Motor Point Acupuncture is Here!

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It’s time to beat stubborn pain!

We are excited here at Origins Medicine to announce that we are now offering Motor Point acupuncture.  You will sometimes hear this referred to as Dry Needling in the medical world, however it is far more sophisticated than the Dry Needling sometimes employed in physical therapy. . Motor Point acupuncture is a direct way to stimulate specific muscles to show the brain the contracted and relaxed end points of the muscle, reduce muscle inhibition, restore proper function, and reduce inflammation.  


Although the basic techniques are described in Chinese Medicine classics from over 1000 years ago, Motor Point acupuncture has had a resurgence in last few years with the addition of electrical stimulation.  It is now commonly used by professional athletes to keep them in the game, as well as by the general population who suffer from chronic or acute muscle pain.


So, if you are struggling with any type of chronic orthopedic pain issue, even if it hasn’t responded to acupuncture in the past, I’d encourage you to come into the clinic and try this exciting new technique!  I was personally trained by both Dr. Richard Hazel and Dr. Anthony Lombardi and I’ve included a few videos below to demonstrate Motor Point acupuncture is applied for some common issues.

Knee Pain:

Back Pain:

How to Slay Insomnia

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A good night’s sleep is absolutely essential for our health.  Cortisol, our main stress hormone and hormone of alertness, peaks at around 9am and then should drop to an absolutely low level at bedtime.  As the sun goes down and cortisol drops melatonin rises and our circadian rhythm is established. This basic rhythm is established by environmental and internal cues that have signaled our biology since the dawn of time.  Unfortunately, we had to come along with modern stress and technology and muck it all up! So what happens to our sleep if this rhythmic release of cortisol is distorted?

  • Feeling tired and wired when we lie down for sleep
  • Waking up alert between 1 – 3am like clockwork
  • Night Sweats so strong we need to change our t-shirt and invade our partner’s side of the bed!
  • Waking 1 – 2 hours before our alarm with no chance of falling back asleep.


Luckily, correction of the cortisol rhythm (HPA-Axis) is not rocket science.  But, it does require a simple salivary cortisol test to determine exactly what is happening with your hormones.  Once we know the unique nature of your cortisol dysruption it can be treated with a combination of lifestyle changes and supplements that gently signal the body to release hormones at the right time and in the proper amount.  


Our ancient physiology still wants to exist in harmony with our natural signals.  If we proper align the HPA-Axis we enjoy alertness during the day and calm restorative sleep at night.  If you are struggling with insomnia call us at Origins Medicine and let’s reset your stress hormones and give you back the biological right to a good night’s sleep!

For more information read the following summary from the Natural Medicine Journal.


Sleep tight!

Duncan Macdonald, L.Ac.

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Hello everyone! My name is Maria Paz, raised here in the Bay Area but my family and I are from Honduras. I recently obtained a bachelors degree in biology from Cal State Northridge and I am currently in a post baccalaureate program at SF State University. I am on the path to apply to medical school and one day be able to provide the support and care to people from this city of San Fransisco. I am eager and excited to be part of this amazing team and help individuals improve their day to day lives.

The Five Branches of Health

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The Five Branches of Health: The Reemergence of Ancient Health Wisdom in Modern Functional Medicine


Traditionally, the Five Branches of Chinese medicine referred to five unique strategies for restoring health.  When combined these five branches create a synergistic and complete therapeutic and lifestyle driven solution to both the root cause of disease and its symptomatic manifestations.  Because these strategies represent a comprehensive holistic approach to health they have existed in various forms in almost all traditional medical systems. Although still in its infancy, modern Functional medicine shares the strategy of traditional medical systems of treating the entire organism from a systems based approach.  As such, we are seeing these traditional five branches reemerging in Functional medicine. By honoring the spirit of each of these timeless strategies we can create a comprehensive treatment plan that is exponentially more effective than a more limited plan.


