San Diego's Newest Wellness Hotspot Is the First of Its Kind in the US
Contributor: Travel Pulse - Mia Taylor
Photographer: Saffron & Sage
A lifelong spa junkie, it's fair to say I've had my share of massages, facials, body wraps, and countless other pampering and restorative treatments over the years. Sound healing, however, has been on my self-care bucket list for quite some time.
A treatment involving a practitioner creating music or perhaps more accurately, vibrations, using bowls made from quartz crystal and precious stones, sound healing is not exactly something that’s mainstream yet. Rather, it has long been written off as a new-age fad indulged in by hippies.
But thanks to Saffron & Sage, a chic, emerging holistic health club in San Diego’s trendy Little Italy neighborhood, these sorts of treatments are not only starting to get the attention they deserve, they’re becoming far more accessible to the masses.
A truly unique and cutting-edge urban wellness sanctuary, Saffron & Sage is a first-of-its-kind not only in San Diego but throughout the entire nation.
Focused on mind-body-spirit wellness, Saffron & Sage features a multi-disciplinary team of more than 30 practitioners, ranging from medical doctors to psychotherapists and movement therapists who create individual treatment plans for clients.
It also offers everything from acupuncture to botanical medicine, fire cupping, and energy therapy. In addition to all of that, the 3,000-square-foot facility hosts wellness classes on breath work, cleansing meditation, yoga and more.
The trailblazer behind the creation of such a remarkable business is Cristin Smith, a local entrepreneur who founded Saffron & Sage in response to her own intimidating health challenges and a desire to create a space where multiple treatment modalities could easily be accessed.
In 2012, Smith, then in her mid-twenties, discovered four tumors growing in her neck. It was a development that set her on a path of seeking out treatment from a variety of providers spread from Los Angeles to San Diego and Mexico, to help address her condition.
“I pulled together a couple of MDs - one who was a homeopath, another who focused on functional integrative medicine and was trained in Chinese medicine,” explained Smith, who started her career in the financial and insurance services industry. “From seeing all of these practitioners, I was starting to put together all of the pieces. But they weren’t talking to one another. I was having to synthesize all of their diagnoses and treatment plans on my own.”
Smith was also exhausted from driving up and down the coast of California and across the border to Mexico to receive treatment.
“I thought ‘Oh my gosh, there has to be a better way’ and I wondered why isn’t there a place where all of these practitioners are under one roof?” continued Smith.
Not long after that, the idea for Saffron & Sage began to evolve.
To be clear, there are uber-exclusive wellness retreats and facilities around the world, which are aimed at the ultra-rich. But Smith wanted to create a place where it’s possible to access a variety of healing treatments without spending a small fortune and without needing to jet off to Thailand.
Needless to say, I was thrilled to find such an innovative offering in my own back yard.
I arrived for my recent visit rushing as usual, (nearly late really), and in my typical overworked single-mom fluster - full of apologies for my tardiness and wondering if I was out of my mind to even be taking time away from countless deadlines to indulge in self-care.
But once I entered the airy, light-filled Saffron & Sage space, (taking several deep breaths to absorb the delicious aromatherapy suddenly surrounding me) my stress immediately began to disappear.
And it continued to evaporate as my afternoon at Saffron & Sage progressed.
I had booked two treatments for myself – a lymphatic drainage massage and sound healing. Both were unforgettable.
Lymphatic drainage massage involves a practitioner applying soft pressure all along your body, from head to toe. The treatment is designed to encourage detoxification by moving lymph fluid. For my session, the therapist accomplished this using a small, incredibly smooth tool known as a Gua Sha. Stimulating your lymphatic system is believed to decrease inflammation, improve lymphatic circulation and release toxins.
In addition to all of those notable health benefits, it’s an incredibly relaxing experience that includes massage everywhere from the bottom of your feet to your scalp, neck, and face. So yes, I could do this every day.
For the first several minutes of the treatment, my mind was still focused on deadlines, to-do items and phone calls I should have been making at that very moment. But it wasn't long before all of these concerns took a back seat and my mind began to relax.
My next treatment was the sound healing, something I had often heard described over the years as a sound bath. And now I totally get it.
The sound washes over you as you lay on a massage table relaxing. It envelopes you from head to toe, working its way through your brain and loosening all of the knots and tension – the ones between your shoulder blades, the ones in your mind, and wherever else you happen to carry stress day in and day out.
My practitioner used a variety of bowls and even incorporated the use of delicate chimes at the end of my treatment that sounded like rain gently washing over me.
During an interview with Idea Mensch, Smith said: “Saffron & Sage was designed with me in mind—a busy entrepreneur who needed a space to support me in healing my gut, learning to breathe out of my belly, decreasing stress, eliminating toxins from my system, and the list goes on. I wanted one place that I could walk through the door, not care about what I looked like or fear that I was going to break the bank and could begin to heal from the inside-out.”
Since opening, Saffron & Sage has attracted patients recovering from or going through cancer treatment, people with thyroid disorders and more.
I for one left Saffron & Sage floating and thankful. And I just may be addicted to the feeling of peace and wellness I experienced during, and after, my visit.
I found my new happy place in San Diego. So, thank you, Cristin, for creating a sanctuary where it’s possible to walk through the door and begin to decrease all of the stress, whether you’re an entrepreneur, busy single mom recovering from cancer, or anyone else in need of some self-care. And really, isn’t that something we all could do more of?