All Prism Blog Posts, Endometriosis, Surgical Recovery & Scars

10 Essentials for Surviving Endometriosis

OK, ya’ll, I’ve put a LOT of time and research into curating this list for you and I’m super proud of it! What is it missing? What future posts would you like to see? Email me to suggest topics!

I’ve suffered from endometriosis for as long as I can remember. Like most of us with endo, I wasn’t diagnosed until YEARS after my symptoms began. It has therefore taken me a long time to figure out how to live with this condition; I’m sure many of you can relate! I wanted to share some of the things that have made my life so much easier. I hope they help you too :)

These tips are also great for those of you recovering from vaginoplasty, hysterectomy, and many laparoscopic abdominal surgeries too!

  1.  Pelvic cushion: seriously the best investment for endo, or anyone with pelvic or tailbone pain. Pudendal neuralgia, coccydynia, and hemorrhoids folks will benefit from this as well. Use it every time you drive, anytime you’re sitting at home or at the office, or in a restaurant, theater, friends’ house, etc. Just use it, it’s so worth it!
    1.  Comfi-Life is the cheapest option, and is super effective. I like the gel-enhanced version over the slightly cheaper foam option. It’s a bit obvious that it’s a butt cushion, so not as great for travel, but great for leaving in your car, wheelchair, or office chair.
    2. If that one doesn’t work for you, try this more expensive option with a larger cut out. They also have a travel version, which is easy to carry, folds up like a weird purse, and doesn’t scream, “I have butt pain.” You can also, in a pinch, use a travel neck pillow, though they don’t work as well because they’re small.
  2. Sugar-free coconut flakes: because I always need a good snack and it’s hard to find travel-friendly options that work with my modified autoimmune protocol diet.
    1. Get these AIP certified coconut chips online; or Trader Joe’s sugar-free coconut flakes, which are just as good and cheaper.
    2. Or make them yourself with this AIP friendly recipe.
    3. More AIP snack ideas here.
  3. Standing desk: because sitting all day is pretty much the worst thing you can do for endo pain.
    1. You can get fancy adjustable ones so you can sit and stand, especially helpful if you tend to get worn out from standing too much. Here are some high end, midrange, and cheaper options.
    2.  Ikea also has an even cheaper option that fits in tiny spaces, but it doesn’t adjust. I have this one and like all the storage space it has underneath; I don’t have to have a separate storage area for work stuff.
    3. More tips on choosing a standing desk here.
  4. Castor oil compress
    1. Heat alone is super helpful for most endo pain. Combining it with castor oil is even more relieving. Castor oil supports lymphatic drainage and boosts your immune system activity to actually help digest endometrial implants, scar tissue and fibroids, resulting in less pain and inflammation over time! Here’s how to do it.
    2. Don’t use castor oil compresses during menstruation or if you might be pregnant. It’s best to use them daily at first, starting after your period ends and ending when it begins again. As you improve, you can start backing off to once a week except the week before your period, when it’s still best to do it 2-3 times. Commit to doing them for at least 6 months to get their full effect. You can reuse the oil-soaked fabric and keep it in the freezer between uses. Just let it defrost before using again! Replace it after about 7 uses. More information on using castor oil packs.
    3. Use a cold-pressed, hexane-free, paraben-free option like this one or this one which is available in most pharmacies. You can get the whole shebang as a premade kit like this, or get a cute set on etsy with this oil and flannel and tie on cover. You can add essential oils to your castor oil, but DO NOT use lavender or sage which are estrogenic. Check out this lovely local Chinese herb and CBD infused option, which we well at Prism (email me to order!).
  5. Foam roller
    1. Endometriosis can cause fibromyalgia-like hypersensitization of the myofascial system, resulting in muscular pain not only around the pelvis, but all over the body’s trigger points (aka acupuncture points, yep, we had those first). There are a bunch of different foam roller options. I recommend starting with a softer roller and progressing to a midrange one. Don’t go for the super firm options as causing pain can actually increase your body’s tension response! You can even get a collapsible travel roller. Here’s how to foam roll, and a video of a foam roller sequence for endometriosis.
    2. More exercises for improving endo pain: stretches and more stretches, fascial release techniques, tennis ball technique, pinky ball, MELT Method, Clear Passage Approach, yoga for endo, pilates for endo.
  6. Microwaveable hot pack
    1. I can’t tell you how many endo patients I’ve seen with belly and low back burns and mottled skin from too hot heating pads. Microwaveable heat pads (like this ginger infused one or this leopard print one) and hot water bottles (like this fleece wrapped rubber one or )are so much better because they start out at their hottest. You know immediately if it’s going to burn you so you can adjust (putting a shirt in between to reduce the heat, etc). Heating pads get hotter over time so you’re like a lobster in a pot of boiling water. You can burn yourself without even realizing it because you’re adjusting slowly to the heat. Stay away from heating pads! Burning yourself does NOT help your endo symptoms. Plus, the EMF emitted by electronic items isn’t great for your reproductive organs (don’t put your laptop on your belly or carry your phone in your front pocket either for this reason!).
    2. Check out these stick-on disposable heat packs too!
  7. Nausea relief
    1. Extra strength ginger, like in Dramamine natural, I find even more effective than regular Dramamine, and without side effects. Ginger chews can also work well, but I recommend staying away from sugar which can cause endo belly flare ups and inflammation (aka more pain)! Sea bands stimulate PC6, an acupuncture point for nausea, and are a totally natural way to prevent nausea. You can wear them all day.
  8. Enzymes
    1. Taking enzymes with meals can reduce nausea, ‘endo belly’, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea, and allow you to digest foods that you otherwise would react to. I carry Enteromend in my office for this purpose.
    2. You can also take enzymes between meals to help digest scar tissue and adhesions. I carry Serramend in my office for this purpose.
  9. Crystal wand
    1. If you have chronic pelvic pain, pain with penetrative sex, pain with urination, pain with bowel movements, and/or referred pain (to your belly button, inner thighs, etc), you likely have pelvic floor tension that can be improved with a crystal wand or pelvic wand, . When we feel pain, we tense up around it to protect the area. This is great if we have an acute injury that needs protecting. Unfortunately, with chronic pain, we just keep tensing up and tensing up over time without ever relaxing our muscles, which actually just creates more pain. A crystal wand helps release pelvic floor ‘knots’ via the vagina and/or anus. It can be painful at first, so I recommend starting slow, working on one spot at a time, rather than overwhelming yourself and creating more pain (and therefore more tension). Here’s how to do it. If you have too much pain to use a crystal wand, you can start with vaginal dilators, which are more gentle. Pelvic relaxation breathing exercises are also excellent for this.
    2. To learn how to do this properly, and get even more tips personalized to your body, visit a Pelvic PT. Lisa Thompson PT, at Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center in Berkeley, CA is trans competent.
  10. Leggings that look like pants, and other endo-friendly clothing
    1. I personally love paperbag pants for this. My other favs: travel stretch pants, dressy sweatpants, eco-friendly stretch pants, wrap dresses, and wrap sweater dresses. My Chronic Style makes clothing specifically for endometriosis and pelvic pain! For men’s styles, check out these dressy men’s sweatpants and this list of comfortable men’s pants. Tips for choosing endo friendly clothing, and more endo-friendly options. How clothes can help you feel better about your endo body.

