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How Functional Medicine Melts pounds and helps you lose weight

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News | 2 Comments

It’s an all too common story.  

We transition into adulthood and midlife, with all of its complications and challenges and our weight slowly creeps up.

 Before we know it we no longer fit into our clothes, fatigue sets in, and we get a stern talk from our doctor all about how we need to eat less and move more.  

We download our favorite calorie counting app and increase our steps, but the scale doesn’t budge.  

We try all the methods that worked for us in the past, but their magic is gone.  

Frustrated, we resign ourselves to the fact that this must be part of getting older.  


But what if you could jump start that magic?

What if it’s less about increasing your steps on the Stairmaster and more about having the right balance of body chemistry working the way it used to?  

This is what functional medicine is all about – restoring and maintaining the body in peak shape – so it can work the way it used to.

The way it was supposed to before the stress work, sitting at the computer all day, etc.


What doctors rarely ever explain, is that increased body fat and resistance to weight loss are symptoms of underlying physiological imbalances.  

The body does not store and stubbornly resist weight loss unless it has a reason.  

If this reason is not investigated and resolved, the slow creep of weight gain will continue — as is obvious by the skyrocketing obesity rates all over the industrialized world.  

In this blog we will briefly discuss three of the most common barriers to weight loss and how a properly formulated Functional Medicine plan can help you overcome them.


One of the primary reasons for resistant weight loss is stress.  

But, when I say stress I’m not just referring to the daily grind of modern life, but rather the proper interplay between brain and the primary stress hormone Cortisol.

 Cortisol has many vital functions in the body and among these are dictating how the body uses versus. stores energy.  

The proper production and rhythm of cortisol output leaves the body relaxed and energetic.

It also enables our bodies to effortlessly switch between burning glucose from our food, or fat from our bodies.  


If cortisol is significantly disrupted we accumulate fat around our abdomen, which is not just a vanity problem but increases our risk of chronic disease.

 When the stress response is disrupted, sometimes referred to as HPA axis dysregulation or adrenal fatigue, the body is experiencing prolonged stress and it will fight back ruthlessly against any efforts to give up its precious energy reserve in the form of body fat.

 Luckily, restoring the proper balance of stress hormones in the body can be accomplished through a simple “mail in” lab test to measure what’s happening.

 Once the test come back, all it takes is a therapeutic supplement program to correct the production and rhythm of cortisol, and appropriate lifestyle coaching to correct the root of the stress.  

The stress response sits at the apex of all the body’s hormones.  If this is not corrected permanent fat loss is almost impossible!


There are several others barriers to fat loss like impaired detox function,(drugs, pollutions, etc.) and insulin resilience – and I’ll discuss both of those in future blogs.

However, this blog post is not meant to be an exhaustive listing of all the ways our fat burning can break down.  

But, rather to point out that it is not a failure of your willpower.  

You are not holding 20 extra pounds because you are weak willed, but because your body is screaming out that something is wrong and it does not want to burn this valuable fuel.  

It is not that you are just getting older, have weak will power, or can’t count calories in vs out.  

We all dislike extra weight for vanity reasons, but your body will thank you for discovering and correcting the reason why that stubborn fat exists in the first place!


Lastly, this stuff can sometimes sound scary, and hard – but don’t let the big words or “calorie counting” or your time scare you out of it.

 Once you know what is going on and how to solve it, the feeling is priceless.  

Our goal is to find out what is happening and why, make it less scary, and provide you with you a doctor that you can contact via phone or Skype for advice along the way.  

You can literally do the test in your own house and send it to our lab for results, then contact us via Skype, phone, or video conference – so you don’t even have to miss work.  

We are professional doctors that want to change lives, and harness today’s technology to make it quick and easy and give you better access to health and medicine.

We believe in functional medicine to help restore your body to the figure and feeling of your youth, as well as to prevent future health issues.

Leaky Gut 101 – the Core of Chronic Inflammation and Autoimmunity

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News, Uncategorized | No Comments

