural healing, as well as to travel to England, France and Germany to study aromatherapy, phytotherapy and hydrotherapy. I think I will always be a student of natural health. In addition to being a massage therapist and clinical esthetician, I am currently earning my master’s degree in therapeutic herbalism from the Maryland University of Integrative Health.
LTP: What inspired you to found the Naturopathica Healing Arts Center and Spa and your product line?
BC: When I founded Naturopathica, my mission was to inspire healthy lifestyles with innovative natural products and wellbeing education, as I had experienced in my travels in Europe.
I think wellbeing is an empowerment issue. Since we live a 24/7 lifestyle, this has given rise to a lot of chronic illness from migraines to eczema to IBS, to name a few. When people develop a chronic imbalance that has no “magic pill” for recovery, they begin to look to alternative methods of healing. Most people come to realize that they need to take an active role in their own healing, and they actually enjoy the process of learning that what we eat, how we handle stress, prioritize exercise and utilize mind-body techniques can all make us lead more energized, vibrant lives.
The challenge is that people don’t know how to access that information: That’s why I created Naturopathica as a wellness destination. From therapeutic massage treatments to holistic skincare to herbal remedies to skincare products, we show people how wellness rituals can improve their lives.
LTP: What do you envision for the future of Naturopathica?
BC: Every time I walk into the Naturopathica Healing Arts Center & Spa, I stop and take a deep breath and it puts a smile on my face. The spa has such an unbelievable energy because it’s a place of change. It’s a sanctuary, where you can get out of your head and get back in touch with how you’re really feeling, to ground yourself and re-boot.
We are constantly looking for ways to unlock that potential in people through wellness therapies and remedies. The spa is my incubator for creative development and innovation. It has maintained this integrity for 20 years, and I’m confident that it will for many years to come.
LTP: What products and routines do you implement for yourself?
BC: In several months, we will be introducing a new collection of herbal remedies and body care products based on healing traditions from around the world. Within that collection, we have “Alchemy Oils” that rebalance the mind and body through aromatherapy. Each morning, I throw down my yoga mat and, depending on the mood that I’m in for the day, I choose an oil, rub a few drops in my hands to activate it and do an inhalation exercise. I inhale for a count of four, hold for a second and exhale for a count of four. It’s a really grounding exercise. Deep breathing engages our lymphatic system, which acts as a second immune system to fight stress and disease. By doing a simple inhalation, you can kickstart your immune system, energize your senses and re-boot your mind.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
BC: Happiness is living well. A lot of times, people think that natural health is a way to live longer and that’s great, but I think it’s important to focus on living a more vibrant, richer life now without pain and unabated stress. That’s where my passion comes from.
LTP: What does it mean to you to "Live The Process" and how do you do that every day?
BC: Living the process for me is taking the time to enjoy the pleasure of life, to break the cycle of chronic stress and hit the pause button. Take naps, take a bath, get out in nature and feel the balancing effects of sunlight, or inhale sea air rich in negative ions. I love getting a massage. Your heart rate drops, your breathing rate falls and your body gets a surge of endorphins. What could be better than that?
Find more information on Naturopathica here.