The Five Branches and their modern interpretation is as follows:


  1. Nutrition: long dismissed by conventional medicine, proper nutrition has always been viewed as absolutely critical in the treatment of disease by Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.  Nutrition has traditionally been a targeted therapy, with different diets being employed for different health imbalances. Functional medicine has embraced this “food as medicine” approach, with different dietary strategies targeted to the individual based on lab results.
  2. Herbal Medicine: This branch refers to the careful administration of targeted herbal ingredients that address both the underlying physiological imbalance (root), but also the symptoms (branches) of disease presentation.  This same strategy is at the heart of Functional medicine. Traditional systems based diagnostics have been replaced with cutting edge modern lab testing. However, at the core of Functional medicine is the prescribing of therapeutic supplements that address the underlying physiological imbalances.  This emphasis on the root cause of disease is reflected in the Functional medicine saying of “test don’t guess.”
  3. Exercise: Chinese medicine has always understood the profound benefits of exercise and how exercise needs to be targeted for the specific patient.  Therapeutic exercise traditionally ranged from gentle forms, such as yoga (Tao Yin), to strength training and high intensity forms reflected in the martial arts.  In modern Functional medicine exercise is prescribed based on measurable biomarkers, such as stress hormone status and mitochondrial function.
  4. Meditation: Traditional medical systems, such as Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, have always put a high emphasis on meditation for health.  Chinese medicine even has a meditation system called medical Qi Gong, which treats specific disease processes through the combination of meditation, breathing exercises, and gentle movement. Functional medicine has been quick to adopt meditation as an important lifestyle intervention,as the scientific evidence is strong across the board.  Specifically, the emphasis on restoring proper HPA-axis function requires retraining the sympathetic/parasympathetic balance through targeted relaxation.
  5. Acupuncture: Most traditional medical systems have some modality to treat pain and inflammation.  Traditional Chinese medicine has acupuncture, which is a neurological modality used to modulate inflammatory signals and restore homeostasis.  The larger point with this strategy is that it is vital to treat pain. If pain and inflammation are left untreated they hormonally dysregulate the stress response and drive oxidative damage.  Functional labs allow us to gain insight into the imbalances that can drive inflammation and pain and, thus, target treatment. However, it is always important to treat pain.


Here at Origins Medicine we are always considering all of these therapeutic branches when putting together a treatment plan for our patients.  Proper treatment always addresses the symptoms AND the root cause. When proper lifestyle education is combined with therapeutic treatments the result is exponentially more powerful.


In Health,


Duncan Macdoanld. L.Ac.

Potatoes for gut health and weight loss: The Potato Hack

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The Potato Hack Intervention is a short term tool to check the reactivity of the gut to Resistant Starch (RS), reset the hedonic system, create metabolic flexibility, resolve inflammatory conditions, and provide the patient with an empowerment tool to increase the fat loss of their other dietary plan. It is not meant as a stand alone diet, but rather a dietary tool to decrease hunger, break negative eating habits, and nourish the gut biome, which is sometimes starved on long term low carbohydrate eating. The Potato Hack is a tool popularized by Tim Steele and based on a diet plan from 1849 that was designed to treat “dyspepsia” and excess weight from the consumption of rich foods.

Explanation: The poor potato has been much maligned in recent years. It is often looked at as being a sugar bomb because it is high on the glycemic index. However, potatoes are actually extremely nutrient dense and a 1995 University of Sydney Australia demonstrated that potatoes score the highest of any food on the Satiety Index. This means that they dampen hunger signals better than almost any other food.

Here is an explanation by Functional Medicine practitioner Chris Kresser on the Joe Rogan show. Here.

The true magic of this plan and what I think leads to its clinical efficacy is in the amount of Resistant Starch. Resistant Starch is a type of starch that is indigestible to us, but feeds our microbiome. When a potato is heated and then cooled a significant amount of its starch is retrograded into resistant starch. This means the effect on blood sugar is greatly dampened. The potato can even be reheated and it will still retain its resistant starch content. The nourishment to our gut biome and the subsequent metabolic benefits cannot be overstated. I have seen this be crucial in some patients who have stalled on a low carb or keto eating plan, but still have significant body fat left to lose. Historically, resistant starch would have been present in most roots, tubers, unripe bananas, plantains, etc, but is often devoid in our current diets.

