How Does Chinese Medicine Optimize Fertility?

Acupuncture and herbal medicine: 

  • Regulate Menstrual Cycle
  • Increase Blood Flow to the Ovaries and Uterus
  • Improve Quality of Ovulation
  • Decrease Physical and Emotional Stress
  • Reduce Likelihood of Miscarriage 
  • Regulate Hormones
  • Reduce Side Effects of IVF medication (and stress/overwhelm)
  • Heal and Regulate Uterus and Menstruation, Post Miscarriage
  • Reduce Anxiety

Natural Fertility & ART

While IVF and assisted reproductive technology (ART) help many struggling couples to conceive, the unerlying condition or imbalance preventing pregnancy is sometimes not addressed. From a Holistic approach, infertility arises when there is an imbalance in one or both partners (in a nutshell). With natural fertility treatment we adress this imbalnce with acupuncture, herbal medicine and dietary therapy. Some of these women conceive naturally, and others via IVF. In the case of IVF or with a history of miscarriage, it is recommended to receive routine acupuncture through the first trimester. This helps to support pregnancy. 

  • Research has shown acupuncture in conjunction with IVF improves chances of conception. The newest research also suggests that acupuncture treatments prior to day of embryo transfer increase IVF outcome. 

Call to inquire about our onsite treatments- pre & post IVF transfer at Oregon Reproductive Medicine and OHSU.

Our Philosophy of Medicine

We believe holistic, individualized care is optimal to restore health and wellness. We believe in the innate healing ability of the human body. Because of this we take the time to understand the dynamic mental, emotional and physical relationships within the body. This allows us to better understand and address our patients root imbalances. We are committed to offering quality healthcare, creating a nurturing environment, and holding the space to facilitate healing.

For me, practicing medicine began as a deep desire and calling to help others. It has wildly transformed into a constant journey of self-discovery. Practicing medicine allows me to stay in my center, to stay connected to mama earth and intuition, to be a student (forever) and challenge myself intellectually and spiritually. My patients, on their own healing journey, offer such rich wisdom to me. Practicing medicine bring me joy, and this, my patients feel.
— Kat Starbird, LAc, M.Ac.O.M.

Our intention at Starbird Women's Health Clinic, is to listen and understand our patients and thier experiece. To facilitate the reconnection of mind, body and spirit- balancing the creative energy flow, and supporting patients in reclaiming health. For a lot of people this translates into feeling better, getting pregnant, releasing trauma, relieving IBS, etc. We do address symptoms, we address the root of pathology and perhaps most importantly we address an energetic, intuitive place where an abundance of healing takes place. We encorporate the elements, the seasons and the wise and ancient traditions of this medicine. The layout of our website represents a disease-based model in hopes to express that Chinese medicine has the ability to treat every system of the body, on many levels. Though our approach remains individualized and holistic. 

We are grateful to be practicing this medicine, and offering our patients results and a new sense of wellness.

We look forawrd to working with you.



What does Acupuncture feel like? Does it hurt?

A trained practitioner often inserts needles painlessly. Generally speaking it is not painful. Once the needle is inserted people often feel a sensation. This sensation is associated with the needle reaching the point or the Qi (chee). People describe this sensation in varying ways. A few common descriptive words include: tickle, heavy, weird, deep massage, and vibration.    

How many treatments will I need? 

Chinese medicine is holistic and individualized. Treatment plans will be created after an assessment of your health, during your initial intake. For chronic conditions it is common to receive treatment once or twice a week for four weeks and then re-evaluate. Often times for acute conditions (UTI, cold, flu, etc.) one to three treatments in a single week ill effectively reduce the symptoms.

Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been used during pregnancy for thousands of years. There are herbs and acupuncture points that are not recommended during pregnancy which is why it is important to see a trained practitioner to receive the best care. Katherine has completed four years of Chinese medical school and went on to complete advanced training in birth preparation, labor and delivery. She is skilled and committed to offering you the best care.

What will it cost? Will my insurance cover it?

In the state of Oregon many health insurance companies cover acupuncture. When you schedule your initial visit feel free to call us to inquire about the coverage of your specific insurance. 


What is Acupuncture and How Does it Work?

Acupuncture is a holistic medicine that has been used to diagnose, treat and prevent illness for 3,00 years. Acupuncture focuses on what is called qi (pronounced chee). Qi is the vital energy in all living things. Qi flows through pathways, called channels and meridians nourishing and energizing the organs and entire body. When the body is healthy and the emotions are balanced there is a free flow of qi and blood, which nourishes the body. When there are biological heath conditions, poor diet, emotional instability, trauma and stress the free flow of qi and blood become impaired, resulting in illness.

Acupuncture uses pre-sterilized, disposable needles to stimulate different points. These points each correspond to a specific organ in the body. When these points are stimulated they strengthen and harmonize qi, therefore balancing the organs and unblocking areas of stagnation (where qi and blood is stuck, often times causing pain or discomfort). Stimulating points along the meridians restores balance and improve the body’s natural ability to heal.

There are many theories to explain this ancient medicine. Some people conceptualize this flow of qi with the analogy of water ways- you can picture what happens when a dam is created in a river. The water takes a new route and may not make it to the far away creek. The creek may dry up or the water may rise and rise until the dam is forced open causing the water to go crashing down the river. All of these scenarios disrupt the ecosystem. This imbalance is similar to what happens within our bodies. 

