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Acupuncture for treating pain and healing its root cause!

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News | No Comments

Acupuncture is a safe and effective modality to treat pain and heal its root cause. Acupuncture’s mechanism of action is multi factorial and regulates the body’s neurological, immune, circulatory, and hormonal systems to reduce pain and inflammation while promoting the healing of tissue. It’s healing effects are not limited to the injury site. It also engages the brain and central nervous system to regulate inflammatory responses and release the body’s natural pain reducing opioids. No pain pills needed! Below is an interesting new study funded by the US Department of Defense, University of South Florida Neurosurgery and Brain Repair, and the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Foundation. Stop suffering and use the proven modality of acupuncture to relieve your pain, heal your body, and get your life back. We here at Origins Medicine are ready to hep you!


Maybe skip that protein bar before your morning workout!

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Still thinking you need to grab breakfast before your morning workout? Think again. This study shows that exercising in a fasted state not only increased fat burning, but also diminished hunger throughout the day. A handy little piece of info during the gluttony of the holidays!


Fasting and leukemia

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There have been some really fascinating studies on the treatment and prevention of various cancers using intermittent fasting in the last few years. Most cancer cells are reliant on glucose as a fuel source. Fasting causes a collapse of insulin, which forces the body to use fat as fuel after glycogen is depleted. It literally starves the cancer cells! I’ll be releasing a blog post next week covering the topic of fasting. As long as your body’s stress response in working well then a fast can help the body clear precancerous cells, sensitize the body to insulin, and make you look great in those holiday photos!





Make Your Health Resolutions Finally Happen With Functional Medicine!

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Here we are again… mid December. The time for holiday cheer and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of our HSA money! The end of the year is a natural time for us to reflect on our goals.  Have we achieved the change that we wanted in our careers?  Our relationships? Or the most common of all… our health.  Did we lose that weight?  Did we finally overcome that insomnia?  How about dealing with those hormonal skin breakouts or that pesky joint pain that keeps you from dancing.  Whatever it is health related resolutions are by far the most common at New Years.  So, why does it almost never work?!  As any productivity expert would tell you in order to properly chart a path forward you first need good data on where you are.  Before we can chart your path forward to the healthy and happy life that has eluded you we need to logically and thoroughly assess the three major systems of your body: the stress response, digestion, and detoxification.  Let’s quickly look at how we can get actionable data with a few simple lab tests done in the convenience of your own home.

In Functional medicine the first body system we examine is the stress response, sometimes referred to as the HPA-Axis or the adrenal function.  When we investigate the health of this system we are really looking at the production and rhythm of two main hormones, cortisol and DHEA.  Cortisol is a glucocorticosteroid and governs everything from our alertness and mental focus, to inflammation throughout the body, to the health of our immune function.  Improper cortisol production will lead to a wide array of symptoms, such as weight gain, anxiety, poor digestion, fatigue, skin breakouts, etc.This is the dreaded “Adrenal Fatigue” you’ve read about.  If only it was so simple as “fatigued” adrenals! Adrenal dysfunction is caused by a wide assortment of issues, but the first step towards correcting it is proper testing.  Why do we prioritize testing this hormonal stress response?  Because it sits at the top of our cascading hormonal physiology.  If the stress response is not working properly then it is extremely difficult to achieve lasting health gains anywhere in the body.  Often fixing the stress hormones will allow the body to heal all kinds of deep seated health issues that have perplexed us for years.  I test and correct the stress response of every single patient I work with and this is the most glaring area where standard medical care currently drops the ball.  Here at Origins Medicine we use either a BioHealth 201, which uses 4 simple saliva samples, or a DUTCH test, which is a more advanced hormonal test from a urine sample and is recommended when we suspect sex hormone disruption.

The next essential test is checking the gut thoroughly for infections.  Wait a minute!!  You didn’t even complain of digestive issues!  The reason why this is so essential is that there are many extremely common infections which have developed over millions of years to set up shop in our stomach or intestines and happily pull nutrients from us while taxing our immune systems and leaving us inflamed.  A classic example of this would be H. Pylori.  H. Pylori is a bacteria which infects the stomachs of about 40% of the population and can lead to bloating, pain, or even ulcers.  In some people it causes no digestive issues, however it causes  inflammation in every person it infects and increases our risk for certain cancers.  These infections are like small fires of inflammation hidden in our body.  We often can’t achieve a life of energy and health until we extinguish those fires.  I feel like it’s a pretty low bar that the patients I work with should be free of any active and draining infections! (Why this low bar is not a part of standard medical care I find incredibly perplexing!)

