Acupuncturist & Herbalist
Women's Health Specialist
stress, burn-out & overwhelm
fatigue & exhaustion
menstrual difficulties & fertility issues
indigestion, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or abdominal pain
anxiety, depression, PMS & moodiness
pre-diabetes & type 2 diabetes
perimenopause & menopause
adrenal & hormone balancing
thyroid, adrenal & other hormone testing & treatment
period symptom reduction/relief
support for stopping birth control
fertility optimization, including working with or without other reproductive specialists
dietary recommendations & nutritional supplements
health coaching around diet, lifestyle & sleep
blood sugar balancing
digestive imbalance testing & treatment
general wellness check-ups
My love of medicine began early in my childhood, most notably in second grade, when my mom started her MD training. I have vivid memories of her medical education, as she was a single parent by that time and had to bring my brothers and I with her for lack of childcare. I remember coloring with her assortment of highlighters during a neurology lecture where the professor taught about how the human brain jiggles like jell-o in certain types of head trauma. I made sure to avoid getting a concussion after that lecture!
I remember walking down a long corridor in awe of the preserved medical oddities that lined it, to the room in her medical school where they kept the cadavers that my mom and her cohort toiled over for countless hours. I remember, too, the inhumane hazing that was her residency and the burn out that set in amongst my mom and her classmates over the years. Though I was hooked on medicine, I resolved from a young age to never be a western medical doctor.
As a teenager, after years of suffering, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, a chronic condition that was deemed unresolvable by a couple different MDs, only to learn that if untreated, I could become infertile. Every month, I would end up in such agonizing pain I would eventually throw up and sent home. Once there, I would draw the hottest bath imaginable, take too many ibuprofen, and wait there until I was so exhausted that I could sleep.
Fortunately for me, a couple years later, my Mandarin Chinese teacher (my teacher at a public school in Tulsa, Oklahoma!) took a group of us kids on a 6 week trip to China to tour the country. We visited a hospital in Shanghai where an acupuncturist told me that, in fact, I had a treatable condition that could be asymptomatic if I committed to taking herbs and getting acupuncture on a regular basis. I was sold! I felt seen and heard. I had hope and a treatment plan. For the first time in my life, I was empowered by a health care provider.
When I got home, I immediately sought treatment from an acupuncturist who had a deep understanding of my health and a plan for helping me avoid long-term damage while managing my incapacitating side-effects. Having followed the recommendations of many acupuncturists and herbalists over the decades since, I now have two healthy kids, am pain free, and am happily settled into my calling in life, to provide support to people seeking a deeper connection to their health and particularly, to help women fix their periods, balance their hormones, and achieve a healthy pregnancy if they so desire.
I have been in your shoes, unsure if my health problems would only get worse with time, unsure of who to turn to to get the support I needed. I have felt unseen by my health care providers, and even been to years of unfruitful office visits where, although I was clearly communicating that I had a very real problem, I left the office with only pain killers or birth control, neither of which I used.
I had gone to those health care providers in hopes of being seen, receiving a diagnosis, and beginning a treatment. My difficulties have shaped who I am as a medical provider and want I want people to get from a medical visit.
Because of everything I have gone through, this is the commitment I make to my clients- I will see you. I will listen to your story and help you figure out what to do to get you feeling better and improve your health. I will explain clearly to you what I understand about your health so you can have a better sense of what exactly is going on. And I will also explain clearly the role of each medicinal or food plan I prescribe to you so you understand your treatment.
And This is Where You Enter the Story
You are here because you have a condition that hasn't adequately been resolved by your work with other health care practitioner(s) or through your own efforts to manage your condition by yourself.
You are here because you want your health to be better next year than it was this year.
You are here because you need the expertise of a seasoned preventative medical practitioner to guide you through an efficient and effective treatment plan.
You may be here because you've had enough with your hormones and/or your period being symptomatic/off balance. Or maybe you are ready to get pregnant and want support around preparing your body for pregnancy or want support through your fertility treatments with your MD.
I can assure you that, whatever health concern you are facing, you too will benefit from the unique insights that Chinese medicine combined with modern functional medicine can provide. You too can have a treatment plan that is unique to you that will move you toward your health goals. I provide individualized care for optimal health.
Education & Professional Bio
I am Heather Bird, LAc, RH, MSTCM & founder at Within: Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine, with over 17 years of clinical experience as a health strategist using acupuncture, herbal medicines & nutritional supplements. I am known for my warm approach, and my drive to discover and resolve underlying imbalances leading to sub-optimal health.
I have enjoyed working in many settings including private practices (my own and others), community clinics, SF General hospital's Ward 86, and on house calls in patients' homes.
My studies of Chinese Medicine began in 2000 at the Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences, a program with a focus on medicine as it was traditionally practiced in China. In this program I studied Five Elements acupuncture, as well as the daoist philosophy of medicine, focusing on living in harmony with the natural world to prevent illness. I completed the 4 years of training required to earn a Master's degree in Chinese medicine at Five Branches, a modern program focusing on integrating Eastern and Western medicines. Functional medicine has been the focus of my post-graduate studies, with an ever-increasing depth of knowledge of nutritional and herbal medicine as my primary goal.
I practice a combination of Chinese, Japanese, and distal acupuncture treatments (in the schools of Dr. Tan and Master Tung). My acupuncture teachers, to whom I am eternally grateful for their wisdom and depth of experience and insights, include Dr. Sharon Fung, Raven Lang, Jeffrey Yuen, Kiiko Matsumoto, and Dr. Richard Tan.
For herbal treatments, I draw primarily from the grand and inexhaustible knowledge of Chinese herbal medicine and am very fortunate to have studied with some amazing TCM herbalists including Dr. Jimmy Chang, Debra Betts, Randine Lewis & Jane Lyttelton. I have also studied Western herbs at Sage Mountain under Rosemary Gladstar.
Nutrition & Functional Medicine Teacher:
Lastly, I find most people have nutritional imbalances and deficiencies and therefore benefit from Standard Processes' food based nutritional supplements in conjunction with herbal medicines. I am in ongoing nutritional and functional medicine post-graduate training with Dr. Ronda Nelson.
To wander in the field of flowers, pull the thorns from your heart.
My passion for Chinese Medicine in general has grown from my pursuit of excellence in assisting women to achieve reproductive and hormonal health. For more details about my work in women's health, please read more in my Women's Health page.
Over the years my clinical experience has also included an equal number of people with pain, injuries, digestive issues, fatigue & stress, depression & anxiety, immune disorders, and insomnia.
I am passionate about empowering clients to achieve healing and abundant wellness. For some people, this means simply removing chronic pain with acupuncture. For others, we need to take a deep look into digestive health, order lab tests, and prescribe natural medicines.
I value the intrinsically and deeply personalized perspective on self and wellness that every person at every stage of life can find in an acupuncture session and a bottle of herbs.