Acupuncture's mechanism of action is unknown. Volumes of research do show a correlation between the insertion of acupuncture needles and the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain relievers. It is also believed that acupuncture increases the levels of serotonin and histamine which promote a healing response. Another commonly accepted theory is that by inserting the needle a nerve is stimulated, causing the release of neurotransmitters, therefore influencing communication between cells within the body.

How Will My Birth Doula Support Me During My Cesarean Birth?

The role of a birth doula is to emotionally, spiritually, and physically support mother, baby, and partner during the entire birth, and a few hours postpartum. A doula will facilitate resources for the postpartum year. She will facilitates the communication between mother and partner, and between parents and health care providers, or family members. Regardless of your birth plan, a doula will hold the sacred space for mom, partner and baby through the entire birth.

A doula does not choose your birth preferences, or judge those preferences. 
She is there to support YOU! In whatever way you desire. 

So how will my doula support me during a cesarean birth? 

Before or during the birth:

  • Help you create your birth preferences. Yes, you still have these even with a cesarean! For example, skin to skin when baby is born, delayed cord clamping, music selection during birth, would you like things to be explained as they unfold, would you like partner to go with baby, should baby need care outside of the birth room. Here is an example of a cesarean birth plan .
  • Facilitate resources for parents in creating a postpartum plan that is sure to support mama's recovery.  
  • Support partner while mom is being prepped for cesarean.  In many cases partner will not be allowed in the operating room while mom is being prepped. This can be scary. We've got you. 
  • Communicate with baby before, during, and after cesarean. Or encourage mom or partner to. Let baby know exactly what is happening and why. 
  • Help mom take the necessary action required to ensure doula can be present in the operating room. Different hospitals have different policies. Even if you are not planning on a cesarean, I highly recommend getting this paper work filled out during the third trimester. 
  • Hold the sacred space for mother, baby and partner
  • Talk parents through the process, remind them what is normal and what is happening.
  • Take pictures, call family, take notes to share the story with family at the postpartum visit. 
  • Prepare a song, sing with parents as baby is being born! Or play song on CD/ipod.
  • Give mom and/or partner permission to feel sadness, grief, etc. Hold the space for mom, especially if an unplanned cesarean. 
Immediately Postpartum:

  • Re-establish LOVE. 
  • Help facilitate skin on skin when baby is born. With mom or partner, depending on circumstances. 
  • Hold sacred space for mother and baby to connect. 
  • Stay with mom as she is transferred to recovery room.
  • Help mom with positioning of baby. 
  • Support mom and partner in whatever way they need!
Postpartum Home Visit:
  • Share birth story. Listen.
  • Discuss postpartum preferences and remind mom and partner what is normal for this time period. 

There you have it! A brief summary of what a doula will offer you, your beloved and your baby at your cesarean birth!

Much love and blessing to you on your birth journey.

A Comparison of Qi Gong and Yoga

Yoga is part of Ayurveda, as qi gong is an aspect of Chinese medicine.

Historically, yoga and qi gong have different movements and postures and focus, but they both similarly use the breath to move energy and invoke a meditative state. Yoga and qi gong can also be used together to bring a more heightened awareness.
Qi gong incorporates what we tend to learn as we advance in our yoga practice, using breath and our qi to move and unblock stuck energy and ultimately begin to heal the body through learning how to move and receive energy. Yoga asana has a more structural and muscular focus historically.
Both yoga and qi gong practices bring us closer to feeling our bodies and help us to peel back layers of tension, trauma and feeling stuck. They help us to quiet our minds and listen to our hearts. Both yoga and qi gong also focus on optimal alignment for more effective energy flow within and around the body.
Yoga and qi gong lineages acknowledge that, aside from our denser physical parts, we have an energetic grid line that also defines us just as much as our flesh, blood, organs and bones do. These are called “meridians” or “nadis”. Within these lines are highly charged poolings of qi/prana/energy called “acu points” or “marma” points. Ayurveda and Chinese medicine view these systems slightly differently, but, when compared, they are more similar than different.
One essential thing that classic Chinese philosophy teaches us that the true mind and the heart are not separated. There is one heart-mind, also called the Shen. When our Shen is clear, we are clear and connected.
Combining these 5,000 (plus) year old practices together clarifies our perception by fine-tuning our senses and sensitivities. Through yoga and qi gong, we discover how our unique energy feels and how the world around us feels in an extremely palpable and rich way. We learn to trust what feels good to us and what doesn’t.
Unhealthy patterns or relationships start to shift the more we sensitize our being through these mind, body, spirit practices. If I am doing my yoga and qi gong regularly, I can tell if I have been on my cell phone too long because I start to get a headache. Or, when I’m angry, I feel my liver pulsate and tense up. In Chinese philosophy, the liver meridian and organ energy can get stuck from anger.
Yoga gets us in our bodies, makes us strong and vibrant, moves our blood and breath and aligns our bodies to be able to receive and build energy. Qi gong helps us to receive, move and procure energetic connection.
Yoga and qi gong nourish the heart-mind Shen, and help us feel our way to health, happiness and well-being. Everything, in my opinion, is just theory until we actually feel and experience it for ourselves. Eventually, by doing yoga and qi gong, theory shifts into knowing. Our practice is the road to demystifying what the mystics have taught us over thousands of years.
- By Kileen Swenson

Gluten Free Mini Muffins

On this January day the Oregon sky was painted with dark blues, greys and a misting rain. It reminded me of my favorite autumn Sundays... Though it is definitely winter. Filled with relaxing, laughing, candles, chai, fresh baked muffins, bath salts, yum! Self care is so important. 