The third of our primary Functional medicine tests is the organic acid test.  This is an extremely detailed examination of our physiology.  As a bi-product of the various chemical processes of our body we excrete organic acids in our urine.  46 of these acids are examined in an organic acids test and it measures everything from our body’s capacity for energy production (fat, carbs, protein), vitamin and mineral nutritional status, phase 1 and 2 liver detox markers, bacterial and fungal overgrowth, inflammation, and even an examination of our neurotransmitter levels.  An organic acids profile is the best way to see trends in the physiology that may be headed towards disease.  It also allows us to identify the root cause of stress and inflammation and it is the one exam I recommend yearly for patients as an overall health screening.  It is an incredibly complex test to interpret and I spent six months of advanced training with Dr. Dan Kalish just on the interpretation of this one test!

The synergy of these three tests give us a complete and robust picture of a person’s health.  The results give us a highly actionable information to put together a personalized and targeted therapeutic plan to correct the root cause of health issues and restore the level of well-being that for many of us is a distant memory.  So, if you have tried and failed to reach your health goals in the past, if you’re looking to just approach your health with actionable biomarkers, or if you’ve been struggling with a health issue that remains unresolved contact our office today and let’s gather the information now to make a 2017 a healthy and happy year!

Election blog aka Natural Medicine’s Answer to Anxiety and Depression

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News | No Comments


I want to start by saying that this is not a political post.  This is a post about the stress, anxiety, and depression that is permeating our society right now and how it is treated with acupuncture and Functional medicine.  If you get only one thing from this post I hope it would be that we should all be looking out for each other.  Likely friends, loved ones, and co-workers are all feeling the acute impact of this election cycle.  These feelings can give all of us some compassion and empathy for those people who struggle with anxiety, depression, panic, or other psychological disorders every day.  It is  not lost on me that I am wrapping up this blog on Veterans Day.  We owe our veterans an incredible debt of gratitude and one of the ways we can honor them is to make sure that they are receiving the physical and psychological care that they need.  Let’s all just look out for each other and encourage those around us to get help if they need it.

We have all been through the ringer in the last several months.  No matter what your political affiliation the prolonged bitter media deluge culminating in a dramatic and emotion provoking election night has left many of us feeling reeled (myself included).  I wanted to briefly write about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine and Functional medicine approach anxiety and depression.  Within that discussion I’d like to explain treatment options for the unstable emotions many of us are feeling and a little bit about what you can do right now to feel better and minimize the physical repercussions of intense emotions.

Chinese medicine has a fascinating take on psychological health.  The development of the medicine never saw the separation of mind and body, which was central to our Western medical model.  There were no “psychiatrists” in the development of Chinese medicine, as different emotional states were seen as further manifestations of different physiological imbalances.  This led to a much more refined differential diagnosis.  Rather than just using broad diagnosis, like depression or anxiety, Chinese medicine looks at the actual quality, physically and emotionally, of the sensation and all the systems of the body affected.  For instance does somebody present as agitated with a buzzy sensation in their chest, an inability fall asleep because of a racing mind, and poor digestion with loose frequent trips to the bathroom.  Or perhaps they feel intensely sad and despondent, sleeping all day, a sensation of hyperventilating, and sweating through their t-shirt every night.  Some people may feel extremely irritable and find themselves snapping at their spouse and children while at the same time feeling muscle tension in the shoulders that feels like two heavy boulders.  Maybe we find that we wake for no reason at 2:36am every morning with a profound feeling alertness and dread, which passes at 5am just in time for us to have to get up and go to work.  All of these examples would be diagnosed and treated differently.

Chinese medicine brings many tools to bare in the treatment of anxiety or depression.  However, the two most profound and quick acting are acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.  Acupuncture is an incredible tool for normalizing the body’s physiology.  We have two aspects to our nervous systems, the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (relax, digest, reproduce).  Only one of these systems is supposed to be active at any given time.  These two aspects of our nervous system probably served us well for millions of years, as life was probably extremely boring punctuated by moments of absolute terror.  All of these stress hormones and neurological adaptations would surge forth to protect us and we would hopefully survive to, once again, settle into a parasympathetic state.  But for many of us the stress of daily life (and prolonged vitriolic elections!) means that we are constantly in a state of low grade fight-or-flight.  This sympathetic nervous state requires a lot of energy to maintain and the physiological cost taxes the other systems of the body.  Acupuncture is a tool that can immediately reset the balance of these neurological states.  There is no other medical modality that can so directly and quickly normalize that dysfunctional fight-or-flight system.  This leads to an immediate sensation of calm and improved emotional balance.  However, acupuncture does not introduce anything to the system.  If the body has been expending large amounts of energy on stressed out physiology then often we need something to replenish our resources.  This allows our body to maintain its proper nervous system function and this is where Chinese herbal medicine plays a strong role.  Chinese herbs are always prescribed with a “root and branch” strategy.  This means that some of the ingredients look to normalize specific systems of the body, such as the digestion, inflammation, etc., while other ingredients act on the symptom presentation, such as insomnia, mania, tightness in the chest, etc.  There is also a class of formulas in the Chinese pharmacopoeia that are strong adaptogens, meaning they reduce the effects of stress on the body. They are not sedatives or hypnotics.  There is nothing in Western pharmacology that is similar.  They just make you feel normal!  The combination of these modalities is not subtle and should lead to rapid improvement in all the various symptoms.