Who Can Benefit:

Honestly, I think it is a good tool to employ from time to time for all of us to break food cravings and patterns of overeating. It is virtually impossible to overeat unseasoned boiled potato. You will eat only until your hunger is satiated and much of the food eaten has been converted to resistant starch and is fueling your biome. But, to be more specific:

1. Anyone with chronic digestive issues

2. Those suffering from inflammatory problems

3. People who have been following a low carb or keto diet for an extended time

4. Anyone who has plateaued on their weightloss goal while eating a sensible and nutritious diet.


1. Plan on eating just potatoes for 3-5 days.

2. Eat 2-5 pounds of potatoes each day.

3. No other foods allowed (this includes butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits).

4. Salt is allowed, but not encouraged.

5. Drink when thirsty: coffee, tea, and water only.

6. Heavy exercise is discouraged; light exercise and walking are encouraged.

7. Take your normal medications

Expected results: Most people see a loss of .5 – 1 lbs of weight loss per day. Much of this weight loss is retained after completing the potato hack, as it’s not just water weight shed from the depletion of glycogen. Indigestion and inflammatory symptoms often greatly reduce.

Final Thoughts: We are in the infancy of understanding the gut biome, but I have clinically seen huge improvements in people’s health when they consume resistant starch. It may seem crazy to eat just potatoes, but keep in mind that many cultures in history owe their survival to this incredible food. And, remember, this is not a diet! This is a tool to use in conjunction with a nourishing diet to break through pesky plateaus and help heal your gut.
Although a book is not necessary to use this hack, Tim Steele wrote an excellent book that details the science. Also, I recommend reading some of the hundreds of consumer reviews of the book, as it will give you an idea of how successful others have found this plan. You can find it here.

The link between gut infections and autoimmunity.

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For thousands of years Chinese medicine has identified the gut as being one of the primary players in autoimmune disease.  Finally, modern science is catching up!  A recent study out of Yale examined how one particular infection can trigger autoimmunity.

“Bacteria found in the small intestines of mice and humans can travel to other organs and trigger an autoimmune response, read more here.”

Our standard testing protocol at Origins Medicine goes far beyond testing for just this bacteria identified in the study.  The medical scientific community has now identified multiple infections related to autoimmunity, as well as ratios of healthy bacteria that when disrupted to trigger our own immune systems to attack us.

In order to reverse and heal autoimmune disease the pathogenic infections need to be identified, cleared without disturbing normal flora, and a healthy biome supported.  To learn more about our protocol please read on here.

If you would like to take action on your autoimmune condition please feel free to contact us to discuss your unique situation.

In Health,

Duncan Macdonald, L.Ac.

How high triglycerides are messing with your brain!

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Let’s face it… cholesterol is confusing.  The lab spits out a number that is a combination of our HDL, LDL, and triglycerides and somehow we are supposed to make healthcare decisions based on it.  There are so many problems with this measurement (how it’s calculated, lack of particle size measurement, the fact that HDL and LDL aren’t actually cholesterol but transporting proteins, etc.) that whenever I discover something new and tangible I like to share it. This new study published in the International Journal of Obesity is fascinating because it shows that high triglycerides may actually be undermining your body composition in a way we never knew before.   You can read the study here.  They actually cross the blood brain barrier and interfere with leptin and insulin receptors!  You may not be as excited s me, yet, so let’s break down a little about what that means.

What exactly are triglycerides, you may ask?  Triglycerides are fats in your blood.  The body can use them for energy, but if they are not used up they are stored as fat.  The liver takes unused sugar that it can’t burn and turn them into triglycerides for storage.  Remember glucose is extremely toxic to the body and has to be kept in a very narrow range.  If there is excess glucose the body converts it to triglycerides to protect itself and store the extra energy.  So, if your triglycerides are high that is a good indicator that your body is dealing with more sugar than it has the capacity to handle.  That is a classic indicator of metabolic damage and insulin resistance.

We always thought this was a one way process, meaning you eat extra sugar and the liver turns it into triglycerides.  But what this fascinating new study shows us is that triglycerides actually have a signaling function in the brain.  And not in a good way!