The oh so popular Gluten Free Diet, while generally a healthy choice sometimes leaves people without fiber.  Fiber is necessary for proper bowel movements and removal of toxic waste, colonization of healthy bacteria, etc. All promoting a healthy gut. A gluten free diet filled with veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and meat is a wonderful choice. Though the gluten free pastry craze has really tricked some people into believing gluten free= healthy, the end. Point in fact, white flour and sugar, whether wheat filled or gluten free, is not a choice to make daily. 

This evening I baked these muffins with the ingredients I had laying around. These muffins are delicious. High in fiber and healthy fats, and low in sugar. Try them! As always, my recipes don't come from a recipe... more a marrying of ingredients that need to be used. Feel free to add, subtract or substitute any ingredients. The batter should be pourable in the end. Thick enough to scoop a heaping tablespoon but moist enough to run. 

1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon 

1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup oatmeal- (soaked for 5 minutes or dry)
1 tablespoon chia seeds- soaked in water 

1/4 cup raw butter (soft)
1/4 cup fresh peanut butter (or almond butter)
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 large egg
1 cup grated carrot
2 smashed bananas (mine weren't especially ripe. just soft enough to mash. I'm sure any variety of banana will suffice)

*Olive oil, butter or almond milk can be used to add moisture if it is too dry. 

-preheat oven 350 F
-pour 1 tablespoon chia seeds into 1/4 cup- top with water. let sit
-oil 24 mini-muffin tray
-Sift all dry ingredients into a bowl: almond flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon. Set aside
-Mix all wet ingredients into a bowl: butter, peanut butter, maple syrup, egg. Mix together and then add mashed banana and carrot.
-add chia seed gel (the soaking chia seeds) 
-add carrot, walnuts, coconut oatmeal and any other fiber filled treats you may add.

-fill each mini muffin 3/4 full.

-Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. 

* remember, almond flour is oily and moist. When still hot it will seems as though the muffins are not done. If the top is lightly golden brown and slightly firm around the edges. They are done. 

Foods & Herbs to Increase Mothers Milk Supply

From a Chinese medicine perspective, our nourishment (the nutrients we consume), create blood and blood creates milk. If, as breastfeeding mothers, we are not properly nourished our bodies will not have the resources to transform and transport nutrients into milk.

Traditional people from all reaches of the world have passed down the wisdom of what we now call galactagogues- or lactation promoting foods and herbs. This is a list of Western and Chinese herbs, and another of basic foods. 


Bone broth- (see Recipe Blueprint post)
Black sesame seed
Flaxseed (ground fresh)
Green beans
Raw milk or dairy product
Sweet potatoes

*Along with a diet rich in general blood nourishing foods (see Nourishing Blood post)

Western Herbs to promote lactation:

Many of these may be prepared raw, as tinctures or infusions. Many can be purchased at your local health food store.

Blessed Thistle
Red Clover
Raspberry Leaf

Chinese Herbs to promote lactation:

Again, it is best to have Chinese herbal formulas for breastfeeding, prescribed by your provider. But here's a sneak peak. 

Ren Shen (ginseng radix ) & Huang Qi (astragalus root)
-build qi and blood to promote milk

Dang Gui (angelica), Bai Shao (white peony) & Mai Men Dong
-nourish blood, promote fluid to increase lactation.

Feel free to email with questions.

Kat Starbird, M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., birth doula

Vitamins & Minerals During Pregnancy & Postpartum

Consuming whole foods, rich in vitamins and minerals is preferred over supplements, as food is much easier and more absorbable than supplements. Of course there are cases where we are so deficient we simply can’t consume enough foods to fulfill the requirement. In these cases good quality supplement are recommended.

Food as Medicine:


I do recommend a prenatal supplement to my patients. Along with eating a healthy diet. My favorite is Thorne- Basic Prenatal

·      Vit C
o   cabbage, bell peppers, broccolis, sprouts, parsley, rose hips, and almost all fruits and veggies
·      Probiotics
o   fermented foods or supplements
·      Calcium
o   bone broths, raw milk products, legumes, wakame, kelp, kombu, dried wheat grass or chloryphyll
·      B 12
o   liver, fish, eggs (soft boiled), organic meat
·      B 6
o   Bananas, raw milk dairy products, eggs, whole grains
·      DHA
o   cod liver oil, eggs, liver
·      Zinc
o   red meat, liver, veggies
·      Folate
o   beans, liver, egg, green veggies
·      Vit A
o   cod liver oil, eggs, butter, fresh carrot juice
·      Vit D
o   cod liver oil, eggs, butter, lard
·      Iron
o   blackstrap molasses, red meat, eggs, nuts, seeds

·      Iodine
o   seaweed, seafood, butter, most veggies, whole grains

POSTPARTUM (refer to food list above)

·      B 12
o   Very important to supplement if mother is vegetarian.
·      Iodine & Iron
o   Brain development. Essential for mothers with Thyroid disorders to supplement. Especially if mothers has low milk supply.
·      Vitamin D
o   Deficiency leads to rickets.
·      Vitamin A
o   Necessary for development of infant.
·      Magnesium
o   must be adequate for calcium absorption. Calms the mind and relaxes muscles.
·      Fat
o   grass fed meat, raw milk dairy, coconut oil, butter, avocado, nuts
·      Vitamin C
o   aids in iron absorption, strengthen immune system
·      Choline
o   essential for the development of the nervous system and brain.
o   Egg yolk (soft boiled is best), liver

Feel free to email with questions.

