After four successful years at the Omaha Civic Auditorium, the Omaha Health Expo is moving ten blocks east to the friendly confines of the CenturyLink Center. For this fifth consecutive gathering, the location seems befitting of the growth the Expo has seen in its nascent years.

The Omaha Health Expo is the brainchild of Bob Mancuso of Mid-America Expositions. The company, founded by Bob’s father, Robert, Sr., has been planning and staging productions in the Midwest since 1964. You might say the Omaha Health Expo is not their first rodeo.

In November of 2007, Bob and I met for lunch in Dundee. He told me his plans for a major exposition to bring information to the public about holistic health practices and alternative medicine and he said he was open to suggestions on how best to do that. I encouraged Bob and agreed such an expo was appropriate: There is a multitude of holistic, natural-health practitioners in Omaha and the Midwest and a hunger from the public to learn more about them.

The first step was the formation of a steering committee to help get the word out to practitioners that a unique venue was in the works. Another role the committee assumed was to clarify the purpose of the Health Expo and jury some of the speakers and participants. If the Omaha Health Expo was going to be different from every other “health fair” and dog-and-pony show trotted out to shill for conventional medicine, there had to be some kind of rudder guiding the course. The Expo was not intended to be just another blood-pressure-checking, drug-pushing, institutional-medicine-promoting event. If the Expo was going to “expand the tent” to include holistic and alternative practices, it had to deemphasize the mainstream and raise the bar by opening to more natural practices, the type that the American public has been clamoring for.

Why the Omaha Health Expo is important. Since Heartland Healing is mandated to inform the public about alternatives to mainstream medicine, it was natural that we became a supporter and sponsor of the event (disclaimer).

Omaha needs more information about alternatives to conventional medicine and its healthcare system that is in utter turmoil. For decades, the techno-pharmaceutical system in this country has been declining by every measure (except profits,) to the point where it is more of a problem than a solution.

Notable is the stranglehold conventional medicine has on the media and advertising. Because the healthcare industry is the most profitable industry in the United States and has been for years, the money allocated to promotion and advertising for its suspect services provides it with blanket coverage. To learn about conventional medicine and its myriad ways of bilking a fearful public, one need only turn on the radio, television, open a newspaper or drive down Dodge Street and read the billboards. Advertising for drugs, surgery and hospitals is everywhere. But where and how do you find out about alternatives to drugs and surgery? When was the last time you saw a billboard for a reiki practitioner, an acupuncturist, an herbalist or a psychic healer, all of whom deserve consideration?

Far beyond Big Pharma. In 1994, when Heartland Healing was founded as a 501-c-3 non-profit to inform the public about alternatives to conventional medicine, there was occasional reluctance on the part of some practitioners to be “outed.”

“I don’t want to get into trouble,” one practitioner said. The climate was different then. The public was not as aware and practitioners lacked confidence they would be accepted. Things have changed. Healing practices that have worked for thousands of years have been shown to work still in the 21st century. If you want an appointment as a new patient with one of the successful acupuncturists or herbalists in the Omaha area, you may have to prepare yourself for a wait. Same goes for many other fields. They are busy. Note: Practitioners who don’t get results don’t get busy, so something must be working.

Getting the word out — and a gentle scolding. I confess disappointment with some in our healing arts community who are forsaking the Expo and choosing not to participate. Many have good reasons: scheduling conflicts, manpower or other. Some, however, choose not to participate with some pretty flimsy excuses. Some have said they are too busy and don’t need to cultivate new clients. Participating in the Expo is not always about getting new clients. It’s about supporting the healing arts community in Omaha. It’s also about getting the word out to the public about what alternatives do and how effective they can be. I would encourage those to remember the importance of supporting their fellow practitioners and the philosophy of holistic modalities. I wish that all practitioners would realize how important it is to serve the community with information. Yes, as practitioners we all value our Saturdays and Sundays. But a venue such as the CenturyLink Center and the Omaha Health Expo makes a statement that alternative and holistic healing is here, has been for millennia, and will be far beyond Big Pharma.

The Expo is all day on both Saturday and Sunday at the “Link.” There is a Walk sponsored by the Multiple Sclerosis Society on Saturday and a Wellness Bike Ride on Sunday. Workshops and seminars throughout both days will feature prominent national and local speakers. A full schedule is online at

The Omaha Health Expo is a place where the public can find out about practices they may have heard about and now want to speak with a practitioner face-to-face and get a real feel for it. Admission is free. So are all the workshops, demonstrations and lectures. Whatever way one chooses to get healthy and stay that way, you’ll learn more about the options at the Expo than you will by driving down Dodge Street and reading hospital billboards.

Be well.

Heartland Healing examines various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information, not as medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Access past columns at

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