Tree of Health Integrative Medicine, PLLC

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By Kristen Mattisson, EAMP, LAc, LMP

Welcome to the lucky year of the Earth Pig: February 5, 2019 -January 2020.   The Pig is the last sign of the Chinese Zodiac.

Those born this Earth Lunar Year of the Pig are said to be social butterflies with friends from all walks of life. They will have a lot of support in both work and life. They will have fortunate lives and will find happiness. They tend to be successful later in life. However, they aren’t the most romantic people and might need to work on that.

In general, people with Chinese zodiac Pig sign are considered to be generous, independent and optimistic and ultimately responsible.  Those born under this sign, show mercy to endure other people’s mistakes, which help them gain harmonious interpersonal relationships. However, sometimes they will behave lazy and lack actions. In addition, pure hearts may let them be cheated easily in daily life.

The atmosphere of this year can be both festive and relaxed and we may find that we spend a majority of our free time in leisure and pleasure with friends and family. Good will, good intentions & motivations are renewed and strengthened by the energy of this New Year.

Best Wishes in the New Year!

The Years of the Pig include 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031, 2043…

Year of the Pig


By Kristen Mattisson, LAc, EAMP, LAc

Fall is upon us.  The long days of summer are behind us.  Autumn is a time of transition.  This is the time of year where change is very apparent all around us.  The bright leaves changing color remind us that it is time to start preparing for winter.  After presenting us with the beautiful warm colors of season, the leaves begin to fall and further prepare and conserve the energy for the tree for the upcoming months.

According to Chinese Medicine, Autumn/Fall is the season of the Metal Element, purging, setting boundaries and nurturing.   The climate factor associated with Autumn is dryness.  The Lung and Large Intestine are the yin/yang meridians associated with the Metal Element.  The lung is responsible for taking in the new. This manifests physically breathing in the crisp clean fall air and filling out lungs for oxygen.  The large intestine being a digestive organ is responsible for physically letting go of waste.

Grief and Sadness are the emotions that arise when there is dis-ease in these organs. When there is an imbalance or you experience an emotional grief you may have difficulty coping with the loss or change, may experience alienation and prolonged sadness.  With this weakness in the lung qi, you may experience a hard time “letting go of people, objects, and spend time in the past.  With prolonged and unresolved lung qi deficiency you may have weakened immune and experience frequent colds/illness.  The paired organ to the lung is the large intestine along with the grief one can experience constipation or dry stools (remember having a hard time of letting go).  On the contrary, when you are in a balanced state, the lungs are associated with clear thinking, communication, openness to new ideas and positive self-image.

In conclusion, just as nature is transitioning, it is a good time to tend to our internal environment; it is also a beneficial time to move through grief and let go of any resentment holding us back.  As we prepare for the slowness and stillness of the upcoming winter months, Fall is our time to nurture our internal health.



  • Take a walk in the cool crisp air.
  • Wear a scarf and protect your neck- in Chinese medicine- we call the neck the “wind gate” and as the weather cools, this area can be vulnerable to external wind invasion resulting in the common cold.
  • Avoid excessive raw foods and relish in the warming foods that are in season:  root vegetables, hearty stews, pears, apples.
  • Incorporate good Autumn foods:  Garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, squash, vinegar, pickles, pumpkin, asparagus, cinnamon, cardamom, pear, pumpkin, walnuts and almonds
  • Fall cleaning is a good time to organize and physically let go of things that we no longer need. De-clutter your home, car and mind. Let go of things that no longer serve you.
  • Let go of negative thoughts: again this is the season of letting go, move through grief rather than being stuck.
  • Daily Dry Brushing:  to help detox the body, remove dry skin, improve circulation and engage the lymphatic system. Using a firm natural bristle use short gentle strokes towards the heart along the entire body starting by the feet. The skin should be dry and will turn pink, this is ok.