What do people mean exactly when they talk about “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability? Just a decade ago most of the medical community looked at this concept as quackery and now, in the light of recent research, we now know that it is a very real and very common condition which leads to multiple health issues. Healing the gut and restoring its proper immune barrier is at the foundation of both Functional medicine and Chinese medicine. Although, only recently recognized by mainstream medicine and testing Chinese medicine recognized this condition for over 1000 years as an inability for the digestion to “separate the turbid from the clear.”
Leaky gut occurs when the immune barrier of the gut erodes to the point that it becomes permeable to intestinal contents allowing foreign contents to enter the bloodstream. These improper substances then lead to a strong inflammatory and immune response. This inflammatory response can lead to local symptoms such as bloating, IBS, and abdominal pain. Systemically, this draining immune reaction can tax all the systems of the body. It has major implications in autoimmunity, chronic allergies, skin conditions, fatigue, brain fog, joint inflammation, etc. Studies have directly linked intestinal permeability to rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, vasculitis, etc. As more studies are completed we are realizing it is at the root of many chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.
How do I know if I have leaky gut? Leaky gut can often be diagnosed though a careful history, however the diagnosis is typically confirmed through testing for Sig-A, an important binding protein of the intestines, specific markers on a Genova Organix profile, and sometimes measuring the levels of mannitol and lactulose after the ingestion of a premeasured amount. Here at Origins Medicine we evaluate the integrity of the gut by testing the adrenal function, the gut directly with GI-MAP test, and through an Organic acids panel.
Although leaky gut can impact all systems of our health it can be effectively treated. The gut lining is constantly renewing itself and this dynamic quality means it can heal quickly! When the systemic inflammation has been addressed, gut health improves, and the toxic burden on the liver diminishes. The first step is to test the gut lining as it can be impacted by imbalances of the stress hormones, common infections, food sensitivities, toxic exposures, etc. Once the culprit or culprits are identified the true healing can begin. It’s like falling off your bike and skinning your knee. You wouldn’t expect the skinned knee to heal if you keep falling off! The testing allows us to identify the root cause of the damage so it can be corrected and lasting health restored.
For the more science oriented readers I’ve attached the following journal article that summarizes very well our current understanding of autoimmunity and intestinal permeability:

In Health,
Duncan Macdonald, L.Ac.

Start Your Detox Journey Today!

By | Journeys | No Comments

You are interested in better health through maximizing the efficiency of your detox pathways. So what does that mean? What can you expect? We run therapeutic detox plans with every patient we work with and have seen the benefits over and over. Most people experience better energy, sharper mental clarity, reduced inflammation, clearer skin, and reduced anxiety. A therapeutic detox can be the perfect jump start to cleaner and healthier lifestyle. You will be supported over the two week process with coaching emails and videos from our medical team to help you cement new habits that will lead to a healthier life. To get started click here.

What about options for a clean detox on a food based plan? We can all do work to increase our food quality and eliminate potential inflammatory and immune provoking foods. This strategy differs from a therapeutic detox in that you are not actively ramping up the detox pathways of the liver, but are reducing the toxic burden on the body. This is typically done concurrently with a therapeutic detox and is outlined in the guidebook of the PaleoCleanse 14-Day Detox. To do it independently we recommend the Whole 30 plan outlined in the book It Starts With Food, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.

And remember, if you are not experiencing the benefits you are looking for then we encourage you to book a consult with our medical team and get the testing necessary to move your health forward. You can get more information here.

Detox Q&A

By | Journeys | No Comments

1. How do I know if I need to detox? Is it just if I’ve been eating or drinking too much? After the holidays?

A: Great question! Some people like to make a bi-annual or seasonal detox an ongoing part of their health maintenance. Chinese medical theory recognizes spring as an especially important time for detoxing. However, almost any chronic health condition can benefit from increased detoxification. It’s always important to remember that the liver is the “rate limiter” in terms of many pathways of healing in the body. Hormones, inflammatory byproducts, neurotransmitters, chemical exposures, immune products, etc. are all recycled in the liver. If this is not working effectively the body will often slow the healing process down and leave us feeling fatigued, inflamed, and depressed. Skin issues can be a common symptoms of a toxic burden. Emotional symptoms such as anxiety and irritability are common. Also, a sluggish metabolism and the inability to shed weight that used to come off easily can be a sign the body is struggling to keep pace with toxicity. Here, at Origins Medicine, all of our Functional medicine programs begin with a detox just so we can maximize the therapeutic plans that follow.

2. Ok, sounds like I need it. How should I proceed?!

A: We recommend a therapeutic detox. This means supplying the body with the high amounts of antioxidants and sulphur compounds the body requires to optimize the phase 1 and phase 2 of liver detoxification. At the same time lifestyle coaching should be implemented so that we eliminate inflammatory foods, reduce environmental toxins, hydrate properly, exercise properly, etc. The body has very different demands when it is cleaning house! The best product we have found and what we currently use with every Functional medicine patient is the PaleoCleanse 14-day Detox by Designs for Health. We pair this with coaching emails and videos we created to make your experience seamless and effective. You can find more information here

3. What about general herbs and supplements? Should I be taking milk thistle, or dandelion, or something?

A: Yes, there are many botanicals that can help protect the liver and increase detox function. However, proper herbal support is usually based on a differential diagnosis and should be addressing the specific needs of the patient. From a supplement standpoint a comprehensive multivitamin pack (we recommend Daily Essentials Multi Pack by Designs for Health) will give your body the standard nutrients it needs for detoxing. Further recommendations should be based on the appropriate labs. The proper general botanicals are contained in the the Origins Detox Plan, which you can find here.