Schedule an appointment to learn more about managing your endometriosis and living pain-free! Call 510-394-2743 or schedule online.

This information is for educational purposes only, please consult a healthcare provider before exercising and always follow your surgeon’s advice.

All Prism Blog Posts, Endometriosis, Self Care for Trans Health, Surgical Recovery & Scars

How My Endometriosis Has Made Me A Better Provider for Trans Patients

I began my acupuncture studies wanting to focus in queer health, and this continues to be the focus of my practice. Having experienced my share of discrimination from healthcare providers–mainly from gynecologists–due to my sexuality and gender identities of my partners, I wanted to be able to serve my community better. I knew that my trans loved ones had faced even worse discrimination and ineffective care.

Because of my experience with horrible cramps, super irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, and month-long pelvic pain; menstrual health and hormone regulation were immediately interesting to me. I had experienced so much homophobia, and also just straight up dismissiveness, from gynecologists that prevented me from getting a diagnosis or the care I needed. I wanted to create a space for my patients who were dealing with similar problems, both in terms of symptoms and in terms of discrimination from the healthcare system.

I’ve done so much research in this area in order to have answers for my patients: what their options are, what to expect, how I can help, what they can do at home. I wanted to create a space where patients could come and know they would be heard, understood, and cared for. I wanted to be able to support all of my patients with reproductive and sexual health and hormone regulation, regardless of their gender identities or if they were medically transitioning. I sometimes think that the most important thing I do for my patients is simply be there, seeing them, listening to them, and understanding where they’re coming from. Simply creating a safe space is probably the most important thing my practice does.

After I had my surgery, which confirmed my diagnosis of endometriosis, I learned how difficult recovering from surgery can be, and how supportive acupuncture can be of that process. Because of this, and everything I subsequently researched and learned, my practice has evolved towards having a specific focus on supporting patients through gender affirming surgeries. Acupuncture is so helpful for reducing pain and swelling after surgery, easing constipation, promoting healing, reducing scar tissue, and improving function and sensation. Especially as most surgeons don’t do follow up with their patients, providing post-surgical care can have a huge impact on patient recovery times and making sure that you’re on track with your healing.

Through my extensive research on endometriosis, I also learned more about pelvic pain and pelvic health. All that I’ve learned is applicable not only to cisgender women with endometriosis, but to everyone with a pelvis. So many things in our lives can impact our pelvic floors, potentially causing serious pelvic pain, pain with bowel movements, pain with penetrative sex, pain with urination, pain with sitting, and more. Pelvic health after vaginoplasty, metoidioplasty, and phalloplasty is especially important. Working on the pelvic floor before and after these surgeries can do wonders for increasing function and sensation, reducing scar tissue and pain, and speeding healing.

I also learned that it’s not only cisgender women who have endometriosis. Trans men, of course can have endo as well, and it can even persist after they start taking testosterone and stop having periods. It can even persist after hysterectomy, especially if the ovaries are not removed, but even if they are removed endometrial implants may still be present and can respond to low levels of estrogen that are naturally produced by the adrenal glands (connected to the kidneys, present in every sex, and not removed during gender affirming surgery). Plus, we now know that cisgender men can have endometriosis. Studies of cisgender men undergoing estrogen therapy for prostate cancer have shown several cases of endometriosis, likely caused by the estrogen they were taking (read Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain, by Abby Norman, for more on this). This implies that trans women, too, can have endometriosis, especially if they are taking estrogen. This is not just a menstrual disease and it’s not just a women’s disease. It’s a disease that can potentially effect everyone and every provider should know how to diagnose and treat it.

