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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

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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.

Mayo Clinic and Functional Medicine: It Works!

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News | 3 Comments

I wanted to to start today’s blog post by congratulating my Functional Medicine mentor, Dr. Daniel Kalish, on the successful publishing of the first clinical study of Functional Medicine protocols in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic.  Although the acceptance and use of Functional Medicine is spreading quickly this is the first time a study on specific protocols has been completed with a major and prestigious medical institution.


Below is a link to the press release for the study:



“So, what does all this mean to me?!” you may be asking yourself.  Well, let us look at the design and findings of the study.  The 28-week study assessed the effectiveness of a specific functional medicine approach for improving stress, energy, fatigue, digestive issues and quality of life in middle-aged women exposed to high-stress work environments.  These are women who lead busy and high stress lifestyles and just generally felt unwell.  Many of them were juggling both the demands of career and family and had little time for proper self care.  Over time the hormonal stress response of their body had become dysfunctional leading to inflammation, fatigue, immune issues, and poor digestion.  The taxing effect of the stress on the body and the subsequent immune suppression leaves the digestive tract vulnerable to opportunistic infections.  At the conclusion of the study the stress hormones were remeasured and digestive tracts were checked for infections.  Not only had hormonal function normalized in almost all of the women, but there was a 90% clear rate for infection. Clear improvements in energy, mood, concentration, and stress were all measured using various metrics as follows:


  • A 38 percent average decrease in fatigue, which was measured through a Profiles of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire
  • A 27 percent average decrease in stress, calculated through the Visual Analog Scale (VAS)
  • An increase in vitality by an average of 39 percent, calculated through the SF-36 quality of life questionnaire
  • A 22 percent average decrease in confusion, measured through a POMS questionnaire
  • Reduction in H. pylori infections, which can be associated with chronic inflammation and digestive symptoms


I think we could all use a 38% decrease in fatigue and a 39% increase in vitality!  I want to stress that these are the exact same protocols used in my clinic everyday.  The Mayo clinic used the same lab companies, the exact same protocols based on those labs, and the same supplements and dosing that we offer here at Origins Medicine.  Dr. Kalish reviewed all the labs and created all the treatment plans for the study.  So, if you or a loved one is suffering from the grinding effects of our busy daily lives realize that you can do something about it.  We now have the data to prove it!  Call or email our clinic today and let’s start restoring your health and vitality.  We all deserve to feel and perform our best!

Contact us at our San Francisco Functional medicine and acupuncture clinic.


If you would like an actual copy of the full study click here

And, yet, more news for those who suffer from heartburn, GERD, indigestion…

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I know you guys are probably sick of hearing me talk about heartburn and gut health since that was the topic of the blog post I posted just a couple days ago. But, then this little gem showed up in my news feed. For those people who are managing GERD or heartburn using PPI medications it’s important to understand the impact on our gut biome diversity and immune health. Hopefully, this study will motivate those managing this uncomfortable condition to investigate the root cause of their indigestion through Functional Medicine. Feel free to share any of my posts with friends or family who are suffering from digestive complaints.



Duncan Macdonald, L.Ac.

Providing Functional medicine, acupuncture, and traditional Chinese medicine in San Francisco.

Heartburn – It’s just an acid problem, right? (spoiler… it’s not)

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For about 20% of Americans the pleasure of eating delicious food is dampened by the familiar burning and sour pain of GERD, also know as acid reflux or heartburn. For many years standard medical care has offered very limited treatments. Treatment is usually avoiding a long list of irritating foods, taking Tums or similar acid reducers, or taking acid reducing medications, such as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs).   The doctor typically explains that this is a condition to be managed, not cured, and that you can resign yourself to some painful nights awake with a sour stomach after most social events. To make matters worse the stomach is one of our major immune barriers and long term use of PPI medications leave us vulnerable to a host of other infections and immune problems. Interestingly, there may be more to the mechanism of heartburn than we thought.

A new study published in JAMA last week points to cytokine mediated inflammation as the culprit rather than just the searing of your esophagus by stomach acid. This study is in line with how heartburn is viewed from both a Chinese medicine and Functional medicine standpoint.


