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Sheroes: Healing with Acupuncture and Herbs

The busy athletes of Bend get support in optimizing athletic performance and health with local 'shero' Ileana Bourland

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Lying on the table at Heal Grow Thrive Medicine, looking up at the familiar origami crane mobile in each treatment room, I'm immediately set at ease. As a mediocre athlete trying to get to the bottom of chronic neck and back pain, licensed acupuncturist Ileana Bourland was recommended to me by a local yogi. Bourland's coffer of healing arts are expansive, expert and anchored in the oldest of healing sciences: Oriental medicine and Ayurveda.

"We have a motto here at HGTM: We do it for the patient," explains Bourland. "We work with people to accomplish their goals in healing, whether that's to improve stress and anxiety, pain relief or optimizing athletic performance. HGTM started as a question: What is needed to reach a state of happiness, health and well-being? First, we work together with our patients and their health care team to help them HEAL, strengthen, flourish, GROW, bloom and THRIVE! Even the simplest acupuncture treatment can help with stress and zen you out."

Soaking up sunshine and inhaling fresh air are part of a healthy regimen for everyone. - COURTESY ILEANA BOURLAND
  • Courtesy Ileana Bourland
  • Soaking up sunshine and inhaling fresh air are part of a healthy regimen for everyone.

Licensed over 20 years ago with a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine from the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine at Texas Health and Science University, she opened her Bend practice in 2010. She also completed Ayurveda training at the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and in southern India.

Humbly referring to herself as a retired athlete, Bourland understands how local recreationalists and professional athletes can push themselves to the max and with that comes injuries. "Most serious athletes are either coming on or off an injury. So, it's important to tend to the chronic injuries as well as the acute ones. We use athlete-specific acupuncture, electro acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, massage, far infrared, herbal plasters, herbs and nutraceuticals."

One of her favorite therapies for athletes is gua sha, also known as Graston, IASTM, coining, spooning or scraping.

"This is a way to release fascial adhesions, muscular tension and the myofascial layer. Normally, we would see red marks, or petechiae, in an injured or tense area [after scraping]. The petechiae is a great sign that the fascial adhesions are breaking apart. People who regularly receive cupping or gua sha will notice fewer and fewer red marks as tissues heal."

If Bourdland happens to overdo it in her sport of choice, (as an athlete emeritus, she enjoys hiking, cross country skiing, anything outside with a dog, yoga, Pilates and barre), she has the luxury of a close-knit team of healers surrounding her.

"Liz Larsen is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist who specializes in sports acupuncture. She is currently in Whitfield Reaves' Sports Medicine Apprenticeship Program. Shayla Thompson has a very dynamic and palpatory style that focuses on trauma... Plus, my husband is a strength and fitness coach, so I'm lucky to have him as a resource for functional training and at-home workouts."

Her top health tip for Bendites? Mind your "hamstrings and IT bands. A foam roller should be handed out to every new Bend resident." Bourland also suggests saturating in the fresh air, clean water, sunshine, mountains and amazing community Bend has to offer.

Some heal through medicine; some through protest. With a focus on heart-centered awareness, it's no surprise when asked about her own "sheroes," Bourland names Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani human rights and education activist for women and children.

Her dream professional-athlete client? She says she'd love to work on former New England Patriot quarterback and local, Drew Bledsoe. So, if anyone reading can hook this up... just saying.

Bourland's favorite at-home therapies for athletes

Contrast Therapy: An easy way to help any kind of injured tissue, especially less-vascular areas like tendons. Alternating heat and cold for 20-25 minutes, five minutes each, increases circulation to the area and acts like a pump. Always end with heat. 

Topical: Mahanarayan oil, a warming ayurvedic medicated oil for joints and muscles, contains the famous yang tonic, ashwagandha.

Nutraceutical: BCQ contains boswellia, curcumin and quercetin, an herbal anti-inflammatory that does not damage the liver and kidneys. 

Chinese herbal formula: Shao yao gan cao tang for muscular pain and cramping.

Food: Consume fruits and veggies for their Vitamin C content necessary for the production of collagen; and bone broth for collagen.

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