I think it’s natural that my health and my practice should be intertwined. I’m constantly learning and researching about my own health, and constantly learning and researching for my patients. All of this information builds on itself and my empathy for patient’s suffering and experiences in the medical system make me a better practitioner. I’m especially grateful to have such an amazing lineage of medicine backing me up. The best thing about acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is that, even for chronic incurable diseases, there’s always something you can do to make someone’s life better. There’s always something we can do to help our patients live happier, healthier lives.

Acupuncture is a holistic medicine. Even if I’m just supporting patients through surgery, I’m still addressing their overall health. Even if I’m just supporting a patient’s hormones as they start hormone therapy, I’m still keeping them in balance with what healthy means for their bodies at that particular point in time. It is a holistic system, tailored to a patient’s constitution and that’s why it works so well. We don’t just throw the same treatment at every patient with the same condition. Everyone’s healing plan is unique, just like each person is unique.

At Prism, we don’t make assumptions about what ‘healthy’ means for your body. We don’t expect your body to be any certain way based on your identity or how you look or your name or pronoun. We see you for who you are, listen to what you feel your body needs, and do our darndest to come up with solutions that will work for  you, to help you get your life back!

Ready to schedule a free consultation? Call 510-394-2743 or head over to our appointments page.

This information is for educational purposes only, please consult a healthcare provider before exercising and always follow your surgeon’s advice.

All Prism Blog Posts

Why I Love Acupuncture, and You Should Too

Prior to being an acupuncturist, my background was in health education. I had also worked as a personal care assistant and receptionist at a chiropractic clinic. All of these experiences taught me that I wanted to be able to work with patients, and I wanted to have the tools to help them right then and there. I didn’t like western medicine, which tends to see the doctor as all knowing and doesn’t take into account patients experiences of their bodies and needs. Also, though I do a lot of health education in my acupuncture work now, I didn’t like just educating people, without being able to actually do anything for them. I wanted it to be a two-way street. I wanted to be able to provide them with care that would help them right away AND involve them in their own healing process. This led me to explore various alternative medicine fields.

I came to acupuncture specifically through a love of herbal medicine, sparked by my botanist father who taught me a deep appreciation for plants, and the women in my family who taught me the value of caring for others.

I had only had acupuncture once, on a whim, before starting acupuncture school and I didn’t really know if I’d like it. I’m sure some of you can relate!

I decided that if I didn’t like it, I’d just study the herbs and skip the rest of the program. It turns out I LOVE acupuncture and being an acupuncturist and I’m so glad I started this journey.

My favorite part of my job is watching people regain ownership of their healing process, reconnect with their bodies, and make positive changes in their lives.

Acupuncture is a holistic system that brings you back into balance by fixing the root of a problem rather than just the symptoms.

Some acupoints trigger a release of calming hormones, some rewrite pain pathways, some awaken the immune system, have anti-inflammatory effects, or increase circulation. Together, they help our nervous systems switch from ‘fight or flight’ (stress) mode into ‘rest and digest’ (healing) mode. This helps us keep calm, sleep well, build our immune systems, and repair cellular damage.

Most importantly, acupuncture helps people reconnect with their bodies and take true ownership of their healing processes.

Acupuncture makes small adjustments in your body to set you on the right path for healing. It’s your choice to continue to follow that path in between your treatments. Your body wants to heal. It likes getting a little reset so it can get back to doing what it does best. Acupuncture allows you to set your healing intentions and send you in the right direction to actually accomplish them. What a wonderful gift.

The more scientifically identifiable effects of an acupuncture treatment (including changes in nerve and pain pathways, as well as endorphins and other brain chemicals that are released) last about four days after a session. Notice how you feel over the first 3-4 days after your treatment, jotting down any improvements or symptoms that you notice, like increased energy, better sleep, better digestion, and improvement in whatever symptoms you came in for. This allows you to keep in touch with your body and understand what it needs, and also helps us understand how you’re responding to treatment.

When you listen to your body, follow the healing path that acupuncture lays out for you, and come in often, this truly allows the healing momentum to build up. Rather than bouncing back and forth between better after acupuncture and worse again between each session, you begin to improve and improve and improve. Each time you come in, you’re expanding upon what you’ve already accomplished and you can actually start to see dramatic changes in your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Even once you’re feeling great it’s important to come in for your monthly or seasonal ‘tune-up’, just to keep your body on the right track of healing so that you can continue to enjoy good health.

It can be really challenging to create new habits and let go of old patterns that don’t serve us. It is so much easier just to come in and expect your healthcare provider to fix you. And sometimes we can do exactly that. But mostly those kind of fixes are temporary; the lasting changes come with work that you do outside of our sessions as well. Acupuncture can help you get there by resetting your nervous system and helping you reconnect to what your body has been telling you all along.

What do you do to get the most out of your acupuncture sessions? Why do you love acupuncture?

Schedule your first acupuncture session now, at

This information is for educational purposes only, please consult a healthcare provider before exercising and always follow your surgeon’s advice.

a woman with beautiful curly hair
All Prism Blog Posts, Menopause and Andropause, Self Care for Trans Health

Stop Hair Loss in Its Tracks

I recently taught a workshop on healthy hair care and preventing hair loss and I just want to share a few tips from the class with you!

Hair loss can have several causes, from stress to genetics to autoimmune disorders. Some of these are easier to solve than others, but treating our hair (and bodies) well can help slow -and in some cases reverse- hair loss no matter what the cause.

Some amount of hair loss is a natural part of the hair cycle. It’s normal to lose between 50-100 hairs on days you don’t shower, and up to 200 hairs on days you do. Which should tell you right away that if you’re concerned about hair loss you should be showering less often!