Triglycerides actually cross the blood brain barrier and enter the brain and central nervous system.  Once inside the rain they influence the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates energy expenditure and the “set point” of your weight and metabolism.  This happens by interfering with the receptors for the hormone Leptin (which controls hunger) and Insulin (which controls blood sugar and determines whether your body burns fat or glucose for fuel).

So, not only are high triglycerides a sign that the metabolism is damaged and the body is storing fat, but they actually enter the brain and make us hungrier and more likely to store fat.  Talk about a bummer of a catch-22!  However, whenever we learn something new about the mechanism of hunger and obesity it clarifies our path forward.  If high triglycerides cause leptin and insulin resistance then low triglycerides can hopefully help us heal these issues.

This is precisely what we observe clinically.  There are two ways to effectively lower triglycerides.  One is to dramatically lower carbohydrate in the diet.  Less starch and sugar in the body means less need to turn that toxic sugar into its fat storage form.  The other way is bump up exercise, so that the skeletal muscle is burning the glucose before it needs to stored.  It has also been observed that one of the side effects of a low carb diet is a dramatic decrease in hunger.  We always assumed that this was due to less fluctuations in blood sugar and ketone production (like the ketogenic diet).  But, now we see that perhaps the lower triglycerides mean that fat isn’t actually entering our brain and crossing the wires on our hunger and fat storage!

It’s not too late to make a New Year’s resolution to lower carbohydrate and get exercising.  Your brain will thank you!


In Health,

Duncan Macdonald, L.Ac.

When is the best time to take supplements?

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At Origins most therapeutic programs involve some sort of supplementation protocol.

We always give our clients a detailed plan of when to take what supplement.

This is important because if you take the wrong supplement at the wrong time it can either negate the benefits of the supplement or cause it to pass through your body without being absorbed.

This just creates really expensive pee!

And the other thing is that each person has different supplement needs at different times due to their activity.

So what supplements should I take when?

For instance when athletes (or anyone for that matter) exercises it creates lots of free radicals (Reactive Oxygen Species-ROS).

In general we want these ROS low as they are implicated in virtually all disease processes from cancer to diabetes.

However, like anything that happens in the body there must be a good reason for it and we have to be careful about manipulating that process.

That good reason is that the body mounts an adaptive response to these ROS especially after exercise.

And in that case we don’t want to blunt the adaptive i.e. muscle building effects of the exercise.

By flooding the body with anti-oxidants during or directly post workout we may blunt the effectiveness of that workout.

So anti-oxidants should be taken as far from a workout as possible.

However other nutrition like amino acids (protein) are best taken within 45 minutes after finishing a workout.

Supplements like Vitamin C and B-Vitamins are water soluble so can be taken anytime.

Others (Vitamins A, D, E and K) are fat soluble and should be taken with meals when we are ingesting some fat.

This increases bio-availability and absorption.

Below is a super basic chart that shows when to take supplements. (Source-Ben Greenfield Fitness)

source: Ben Greenfield Fitness

Be aware that your individual needs may vary depending on your age, your health and fitness goals, the types of activities you do and your fitness levels.

The other thing to be aware of is that the body has a rhythm to it and just like how different hormones are higher at different times of day, the same is true with our vitamin and mineral needs.

This is a great chart that illustrates how timing affects the body and the best time to take your supplements.

What are the supplements that I take personally?

My supplement regimen varies as I can get tired of taking pills.

But…..I generally take the following.

These are supplements and dosages that I take based on lab testing and I do not recommend these for you without a visit with your physician.

Vitamin C: 2000-3000 mg per day.  I have a genetic pre-disposition for Vitamin C deficiency I found through 23andme and the gene calculator from Promethease and Silverberry Genetics.

Vitamin B Complex with methylfolate: I found out I have a genetic variant (MTHFR) that gets in the way of vitamin B methylation so I take the methylated version of this.

Vitamin D with K2: 10000-50000 IU per week depending on the season.  In winter I take more because I’m not out in the sun as much.

Additionally when the sun is at a low angle as it is in winter it we don’t receive intense enough light to create vitamin D in the skin.

Vitamin D should never be taken alone and should always be taken with K2.