Kat Starbird, M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., birth doula

Nourishing Mother's Blood After Childbirth

From a Chinese medicine perspective blood deficiency is a natural and normal state of being after birth. In the case of true anemia or not, nourishing blood after birth is crucial for mother’s physical, mental and emotional health.

Again, healthy gut flora is crucial for nutrient absorption. If we consume high amounts of sugar and refined carbs, leading to yeast overgrowth, we are left with Candida. Candida is an iron loving pathogen that eventually results in mild to severe forms of anemia and other nutrient deficiencies. 

Blood Nourishing Foods:

Vitamin A is required to absorb iron. Most of these foods are high in Vit A in the form of beta-carotene. 

Coconut oil
Grass fed meat
Blackstrap Molasses (super high in iron)
Bone broth-see recipe
Algae- chlorella and spirulina are best
Sweet potato
Winter squash
Chinese cabbage
Herbal decoctions- see herbal list

-Remember bright and dark pigmented fruits and veggies are highest in nutrients.

Nourish Blood by Moving Stagnant Blood

From a Chinese medicine perspective there is blood stagnation after birth, this is normal. This means with vaginal birth or cesarean birth mom's lower abdomen has mild (and sometime severe) blood stagnation, often leading to pain, constipation, etc. Incorporating these pungent or moving foods into mom's diet we are able to increase circulation and relieve possible swelling or aching in the lower abdomen.


Foods to Nourish Spirit and Prevent Postpartum Depression & Anxiety:

Blood deficiency is the key element in postpartum depression and anxiety. The most important nutritional element in treating these conditions are fats and blood building foods (refer to list above).

I very commonly recommend:

-Cod Liver Oil- Green Pastures
-Basic Prenatal- Thorne research
-Chlorella, Spirulina or Wheat Grass
-FAT- butter, bone broth, coconut oil, avocado, meat, nuts, seeds, etc.
-Herbal tea with calming flowers
         -rose hips, lavender, chamomile, etc.

-Healthy diet and low inflammation is key for a happy mind, body and spirit!

-Disclaimer- As you know postpartum depression is not something to wait out. I strongly believe there is a strong emotional/spiritual component, that simply is not addressed with nutrition. I recommend women seek treatment from a holistic practitioner or counselor.  I have seen a lot of success with the use of individualized herbs, and acupuncture and wish for every mama suffering, she is able to reach out for help.

Feel free to email with questions.

Kat Starbird, M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., birth doula

Recipe Blueprint For Postpartum Mama's

Nutrient Rich Foods a Doula (or family member) Can Prepare for Family After Birth:

These simple recipes are to be used as a blueprint. Change what you will, fruit, milk source, meats, veggies, etc.


Nourish blood, high in nutrients, fat and protein. Add grated ginger if you are prone to digestive upset.

1 banana
handful of fresh kale
heaping TBS almond butter
tsp coconut
5 chlorella capsules-Open, mix in powder, discard capsules
1 cup almond milk or other preference
optional probiotic powder
optional chia seed gel (1 TBS chia seeds in 1 c water soak overnight)

 -blend and enjoy!

Build qi and blood, support digestion, promote milk, relieve constipation

         1 c steel cut oats
         ½ cup coconut
         TBS sesame seeds
         Handful of sliced dates
         6-8 cups of water
         Slow cook on low/med in crock pot. I tend to cook these through the night. 6-8 hrs. 
         Ratios will depend on the size of pot

         top with butter or coconut oil and raw honey!

Build blood, support digestion

         1 lb grass fed beef chuck- rinsed and dry
         1 fennel bulb- diced
         1 onion- diced
         1 sweet potato- cut in large cubes
         1 small squash, seeded & cut in half
         3 carrots- cut into large chuks
         option for carrots, spinach, kale, brussel sprouts
         1 tbs black strap molasses   
         1 tbs bullion- organic, chemical free past or homemade stock

-Sautee onions and fennel, add top crock pot
-Melt butter and brown meat, leaving inside raw. Add to pot
-Add sweet potato and carrot
-cover with water, bullion & molasses
-cook for 5-6 hours.
-place squash on top of stew, shell up, cover & cook until squash is soft.

-if choose to add spinach, kale, etc, add to pot based on time needed to cook. For example- spinach only needs a few minutes to cook.


High in vitamins and minerals, great with any protein source or over cooked whole grains.