At any given point, about 90% of your hair follicles should be in the active growing phase and 10% should be in the dormant or falling out stage. Hair loss can involve either an imbalance in the number of active vs inactive follicles, or a change in the growth of active follicles so that they no longer produce hair of the original color, length, or texture. If you’re concerned that you’re losing too much hair, take about 60 hairs between two fingers and gently pull. If you get more than 5-8 hairs you likely have an imbalance in the number of active vs inactive follicles.

The most common form of hair loss is also the most well-known. Commonly called ‘male-pattern baldness’ or androgenic alopecia, it actually occurs in all genders. While there is certainly a genetic component to this type of hair loss, it can also be mediated with herbs and hair care -if you catch it in time. Hair loss that has been present for 3-5 years or more becomes very difficult and sometimes impossible to resolve. This type of hair loss typically presents as a receding hair line or thinning of hair along the part or crown of the head. It is generally caused by DHT, a form of testosterone that is also responsible for many prostate issues, which essentially ‘attacks’ hair follicles. Luckily, DHT can only function in low-oxygen environments, so by increasing circulation to the scalp we can prevent this type of hair loss.

Androgenic Alopecia: Saw Palmetto as an herbal supplement blocks DHT, and topical rosemary oil (like Prism’s Hair Growth Serum) blocks DHT directly in the scalp. 7 Star Treatments, like Prism’s Hair Restoration Treatment, also increase circulation to the scalp, blocking DHT.

The second most common form of hair loss is called ‘telogenic effluvium’, which literally means your hair is falling out. There’s no change in your hair follicles, simply too many of them are in the dormant vs growth stage. This is usually caused by hormonal stress like starting or stopping birth control, HRT, or hormone blockers, after birth, menopause, or even just a stressful time in your life. Yes, you can actually stress yourself out so much that your hair falls out! Besides tackling whatever caused this problem in the first place (getting acupuncture and a custom herbal formula to balance hormones and reduce stress, practicing mindfulness meditation or other stress-reduction techniques), the best thing you can do is to be gentle with your scalp to prevent as much hair loss as possible.

This also applies to hair loss caused by chemicals, heat, or other types of physical damage to the hair and hair follicles. This is most likely the case if you suddenly notice your hair refusing to grow more than a few inches long and then breaking off.

Care for Your Hair Follicles:

Beauty Routines:

  • Prevent sun damage: wear a hat or scarf to cover hair and scalp
  • Switch plastic brushes for a pure boar bristle brush or a wide tooth comb, only use on dry hair
  • Air dry hair or use a hair wrap instead of blow drying. Heat protectant sprays do not help because wetting hair before drying actually increases damage!
  • Wash hair only 1-3 times per week

Avoid drying, damaging, and toxic product ingredients (organic products generally do not contain these ingredients and are a good choice):

  • Silicone
  • Ethanol, isopropane, propanol or isopropyl alcohols (fatty alcohols like lauryl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol and behenyl alcohol are ok)
  • Aerosols (use pump sprays only)
  • Sulfates (organic coco-sulfates and sulfonates are gentler)
  • Parabens
  • Fragrances (essential oils are ok)
  • Zinc Pyrithione and Coal Tar (in dandruff shampoos, use an organic dandruff shampoo instead)
  • Sodium laurel/laureth sulfate (SLS), aka ammonium laurel sulfate, sodium dodecylsulfate, sulfuric acid, sodium salt sulfuric acid, A12-00356, Akyposal SDS, Aquarex ME, and Aquarex methyl
  • Proplyene glycol (PG), PEG, or Polyethylene
  • Salt Sprays (too drying)

Try these hair-safe products instead:

Avoid chemical and heat styling and harsh dyes. Check out salons that use organic products and ammonia and paraben-free dyes:

Hair breakage (and hair loss) can also be caused by malnutrition, either not getting enough nutrients your hair needs to grow, or something is preventing you from absorbing those nutrients. Most commonly this is due to anemia. Make sure to get checked out by a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause!

Nutrition for Hair Health:

  • Hair and Skin from Nature’s Way
  • Hair, Skin, and Nail Support from Gaia Herbs
  • A prescription formula from Prism, tailored to your individual constitution
  • Omega Plus from Thorne, or:
    • Omega-3 from salmon, mackerel, tuna, white fish, sardines, walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds
  • Basic Nutrients (if you don’t need iron), Basic Nutrients IV (with iron), or Basic Prenatal from Thorne, or:
    • Vitamin C from oranges, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, grapefruit and kiwi.
    • vitamin D from halibut, mackerel, eel, salmon, whitefish, maitakes and portabellas.
    • Vitamin A from Sweet Potato, pumpkin, Carrots, Peaches, Kale
    • Vitamin E from Fish, Beans, Leafy Greens, Meat, Nuts and seeds, Whole grains
    • Biotin & B5 from chicken, avocado, legumes, nuts
    • Niacin from Fish, lean meats, Portabellas, Sunflower seeds, Avocado, Mushrooms, Tuna, Nuts
    • Iron from spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, navy beans, black beans.
    • Zinc (especially with autoimmune alopecia) from oysters and other seafood, Whole grains, Legumes, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin
    • Selenium from brazil nuts and other nuts and seeds, oysters, tuna, mushrooms
  • Collagen from bone broth; or boost your own collagen production with dark leafy greens and red fruits and veggies like cherries and beets
  • Lycopene from guava, papaya, grapefruit, asparagus, purple cabbage
  • Avoid Inflammatory foods like dairy, red meat, trans-fats (like margarine), gluten, alcohol, coffee, eggs, bananas, mango, pineapple, watermelon, nightshades (eggplant, paprika, peppers, potatoes, tomatillos, tomatoes), and soy.

