Interview by Sarah Clark, LAc
Last week I spent some time with Dr. Meghan Larivee, ND, LAc, at Kwan Yin Healing Arts. We talked about the body as landscape, how honey bee venom therapy and neural therapy can help to re-establish balance within that landscape, and the importance of doctor patient rapport. Here is what she had to say.
Sarah: What led you to become a healer?
Meghan: I knew that I wanted to practice medicine. Biology and humanity always fascinated me–so I went pre-med. But what truly led me to holistic medicine was studying environmental biology and learning about ecosystems and the concept that the health of the whole is more important than the sum of the parts. So I was looking at the big picture of things with regards to disease and how disease happens, and then a family member turned me on to naturopathic medicine.
I grew up in the South and was never aware of holistic medicine as a kid, and I thought why didn’t I get to try herbs or acupuncture? It was just so foreign to me at the time. It was this knowing that I wanted to look at health from a big picture perspective that really led me to naturopathic medicine.
Sarah: So as a doctor do you feel you’re treating the ecosystems of your patients?
Meghan: Exactly. I treat the landscape. I do a little bit of Five Element, and it ties in so incredibly with the macrocosm and the microcosm. So much is dependent on how we live in our environment, including our internal environment.
Sarah: Right, the outer and the inner aren’t separate.
Meghan: Right! When someone comes to me with a headache, I don’t see a headache walking into the room, I see a person who is experiencing a headache. And that headache is unable to exist without a circulatory system and respiratory system and nervous system. All of the systems need to be functioning optimally for health, so it’s important to be able to look at all those systems collectively and how they function as team.
Sarah: Tell me more about how you work with your patients.
Meghan: Often, as providers we focus so much on the body and what’s going on with the physical signs and symptoms. And then, there is all this talk about mind, body, spirit. It’s my opinion that to really be able to help balance and support someone in mind, body, and spirit, you must develop a positive rapport. People need to feel confidence and trust in their provider. I feel that one of my strengths is truly developing that relationship, because, we all have access to the information through books and the internet, and our medical education. But positive rapport gives us the ability to solicit and elicit the important details to work with in order to help our patients heal. It’s an important piece of getting down to what’s going on and helping people get to where they want to be–to meet their healthcare goals, and be happy, and enjoy their lives.
Sarah: And how do you elicit that trust from your patients? Can you get a little more specific?
Meghan: I think it’s just about being genuine and honest, and communicating that I really do want what’s best for my patients.
Sarah: What kinds of conditions do you treat?
Meghan: I work a lot with people who are experiencing autoimmune processes. Many systems are involved in autoimmunity, so we get very detailed. I completed my residency training in an integrative neurology program, so I focus on people that have neuro-related conditions–everything from insomnia and anxiety to headaches and migraines to multiple sclerosis. Oftentimes with bizarre symptoms neurology comes up. The nervous system innervates everything.
Sarah: What kinds of modalities do you use?
Meghan: I’m trained as a naturopathic physician and as an acupuncturist – I have specifically studied Five Element acupuncture, so I weave that in. I do honey bee venom therapy and neural therapy. I also perform nasal specific treatments.
Sarah: Tell me about honey bee venom therapy.
Meghan: The theory behind it is that it reintroduces the inflammatory response to the body. So, when you have chronic inflammation, you get stuck in this cycle. The body’s like a broken record. Honey bee venom therapy triggers the body to finish this inflammatory process. So it gets itchy and red around the injection site, but it acts to reset your body’s response to the inflammation– to clear out the chronic inflammation. People do respond best with a series of treatments. It works systemically. I have seen incredible results for fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. It works well for pain.
Sarah: What about neural therapy?
Meghan: Neural therapy involves injecting procaine, which is an anesthetic, into specific glands—like the thyroid gland or the tonsils–or around certain nervous plexus in the body. It’s also for general inflammation and poor signaling pathways throughout the body. What happens when a cell is really inflamed–or if it’s a dying cell– is that the electro-membrane potential of the cell goes down. So a change in these electrical patterns creates an interference field. The procaine acts as an anaesthetic. But the way that it acts on the cell membrane is that it temporarily resets those cell membrane potentials. When the cell membrane gets reset, cellular functions can resume. And sometimes it’s just enough to clear the interference field. I think it actually works very similarly to how acupuncture works–just by resetting cell to cell communication and clearing blocks.
Sarah: So can you relate that to the idea we discussed earlier of treating the body’s landscape or ecosystem?
Meghan: If we think about the health of a river. If there’s dam–you know the ecosystem downstream is less healthy. But upstream there’s a lot of power. So if you release the dam then the salmon populations do better as well as the surrounding mini-ecosystems. It’s just about balancing–looking at where there’s too much power in some areas and too little in others and restoring balance on a cellular level.
Every cell in our body eats, drinks, breathes and also gets rid of waste–usually homeostasis is pretty well controlled intracellularly. But if the extracellular matrix is all gummed up with this debris–and the debris can be anything from general inflammation and stress to poor diet or being chronically angry–then procaine injections will regulate the body so that the cells can break down the debris or interference and start talking to each other again. Once we get the ball going, then the cells can regulate.
Sarah: Can you say more about specific results you’ve see with procaine therapy?
Meghan: I’ve seen this work, for example, with hair loss in a certain area. The cells have a moment to be healthy again and restart the process of growing healthy hair. I also see resolution of joint pain, rashes, fatigue, and often there’s improvement in overall energy, because people are healthier. Their bodies are functioning more efficiently.
Sarah: Tell me about nasal specific treatments.
Meghan: This treatment is more symptom specific. I have success with it for migraines, for chronic sinus infections, and for allergies.
Sarah: Can you explain what the nasal specific treatment is?
Meghan: Well, you have three passageways in your nose that lead into the sinuses. When there are head injuries or chronic irritation from allergies or infections, then those passageways get kinked and your normal mucus production doesn’t drain as efficiently. Then when you get a cold or a flu, it gets even more congested. So we feed little balloons into the passageways and add pressure and it works out those kinks. It’s like an internal structural adjustment, and it’s not painful. It just helps the sinuses function better and really reduces frequency of infections and headaches. I’ve seen it sometimes eradicate headaches.
Sarah: So what do you like to do in your off time?
Meghan: I love hanging out with my family. I have two boys–a three-year-old and a one-year-old. I love being active and outdoors. We spend a lot of time at the river just playing as well as skiing in the mountains. There’s a lot of play in my life, building forts and going for bike rides.