Kristen Mattisson is an East Asian Practitioner and an Acupuncturist practicing at Tree of Health Integrative Medicine. To schedule an appointment with her, call (425) 408-0040

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The Fertility-Nutrient Connection

By Dr. Elizabeth Orth

The phase “eating for two” is commonly used in society once a woman is already pregnant. However, if you think about it, eating nutrients for two should start before getting pregnant since the body uses preexisting nutrients to make a baby. In fact, nutrient deficiencies have been linked to difficulty getting pregnant. One such nutrient is the mineral called magnesium.

Magnesium is found in higher amounts in leafy greens (especially spinach and swiss chard), seeds (especially pumpkin and sesame), beans, quinoa and barley. Magnesium has multiple general roles in the body including muscle function, energy production, bone density maintenance, and nerve function. What many people are unaware of is that there are also many additional functions for magnesium that are related to reproductive health. These functions include involvement in making hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, and increasing the blood supply to the uterus.

A small study in London (1), showed that women who had a low level of magnesium in their blood cells, were able to get pregnant within 8 months after their magnesium levels got into the normal range! One interesting thing about this study is that half of the women were able to raise their magnesium level by taking magnesium alone, while the other half had to take magnesium in combination with selenium before their magnesium level would rise.  Unfortunately, many prenatal vitamins do not contain the amount of magnesium and/or selenium needed as used in the London study. 

Due to the extensive roles of magnesium in the health of mom and the development of baby, this important nutrient should have an essential place in reproductive health and fertility management.


(1) Howard, J.M., Davies, S., & Hunnisett, A. (1994). Red cell magnesium and glutathione peroxidase in infertile women–effects of oral supplementation with magnesium and selenium. Magnesium Research, 7 (1), 49-57.


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Colorectal Cancer Awareness

By Dr. Elizabeth Orth

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so it is the perfect time to address this very important topic. Colorectal Cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in both men and women. The good news is that the number of colorectal cancer related deaths is declining. This decline may be due to screening, since the earlier this cancer is found, the better the survival rate. So, while there is still more to be done to combat this cancer, making sure to get a screening test is a good first step.

What is the general screening recommendation?

It is recommended for the average risk person to screen for colorectal cancer starting at 50 years old.

What are the screening options?

Colonoscopy (every 10 years): This is the most highly recommended option since it screens for both polyps, which can become cancerous, and cancer. If polyps are found, they can be removed during the colonoscopy. This test requires bowel prep, is more invasive, and has to be done at a doctor’s office (most of the time it is done by a gastroenterologist), so it is not an attractive option for everyone.

FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test, every year): This test mainly screens for cancer but it is a home collection test (the sample is collected at home and then mailed to the lab), which can be convenient.

Cologuard Stool DNA Test (every 3 years): This is the newest colorectal screening test. While some pre-cancerous conditions can be found, it mainly is used for cancer screening. This is also a home collection test.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years):  It is a procedure, which evaluates the lower part of your colon.  Done in combination with fecal occult blood testing every 3 years.

What other things may help prevent colorectal cancer?

Some factors that may help prevent colorectal cancer include:

  • Diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise
  • Avoiding tobacco and too much alcohol.
  • Vitamin D3 (especially if your Vitamin D level is low).



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Spring Forward

By Dr. Eleonora Naydis

How do we actually “Spring Forward” (as opposed to dragging our feet) with daylight saving time?  Not only do we lose an hour of precious sleep, moving time forward also affects our internal clock.  Additional sleep loss resulting from daylight saving time-change was found to be associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart attacks, and traffic accidents.  Lack of sleep can also affect our mood, memory, and concentration.

So how do we make this transition easier?  – Get the right amount of light at the right time.

Get plenty of light first thing in the morning.  Try to spend as much time outside as possible in the first part of the day.  Light is a primary cue that synchronizes our internal circadian rhythm to the outside environment.  Light suppresses production of melatonin, a natural hormone that helps us sleep, so that we are awake and active during the day.