4. What’s the deal with water? I thought detoxing was all about hydration. How much should I be drinking?

A: Hydration is critical to the liver’s detox process. Remember that detox process has two stages. First the body has to take non water soluble toxins and transform them into a water soluble form. Only then can the body excrete the toxins through the urine. You should be drinking at least 64 oz. of filtered water per day. A good practice is to immediately drink 16 ounces of water upon waking. You will find it invigorating and it kick starts the detox pathways. Bonus: squeeze half a lemon in the water.

5. What about detox plans like the Master Cleanse? Should I be drinking lemon juice, with maple syrup, and cayenne?

A: There are many “detox” plans out there and they probably all have some benefit. But, the question to ask is are they actually supporting the physiological detox pathways of the body? The Master Cleanse, juice fasts, etc. are probably decent ways to drop a couple pounds if you’re insulin sensitive, but they do not supply the high amount of antioxidants and sulphur compounds necessary to ramp up the liver. Always keep in mind that the body has extremely high nutrient demands to detox. True fasting, meaning no juice or maple syrup, will ramp up ketone production, a strong anti-inflammatory energy substrate, and a process called autophagy, the process by which the body cleans up damaged proteins. This could be considered a form of detox, but requires an entire coaching newsletter of its own!

Liver Detox Nitty Gritty

By | Journeys | No Comments

We live in an incredibly toxic environment. It seems to come as surprise to some people that we are indeed part of this polluted environment. Toxic exposure in industrialized countries is ubiquitous. Studies show that the average american has between 300 – 700 toxic chemicals contaminants and the average infant is born with 40 – 70 measurable toxins! Proper liver function allows our body to eliminate this toxic buildup. Many of these toxins are endocrine disruptors, meaning they affect our hormones, or neurotoxins, meaning they affect our brain and nervous system. Others toxins cause massive oxidative stress on our cells leading to fatigue, premature aging, and even set us up for diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

The liver is an incredibly complicated organ and for our purposes here we are going to make some big oversimplifications. The liver has two primary pathways through which it runs the detox process. These are often referred to as Phase 1 and Phase 2. The phase one pathway is largely dependent on antioxidants. Its main function is to take all the fat soluble toxins stored in our tissue and biotransform (fancy word) those toxins into a more water soluble form. Depending on the overall toxic load on the body we may have much larger needs for vitamin C, E, B’s, etc. This is why part of your two week detox process is to flood the body with large amounts of these inflammation cooling antioxidants. Phase 2, where toxins are made ready for excretion, largely depends on sulfur containing amino acids. In our diets we would often find these in cruciferous vegetables, animal proteins, egg yolks, legumes, etc.. However, if our detox pathways have become sluggish from a winter of Netflix and binge eating then we need to greatly increase the body’s supply of these amino acids. If either of these phases are running sub optimally the body creates intermediary substances that can often be more irritating than the original toxin. We definitely don’t want that! Once the liver has done its job the toxins are expelled through the bowels, the urine, or sweat.

The liver’s detox pathways are incredibly complicated and many of us need further specific help. Because we live in an ever increasingly toxic environment it is difficult for us to obtain the nutrient detox precursors necessary to clear the liver through food alone. That is why short term supplementation is necessary to maximize the clearing of toxins and regeneration of our bodies. It is with this strategy in mind that here at Origins Medicine we designed our two week detox program, complete with all necessary supplements plus coaching emails and videos! You can find more information here. If we need an even more profound examination of the body’s detox capability we luckily have a wonderful lab test for examining your liver function in detail. The Genova Organix test allows us to measure the specific organic acids that are the byproducts of these thousands of chemical reactions. This will give us much greater detail on what detox challenges you may be having and allow us to target Phase 1 or Phase 2 in a much more aggressive and therapeutic way. Please contact our office if you would like a lab based therapeutic detox.

Fasting – Perhaps the Best Diet of All!