1 ½ c kale
1 c Italian parsley
½ cilantro
½ green onion
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp tamari- to taste

Slice all greens in small/ shredded like pieces. Mix all ingredients. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes at least, or overnight to let the cell walls break down allowing the nutrients to be absorbed.


High in minerals and nutrients, necessary for milk production and baby’s health

-My go to are carrots, brussles, cauliflower- cut into large chunks

Cloves of garlic- diced
Dried thyme, rosemary, or dill
Sea salt
Cold pressed olive oil

-Coat veggies with oil, spices and salt bake @ 450 until browned and soft. 15-30 minutes

-add raw butter or mineral butter to taste


Pumpkin is wonderful for regulating the digestion, the coconut makes this high in fat, which is wonderful for mom’s milk and baby!

34 oz pumpkin- organic canned
34 oz coconut milk- whole fat, organic
bunch of celery with leafs-sliced to sauté
1 onion- sliced to sautee
spiced of choice- I prefer a blend with herbs and pepper

-Cook onion and celery in butter until translucent- add to pot
-Add pumpkin and coconut to pot
-Add preferred spices
-Simmer for 30 minutes, blend with hand blender if possible

Top with roasted veggies or fresh herbs and sour cream

-great frozen and reheated!


Extremely high in vitamins and minerals. Essential in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins. Builds blood, high in healthy cholesterol- important as the building block for hormones. Wonderful to heal the gut and reverse food allergies, check it out GAPS diet. 

Grass fed organic beef bone
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
fresh herbs

1 quart of water. You choose amount.

-Add bone, vinegar, spices, cover with water, boil, allow to simmer for 1-6 hours. Scoop out the marrow once soft and continue to cook. Blend if necessary

-The vinegar extracts the nutrients from the bone.

- Some people LOVE this flavor and use this alone as soup stock. If you do not, you can freeze the bone broth in ice cube trays adding 1-6 cubes to soup stock. It is worth finding a way to consume bone broths as they are SO nutrient packed. Fresh herbs do make bone broth super delicious! Give it a try!

Feel free to email with questions.

Kat Starbird, M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., birth doula

The Importance of Mother's Diet, Breast Milk and Baby's Health

How Does Mothers Diet Effect Baby’s Digestion?

Mothers diet has a significant influence on the production of nutrient rich milk supply. Traditional diets high in healthy fats are shown to increase milk fat enzymes. Including lipase and alkaline phosphates- all required for healthy digestion and proper assimilation of baby’s nutrients.

Various enzymes in breast milk facilitate the absorption of fats and nutrients crucial for baby’s health. To encourage the presence of optimal enzymes in milk, mom must have healthy gut flora, as well as regular consumption of nutrients and most importantly healthy fats!

Why does gut flora matter?

Our gastrointestinal tracts require a wide variety of bacteria to function properly. Many studies show specific bacteria in our gut are responsible for nutrients absorption, reducing inflammation, etc. Just as we understand gut flora to be a crucial component for our overall immune health, babies are no different. Infancy and childhood are an important time to introduce new bacteria (this is positive) and build gut flora. Moms antibodies, present in breast milk work wonderfully in creating a strong immune system leaving baby’s body able to respond to pathogenic bacteria. Mothers diet and baby’s diet will create healthy flora, protect against digestive upset and build a strong immune system.

How do I create healthy gut flora?

  • Eat a whole foods diet, including veggies, fruits, organic grass fed meat, whole grains, bone broth soups, healthy fats including coconut fat, raw milk butter or mineral butter.
  • Avoid antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.
  • Encourage kiddos (and yourself) to play in the dirt and with animals!
  • Eliminate processed food
  • Skip the hourly hand wash (unless of course, you are exposed to a known pathogen. Strep, for example)
  • Add fermented foods to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria, rather than a probiotic= yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, etc. Preferably use fermented foods with less sugar. If this isn’t an option take a high quality probiotic.
  • In order to increase gut fermentation, necessary for a healthy upper and lower GI tract- increase fiber of all sorts. Including soluble (root veggies, nuts), insoluble (whole grains, avocados), resistant starch (bananas, oats, beans).
  • Avoid or limit processed food as it is high in trans fat, chemical additives and overly processed grains and sugars. All of which negatively impact gut flora, cause inflammation, throw of ph and promote the presence candida, or yeast overgrowth.

Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding:

Mom’s milk offers antibodies that promote a healthy immune system. Likewise, if mom’s diet is high in allergens, inflammatory causing foods or medications, her milk will pass these antigens, causing inflammation. Consuming processed foods that are carb heavy and without nutrients will leave mom’s milk less nutritious. Studies have shown that the regular consumption of trans fats both disrupts normal enzymatic processes needed for nutrient absorption, and reduces the overall fat content in mother’s milk.

It is best that mom avoid substances that cause inflammation. Your baby will communicate with you if you’re eating something she doesn’t agree with. Common symptoms will be crying, colic, gas, irritability, etc. Of course you’ll need to distinguish if baby is hungry or experiencing discomfort due to an allergen intake. Often times keeping track of what you eat on a calendar if baby is commonly colicky will help determine the offender. (If you have an older child that likes to help out. Awesome task to have them write down what mommy is eating to help out little baby sibling!)