Keep your room dark during the night.   Before bedtime, don’t use any TV or electronic devices for a few hours to get your body ready for sleep.  Electronic devices emit blue light, which suppresses production of melatonin (remember, we need melatonin to feel sleepy).  Also watching TV/news can increase the levels of cortisol (stress hormone), and can affect your sleep in a negative way.

And here are additional reminders for better sleep:

  1. Develop a routine: go to bed and wake up at the same time.
  2. Avoid caffeine, spicy heavy meals before meals, and nicotine in the second part of the day.
  3. Eat a protein snack a few hours prior to bed.
  4. Avoid alcohol. While it can help falling asleep, it prevents you from getting good quality sleep.
  5. If you are having trouble with sleep, go to bed when tired and get up if you can’t sleep after 20 minutes. Don’t take naps during the day.
  6. Develop sleep rituals – take a bath, listen to relaxing music, meditate before bed. Make your bedroom a relaxing place.
  7. Exercise is important, but some people need to exercise earlier during the day for better night sleep.

Happy spring and easy transitions to you all!



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Separating Yourself From SAD

By Dr. Elizabeth Orth

Rain, showers and/or snow… With these weather predictions, it is apparent that it is wintertime in Washington. In Northern states such as Washington, it can be beneficial during this time of the year to know what SAD is, what the symptoms of are, and what can be done to help with SAD.

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, referred to as SAD, is a type of recurrent depression that is influenced by the seasons. Symptoms are present during the same season(s), typically Fall and Winter, and absent for the remainder of the year for a least 2 years. The decrease in light, which is associated with the Fall and Winter months, is thought to affect circadian rhythm, melatonin level, serotonin level, and Vitamin D level. One or more of these changes in the body may lead to the symptoms of SAD.

What does SAD feel like?

SAD can present with a variety of symptoms. Symptoms can include: sad feelings/ low mood, fatigue, anxiety, sleep problems (trouble waking-up or falling asleep), irritability, appetite changes (such as sweet cravings), etc.

What can be done to help with SAD?

The American Family Physician Guidelines recommends [one or a combination of] the following:

  1. Light Therapy (LT): For many individuals with more mild symptoms, this is a good first option. From around 12-18 inches away, shine a 10,000 LUX fluorescent white light (no UV) on yourself for at least 30 minutes daily in the early morning. I also recommend starting the light treatment before you normally start getting symptoms. Possible side effects can include eye strain, headache or skin irritation but if you are at the proper distance away from the light, use a filter and do not look directly at the light for an extended period of time, the risk of side effects goes down.

  2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A type of counseling that focuses on how thoughts, feelings and behaviors affect each other.

  3. Antidepressant Medication: If symptoms are severe, taking a SSRI medication may be beneficial short or long term depending on the individual. If this is an option you are considering, talk with a Healthcare Professional regarding the pros and cons of being on this type of medication.

Other options that can help with SAD include:

  1. Dawn Simulation: In this treatment, the light starts increasing while you are asleep and gradually increases until it gets to full brightness and it is time to wake-up. Some research showed it more effective or similar in effectiveness to Light Therapy.

  2. Exercise: Both exercising 1 hour daily as well as 1 hour twice a week has been found helpful. One article showed significantly greater benefit when exercising in bright light than exercising alone. 

  3. St. John’s Wort: This herbal treatment can be helpful for mild to moderate depression. You do have to be aware that this herb may interact with other medications, so it is not an option for everyone. Do not take this herb if you are pregnant. Possible side effects can include skin reaction, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or rapid heart beat. 


Kurlansik S and Ibay A. Seasonal Affective Disorder. American Family Physician 2012;86(11):1037-1041.

Avery D, Elder D, Bolte M, Hellekson C, Dunner D, Michael V and Prinz P. Dawn Simulation and Bright Light in the Treatment of SAD: A Controlled Study. Biological Psychiatry 2001;50:205-216.

Terman M and Terman J. Controlled Trial of Naturalistic Dawn Simulation and Negative Air Ionization for Seasonal Affective Disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry 2006;163:2126-2133.