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News | No Comments

People who know me know that I have a deep interest in nutrition and diet strategies. I am also a big proponent of self-experimentation. Over the next several months I will be releasing several blog posts that examine different strategies for diet and their benefits and drawbacks. For some reason people have it in their minds that there must be one true “healthiest diet,” when in fact different nutritional strategies are necessary for different health conditions, different times of our lives, various health goals, and even different seasons! But, today we are going to examine the simplest of strategies: not eating! To quote Bruce Lee from Enter the Dragon (yes, I’m a fan) it’s “the art of fighting without fighting,” or dieting without dieting. For thousands of years healers have respected the power of fasting and now modern medicine is rediscovering its therapeutic benefit. There are many types of fasts, water fast, compressed eating window, 5:2, alternate day fasting, extended fasting, etc. They all have their pros and cons. I’d encourage you to research these different approaches, as the best type of fasting is the one that meets your goals and fits with your lifestyle. I have experimented with several. So, let’s look at who should be fasting, some common myths, different strategies, and then a little about my personal experience (hint: I’m currently on day 5 of a fast!). I wanted to add that this blog post is completely inspired by the terrific work of Dr. Jason Fung in reversing diabetes, insulin resistance, and obesity. His new book “The Complete Guide to Fasting” is an absolute must for anybody interested in this intense therapy and I’ll be linking to some of his lectures at the end of this post.

According to a study recently published in JAMA 50% of Americans are either prediabetic or diabetic. This health crisis is costing an estimated $245 billion dollars a year to our healthcare system. Over two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. It is unsustainable. Yet, the same advice is given to all of these people: eat less and move more. And if it doesn’t work then I guess the problem is that you are a weak person with no will power. The rise of obesity and diabetes and the failure of medicine to address it deserves its own blog post, so I’ll try to avoid a rant. But, to best understand the benefit of fasting it is important to understand the two compartment theory of energy storage. I promise this is the only physiology I’ll cram down your throat! The two compartment theory basically states that the body has two separate ways of storing excess energy. The first, glycogen, is the easily burned sugar stored in the muscles and liver. This is quick and easy fuel for the body and great for high intensity activity like running away from attacking tigers (an activity I hope you don’t do much). The second storage is, of course, fat. Fat can be thought of as long term storage. It is the energy the body expects to burn when winter or famine arises. This ability for the body to store energy in two separate ways probably worked great for millions of years until the rise of the modern food industry. That famine our body was counting on never happens anymore! What controls which compartment we draw energy from is the the hormone insulin and, to a lesser degree, cortisol. As we all probably know insulin rises in the presence of glucose. If Insulin is consistently high the body adapts to its constant signalling and we become “insulin resistant.” Once we are insulin resistant and our constant insulin signalling is too high our bodies can no longer access the fat stores. Thus, a few pounds creep on to us year by year and it seems to get harder and harder to lose weight. So how do we break this insulin resistance and get insulin to drop back to normal levels. You guessed it! Fasting!

A few quick myths to debunk before we go further. People are often worried that hunger will overwhelm them on a fast. Hunger is the response to a hormonal signaling, mainly ghrelin, when the body is not getting expected food and is worried about running out of energy. Once insulin drops and the fat stores are released hunger subsides to a very manageable level. People are also concerned that they are going to slow their metabolism down. This is also a myth. If you want to slow your metabolism down consistently eat a high-carb low-calorie diet! When we fast our body significantly increases your resting metabolic rate and cortisol and norepinephrine rise. It is a survival response that is basically saying get off your ass and find food! Mental clarity also increases because we need to be more clever to find food. But, aren’t we going to lose muscle? Why would our body break down its muscle when it has all this lovely fat it has been storing? After a day or so there is a massive upsurge of HGH (human growth hormone), which protects our lean muscle mass. This HGH surge is a hack that bodybuilders have employed for ages! What is not good for our bodies is having insulin still stimulated, but inadequate calories coming in. The body is unable to unlock its fat stores due to stimulated insulin and the food energy is not enough, so there is no other choice but to slow the metabolic rate. This is what happened to the poor contestants on The Biggest Loser.

Now let’s talk benefits! For one there is weight loss. With the metabolic rate preserved and actually raised some our body freely uses the fat on our body for its energy needs. We are basically on a low carb high fat diet when we fast. We are just eating the fat on our bodies! By burning this fat the body enters a state called ketosis, meaning it is burning ketones for fuel. Ketones are considered a super fuel for the brain and we often experience heightened cognition. Maybe the ancient Greeks were onto something when they would fast to heighten their intellectual prowess… Burning fat for fuel instead of glucose also produces far less oxidative stress on our cells and inflammation dramatically drops in the body. Stubborn aches and pains often heal and our complexion often clears up. Another extremely interesting benefit is something called autophagy, which literally means self eating. This is the process by which the body scrounges and recycles all the damaged tissues of the body. This appears to have a strong anti-aging effect and there is some extremely interesting research on autophagy and cancer prevention.

