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Functional Medicine

The 3 Keys to Naturally Boosting Your Energy

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News | No Comments

There is nothing worse than feeling like your energy is in the tank.

Maybe it’s that 3pm energy dip that only coffee, Redbull, or 4-Hour Energy will cure.

Perhaps you wake up already dreading facing the day.

Or maybe things are generally okay, but you just don’t have the energy to get out, exercise and experience those wonderful feelings of vitality.

You might chalk this up to the fact that you are getting older.

Or, maybe you just feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to get it done. Don’t despair.

There is a proven path to greater energy that thousands like you have already travelled.

Here are 3 options you can follow that will help to dramatically boost your energy and get your life back on track!

  1. Mind your Mitochondria

Mitochondria are the energy engines in each and every cell of your body.

They make fuel called ATP. If they aren’t running well, simply put – your energy is going to suck.

The thing about mitochondria is they require maintenance.

This is both good news and bad news.

The good news is that if properly maintained they last forever! The bad news is that inflammation and nutritional deficiencies break them.

At Origins we have a test that can pinpoint how well your mitochondria are functioning. It also determines whether you’re not producing energy due to inflammation or nutritional problems.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen who have both — inflammation and nutritional deficiencies, which have been ruining their mitochondria.

If you want to make your mito’s work, make sure to supplement properly (we recommend Designs for Health Mitochondrial NRG) and continue reading below.

  1. Hone your hormones

Hormones have a major effect on your energy.

You’ve probably heard of the “stress” hormone cortisol. Cortisol has gotten a bad rap in the press lately.

Of course that’s due to oversimplification and the desire of people to put things in the good vs. bad category.

Cortisol is neither good nor bad, it’s all about how much you have and when you have it.

Cortisol performs a bunch of hyper-critical functions in the body such as decreasing inflammation, regulating the immune response and…wait for it….freeing up blood sugar!

If you’re walking down the street and tiger jumps out in front of you, cortisol gets released to free up blood sugar so you can fight or run.

This is all well and good.

Where people get into trouble is when life situations (like work, finances, relationships etc) lead to a chronic fight or flight response.

When this happens the brain looks all the cortisol pumping around your body and says “hey wait a minute…there’s been too much cortisol running around here for too long.

I better dial this system back so I have it when I need it.”

The brain then down-regulates cortisol production and you start to feel tired.

We run salivary cortisol tests on clients to identify the status of the hormonal system which is a great idea if you think you might be a bit off kilter.

So what’s the solution?

Three things.

Sleep, cutting caffeine and adaptogenic herbs.

Most humans need at least 8 hours of solid sleep. Sleep is how your brain cleanses and resets itself.

Adaptogenic herbs like eleuthero, maca and ashwagandha are also helpful to regulate the overall stress response.

Cutting caffeine so you’re not jacking up your system all the time is also super important.

Some of these “herb” words may sound really different, difficult, or confusing, but it’s actually pretty simple.

At Origins Medicine, we help to identify what is going on and provide, plus explain what each one does and how it works.

That way you begin to feel better and don’t have to search all around town trying to find them and wondering how they work, or how much to take.

If you have insomnia, don’t sleep well, or depend on caffeine and sugar to get you through the day — then be sure to take our test below to see if you have adrenal burnout.

  1. Decrease your Inflammation

You don’t drive your car around with your foot on the brake. Inflammation is the brake that keeps your energy system sub-par.

Inflammation comes from physiological stress on the body and there are three basic types of stress, dietary, inflammatory and emotional.

Dietary Stress

It’s no mystery that the food we eat leads to stress on the body.

What most people don’t know is that many of the foods we eat may appear to be healthy, may actually be processed and have chemicals added to them.

The biggest culprits are sugar and processed foods, refined seed oils (canola, soybean, corn and vegetable), and hormone and antibiotic laden meat and dairy (go organic grass fed here folks).

Oh yeah, non-organic grains like wheat and corn also wreak havoc on your body, as much of it has been washed in fungicides and herbicides. Following an anti-inflammatory diet like the Mediterranean , Paleo or AIP  will do wonders to make you feel better.

Emotional Stress

Constant stress, feeling helpless, unexpressed anger and other emotions all affect our hormones.

Unstable emotions lead to unstable hormones, which lead to unstable emotions.

It’s a big feedback loop!

Emotional stress isn’t going away anytime soon, so it’s critical that we learn how to manage it.

Downtime, play, meditation, counseling/therapy, spiritual practice and getting honest with yourself will help lead you to feeling better, more vital and alive.

Inflammatory Stress

If you have another disease process running in around in your body, it’s important to get some help and therapy with it.

Whether it’s a chronic skin condition, low immune system, or pain that won’t go away — all of these can wreak havoc on other body systems.

This is because chronic inflammation starts to affect other body systems like the mitochondria we discussed above.

Getting these other disease processes managed will help everything else run so very much better.

If you’ve made it this far then you realize that the way we run our energy system has a big effect on how we feel.

Remember that getting your energy back is not an overnight short term project.

I can’t overstate the importance of giving yourself the time and tools to succeed.

If you need support, Origins Medicine is here to help.



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.

Fasting – Perhaps the Best Diet of All!

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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

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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!

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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.

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!


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.

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

Phone: (415) 902-0771