Common foods mom’s finds necessary to avoid include:

  • Pasteurized dairy-as it is inflammatory and phlegm producing. It also causes a change in mom’s milk composition, often leading to health issues in baby (ear infections, digestive upset, etc.)
  • Alcohol, caffeine, tobacco.
  • Peanuts, eggs, soy and corn are the most common food allergens in general
  • Chocolate (I know this is tragic, but I have met many women who had colicky babies after their consumption of any form of cacao.)
  • Gluten- again, inflammatory producing in general.
  • Some women find very individualized, specific food sensitivities like citrus, banana, soy, etc.
Remember, there is a difference in food allergies and food sensitivities. A food allergy test will likely not be helpful. Listing to our bodies, eliminating foods that we suspect are causing inflammation (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, skin issues, emotional issues, etc. in mother or baby), will be most beneficial.

The key is being aware and open to the possibility of foods effecting baby.

Feel free to email with questions.

Kat Starbird, M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., birth doula

Recovering from an Eating Disorder with Chinese Medicine

The National Eating Disorder Association estimates that 10 billion American women suffer from eating disorders and only 1 in 10 of these people receive treatment.

Eating disorders are complex illnesses and generally manifest from a variety of social, psychological and physiological factors. There is a fine line between the diet and "health" crazed modern world, and diagnosable eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia, binge eating, etc). No matter what your story is- acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, lifestyle and dietary therapy can be extremely helpful in healing the body and restoring balance. Acupuncture has the ability to reconnect the emotional, physical and spiritual bodies promoting a healing response. I often hear women say "I feel so good in my body after acupuncture." This is huge! Especially for individuals who generally feel uncomfortable in their own body.

There are many physical and emotional components to disordered eating. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine promote balance and harmony among individual organs and meridians. It is common for your practitioner to offer dietary and lifestyle recommendations to nourish and balance the body during recovery. Here is a list of some commonly treated conditions related to disordered eating:

  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • facial puffiness, edema
  • belching, bloating, distention
  • diarrhea, constipation
  • depression
  • hemorrhoids
  • abdominal pain
  • amenorrhea
  • dysmenorrhea
  • PMS
  • fatigue, dizziness
  • anger, irritability, sadness, fear, panic, etc.
  • loss of appetite, or ravenous appetite 
  • acne, eczema, dry skin
  • dry eyes, red eyes, floaters
  • sense of uprising, need to vomit
  • headaches
  • allergies
  • sense of something stuck in throat
  • and many more...
Chinese medicine in the treatment of disordered eating is not a replacement for Western medicine, including therapy. Often there are co-occurring disorders with chronic eating disorders that must be monitored by your primary care doc. We are happy to work in conjunction with your other providers.

Feel free to email with questions.

Kat Starbird, M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., birth doula

Placenta Medicine: 4 things to do with your placenta

Placenta burial in Ubud Bali, with offerings of burning coconut and flowers.

Birth is an everyday miracle. If left uninterrupted it has the potential to be ecstatic. After the birth of our baby, during the third stage of labor, we birth our placenta. This is the life force that protected baby for 10 lunar months. 

In the U.S. it is rare for women to even see their placenta during birth. Hospital protocol includes tossing the otherwise precious placenta into biohazard containers. Globally, there are many countries, villages, communities that use the placenta as medicine, or honor it as a spiritual part of a child. A Bumi Sehat birthing center in Bali, where I completed my gentle birth training we attended a naming ceremony in which the placenta was buried on a certain side of the house, specific to sex. We listened to stories and deep meaning of the placenta, or "spiritual twin" of newborn baby. Rich in nutrients and hormones it is known to be an effective way to replenish the body postpartum. Postpartum hemorrhage is a killer in Bali, due to malnourishment, the midwives of Bumi Sehat swear by eating a chunk of the placenta to quickly and efficiently stop postpartum bleeding.  

Four things to do with your placenta:

  1. Encapsulate into placenta medicine. Known to have significant clinical effects, especially in the treatment of postpartum depression, fatigue, low milk supply, dizziness and headaches. There certainly a trending "placenta medicine" in the US so you should have no shortage of people to dehydrate and encapsulate. Many herbalists will also offer encapsulation with added blood and qi nourishing herbs to help further replenish you after birth.
  2. Plant your placenta. As mentioned above, in Bali it is common ritual to plant the placenta. The child of the placenta will then consider this "home." Into adulthood Balinese people visit their placentas as ritual. In the US a know of many women planting the placenta around the roots of a tree, and later teaching the child that this is "their tree." What fun!
  3. Eat it! If you have experienced postpartum depression you may be in assembly with the many women who express they would do anything to avoid round two....or three... So, eat it! Why not get the replenishing hormones and rich blood and nutrients right away. If  I can talk my long term vegetarian sister into doing it, I'm sure you can too. ;) 
  4. Make into salve. Along with encapsulation some midwives, doula's and placenta workers are creating salves with combined herbs. This can be effective in the treatment of cesarean birth scarring, hemorrhoids and cracked nipples, etc.

To schedule or learn more visit my website:

Kat Starbird, M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., birth doula

Treating Morning Sickness: Traditional Chinese Medicine

Morning sickness effects more than 50% of all pregnant women. Despite its common name, many women experience the symptoms of nausea and vomiting at any point during the day. Generally these symptoms begin around week six and subside by week twelve. Though some experience symptoms as early as week four, and others lasting through week fourteen. 