Ok, so from a scientific and Functional Medicine standpoint the benefits seem pretty clear, but what about through the lens of Chinese medicine? Surely, a pragmatic medical system with over 2000 years of clinical usage has an opinion. Much of Chinese medical theory came out of Taoism, which is the study of natural cycles. Since feast and famine is a natural cycle of all creatures in nature, fasting was recognized for its health benefits. The Taoist recognized two forms of fasting, complete fasting for increasing mental clarity and health, and interestingly, abstaining from grains. But, we have to keep in mind that for much of the history of Chinese medicine’s development over-eating was not much of a problem. In fact, the only place we find information on a patient base that is similar to the average American is in the medical texts written specifically for the Emperor and his Court. These guys knew how to feast! This is a fascinating part of Chinese medicine that I will save for another post!

But, as with any eating strategy, it is not right for everybody. Who should avoid it? Let’s start with the obvious: pregnant or breastfeeding women, teenagers, and children. People with really low body fat should probably not do extended fasts. Those on blood pressure or blood sugar medication need to be carefully monitored by their physician. Fasting is one of the quickest ways to heal the body from diabetes or hypertension, but the medications really need to be monitored. Finally, those who have dysregulated cortisol output. Fasting is a stress on the body and significantly affects cortisol. Cortisol is a glucocorticosteroid, meaning one of its effects is on blood sugar management. I hate to use the term “adrenal fatigue,” because it does not reflect what is physiologically happening. But, many people use this term when they mean dysregulation of the hypothalamus – pituitary – adrenal axis (HPA axis). If your cortisol output or rhythm is significantly disrupted fasting will make you feel worse and cause further disruption. Clinically, I don’t use intensive tools like fasting until I have done a salivary or urinary adrenal output test. Basically, if you are under significant stress in your life or feel generally unwell some simple testing should probably be performed before any extended fasting.

As of writing this blog post I am currently on day 5 of a fast. So, what did I experience? I felt the expected hunger on day 1 and had a little trouble sleeping the first night because I was hungry. By about noon of day 2 the hunger had largely subsided and would come in intermittent waves that were easy to ride out. I am following Dr. Jason Fung’s protocol, so I am consuming broth, water, tea, and coffee. I actually had to ditch the coffee on day 3 because I found it was triggering some acid reflux. On day 3 I began to experience a really profound sense of calm. All background buzziness or low grade anxiety that often accompanies our busy day to day existence seemed to disappear. I felt more mental focus and felt more attentive. I was measuring my ketone levels with a breath analyzer and these benefits all seemed to occur when my body fully adjusted to burning fat as fuel. I dropped about 8 lbs, half of which was probably water. The overall experience was much easier than I anticipated. In general, my hunger was minimal, maybe 2 out of 10 with an occasional brief wave of intensity. My energy level overall was superb. I do my usual 3.5 mile walks every day and felt mildly euphoric. In my next go-around I’d like to experiment with hitting the weights hard to see if I can take advantage of the HGH surge. The calm, focus, and improved mood make me want to run an experiment with the ketogenic diet to see if those benefits were from my brain’s use of ketones for fuel or something else unique to fasting.

If fasting is so great why don’t we hear about it all the time? Well, actually a large portion of the world’s population does regularly fast for religious, spiritual, or cultural reasons. Also, not to be too cynical, but nobody makes money on fasting. I don’t have any magic fasting supplements to sell you or Chinese herbs that are required. It is fundamentally the action of not putting anything in our bodies. If the pharmaceutical industry could come up with a pill that could lower insulin, reduce inflammation, surge HGH, reverse diabetes, increase cognition, and burn fat we would see a commercial for it every five minutes on the TV! We actually save money when we fast. It’s the cheapest and most convenient diet ever! And I do say “diet” because, once again, we are eating. We’re just not putting food in our mouths.

