Despite testimonies from movie stars, rock legends, world-class athletes and billionaires, a commoner is dubious about rejuvenating the body using a steady diet of wheatgrass, bio-energy treatments and psychotherapy. So he seeks enlightenment at the Hippocrates Health Institute.


WITH MAGICAL HANDS ON MY BELLY, my new craniosacral massage therapist with a syrupy voice is having visions of my physical ailments in metaphorical forms. Pam Blue says she feels “glue,” and this evil substance apparently resides deep in my abdomen. She suggests we meld minds in order to melt her sticky discovery, which I suppose could symbolize anything from kidney stones to acid reflux. When I signed up for this zany treatment, I thought “cranio” and “massage” meant I would be getting a scalp rub, not a reading of curious infirmities in my torso. When Venus Williams was on this health retreat’s massage table, did her mind likewise wander toward words like efficacy and evidence, or did the tennis star give herself over to the images of “balls of light” and “nets of power” that Pam softly whispers in my ear? “There’s a power in the symbols you see,” she coos. With three more hours before my next meal of uncooked veggies, I was having visions of cheesecake.

After our introductory handshake a few minutes earlier, Pam had greeted me with the common compliment: “I love your name.” My celestially inspired forename, Orion, gains me instant acceptance in certain circles. I was born to a family formed on a California commune led by vegetarianism guru Bubba Free John, and my childhood was spent deep in the trenches of the world of holistic, homeopathic, health-food hokum. But I rebelled successfully. To the great dismay of my name-givers, at the first sign of a sniffle, I rush past the crystal shop and the vitamin store on my way to the doctor for antibiotics.

Being skeptical about new-age healing doesn’t mean being closed-minded, however. So when I was due for a week of rejuvenation, I felt magnetically drawn to the Life Transformation Program at the Hippocrates Health Institute, a detox retreat set in Florida’s glamorous and sunny West Palm Beach that boasts a clientele of movie stars and billionaires. Sure, my inner Carl Sagan was slightly troubled by treatments promising longevity through the power of crystals, but special relativity must have sounded pretty wacky when Einstein stepped onto the world stage. Maybe it was time to put my youthful rebellion to the test and treat myself to a week of alternative wellness. Besides, if this place was good enough for Sir Anthony Hopkins, it was good enough for me.