What causes morning sickness? A western approach:

There are a number of theories regarding the cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Many speculate that the rapidly rising human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is the main contributor. The timing of the rise in hCG and the symptoms of morning sickness seem to correlate. Some research also shows that higher levels of hCG, as with carrying multiples, seems to correlate to a higher likelihood of morning sickness. Estrogen seems to be the other offender, though there is no clear research providing this to be true. 

Some theorize that the enhanced sense of smell during pregnancy causes the hyperactive gag reflex, though western medicine can not explain why that is. 

Treatments from the western approach:

(Disclaimer: I am NOT recommending taking any of these medications during pregnancy. I am merely demonstrating the common pharmacological treatments.) 

Over the counter:
  • Emetro: general antiemetic 
  • Zantac and Pepcid: histamine H2 receptor antagonist.
  • Doxylamine: antihistamine and over the counter sleep aid, often used in conjunction with B6.
Prescription drugs: (all with known side effects)
  • Compazine: D2 receptor antagonist
  • Phenergan: antipsychotic 
  • Zofran: serotonin 5HT3 receptor antagonist. Created for the use of nausea during chemotherapy.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach:

TCM is founded in the theory that Qi (chee) or our vital life force, is continuously circulating throughout pathways called channels and meridians. In order for our bodies to function optimally this Qi must be free flowing. During pregnancy a practitioner of Chinese medicine will often use a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to safely and effectively balance these meridians and related organs to reduce morning sickness. 

What causes morning sickness?

Traditional Chinese medicine views pregnancy as a time when the Essence, Qi and Blood collect in the lower jiao (lower abdomen) to create new life. This collection in the uterus causes a blockage in the Chong Mai- or Penetrating Vessel. The Chong Mai, known as the "Sea of Blood," is a channel that runs vertically from head to genitalia. The obstruction in this channel leads to a rebellion of stomach qi, causing nausea and vomiting. This pathology often leads to or exacerbates other disharmony's such as Liver stagnation, Spleen deficiency, damp accumulation, etc. 

Your provider will individually diagnose and treat accordingly. Remember these Chinese medical diagnosis are significantly different than that of Western medicine. We diagnose both subtle and severe organ pathologies, so generally speaking there is no concern for the heath of your organs. Know that licensed, NCCAOM certified practitioners of Chinese medicine are thoroughly trained and educated in western pathology, diagnosis and treatment. If we are concerned of a western pathology you will be referred out for further diagnosis. 

A few common acupuncture points used for Morning Sickness:

PC 6: Nei Guan "inner pass"- command point for the heart, chest and epigastrium. Relieves anxiety and digestive symptoms. Many studies have shown the effectiveness of this point in the treatment of nausea and vomiting.

ST 36: Zu San Li "leg three mile"- A major point in the treatment of gastric disorders. Pain, hiccuping, nausea, vomiting, constipation, enteritis, fatigue, low immune function, many GI disorders caused by both deficiency and excess. 

CV 12: Zhong Wan "central stomach"- Front mu point of the stomach. Commonly used in the treatment of gastric disorders including nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and distention. 

SP 4: Gong Sun "Yellow Emperor"- confluent point of the Chong Mai. Used in the treatment of menstrual irregularities and pregnancy discomforts, especially nausea and vomiting, headache, and anxiety. 

A few common Chinese herbs used for Morning Sickness:

Ginger (Sheng Jiang): This is one of my favorite food grade herbs! I could write and entire article on its effectiveness for a diverse number of pathologies. It is warm, acrid and releasing. Dispersing in nature, ginger warms the spleen and stomach and transforms phlegm and effectively relieves nausea and vomiting. 

Cardamom (Sha Ren): Aromatic, transforms dampness, promotes the free flow of Qi, warms the middle, improves appetite, relieves nausea and vomiting. 

Patchouli (Huo Xiang): Aromatic, transforms dampness, harmonizes the middle jiao and alleviates nausea.  

Your provider will prescribe a Chinese herbal formula suited to treat your individualized diagnosis and will discuss possible dietary or nutritional supplements based on your constitution. 

What can I do at home?
  • Freshly grate or press ginger (I use a garlic press), or prepare an entire tuber of ginger and store in a small jar for 2-3 days. Add 1 tsp. ginger to boiling water and drink as needed throughout the day. 
  • Many women successfully reduce their nausea and vomiting by eating small meals very regularly. Remember to eat foods rich in nutrients: cooked veggies and meat, bananas, berries, yogurt(preferably very low in sugar), soups, and stews. Consider eating pumpkin, squash, oatmeal and whole grains rather than processed, difficult to digest flours and pastries. Many women find they need to eat every hour or two.
  • Avoid foods high in sugar, processed foods, fried foods, caffeine and soda. 
  • Eat fat. Coconut oil, avocado, soups and stews with slow cooked meat and veggies are very nourishing to our body. Animal fats aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and are necessary as the building blocks for neurotransmitters and a healthy gut. 
  • Many women find relief when incorporating B6 with their prenatal vitamin. Talk to your provider about this.
  • Research your prenatal vitamin. What is its bioavailability? Are there any reviews from other mama's? Many multivitamins are made in a way that our bodies simply can not absorb. My favorite is Thorne Research basic prenatal.