So, remember, fasting can be as easy as not snacking after dinner and therefore having a fast from about 7pm until about 7am. This is an eating pattern that pretty much everybody in this country used to do a generation ago when obesity rates were magnitudes lower than now! Or you can experiment with any of the more intensive fasting strategies. But, please, if you are on any significant medications consult with your prescribing doctor first. If you are concerned about whether fasting may impact your already overwhelmed stress response then please contact our office for a consult and some simple testing. Everybody can (and already does) fast, so I encourage you to explore its health benefits. But, remember, if you are fasting and feel unwell then something is wrong! Just eat something. Then call someone qualified and do some troubleshooting. For more information I recommend Dr. Jason Fung’s new book The Complete Guide to Fasting. You can also find many fascinating lectures by Dr. Fung on youtube. Thanks for the inspiration, Dr. Fung. You are doing a lot of people a lot of good!

Complete Guide to Fasting

The Autoimmunity Presentation Notes

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News | No Comments

Hi Everyone

A big thank you to everyone who made it out on 4/22 for our first Origins Medicine workshop, Autoimmunity: 3 Steps to Cool the Fire Within. For those who couldn’t make it I wanted to post the handout. The talk was extremely popular and we’ll be giving it again in the very near future!


Origins Medicine
Duncan Macdonald, L.Ac.
Jonah Larkin, L.Ac.
Harry McIlroy, MD

Autoimmunity: Three Steps to Cool the Fire Within

This is your cheat sheet! No need to take notes. We are also going to cheat and do your homework for you by delivering you a comprehensive resource list in a couple of days. This will give you a clear path to dive deep into your own healing!

The three body systems:


Somewhere in the interaction of these systems is the root cause of your autoimmunity. Here are the action steps to figure it out!

1. Neuroendocrine a.k.a. Stress!

The stress response is always examined and treated first in every patient walking through our door. Without regulating these hormones the body cannot maintain a healthy immune response.
Meditation: meditation is a general term for a large number of relaxation practices. If you’ve never found a practice that sticks it’s because you haven’t found the right style for you! As a simple intro we suggest trying the apps Headspace or Insight.
Breathing exercises: the nervous system can be powerfully calmed with simple belly breathing. We will get start with the 4-7-8 breath at our first meeting.
Circadian rhythm: All creatures are governed by hormonal rhythm. Try to get fifteen minutes of sun exposure first thing in the morning. After the sun goes down try to limit blue light exposure by downloading filter apps, swapping out light bulbs to warmer light, and blue light blocking glasses also work well. You will be amazed at how your sleep deepens!

2. Gastrointestinal a.k.a. Digest!

Eliminate common immune and inflammation provoking foods! We cannot emphasize this enough. It’s time to ditch gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and seed oils until we know how they affect you. Bye, bye processed food!
Nourish yourself! Try to eat at least 2 cups of vegetables, 1 – 2 palm sizes of protein, and 1- 2 thumb sizes of fat at every meal (including the meaty part by your palm!). Always emphasize food quality i.e. organic, grass fed, etc.
Absorb: Try to eat in a relaxed state. Realize that an overtaxed and under functioning stomach may require some supplemental enzymes for a period of time to help absorption. Common infections will inflame the gut and block absorption of nutrients. When in doubt… test!
Supplement: There are some extremely common nutrient deficiencies associated with autoimmunity. It is nearly impossible to achieve the necessary levels through food alone (although, check out Terry Wahls, MD!). The RDA for nutrients such as B-Vitamins, Magnesium, Selenium, antioxidants, etc. is not sufficient when addressing autoimmunity. Solution: Multi-pack (we like Twice Dailies by Designs for Health)
Impaired mitochondrial function, protein malabsorption, methylation issues, etc. are all extremely common in autoimmune conditions, so if no improvement with dietary changes then… test and correct!

3. Detox System a.k.a. Liver

All inflammatory and immune byproducts are broken down in the liver.
The rise in autoimmunity has correlated strongly with the increasing toxic burden of the environment and its effect on the human body.
Common environmental toxins are introduced through the air, our skin, water, and food. Reduce the toxicity of your environment!
The solution to pollution is dilution! Drink a minimum 64 ounces water daily.
The two main detox pathways of the liver rely on antioxidants and sulphur compounds. Eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and lots of greens!
Impaired liver detox leads directly to inflammation and autoimmunity.
This is so imperative that most Functional med docs will begin autoimmune patients with a 2 week liver detox plan. This can be critical to success, as it prepares the patient for more therapeutic treatments.
Detox allso serves as a diagnostic tool. Patients often experience dramatic improvement, which reveals the extent of liver involvement.
Solution: we strongly believe the best formulated and comprehensive detox plan is PaleoCleanse 14-day by Designs for Health. It can be purchased on Amazon or through originsmedicine.com at a discount. Our detox program also includes email and video coaching.