Here is a link to the study and then I’ll give a little personal experience with the dreaded GERD.




My Personal Battle with GERD

A while back I gradually developed occasional heartburn. It worsened over the course of six months until I really couldn’t eat in a restaurant or enjoy a couple glasses of wine without paying a pretty serious price in burning discomfort. I had to keep a trusty bottle of tums by my bed to assure a good nights sleep. It was always worsened by stress, lack of sleep, or alcohol. What do all of these factors have in common? They stoke the inflammatory response in the body. At the time I was completing my certification in Functional medicine, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to run a gastrointestinal pathogen lab on myself to screen for any low grade infections. Lo-and-behold the lab came back showing that I had a common infection known as H. Pylori. I immediately began treatment for the H. Pylori using a 2 month protocol of antibacterial botanicals and within a week my heartburn had completely resolved.

As many readers may already know H. Pylori is the infection famous for causing ulcers, but what many people may not know is that is a common driver of generalized stomach inflammation. If I had not ran my own lab looking for this common infection I may have been doomed to a life of nightly tums and no beer and tacos when on vacation in Mexico! (you can sense my panic)

The lesson here is that GERD is a symptom, but not the root cause of this common health complaint. With so many possible factors driving inflammation in our bodies it is important to investigate its source. This may be found in our diet, our stress levels, undiagnosed infections, etc. This has always been recognized in Chinese medicine and the herbal formulas used to treat heartburn are varied depending on the aggravating factor. They are not simply acid blockers, but anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and often adaptogenic (stress reducing).


Furthermore, acupuncture can be used as an effective tool for treating heartburn. Because acupuncture’s mechanism of action is through the central nervous system it can effectively retrain and normalize the function of the esophageal sphincters, acid production, and gut motility. This makes it an ideal therapy to add to any treatment plan involving Functional medicine, botanical medicine, or pharmaceuticals. In fact, here’s a study showing how acupuncture can treat patients with persistent heartburn when their PPI medications fail:




Chronic inflammatory signs in our body should never be ignored. The inflammatory process serves a purpose and should be self limiting. If the body is perpetuating inflammation it means that whatever is at the root is being ignored. If you have been struggling with chronic GERD I encourage you to contact my office today, so we can identify its cause and finally bring you the relief you deserve. As someone who also suffered from this disorder I know firsthand how it can destroy our quality of life!

Eating well in a busy world part 2

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The simple truth is that we eat ourselves into almost all of our chronic health conditions. The diseases of modern civilization, such as obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, auto immunity, and even depression, can often be tracked back to our eating patterns. For thousands of years selecting proper ingredients and cooking was a respected skill that was learned and passed on in order to assure the health of the community. Much of that basic knowledge has been cast aside in the name of convenience and our perceived lack of time. The average American watches five hours of television per day. Many of us watch more television about cooking than we actually spend preparing meals ourselves! All of us can also identify with the simple fact that illness is not convenient. The pain, lethargy, and ill mood that accompany our poor food choices rob us of the pleasures we should be enjoying in our lives. There is nothing convenient about that! So what do we do?! We are busy, overscheduled, and stressed. Usually, we just want to come home and grab something quick we can throw in the microwave so we can have some time to ourselves. Very simply, we need to make cooking easy and enjoyable again.


Tip #1: Get a knife and know how to use it!

Ok, that sounds almost sinister, but this tip may be the most important. If you don’t even own the basic equipment for healthy and convenient cooking it all just falls apart. Buying a quality chopping knife, keeping it sharp, and learning the basics of knife skills will save you an incredible amount of time and frustration. Plus, a dull knife can be downright dangerous! If you put it on a holiday or birthday wishlist someone may find it to be a wonderful gift for you. That’s what happened to me! (thanks, Nan). This basic principle about a good knife should apply to all the basic kitchen equipment, pots, pans, etc.


