Healthy Options: Herbs and acupuncture – How Chinese medicine helps the body heal |

Healthy Options: Herbs and acupuncture – How Chinese medicine helps the body heal

Anna Werderitsch makes an herbal formula at her clinic Spirit Farmer Acupuncture in Nevada City. This particular formula is a combination of Chinese and Western herbs for sinus congestion and allergies. The client brews the tea at home and it lasts up to one week.
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

Anna Werderitsch’s connection to nature and plants began at the age of three in the woods behind her home in West Marin.

Although she knew she was destined to study herbs and work with plant medicine in some way, she had no idea that her path would eventually lead her to open an office in Nevada City.

Upon completing high school, Anna hoped to enter the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, but she was told she needed a bachelor’s degree before she could apply. She started attending classes at City College and ultimately graduated from Emperors College of Traditional Oriental Medicine.

For the past 15 years, Anna has been using her connection to nature and the healing power of plants along with acupuncture to treat an array of physical and emotional symptoms.

In this week’s “Healthy Options,” we share a short interview with Anna Werderitsch, owner of Spirit Farmer Acupuncture about the healing power of herbs and the benefits of acupuncture.

Q: How has your practice evolved over the past 15 years?

A: After graduating from college, I spent 10 years in Los Angeles at Well Woman Acupuncture, where I worked with women’s health issues. The big emphasis was on fertility/infertility, but my practice included menopause, women going through cancer treatment, painful periods — the whole scope of women’s health.

At the same time, I had a vision of working in an apothecary. I just didn’t know the details until I began communicating with Shea Smith, who is now the director of HAALo, an herb shop in Nevada City. She hadn’t opened HAALo at the time, but through email correspondence and phone calls, we discovered a shared vision. Four years ago, I moved to Nevada City and became one of the on-site practitioners at HAALo.

Q: While working at HAALo, what was your focus?

A: Because there is such a high rate of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses in Nevada County, my focus shifted from women’s health to treating Lyme — a chronic disease that can either be completely overwhelming and debilitating or take someone on a spiritual or Shamanic journey. Initially, I was following the Stephen Harrod Buhner protocol, but upon realizing that his treatment strategy contained a lot of Chinese herbs, I went back to the Chinese medicine I had been trained in.

Q: What is the “system of asking” and how does it apply to the treatment of Lyme disease?

A: The “Ten Asking Song” was originally written in the Ming dynasty by Zhang Jing-Yue. It provides a template for obtaining and remembering important clinical information about each patient. The tune has been lost, but the questions remain. The questions cover 10 key areas: fever and chills, perspiration, head and body aches, stools and urine, food (taste and appetite), chest and abdomen, ears and eyes, children’s questions, sleep, and women’s questions. I now take a traditional approach to treating Lyme. I look at the person, ask about their symptoms, look at their tongue, and take their pulse. Then, I create a treatment plan that includes acupuncture, cupping, moxa, gua sha, and customized herbal formulations. My goal includes getting the digestion on track so the immune system is strong enough to fight bacteria and the various co-infections.

Q: Where do you get the herbs that you use?

A: I get herbs from a variety of sources. Some come from China and are laboratory tested for pesticides. I also use local herbs from First Rain Farm’s Herbal U-Pick, and I wild harvest other medicinal plants locally. Wild harvesting requires contemplation and respect for the plant. Sometimes I go to pick and discover that a particular plant, like elderberry for example, doesn’t want to be taken or that I don’t really need it. Then there are plants like hawthorne and mimosa that are so abundant and invasive that I pick more freely.

More information about Anna’s work can be found at To make an appointment, call Anna at 530-414-6419.

For more information about Jan Fishler, go to

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