This is because Vitamin D moves calcium from the gut into the bloodstream and K2 then directs that calcium into the bones and teeth.

Without the K2 and just the Vitamin D calcium can get deposited in the wrong places like vascular tissue (arteries and veins) as well as the heart.

Magnesium: 400-800 mg generally before bed.

Curcumin: 600-2400 mg per day as an anti-inflammatory.  My preferred brand is Integrative Therapeutics Theracurmin or Metagenics Inflavanoid.

Fish Oil (Omega 3): 3-6 grams per day depending on exercise intensity.

I take Integrative Therapeutics fish oil as you can audit your individual bottle of oil and see exactly what is in it from IT’s excellent lab testing.

Fish oil is one of the supplements that is pretty much a must take these days.

Most people that I have tested are usually deficient in Omega 3 fats and have too many Omega 6 fats.

This results in a pro-inflammatory environment.

Though anecdotal only I have seen many many people get rid of joint and other body pain simply by adding high doses of fish oil to their diet.

Probiotics: Thrive probiotic 1 per day.

There’s lot’s of data about probiotics out there and my takeaway is that anybody who tells you they know what’s going with probiotics is probably full of it.

That doesn’t mean we have not seen benefits from specific strains like S. Boulardi and others.

However Thrive has some great clinical studies behind it for gut lining protection and if you know anything about disease you know that the gut is implicated in most of them.

Collagen Protein: I use Vital Protein’s hydrolyzed beef collagen.

It’s easier to digest than whey protein, has a great amino acid profile including branched chain amino acids.

I use these after a workout or before bed because it helps me sleep better probably due to the high levels of glycine.

Greens: I use Amazing Grass Raw Reserve.

A green powder is like insurance when I’m not getting enough greens, fruits or other vegetables during the day.

Phytonutrients and bioflavanoids are crucial for proper cellular functioning and defense.

Since I exercise frequently I need a ton of anti-oxidants and this is a way to get some through food.

I take other vitamins and minerals less frequently but include

Multi-vitamins: (DFH Twice Daily Essentials) if I’m traveling and I don’t want to carry a ton of pills.

Adaptogenic herbs:  Eleuthero, Rhodiola, Ashwaganda, Shizandra and more.

Anti-oxidants: Resveratrol, CoQ10 and others.

Performance Enhancers: Mitochondrial NRG and others.

Liver Detoxicants: N-Acetyl Cysteine, activated charcoal and other detoxification supplements.

Brain Supplements: High DHA fish oil, Blueberry extract and hesperidin methyl chalcone.

Exogenous Ketones: These are used as meal replacements or to kickstart my body into Ketosis.

Okay I’m sure I’m forgetting some but that covers the basics.

Please let us know below what supplements you take and why and if you have any questions.











Sugar is the villain in the diet-cancer connection

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A few basic facts to remember are that sugar is extremely toxic to the body and must be kept in a very narrow range within the blood. This is why diabetes is such a dangerous disease! Also, glucose metabolism leads to greater oxidative stress than fat metabolism. It’s like putting racing fuel in your Honda Accord. It burns a little too hot and can wear out the motor! This oxidative stress can directly damage the DNA of the cell leading to potential cancerous change. It also damages the mitochondria of the cells. The mitochondria are the little powerhouses of the cell that use glucose and fat and turn them into energy. Damage to the mitochondria leads to further metabolic damage and potentially higher insulin to deal with excess sugar! Insulin also drives a hormone called Insulin Growth Factor. High IGF leads to greater cell division. This is great if you’re a toddler looking to grow, but in us adults it’s not so great. I think we can all certainly recognize how signaling greater cell division could be a problem for cancer and cancer risk. There are several important markers on the Organic Acids Test that allows us to directly measure how the body is dealing glucose as a fuel, insulin resistance, and overall oxidative stress to the body. It’s like getting a snapshot of your metabolism. This information allows us to steer the whole ship back on course through lifestyle change and targeted therapeutic supplements. If you’d like to know more please reach out to us!

“OP-ED It’s getting clear – the diet-cancer connection points to sugar and carbs”

In Health,

Duncan Macdonald, L.Ac.

Phone: (415) 902-0771