Tip #2: Stock up on the basics

Becoming a master of the 10 minute healthy meal means you need the basics on hand. Free up some freezer space and buy pre chopped frozen vegetables and medleys of all varieties. Buy an assortment of nuts and healthy fats, such as coconut milk and coconut oil, avocado oil, and ghee. Ready to go proteins can be frozen seafood (I love the Trader Jo’s seafood medley), canned wild salmon or sardines, and frozen steaks and fish fillets. Have your basic spices organized. Remember that the composition of any given meal should be a lot of vegetables (at least a couple cups), some healthy protein, and some healthy fat. You can throw frozen vegetables, a can of coconut milk, some canned wild salmon, and some Thai curry paste in a wok and have a delicious curry in half the time it would take for someone to deliver it! Beef and fish steaks can be cooked beautifully without thawing and can be ready in 10 – 15 minutes.


Tip #3: Rock the Crock

For quick and easy it is hard to beat the slow cooker. Even tough and cheap cuts of grass fed meat can be made tender and delicious with some diced onion, carrots, spices, and broth. I’ve assembled crock pot feasts in under five minutes in the morning and returned home 12 hours later to the smell of a glorious meal that seems like it took all day to prepare (and it did, it just didn’t require any work fro me!). If you google search paleo, primal, or healthy slow cooker recipes you will find more than you could ever hope for.


Tip #4: Keep it simple, genius!

None of us are born as genetically perfect cooks. It requires experimentation to discover what we like. Experimentation takes time and time is what everybody complains they don’t have. So, choose a couple of recipes you can alter on the fly and prepare in under 15 minutes for each meal. Breakfast ideas may be an egg scramble with pre cut mushrooms and frozen spinach or a smoothie with greens, ½ avocado, frozen blueberries and a high quality protein powder. Lunch could be a quick salad assembled from precut choice vegetables and some sardines or leftovers from last nights dinner. You get the concept, get very good a quickly preparing a few key dishes that you find satisfying and delicious. Expand your repertoire as boredom sets it or you have the time.


Tip #5: Preparation, preparation, preparation

Ok, if I’m writing a blog on how to quickly cook why am I discussing preparation? Doesn’t that take time? Yes, of course. But, all of us have time in our week where instead of watching Andy Cohen discuss an episode of the Real Housewives we could actually grill 6 chicken breasts for the week, or make a batch of bone broth in the slow cooker, or make a savory Thai peanut sauce that can go well with almost any protein and make a meal in 2 minutes. Try to take an hour or so once a week to prepare yourself for the business of the coming week. Fundamentally, we need to nourish ourselves and that requires a little for thought.


Tip #6, final tip… don’t reinvent the wheel

We all have friends and relatives who know how to cook. Maybe we should actually ask them about it? One of the wonderful consequences in the popularity of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, Funtional medicine, the Paleo movement, the Primal movement, etc. is that there is a lot of information out there on cooking healthy and quickly. Some quick resources I’ve found invaluable and inspiring are:

Marksdailyapple.com (I read this almost every day)


Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s Whole 30 movement

Dr. Mark Hyman, all of his books are great, he is a true Functional Medicine pioneer in terms of making nutrition accessible to the masses.

Gary Taubes books (essential reading!)

Dr. David Ludwig

How to Eat Well in a Busy and Expensive World

By | Origins News | One Comment

How to eat well is fundamental to health.  It is one of the most powerful tools we have to heal and is one of the primary tools in any treatment plan.  Nearly all illness has its roots in poor diet and just as we eat our way into disease we have to eat our way out of it!  Both Chinese medicine and Functional medicine leverage nutrition to improve health and if you are one of our patients at Origins Medicine you have probably already begun your nutritional overhaul.  During your initial nutrition phase you will be removing all toxic, inflammatory, immune provoking, and addictive foods and replacing them with high quality proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables the body requires to heal.  Even though this style of eating is what our bodies were designed for, our years of poor conditioning from the commercialized food industry and improper nutritional advice from the established medical community has left most of us confused, paralyzed, and without the proper skills to nourish ourselves.  As we adopt this new eating style it is important to realize that food preparation is a skill you are acquiring.  Like any new skill it requires practice and proper instruction.  This blog post is going to be a two-parter in which I hope to address the two biggest barriers we all initially face in our nutritional journey: the cost of ingredients and the time required.