Parting thoughts: Medicine is not an us vs. them profession. There is no conventional vs. natural, Chinese vs. Western. There is only the proper medicine for the patient, at the right time, with the greatest efficacy, and least amount of side effects. Functional medicine is a bridge between all of these models. This is the guiding philosophy of Origins Medicine. Pharmaceutical immune suppression is necessary on occasion to prevent irreversible tissue damage. This is not a failure. Suppressive therapy is a tool that can be helpful until the underlying cause of disease is discovered and corrected. Never mistake the tool for the solution. Let’s get you healthy!

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How To Work With Us!

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Working with Origins Medicine

We get a couple of questions asked of us more than any others. The first question is what is functional medicine? You can find the answer to that here.

The second question is how does this whole thing work? This is the question I will seek to explain in this post.

Working with us is a long term project

This is not a take two of these pills to obscure your symptoms and call me in the morning type of medicine.

This is investigative health. Investigative health means we seek to understand the root of the problem. We don’t simply try to suppress symptoms like conventional medicine often does. For us accurate diagnosis=accurate treatment.

Whatever your current health status, it has been years in the making. So it can take a little while to regain health and start to optimize.

Working with us means a commitment to better health over your entire life.

We don’t just solve the symptoms in front of us. If we only looked at symptoms instead of investigating and discovering the underlying cause we would be mis-treating you.

Lifestyle accounts for at least 50 percent of the results of any of our programs. The other 50 percent is specific and correct supplementation. I should mention that 95% of the time people who try to create supplement programs themselves completely blow it. Supplementation based on lab test results is the one sure way to know what is necessary and what isn’t.

There is a significant investment that goes into working with us.

The first investment is one of time and lifestyle. Getting healthy and maintaining vitality takes time, focus and energy. Most people fail because they try to do this alone. However, this is your life and the ultimate pay off is the health, vitality, and happiness to fully engage work, family, and leisure.

Our number one mission is to help you succeed. We do this by being with you every step of the way and having a robust coaching program to keep you going even when things get tough.

The second commitment is a financial investment. I have no idea why but we humans seem to have no problem throwing money at all sorts of things but seem to hesitate when it comes to allocating resources to the most important thing of all, your body.

We are comfortable spending almost $10,000 per year on our cars (that’s the average according to AAA), buying tons of things we don’t really need or spending money on expensive dinners and overpriced vacations.

We often treat our bodies like dumpsters. We treat them poorly with almost no maintenance and expect them to keep going and going for ever. Then we’re surprised when they break down!

My point is that it’s all about priorities. If you want to have health, energy, well-being, vitality and wake up energized and excited to face the day, you have to be willing to invest in it. I can’t think of a better investment I’d rather make.

What it Means for Your Health

Working with us is an investment in you. It’s an investment in your health, vitality and well being. And it’s an investment in your future. The adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure has never been so true. Even if you are suffering from a real illness, working with us will be preventing lots of frustrating doctor visits in your future, not to mention the tens of thousands you and your relatives will likely save on future medical care.

Thousands of patients have experienced success working with us. We see people get their energy back, be able to sleep well through the night, recover from diseases like IBS, Crohns, reverse burnout, lose weight and recover from debilitating depression and anxiety.

It’s not a miracle cure, but we have a proven track record of success. At Origins we use the same protocols that my mentor Dr. Kalish developed and tested recently in this highly regarded clinical study that was done at the world famous Mayo Clinic.

Functional medicine, Chinese medicine, and lifestyle medicine, in general, is not something you just learn in 4 years. It takes many years of study and application to heal the root of people’s disease. Every member of our clinical team has over a decade of actual clinical practice and we are closely connected to the Functional medicine community as a whole. In fact, we discuss all complex cases on a weekly Grand Rounds call with Dr. Kalish and 10 other Functional medicine doctors with various backgrounds. There are literally hundreds of combined clinical years of experience behind the analysis and implementation of every therapeutic plan.

The Process

We start off with a consultation. This is where we go over your complete health history, discuss your pain points as well as goals. We figure out what lab tests we’re going to run and you walk away with some take home lab tests.

Our lab tests use saliva, urine or stool as samples and can all be done from the comfort of your own home. Then it takes 2-4 weeks to get the results.

Next comes a two week detox. Many patients are dealing with so many issues like inflammation and enzymatic and neurological and hormonal pathways that are broken that without moving out some of the junk that’s stopping everything up, the supplements we prescribe won’t get absorbed.

Most people also tend to lose a few pounds and often report feeling great afterward.

