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Traditional with a Thai twist

Downtown business offers herbal tea, yoga, local products

Published: Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Traditional Wellness Center owner Trirong Khuntangta prepares tea for a group during the center’s Friday night tea appreciation program. Trirong schooled the participants on the health benefits and tastes of real tea.

DIXON – At 5 years old, Trirong Khuntangta was carrying herbs back to his school where he learned how to dry and prepare them.

The downtown Dixon building that he converted into the Traditional Wellness Center is a far cry from his boarding school in Thailand, but the lessons he learned still are a part of his everyday work there.

The Touch of Thai owner was looking to go low key and calm when he created his center, he said, – although the dizzying array of services provided at 216 W. First St. doesn’t necessarily give that impression.

Walking in the front doors, a tea shop serving light breakfast and lunch is to the right. To the left, there might be someone playing the piano or someone on a lunch break getting a 5-minute massage.

Cooking classes will be offered in the back kitchen. Yoga, Zumba and meditation classes are provided upstairs in a large open room with old hardwood floors that also can be rented out for banquets.

The idea behind the Traditional Wellness Center is that having multiple revenue sources gives Khuntangta more flexibility.

Plus, he really enjoys the herbalism part. In addition to light food, his Ginkgo Tree Cafe offers herbal tea.

“Herbalism is so complicated,” Khuntangta said, as ginger, lemon grass and turmeric steeped in hot water in a glass teapot in front of him. “It’s not hard, but there’s so much.”

Khuntangta received his bachelor’s in political science and master’s in international relations, and he’s attending Thai alternative medicine school. He’s finished 3 years and has 2 to go.

That’s why he decided to team up with Carol Krueger, a KSB Hospital pharmacist and fellow herbalist. Krueger actually first learned the trade – as well as Tai Chi, yoga and how to give massages – from Khuntangta more than 15 years ago.

From her office in Traditional Wellness Center, Krueger works with patients to see what herbal remedies and lifestyle changes go best with their medical history and medications they might be taking.

“I was just hoping to help people use herbal products safely, because I know a lot of people go online or go buy them from the herb store or the grocery store or somewhere,” Krueger said. “Because it’s natural, they think it’s safe, but actually they can cause problems with your health conditions or your other medications.”

St. John’s Wort, for example, affects how drugs are metabolized, Krueger said.

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