So, before we dive too deep into the strategies for eating without breaking the bank or spending hours slogging in the kitchen let us briefly review basic portion sizes.  Our bodies have basic requirements for protein, fats, and carbohydrates.  The ratio of these macronutrients changes depending on our health status and our goals.  As a patient of Origins Medicine we will determine the proper macronutrient ratio for you and we will be refining it as your body heals.  The idea that there is one diet that we should all follow forever in our lives is completely ridiculous.  Our health status and fitness goals are fluid and our diet needs to change to reflect where we are at.  With that in mind, each meal should consist basically of:

1 – 2 palm sizes of protein

1 – 2 thumb sizes of high quality fat

2 – 3 cups of vegetables

If you are eating eggs then the proper number is the amount you can hold in your hand, probably between 2 – 4.

Depending on your treatment goals and adrenal status  you may need a portion of starchy vegetables at each meal.

This should be a very comfortable amount of food.  You should feel nourished and satisfied after each meal.  One of the biggest mistakes people make is eating too little!


So, How do we accomplish this nutritional makeover without feeling like we have to cash in our children’s college accounts?  First think about the money you are saving.  By preparing your own food you save a lot of money that would have gone to mindless meals in restaurants or mediocre take-out.  Eliminating alcohol saves a huge amount of money that many of us sip down in the evenings in the form of wine or beer.  If you have a local farmer’s market this can be a great place for produce.  Freshly picked produce retains its nutrition and has a lower carbon footprint because it’s not trucked all over the country.  Also, because the fruits and vegetables haven’t been sitting in warehouses and markets they last alot longer in the fridge before spoiling.  There’s nothing more frustrating than buying some delicious looking vegetables on Monday only to find they’ve turned into mush by Thursday.  American families throw out between 14 – 25% of all food they buy.  This can add up to $1400 – $2400 annually!  So, make a list and be mindful of buying just what you need.  If you have a Trader Jo’s or Costco nearby they can be wonderful resources.  Here’s a brief list of items I commonly buy at Trader Jo’s:

– coconut milk

– canned, sliced olives

– canned artichoke hearts

– canned wild salmon

– sardines

– canned tuna

– frozen broccoli

– frozen diced spinach

– frozen diced artichoke hearts

– frozen grilled asparagus

– frozen blueberries

– frozen wild caught fish

– frozen seafood medley (love this for curries and stir fries)

– frozen grass fed ground beef

– ghee

– coconut oil

When purchasing meat buy the best quality you can, but you don’t need to buy $26/lbs. grass fed steak from Whole Foods.  Costco has excellent deals on meat, as do local butchers.  Think “nose-to-tail” and buy some of the less popular cuts and organ meats.  Many of the tougher cuts of meat are delicious when slow cooked with broth in a crock pot.  If grass fed is not possible or not in your budget then look for meat that is raised without hormones and antibiotics and drain off the fat. You can add back healthy fats that are rich in omega 3’s.  An excellent idea is to buy an efficient chest freezer and purchase a share of a humanly raised animal from a co-op rancher.  I went in with a friend on a cow last year from a farm in Humboldt county California and ended up with 50 lbs. of grass fed organic meat for under $4/lbs!


Another awesome new resource for various staples and snacks is Thrive market online.  They sell a wide range of organic and tasty products at wholesale prices.  You simply pay a about $5 month for membership.  Remember to say I referred you (wink, wink)!


Organic produce is always preferable, but once again, don’t let it destroy your budget and keep you up at night.  Each year the USDA lists the “dirty dozen” of produce that have the highest concentration of pesticides.  These are apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. Plus, include any fruit or vegetable that makes up a large portion of your diet.  The “clean fifteen” are the produce with the least likely chance to have significant pesticide residue.  These are avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.  Be adventurous!  Buy produce that is in season and inexpensive.  Try new things!


Finally, invests in some decent and varied spices.  Good spices will make all the flavors of your cooking pop.  Less expensive proteins can be made incredible flavorful with slow cooking and good spices.  Try to start an herb garden at home so you have a plentiful supply of fresh cilantro, oregano, parsley, etc.
Tune in next week and I will give you some great strategies to cook healthy flavorful meals in the same amount of time you’d spend on hold with Domino’s pizza!