Pinchasov B, Shurgaja A, Grischin O and Putilov A. Mood and energy regulation in seasonal and non-seasonal depression before and after midday treatment with physical exercise or bright light. Psychiatry Research 2000;94:29-42.

Leppamaki S, Partonen T and Lonnqvist J. Bright-light exposure combined with physical exercise elevated mood. Journal of Affective Disorders 2002;72:139-144.

Sarris J and Kavanagh D. Kava and St. John’s Wort: Current Evidence for Use in Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2009;15(8):827-236.


Flu-Less in Seattle

By Dr. Eleonora Naydis

Flu is taking full advantage of its season:  it has been officially upgraded to an epidemic level.  How much should you worry?   Most people, while feeling quite sick for a short while, get over the flu just fine.

Let’s talk about prevention and treatment, preceded by a little disclaimer that this is not a substitute for a medical advice.  This is the information that I give to my patients, but also based on the condition of their health, I may ask them to call me in 3 days if their symptoms are very severe and/or they are not improving or are getting worse.   If you are pregnant or nursing, taking any prescription medication or other supplements, have any serious allergies, do not self-medicate, please, check in with your doctor.

Prevention first:

  1. Wash your hands, wash your hands, and wash your hands.
  2. Avoid touching your face.  My son brought a new rule from school today.  (“Every time we touch our faces, we need to go and wash our hands.”)  Love their teacher.  Thank you, Tara!
  3. Build yourself a good foundation:  this should be your lifestyle!
    1. Exercise and enjoy your exercise so that you stick to it.
    2. Healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and whole grains and lean sources of protein.    Great immune builders:  miso soup with shitake mushrooms, garlic, onions, thyme, ginger spices
    3. Decrease your sugar intake.  Sugar decreases the ability of the white blood cells to fight infection.
    4. Drink plenty of water
    5. Get enough sleep.  Lack of sleep suppresses your immune system.
    6. Manage your stress:  while we cannot sometimes change the stress around us, we can change our attitude around it.  Take a break when you feel you need it.  Your projects will not go anywhere if you take a little time for yourselves.
    7. Get regular physicals and blood work.  Some deficiencies affect your immune system, e.g. iron-deficiency anemia.
    8. If you are immune-compromised (e.g. during chemotherapy, radiation, or just on immune-suppressive therapy for any reason), avoid over-crowded places for a little while, until the flu season settles down a bit.
    9. Vaccinations:  Can you get sick this year after you had a flu vaccine?  Flu vaccines are about 50-70% effective, and the preliminary study from CDC released today shows that this year’s flu vaccine is 62% effective.[i]   Some immune-compromised people or people with chronic conditions that put them more at risk for complications may still want to vaccinate.  There are other viruses that can make you sick, so don’t just rely on the vaccine to stay healthy this season.
    10. Hydrotherapy.  Consider taking contrast showers: 3 minutes hot, 30 seconds cold, repeat 3 times, finish on cold.  You may feel more energy afterwards.
    11. Supplements:  consider immune modulating mushrooms, such as Coriolus, Reishi, Maitake.  Fungi Perfecti and Mushroom Science put out good quality supplements.

What if you are sick?

  1. Stay home and rest.  Do not run around.  Most of the things CAN wait.
  2. Depending on your health and symptoms, you may want to call your doctor.
  3. Fevers are not your enemy; they are actually good for you and increase your immune system ability to fight of infections[ii]  Manage your fever, stay hydrated and drink electrolytes.
  4. Get plenty of sleep and take all the necessary steps so that you can.
  5. You may want to run a humidifier with few drops of eucalyptus and thyme essential oil in it for anti-microbial effects and to ease breathing.
  6. Supplements to consider:
    1. Yin Qiao is a Chinese herbal remedy for wind heat (sore throat, heat)
    2. Elderberry extract (Sambucol) – actually showed to shorten the duration of the flu.
    3. Oscillococcinum – great and safe over-the-counter homeopathic remedy.

Stay healthy this season!