Too often I leave a doctor’s office underwhelmed. I enter aching, limping or failing in some way, hoping to leave with a solution, but exiting with little more than a note scribbled in indecipherable writing prescribing me yet another antibiotic. I’ve even cried with frustration at a doctor’s lack of apparent interest, much to the receptionist’s chagrin.
Talise Spa is a different experience entirely, which may have a lot to do with it being a luxury spa rather than a neon-lit hospital, plus the fact that I was healthy when visiting rather than pathetic and sniffly.
Talise at the Madinat Jumeirah now has an Integrated Medical Centre that houses conventional medicine, ayurveda, diagnostics, naturopathy and psychology, and all in one of the best spas in Dubai (this is as close as you’ll get to Private Practice in real life). I decided to try the Optimal Wellness Health Assessment, which aims to pinpoint exactly how your body is functioning, to help you prevent illness before having to cure it.
Consultation: First off, Australian naturopathic doctor Jaclyn Harris asks me an extensive list of questions about my health and habits – some very personal! We then chat about my health niggles, and instead of just prescribing something to quash them, she discusses with me what might actually be happening inside my body. Men, close your ears; ladies, listen up: she finds a reason for period pain based on my symptoms that links back to a bad digestive system leading to a high level of oestrogen (she even draws me diagrams), and for the first time in my life it all makes sense. I feel like crying (all that oestrogen!), but this time in a good way.
Blood Analysis: A technician takes my blood and heads to the in-house lab. There’s no three-day wait for results, just an hour, and I get to use the lush Talise pool and relaxation room while doing so, feeling like I’m on holiday – which beats Dettol-scented waiting rooms filled with vomiting children. The technician comes back with live and dried blood analyses, complete with pictures of my cells for me to take home (I might frame them). Some say live blood analysis can catch serious immune deficiencies and liver issues before conventional medicine, others say it’s quackery. However, a recent infection that I’m fighting is clearly picked up and I’m given reams of paper with a breakdown of each of my cells that look convincing. The dried blood analysis then picks up ‘oxidative stress’ in the body. I score eight out of 10 here, but then oxidants and antioxidants are like enzymes to me: no matter how hard I try, I don’t think I’ll ever grasp what they actually are.
Wellness Body Scan: I’m now plugged into a machine that looks alarming: I’m here for an Electro Interstitial Scan, which sends minor electrical currents through the body (it doesn’t hurt) to analyse how the organs are functioning. It’s a little like those evil machines at the gym that measure your body fat. This procedure is also under question by many doctors, but it’s quick and it picked up that I’ve got upper thoracic back pain, or ‘desk job-itis’, which is true. It also spotted an inflammation of the intestine, which made sense as I’d had a nasty tummy bug the week before.
Iridology: Like palm reading but with eyes, iridology claims that peepers give insight into long-term health imbalances and genetic tendencies. I start by getting my irises snapped and then Jaclyn analyses them in detail. I’m cynical about the procedure, but the analysis and the diagnosis from the iridology matched up with the results from the other tests and made sense in terms of my symptoms. Diet and Menu Plan: After discussing what food I like to eat and my day-to-day habits, Jaclyn makes up a menu plan to address all the issues revealed in the tests. This is very comprehensive and I can now say with authority that it’s delicious too.
Verdict: It’s true that a lot of the tests performed here are under question by conventional medicine – for instance, despite emerging in the 15th century, iridology has not been scientifically proven as effective – but the results of all the tests matched up well and created a comprehensive bigger picture. The best bit about the whole experience was the consultation with the naturopathic doctor – it was nice to speak to someone who didn’t seem rushed off their feet and had the time to have a genuine discussion with me on how to optimise my health in day-to-day life. If you want to understand how your body functions and figure out how to best treat it, this is for you. However, if you plan on sticking to the couch eating McD’s, then I wouldn’t bother.
The Optimal Wellness Health Assessment at Talise (04 366 6818) takes around three hours, there’s currently a package that includes all of the above and a massage at Talise’s lovely spa for Dhs1,499. Most major insurance companies cover the clinic’s GP on a pay-and-claim basis, but the complementary medicine is only covered on certain plans so check with your provider first.