To schedule or learn more please visit my website:

Kat Starbird, M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., birth doula

March: Endometriosis Awareness Month

March is Endometriosis awareness month. Endometriosis occurs as an inflammatory response to endometrial cells forming outside of the uterus. It is often associated with painful menses, pelvic pain,  painful intercourse, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS, infertility, urinary disorders and more. A reported 8.5 billion women in North America suffer from Endometriosis. While there is a list of common symptoms as listed above, some women experience no symptoms and discover the diagnosis as cause for infertility. 

Chinese Medicine and Endometriosis:

Chinese medicine is a holistic medicine. It is founded in the theory that Qi (chee) must harmoniously flow in pathways called channels and meridians, in order for the body to function properly. In the case of endometriosis, there is congestion or stagnation, of qi, blood and phlegm causing pain and a wide variety of other symptoms. From a Chinese medical perspective endometriosis occurs in response to an underlying imbalance. While many women believe endometriosis is untreatable and something to live with. It is often well maintained with acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, proper nutrition and possible lifestyle changes. Here are some commonly treated symptoms associated with Endometriosis:

  • painful menses 
  • heavy or abnormal uterine bleeding
  • chronic or intermittent pelvic pain
  • ovarian cysts
  • infertility, miscarriage
  • nausea, vomiting, GI disorders, diarrhea, constipation, etc.
  • painful intercourse
  • fatigue
  • immune related disorders

Feel free to email with question!

To schedule or learn more, visit my website:

Kat Starbird, M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., birth doula

One Billion Rising: Healing After Sexual Violence

"One Billion Dancing is a Revolution"

On February 14, 2013 (F-14) I danced and marched with One Billion Rising, a global action to demand an end to violence against women and girls. A reported one in three women and girls will be abused or raped in her lifetime. On this day we created a global community, empowered to create change. Together, we danced in "flash mobs", shared stories, and peacefully marched. Our motto was Strike. Dance. Rise. In Portland, Oregon we gathered with a reported 600 people and marched the streets of downtown. On this day women, men and children of more than 160 countries, of diverse race, class, gender, sexual orientation and religion came together and took action. There was mass media coverage, and thus, the world is responding. This day left me inspired and empowered. 

My response as a healthcare provider, a woman, a sister, and a birth doula:

In response to F-14 and my commitment to promoting awareness of human rights for women, I have decided to more actively integrate my work as a healthcare provider with this passion for change. My current work as a gentle birth doula is very much related to human rights in birth. Now, with the intention of supporting this community, I am inviting women and girls affected by violence into my Chinese medicine practice. This includes survivors and women who have experienced physical or verbal violence, birth trauma, childhood abuse, etc. Anyone emotionally, physically or spiritually effected by violence and seeking support while healing. 

Incorporating an element of therapy and energetic medicine (acupuncture, intuitive healing, energetic clearings, body work, etc.) into the wellness plan seems to be the most therapeutic during the healing process. Healing is a process, there are growth periods, transitions and often times new perspectives as old stagnant energy and beliefs move out. It is important to have a support system in place when beginning your acupuncture treatments. Often times as we peel back layers energy or beliefs that are no longer serving us, we reveal new states and perspectives. Have a trusting relationship with a practitioner or friend/family member is helpful in moving through these stages. 

Resources in Portland OR.-

How Does Chinese Medicine Promote Healing After Sexual Abuse?

Acupuncture has the ability to promote the reconnection of physical, emotional and spiritual bodies. It is a gentle and effective way to balance the emotions and aide in the digestion (or processing) of experiences, including trauma. 

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is founded in the theory that Qi (chee) harmoniously flows throughout pathways called channels and meridians. Each meridian is related to a specific organ with many functions and associations. The spleen for example is responsible for transforming and transporting food and nutrients throughout the body. Therefore it is related to digestion and nourishment of the entire body. When the spleen is out of balance there may be poor digestion, loose stool, and general lassitude. The element associated with the spleen is Earth, which is our grounding. Our ability to manage tasks that require concentration is dependent on the spleen because it houses the thought. When out of balance we worry, ruminate and often experience anxiety and disturbed sleep. The emotions tell us a story, they reveal what organs are involved and what imbalances are underlying. Each organ is related to an emotion, the kidneys to fear, the spleen to worry, the lungs to grief, the gallbladder to timidity, the liver to anger, and the heart to joy. If you think about where we feel these emotions in our physical body, you can begin to see the connection. For example, it is extremely common for people to express a sense of anxiety or worry in the solar plexus which is related to the spleen. 

Based on your constitution, health history, emotions, symptoms and diagnosis, your acupuncturist will select acupoints. Acupuncture causes the release of endorphins and thus, people often experience a state of deep relaxation. We playfully refer to this as "acubliss". Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine promote a healing response and influence harmony in the emotional, physical, and spiritual bodies. I aim to inspire and empower you as you move toward the light and out of the shadow. 

Check out this blog written by a survivor and student of Chinese Medicine. She beautifully writes of her experience with Chinese medicine during her healing journey. "Survivor Manual: inspiring and empowering survivors to lead joyful lives."

To schedule our learn more about our clinic visit my website:

Kat Starbird, M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., birth doula