If you’re not sure what kind of hair loss you’re experiencing, a dermatologist can examine your hair under a microscope and determine this for you. Beware the Rogaine they may prescribe, however, as it can often cause hair growth in unwanted places! Rosemary oil on the scalp (like Prism’s Hair Growth Serum) has been shown to be as effective as Rogaine and does not have this side effect.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.

Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

All Prism Blog Posts, Self Care for Trans Health

Herbs for Transitioning: Feminizing Herbs

This is a follow-up post to “The Basics.” Also see the transmasculine post here.

For gender affirming transition, herbs can be used alone to create very mild ‘energetic’ effects or to support the body to counteract any side effects of synthetic hormones. Note: Most herbs are unlikely to have a significant effect without any other transition methods. If you are looking for physical effects, prescription hormones are the safest way to make that happen. The dosages you would need to take of herbs in order to get a physical effect can be dangerous.

DO NOT take herbs without consulting with an herbalist to ensure they are safe for you. DO NOT combine herbs with your medications without discussing with a healthcare provider.

Vitex: The Regulating Herb:

Vitex (Vitex agnus) is a hormone normalizer that works with the pituitary gland and increases LH and reduces FSH secretion, which increases progesterone relative to estrogen and testosterone (Wright & Morgenthaler, Natural Hormone Replacement). This helps it regulate emotions, prevent acne, hormonal edema and bloating, and it can help you transition onto and off of synthetic hormones, as well as stabilize fluctuations in hormones while taking hormones.

Estrogenic, Progesterogenic, and Anti-Androgenic Herbs:

  • Rhodeola Rosea is a controversial herb, however, the most informative sources I’ve found say that it increases estrogen levels unless they are already unnaturally high (such as when taking estradiol), in which case it decreases them. Overall this is a strong herb that should be used with caution and medical supervision.
    • If you have had estrogen sensitive breast cancer, bleeding disorders, diabetes, or take acetazolamide, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, anti-anxiety agents, antibiotics, anticancer agents, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, antivirals, COMT inhibitors, drugs that affect the cardiovascular system or the immune system, P-glycoprotein-regulated agents, sedatives, theophylline, or stimulants, you should use caution or avoid this herb.
  • Maca is known for its effects of creating curves. It is also known for its aphrodisiac effects, and can increase erectile capacity and sperm counts, which may be a positive or negative thing for you depending on your goals. It also boosts the immune system and helps combat osteoporosis (which can be a side effect of taking spironolactone). Also available in a women’s libido blend.
  • Chaste tree berry/Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) can increase breast size by stimulating the development of milk ducts. It can therefore have a side effect of causing lactation.
  • Black cohosh/Sheng Ma (Cimicifuga racemosa) contains several compounds in its root (aceteine, formononetin, and triterpenes) that, though not estrogenic themselves, create similar effects to estrogen and can increase breast size. It decreases LH and increases estrogen in relation to progesterone [opposite of Vitex] (Wright & Morgenthaler). Only use this herb under supervision of an herbalist as it is easy to take dangerous amounts.
  • Fenugreek/Hu Lu Ba (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds contain a compound (diosgenin) that promotes breast tissue growth. Sprouted seeds contain much more diosgenin than the unsprouted seeds, so breast enlargement is more noticeable if you sprout the seeds first. Fennel works in much the same way.
  • Hops have 0.2-20% the potency of estradiol
  • False Unicorn (used during menopause for estrogen replacement)
  • Licorice (somewhat anti-androgenic and mimicks estrogen). Licorice also notably counteracts side effects of spironolactone (the most common anti-androgen used in the U.S.) like low blood pressure, gastic upsets, fatigue, dehydration, and frequent urination.
  • Other herbs with limited research:
    • Pennyroyal (never take the oil internally!)
    • Goats Rue (promotes lactation)
    • Southernwood
    • Red Clover/Hsun Tsao
    • Caraway
    • Partridge Berry
    •  Anise
    • Raspberry Leaf
    • Mugwort/Ai Ye
    • Yarrow (encourages progesterone)
    • Cramp bark (mildly estrogenic)
    • Turmeric (mildly estrogenic)
    • Alfalfa
    • Burdock
    • Evening Primrose
    • Pau D’Arco
  • Blends:
    • Phytoestrogen Herbal from Vitanica
    • My Evanesce has several herbal blends, most of which have many unnecessary added ingredients, but their Feminol product has a more useful blend of dong quai, black cohosh, chaste tree, white kwao krua, fennel, fenugreek, licorice, kudzu, sarsaparilla, boron, plus b6, d3, and b12. They recommend taking all of their formulations at once which is not only completely unnecessary as they mostly contain the same ingredients but also could lead to dangerous dosages of the herbs. Do not do this and do your own research!
    • “HRT Companion” formula (formulated for side effects of synthetic hormones)
  • Foods:
    • pomegranates
    • legumes
    • yams

Note: DON’T combine synthetic hormones with St. John’s wort/Guan Ye Lian Qiao, it changes the way that medications are metabolized. It also encourages bleeding, so avoid before surgery too!

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.

Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

References include:

an elder lesbian
All Prism Blog Posts, Menopause and Andropause, Surgical Recovery & Scars

10 Reasons LGBTQ Seniors Should Get Acupuncture

  1. LGBT older people face significant health disparities, “linked to a lifetime of stigma, discrimination, violence and victimization; higher poverty rates; a lack of access to LGBT-competent providers; and low rates of health insurance coverage” (Out & Visible). Therefore, LGBTQ older adults need even more access to healthcare.
  2. Acupuncture helps to protect the immune system and prevent the potentially dangerous infections that become more likely as we age.
  3. Acupuncture eases pain and arthritis as well as strengthening bones to prevent osteoporosis and injuries, so you can maintain mobility and reduce the need for surgeries and medications.
  4. Acupuncture lowers blood pressure and strengthens the circulatory system, preventing potentially life threatening cardiovascular events.
  5. LGBT elders “deal disproportionately with mental health concerns, which is a primary risk factor for social isolation” (Sage USA). Acupuncture reduces anxiety and depression, helps you to adapt constructively to change, and to move through grief.
  6. Acupuncture helps your body prepare for surgery and to heal faster after surgery, reducing complications and need for pain medications.
  7. Acupuncture does all of this without having to worry about drug-drug interactions!
  8. AIMC Berkeley is an LGBTQ safe space so you don’t have to worry about healthcare discrimination. “44% of transgender older people worry that their relationships with healthcare providers would be negatively affected if their gender identities were known, as opposed to 20% of LGB older people” (Autostraddle on LGBTQ Seniors).
  9. Treatment is determined based on the individual, not the illness. All the symptoms are seen in relation to each other leading to a unique treatment for each patient instead of cookie cutter prescriptions.
  10. You get more time with a practitioner than you would with an MD. With 60 minute appointments, Katrina can take time to really listen to you.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.

Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

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A transgender man binding and looking into the distance
All Prism Blog Posts, Self Care for Trans Health

Chest Binding Safely: Save Your Back!

Interested in binding, or already binding? Here are some very important health tips that you need to know!:

  • Do NOT use an ace bandage or similar homemade device for binding. Wrapping around your chest several times can result in dangerously tight binding that cuts off circulation, breathing, tissue damage, and skin irritation. If you want to make a binder, cut off the top of some control top pantyhose and sew on some straps. This is much safer and still just as cheap!
  • NEVER sleep in a binder (unless you are in a place where it is unsafe for you to sleep without it). Don’t leave your binder on for more than 8 hours at a time. Your body needs time to stretch and breathe. Think about those pictures of women who wore corsets daily and how it changed the shape of their abdominal organs permanently. This can happen so a lesser extent with binding too and tissue damage caused by constant binding can make top surgery more difficult!
  • Wear the right size binder. Don’t wear a smaller size thinking it will be more effective, it won’t flatten your chest more effectively, it’ll just cause more damage to your ribs and make breathing more difficult.
  • If you wear a binder frequently, make sure its made of breathable fabric (not neoprene), or wear a tank top or apply cornstarch underneath it to prevent chafing and breaking out.
  • If possible, take a “day off” at least once a week. Wearing even a tight sports bra once a week instead of a binder can help take some of the pressure off of your ribs.
  • Go braless or wear a loose bra as much as possible. Actually bouncing your chest can help restore circulation and prevent tissue damage. Take your binder off as soon as you can, and spend a few minutes either jumping or just manually moving your chest. This can help prevent issues like breast cancer and tissue damage (and is even recommended for people who wear underwire bras regularly).
  • Binding can change breast tissue, potentially increasing chances of breast cancer. It is important to do regular self exams so you recognize any changes in your body right away. The most important thing is to notice what lumps are normal for you and which are abnormal, immovable, and/or don’t go away.
  • Give yourself chest massages (or get a loved one to do it for you!) to work out any tightness that wearing a binder causes. Pay special attention to the sides of your ribs, collar bone area, shoulders, and use a tennis ball (or two tennis balls taped together) on a wall or the floor to get the knots out of your back and between your scapula.
  • Buy at least two binders so that you can alternate between them. If you give them a day off to regain their shape they’ll last longer! Wash them in special detergent that keeps them stretchy too: you can find soaps for medical braces, swimsuits, or nylons that all work well for this.
  • If you are younger than 20, your body is still growing and changing and this makes binder safety even more important. Don’t wear a binder more than 3-4 times  a week. At younger ages you are more likely to cause dangerous changes to your ribcage and chest tissue by binding more frequently.

Resources for Buying a Binder:
This site has information on fitting, buying, and wearing binders
Low cost binders
T Kingdom
Underworks swim binder
Binder reviews

Binder Alternatives:
Frog Bra Substitutes
Qwear sports bras

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.

Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.


a woman with long beautiful hair
All Prism Blog Posts, Menopause and Andropause, Self Care for Trans Health

How Does Saw Palmetto Decrease Baldness?

Normally, hair follicles remain active for up to a decade, producing a long strand of 10 year old hair. In alopecia, however, follicles stop producing hair before the hair is long enough to even emerge from the skin. Male pattern baldness, or Androgenic Alopecia, is both genetically determined and influenced by hormones.

Genetics cause some people’s hair follicles to be more susceptible to DHT (dihidrotestosterone), which changes the growth phase of hair follicles. This gene can be present in any sex, but is only expressed when DHT, a form of testosterone, is present. Hence the name “male-pattern” baldness. This is the reason why many trans men develop this pattern of baldness while on T, and why this process of balding stops in most trans women once they start taking anti-androgens (like spironolactone).

Though we cannot change the gene, we can prevent testosterone from converting to DHT to stop this balding process. Testosterone converts to DHT via the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. Research has shown that saw palmetto inhibits 5-alpha-reductase, preventing this pattern of baldness.