When we examine anxiety, depression, or other mood disruptions from a Functional medicine standpoint then we employ some sophisticated lab testing to measure the state of the body’s stress hormone production and examine the balance of neurotransmitter activity.  We then use that data to create individualized therapeutic plans which leverage medical grade supplements and lifestyle modification.  The three tests which are typically required to investigate the root of mood disruption are a urinary or salivary adrenal profile lab, a gastrointestinal pathogen lab, and a urinary organic acid test.  The adrenal profile test allows us to see the function of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA axis).  This shows us if the body is producing adequate or excessive cortisol and DHEA and that the rhythm of that production is occurring properly.  People often refer to dysregulated HPA-axis function as adrenal fatigue, but I don’t like that term, as it doesn’t actually reflect the physiology very accurately.  But, a properly functioning stress response is paramount for proper mood and function of every body system.  We do a GI pathogen screening because the GI tract is the biggest source of hidden inflammation.  This inflammation is a significant stress on the body and erodes the proper function of our stress hormones.  Plus, some of these common infections, such as H. Pylori, are directly related to mood disorders like anxiety.  We learn more about the gut brain connection every day!  Finally, what I would consider the “big daddy” of Functional lab testing: the urinary organic acids test.  The complex ongoing chemical processes of the body create unique profiles of organic acids that are expelled in the urine.  These can be measured and give us a very accurate picture of physiologic function.  If one wants to get a direct look at neurotransmitter level in the brain there are two options: a spinal tap (which I don’t recommend!) or measuring the organic acids that are a by-product of their breakdown.  We get a very accurate picture of what is happening with serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.  I have had the privilege and honor to mentor directly with Dr. Daniel Kalish, who is the leader in Functional Medicine when it comes to the artistry of interpreting this sophisticated lab.  Once the lab results are interpreted we then create programs which restore normal function to the stress hormones and brain chemistry.  This allows us to live a life free of ongoing pharmacological treatment that may have unwanted side effects.

But, what can you do right now?!  Let’s talk about some simple strategies.  At a macro level Chinese medicine views emotional shock, anxiety, and depression as issues of stagnation within the physiology.  The whole body tightens up. The large muscles of the body contract and circulation of blood stagnates.  We breathe shallowly with the top third of the lungs.  But, the emotions also stagnate within this gripping of the nervous system.  If the fundamental problem is one of stagnation then the other side of the spectrum provides relief.  Get away from Facebook (even if you found this on Facebook!) and the constant media.  Nothing is going to change right now!  Stand up and shake out your arms and legs.  Let your shoulders drop.  Put your hands on your lower abdomen and count to 5 as you gently and deeply inhale, then count a slow 5 on the exhale.  Repeat.  Over and over.  Do some gentle yoga.  Go for a run.  Get a massage.  Splurge on some spa treatments.  Take an epsom salt bath.  Plan an evening out with friends.  Move your emotions by watching some stand up comedy or rom-com or something.  The point is we need to fight the temptation to stagnate in face of the media deluge and engage a wide variety of pleasurable activity.  Self care is absolutely a priority.  Money spent on pampering yourself now will come back in dividends from your health.

What have I done?  I dusted off all my guitars and restrung them.  I signed up for some online lessons and turned off the tv.  I’ve re-engaged my meditation practice that has become far too intermittent since the birth of my son.  I am getting acupuncture daily and I’m taking a strong adaptogenic herbal formula.  I made a couple of donations to some charities I care about.  Most of all I am trying to practice kindness and understanding to all those around me, in the clinic and out.

No matter if you’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent we’ve been through a grueling ongoing emotional experience.  People talk about the need to heal as a nation.  Well, that starts by healing ourselves, so we can nurture the people around us.  And if you are feeling overwhelmed seek help.  We’re here to help you with an individualized plan of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, or Functional Medicine, whether you are local to our clinic or distant.  I, also, can make excellent referrals for therapists, psychologists, and other medical professionals.

Phone: (415) 902-0771