Acupuncture and Functional Medicine for Chronic Pain: A Path Forward

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News | No Comments

For many of us pain is a constant in our lives.  Perhaps it started as an injury years before, a repetitive stress, a tension pattern, or an autoimmune issue and has slowly progressed until it is now detracting from the enjoyment of life.    The pain leaves us limited in both our work and recreation.  It leaves us fatigued and detracts from relationships with friends and family.  Massage, medications, manual therapies, and PT may only bring temporary relief.  But why does the body not heal?


Chronic pain is treated poorly in standard medical care.  If no structural abnormality shows up on imaging or if no obvious immune marker shows up on bloodwork then no diagnosis can be made.  The doctor shrugs, diagnoses a chronic pain syndrome and prescribes medications that can often lead to long term health damage or addiction. The patient is often left feeling ignored, confused, and hopeless.  Luckily, the combination of acupuncture and Functional medicine is perfect for this situation.  It gives us the tools to not only target the injured tissue and reduce pain immediately but also to understand why the body’s healing mechanism has become compromised.  Let’s briefly examine both of these tools and look at why they work together synergistically.


Acupuncture is a neurological tool.  It is a way of directing the body’s resources, through targeted central nervous system stimulation, onto an injured or inflamed distribution of tissue.  It is the only medical modality that actually directs the body’s own resources and attention onto an injury that has become chronic.  Because this mechanism of acupuncture mobilizes the patient’s own healing response it can often immediately change pain patterns that have been unresponsive to other types of care.  The mobilization of the body’s resources leads to permanent healing rather than just masking the pain with medication.


Functional medicine is a way of assessing and correcting the underlying drivers of systemic inflammation that often are the culprits of chronic pain.  Inflammation and pain, obviously, have their purpose.  The body needs to identify its injured part and mobilize blood flow to heal.  But, when our body is chronically stressed it often loses the ability to regulate inflammation.  The primary stress hormone of the body, cortisol, is a gluco corticosteroid.  It is the hormone of the body chiefly tasked with regulating inflammation.  If cortisol production has been compromised and is too high or too low this disrupts the body’s ability to manage inflammation and can result in a chronic pain pattern.  Unfortunately, chronic pain is also a major stressor and can itself cause this disruption of cortisol.  Other drivers of inflammation that can lead to chronic pain are low grade infections, dietary intolerances, emotional stress or anxiety, detoxification issues, and autoimmune issues.  Through Functional medicine testing we are able to carefully examine all of the body’s major systems to discover why it is not healing chronic pain.  Without identifying and correcting the root cause of the body’s inability to heal chronic pain can remain an entrenched pattern.

When these two medical systems are joined something profound happens.  The body replenishes the resources that have been depleted by stress or illness.  Those resources are targeted to the injury and the body is again able to heal.  The pattern of chronic pain and inflammation is disrupted and finally replaced by health.  If you have been struggling with ongoing pain start your path to healing today.  Call me and let’s discover and correct what is at the root of your pain.

What is Functional Medicine

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News | No Comments

What is Functional Medicine? Functional Medicine is a scientific approach of using thorough history and the latest in laboratory testing to assess the functional ability of the three major body systems, the neuroendocrine function, digestion, and the detox pathways.  Once the origin of disease is identified medical grade supplements and lifestyle change are used to correct disease and permanently restore health and vitality.  The system of Functional Medicine I practice here at Origins Medicine is the Kalish Method, as taught to me personally by my mentor Dr. Dan Kalish.

Because Functional Medicine allows for a personalized health plan to be created based on your lab findings and history it is the perfect system for restoring health, vitality, and focus to those who are too busy or unable to make frequent office visits.  So, whether you are looking to increase your energy and deepen your connection to life, get that athletic edge and improve body composition, increase mental focus and job performance, or just lead a happier healthier life, Functional Medicine is for you.  Call or book online today to schedule an initial appointment or a free 15 minute phone consultation and start the journey to a healthy and fulfilled future.

(415) 902-0771

Phone: (415) 902-0771