Saw palmetto is very effective for hair growthSaw palmetto together with the supplement beta-sitosterol has been shown to have a 60% effectiveness rate for hair loss reversal. In my experience this does not increase facial hair growth, however studies have shown inconclusive results about its effect on overall testosterone levels. It likely blocks aromatase, an enzyme which converts testosterone to estradiol, a major hormone involved in breast development. If you’re concerned about saw palmetto supplements increasing your testosterone levels, a good alternative is to use it topically. It has been used topically with similar effectiveness.

Saw palmetto also prevents the accumulation of DHT in the prostate, lowering the risk of prostate cancer. It acts on estrogen and progesterone receptors to lower the risk of breast cancer. It’s helpful for colds and coughs, sore throats, asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, and migraine headaches. It is also a diuretic (makes you pee more), a sedative, and an aphrodisiac, so be cautious if those are effect you do not want.

DO NOT take saw palmetto with spironolactone because they are both diuretics and could significantly lower your blood pressure or cause dehydration. People with bleeding disorders or who are taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications (“blood-thinners”) such as warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, or clopidogrel (Plavix) should avoid taking saw palmetto unless under medical supervision. It should also be avoided at least two weeks before or after surgery. Saw palmetto may interact with other medicines, including anti-inflammatory drugs, blood pressure medications, birth control pills and antibiotics.

Another great herb for hair loss is Shou Wu. Shou Wu Pian (aka Fu Ti) is an ancient Chinese herb that increases hair growth. It is generally used for scalp hair growth, but in my experience it increases mustache growth as well. If increased facial hair would be a problem for you, you may not want to take this formula. It’s also important not to take this formula if you are already taking synthetic hormones or other medications as it can increase the strain on your liver.

More hair loss prevention
Massage daily with Rosemary hair oil
Topical borage seed oil works like Propecia to block androgen receptors in hair follicles
Teas of silica rich herbs like horsetail, oats, or nettles
Nourish your kidneys with asparagus, artichoke, celery, aduki beans, parsley
Using a plum blossom needle to stimulate hair growth.

Finally, to support your overall constitution and get treatments tailored specficially to your goals, come in for a treatment!

Where to find:

Shou Wu Pian (aka Fu Ti)

Saw Palmetto with Beta-Sitosterol

Topical Saw Palmetto

Read more

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.

Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.


a woman with a cold sore touching her lip
All Prism Blog Posts, Sexual Wellness

14 Foods to Soothe Herpes Outbreaks

Two amino acids have a significant impact on both herpes simplex (mouth or genital herpes) and herpes zoster (shingles).

Lysine reduces the strength of a herpes outbreak, while Arginine can actually increase the intensity and duration of the outbreak. You can take lysine as a supplement to prevent outbreak, or eat foods containing lysine and avoid foods containing arginine, before and during the outbreak to shorten the duration.

You can also take the formula Long Dan Xie Gan Tang for herpes outbreaks either externally or internally. It usually takes 2-3 days for the formula to work (edited based on Liana’s comment).

Foods with Lysine: add before/during outbreak (in order from most lysine to least)

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Goat milk
  • Cow milk
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Cheese
  • Beans (especially mung beans, lima beans, and soy beans)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Sprouts
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs

Foods with Arginine: avoid! (in order from most arginine to least)

  • Hazel nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Peanuts & peanut butter
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Cocoa powder
  • Sesame
  • Cashews
  • Carob powder
  • Coconut
  • Pistachios
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Garbanzo beans or chickpeas
  • Brown rice
  • Pecans
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Raisins
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Corn

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.

Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

An older woman touching her stomach
All Prism Blog Posts, Sexual Wellness

How Can Acupuncture Help With Hep C?

There are many acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and its complications, whether or not you are undergoing western treatment.

Often western medical practitioners will advise patients with early stage HCV to wait to seek treatment until there are drugs available with less serious side effects, but you may already be experiencing symptoms at this point. Chinese medicine can be invaluable in alleviating the symptoms and slowing the progression of the virus until you are able to seek further treatment to clear the virus.

Current standard western anti-viral treatment involves interferon and ribarin, which together are able to clear HCV infection from about half of people affected. By combining these drugs with protease inhibitors, many more people can be cleared of the virus, but this combination produces serious side-effects. Many patients stop taking these drugs because of the side effects they produce, sometimes creating medication resistant HCV strains in their bodies. These side effects can be even worse if the patient is already in poor health when they begin taking these medications. Chinese medicine can be used to lessen the side effects of those western treatments and work on any concurrent health problems that may interfere with treatment.

Guan Ye Lian Qiao (St. John’s Wort), Chai Hu (Bupleurum), and Shui Fei Ji (Milk Thistle) don’t mix with western HCV treatment. Two weeks prior to starting western treatment, and during the course of treatment, the following herbs and supplements should be avoided: silymarin/milk thistle (though this herb can reduce liver inflammation for folks with HCV who are not taking anti-virals), St. John’s Wort, Chai Hu/Bupleurum. The following herbs and supplements can help soothe symptoms of HCV and side effects of treatment: lactobacillus acidophilis/probiotics, b-compex (especially B-12 and folic acid), omega 3 fatty acids & essential fatty acids, selenium, chromium, carotenoids, lycopenes, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid.

It is recommended to get an acupuncture treatment within 24 hours or receiving an interferon injection, to help relieve side effects of the injection. Furthermore, HCV infection is the leading cause of liver transplants in the U.S., and chinese medicine can be helpful in supporting patients through this surgery and support their transplant as well.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.

Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

A beautiful woman wearing a swimsuit and looking into the distance
All Prism Blog Posts, Endometriosis, Menopause and Andropause, Self Care for Trans Health, Sexual Wellness

Ways Your Doctor Lied to you About Weight

What does weight have to do with health? Not much, it turns out.

Most people in our society believe they’re overweight. And many people are deemed overweight, or even obese, by doctors: did you know the definition of “overweight” for a 5’4″ tall woman is 145 pounds, even though the average weight for that height is 144 pounds? So if you’re one pound over average (aka almost half the population), you’re considered overweight.

Americans are afraid of fat because they believe it’s bad for your health. But it’s less related than you think. Contrary to common belief, there is actually NO correlation between body fat and atherosclerosis (fatty plaque in arteries). There IS however a correlation between amount of exercise and risk of diabetes, but NOT between body weight and diabetes. In fact, obese people who exercise live longer than thin people who don’t.

So what’s really unhealthy about fat? For one thing, it makes you less likely to get health insurance because obesity is a “preexisting condition.” Even if you can afford to pay for preventative care out of pocket, you’re a third less likely to get breast exams, gynecologic exams, and pap smears (but just as likely to get hands-off tests like mammograms) as thin women. This is probably due to both doctors’ and patients’ embarrassment at performing these tests, because of shaming around weight issues in our society. “Peter Muennig did research at Columbia University that found that being under the stress of constant shame and stigma over a long period of time was correlated with the same diseases with which obesity has been correlated” (Dances With Fat).

Doctors also often overlook the health concerns you actually came in for and just focus on talking about weight loss. You might come in to talk about a lump you found in your breast and your doctor won’t even do a breast exam until you’ve talked about weight loss options. So you could end up going months to years without knowing what kinds of health issues you’re dealing with. Even if you find a body-positive doctor, they may not have blood pressure cuffs, MRIs, or other test equipment that fits larger bodies so you can’t get the tests you need. So, though studies seem to show that fat women are more likely to get breast, cervical, endometrial, and ovarian cancer, but researchers have concluded that the lack of preventative care may actually account for this.

Dieting, too, can actually HARM your health. Dieting tricks your body into thinking that you are starving (and maybe you are!) so that when you do start eating real food again, your body automatically stores extra calories, so that it’s prepared for the next diet. This explains why many people gain more weight than they lost after each diet. This jumping back and forth between sizes is extremely hard on your body and can cause more health problems.

So what are the facts about our health? It’s true that getting regular exercise and eating plenty of protein and veggies and limiting sugar intake is better for your health. But this is true for everyone, regardless of body size. So, if we’re really so concerned about health, everyone should focus on eating a healthy diet and getting exercise, NOT losing weight!

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.

Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

a trans man and a trans woman cuddling
All Prism Blog Posts, Self Care for Trans Health

Herbs for Transitioning: The Basics

This is a follow-up post to “The Basics.” Also see the transmasculine post here, and the feminizing herbs post hereFor information on estrogen and progesterone supportive herbs, check out my follow-up article on Feminizing Herbs

For gender affirming transition, herbs can be used alone to create very mild ‘energetic’ effects or to support the body to counteract any side effects of synthetic hormones. Note: Most herbs are unlikely to have a significant effect without any other transition methods. If you are looking for physical effects, prescription hormones are the safest way to make that happen. The dosages you would need to take of herbs in order to get a physical effect can be dangerous.

DO NOT take herbs without consulting with an herbalist to ensure they are safe for you. DO NOT combine herbs with your medications without discussing with a healthcare provider.

The Basics:

It’s first important to take care of your body with proper nutrition so that you can handle the changes  and stress that will accompany transitioning. All hormones are made of fat, so it’s important to eat good fats (raw oils & omega 3s especially) to help your body form and transform those hormones, and also to coat your nerve cells (their myelin sheaths are also made of fat) to help you cope with stress and stay emotionally healthy. Fats form the boundaries of our cells–they keep out and let in what we want to–we need good fats in our bodies to have good boundaries physically and emotionally!

We ALL have the same hormones, just in different amounts and we USE different amounts of them too. Furthermore, we can change how our bodies use the hormones we already have. Every body makes progesterone from cholesterol, and that progesterone can turn into estrogen OR testosterone. The estrogen and testosterone in our bodies can also convert back and forth (estrogen to testosterone and vice versa). This is the reason you want to get your hormone dosages right: if you take too much, your body is just going to convert it into another hormone to maintain balance in your system. This could actually counter the desired effects of the hormone you are taking: too much estrogen in your system and your body will start converting it to testosterone, counteracting the changes you want to make.

Coming up with a plan for your body:

There are many different options for transitioning, even when just using synthetic hormones. Progesterone itself helps to build tissue and can often be useful for developing breasts (taken externally) or muscle tissue (taken internally). Aromatase is what turns testosterone into estrogen, so you can take extra aromatase instead of (or in addition to) taking estrogen. Likewise, you can take aromatase inhibitor to prevent that testosterone from turning into estrogen, instead of taking testosterone. There are many options for prescription hormones; it’s important to talk to your doctor about what will work best for your body.
For most people, herbs aren’t going to change your hormones drastically alone, so you might choose to start out taking synthetic hormones and, once you’ve achieved the effect you want, use herbs to lower your dose of synthetic hormones or switch to herbs entirely. Herbs can maintain the hormone levels and characteristics you’ve built up with synthetic hormones. This is a good alternative to the sometimes health damaging side effects of long-term synthetic hormone use.

Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

References include:

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.

Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.