After the detox is complete the labs done and we have a follow-up appointment where we go over the report of findings and create a treatment plan. The treatment plan usually includes a supplement protocol as well as lifestyle interventions.

We then do a check in every month at a minimum to make sure you’re on track. There may be more frequent mini consultations in the beginning to ensure the clinical improvement we expect is being met. In between the monthly check-ins you will get access to our coaching programs with emails, videos and occasional calls and webinars.

After about 6 months we may decide to re-test to see where things are and if we need to course correct. Treatment plans are always logical, progressive, and based on a clear diagnosis and clear objectives. You should never feel lost in the process.

Preventing Future Illness

Finally one of the huge benefits our patients get is that we can often catch small problems before they turn into big problems. A patient with an inflamed gut brought on by an all too common parasite can be saved from years of future anguish or even something worse like an an autoimmune disease by completing a gut testing and rebuilding program with us.

While your regular doctor may order some blood tests when something is already “wrong” we have a string of tests that look for systemic imbalances. By the time a real problem has manifested in the body, an imbalance has been active for years.

A yearly check-in with us goes a long way to preventing and catching things before they become insurmountable.

The New Origins Medicine Team!

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News | No Comments

I have been serving the healthcare needs of the SF Bay Area for 18 years now, utilizing both acupuncture and Chinese medicine, as well as Functional medicine.  Both Chinese medicine and Functional medicine are rooted in healthy lifestyle and the correction of health imbalances before the presence of disease.  Both systems of medicine also provide strong therapeutic tools to heal us when disease has occurred.  Over the last several years I have had the privilege of working with patients all around the country (and the world) using the cutting edge lab testing and latest Functional medicine protocols as taught to me by my mentor, Dr. Dan Kalish.  By working with these patients I have seen a ripple effect of wellness spread through many of their families and friends as those around them adopt healthy lifestyle practices.  It is with this mission of empowering individuals and communities to regain their health and happiness through combining the latest in Conventional and Functional medicine protocols with the wisdom of thousands of years of Chinese medical knowledge that I am proud and excited to announce my new partners in Origins Medicine.  Our team now includes:


Duncan Macdonald, L.Ac.- http://originsmedicine.com/about-duncan-macdonald/


Harry McIlroy, MD – http://originsmedicine.com/harry-mcilroy/


Jonah Larkin, L.Ac. – http://originsmedicine.com/about-jonah-larkin/


It is through the combined knowledge and experience of this team that we bring the unique synergy of conventional medical care, Functional medicine, and Chinese medicine.


In keeping with our mission to educate our patients about health and disease prevention I am proud to announce two new free and ongoing offerings.


The first will be our Origins Medicine newsletter.  The purpose of this newsletter is to educate.  You can think of it as an ongoing class on improving your health and wellness.  It will provide relevant and actionable information that you can use immediately to feel more engaged and healthy in your day to day life.  With our combined medical knowledge we will dive deep into the trenches of the convoluted world of medical research to give you an informative summary of the latest medical studies and how they apply to your lifestyle practices.  We will hone in on common health issues and provide tools and  information that you and your loved ones can use right now as your first line of treatment.  This newsletter is meant to be an empowerment tool and not spam.  You can read it carefully and follow along directly with us as we engage these topics or glance at it briefly to see if anything is relevant.  You can also completely ignore it or unsubscribe.  You won’t hurt our feelings!  The most powerful modality across all medical philosophies is lifestyle change and that change is rooted in knowledge.  We want to create the biggest change possible in the health of those around us by providing this knowledge!  So, just sign up at the bottom of my homepage to receive the newsletter.


Secondly, we are going to be conducting monthly community events that delve deep into the health issues that concern you most.  This is meant to be an interactive seminar where you can get all of your questions regarding pressing health conditions answered from the perspective of the multiple medical modalities we employ.  Space will be limited for these events and we encourage you to share the invitation  with anyone in your life that would find it relevant.  We will be rebroadcasting these events on the Origins Medicine website, but nothing can replace valuable face to face time where we can speak directly to your health concerns.  Our first community event will be on the subject of autoimmunity, its role in chronic disease, and what steps you can take right now to normalize your body’s immune response and cool the fires of inflammation.  Here’s a link to our event!


As the newly formed Origins Medicine team the three of us are extremely excited to work with all of you to meet your health goals, identify and correct the root cause of ongoing health concerns, and empower you to live more healthy and happy lives. We look forward to sharing our expertise and unique synergy of conventional medicine, Functional medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine through our educational tools and lectures and one on one with you through telemedicine or at our clinic locations.

Phone: (415) 902-0771