An Interview with Vancouver’s Dr. Jeda Boughton
Loni: Hi Jeda! The reception staff often get asked questions about the BodaHealth team. I thought that with the recent clinic expansion and new treatments available, it would be a good time to sit down with you to get answers from you to some of these questions to post on our blog.
Jeda: Hi Loni, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I am so happy you have been able to compile a list of questions.
Loni: You have been practicing acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine for 18 years now, how did you become interested in this profession?
Jeda: There are many ways to tell this story. The short version is that I have always been interested in healthcare, ever since I was a little kid. My mom is a nurse and I was very attracted the type of work she did. In my 20s I actually wanted to become a naturopathic doctor because I was interested in more natural forms of healthcare, such as herbology, nutrition and acupuncture. However, at the time (2000) that I wanted to go to school, the closest naturopathic college in Canada was in Toronto and the closest in the USA was in Seattle. I really didn’t want to leave Vancouver so I decided to study Chinese Medicine instead, even though all I really knew was that it involved acupuncture, nutrition and herbs.
Loni: Are you happy with your decision to become a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, or do you wish you had become a naturopathic doctor?
Jeda: I am very happy. I think I have the best job in the world; I love Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Chinese medicine is so different than what I expected it to be when I first applied to the college and I am pleasantly surprised. I decided I would study TCM for 1 year and if I did not like it then I would go to Seattle to study naturopathic medicine. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
Loni: I can tell that you enjoy your job and patients enjoy working with you. Did you have to do any prerequisites before you started your doctorate in Traditional Chinese medicine?
Jeda: Yes, in order to be accepted you have to take 2 years of post secondary education. I had already completed a degree in sociology/criminology so I didn’t have to do any other prerequisites. They did not require the sciences because they teach everything we need to know in the Chinese Medicine program.
Loni: That’s good, so you only had to do an additional 5 years. Did you go to School in Vancouver? How long have you been practicing now?
Jeda: In 2003 I started practicing acupuncture on Saturdays in a chiropractic and massage clinic in Vancouver. I practiced acupuncture one day a week while I finished my last two years of school. I was able to write my acupuncture licensing exam after 3 years of study and start practicing early while I finished my herbology and doctorate.
I did go to school in Vancouver. I went to the International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, now called the Tzu Chi International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. They’re actually located right beside BodaHealth on West Broadway in Vancouver. In 2004, I also spent 3 months doing a practicum at a hospital in He Fei, Anhui China.
Loni: Wow that must have been very interesting practicing Chinese Medicine in China, was it a lot different than what you do here in Vancouver?
Jeda: It was different in a lot of ways because we were working in an integrated hospital with biomedical doctors as well. We could send a patient for x-rays and they would come back with them in 30 min and we could do acupuncture on them. The scope of practice is a lot wider there as well. We did some herbal injection therapy with kids and some manual manipulation techniques, as a part of the Tui Na department, things we can’t do here. It was an awesome experience and very educational!
Loni: That sounds like an invaluable experience. What inspired you to open BodaHealth and how long has it been in Vancouver? Where does the name BodaHealth come from?
Jeda: I was working at a chiropractic and massage clinic with several other practitioners just down the street from where BodaHealth is now. I love having other practitioners around me and I really wanted to surround myself with people who are caring, passionate and highly educated in their field so I opened my own practice in 2008.
The idea of the name of the clinic all started with my Dad and when I was born. My mom let him name my older brother and I, and he wanted us to have unique names. When he gave me my name, he took the first two letters of my mom’s name (Jean) and the first to letters of his name (David) and put them together to make Jeda. Boda is a combination of the first two letters of my last name, Boughton, and the last two letters of my first name, Jeda. My dad jokes that BodaHealth is actually named after him.
Loni: Oh, that’s cool. I know one of your passions is to help women and couples when they are trying to conceive. I am interested to know what got you into the field of fertility and how long have you been treating patients with acupuncture for fertility?
Jeda: I have always really loved kids and thought I would have at least 2 of my own. That didn’t happen but I have helped many women and couples have their own children. I treated my first patient for fertility in the first weeks of my practice in 2003. I really enjoyed working with her and started learning about the world of fertility. It seems that rather than having my own kids, my destiny is to help other people have children. We have a page on our website called BodaBabies and I am so proud of all of them!
Loni: It must be so rewarding to help people start their families! Besides fertility, I know you treat a lot of diverse health concerns. You have a lot of patients who see you for thyroid and hormone imbalances, menopause, pregnancy, and you also have a lot of patients who see you for sports injuries and other musculoskeletal issues and of course pain. I am curious what drives you to open your practice to many different health issues?
Jeda: I love constantly learning, that’s one of the reasons I love Chinese medicine so much. I will never know everything about Chinese medicine or fertility and therefore will never get bored of my job. Treating fertility is very rewarding but also fascinating. I find hormone health so interesting and I’ve done a lot of advanced education in fertility and pregnancy. That said, I also have a passion for working with injuries and pain. I play hockey, go to the gym, mountain bike and ski so I have my share of musculoskeletal issues and really enjoy helping people with their pain and injuries.
The types of tools that I have such as acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, shock wave, injection therapies, etc work really well for pain management and healing. Acupuncture is mostly known in Western culture as being useful for pain and injury so I’ve always treated in this area. I also worked in a chiropractic clinic, so I worked along side the chiropractors helping with all kinds of pain situations. It’s so rewarding to help people get out of pain and heal. Often I see results before my patients leave the clinic, that’s different from fertility because we are working with hormone cycles.
In terms of treating a variety of health issues, as a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine I am treating the person more than I am treating the diagnosis. I look for patterns of imbalance within each individual and treat their unique patterns. For example, if two people with hypothyroidism come in to see me, they might have two complexly different patterns and I may treat them very differently in terms of acupuncture and herbs. If a patient walked through the door with a unique illness that I had never heard of, I could still provide them with useful healthcare based on their pattern rather than on their Western diagnosis. Does that make sense? This is another one of the things I really love about Traditional Chinese Medicine; there really isn’t any illness that we can’t at least give people some level of relief.
Loni: So what you are saying is that you aren’t treating the lab report, you’re treating the person? The practitioners at BodaHealth treat a wide variety of health concerns not just fertility; we have patients looking for relief or treatment for all sorts of things. However, our practitioners do treat many women and men that are having fertility issues and trying to conceive. How were you able to bring together such a diverse team who are also interested in treating fertility patients.
Jeda: It has taken me 11 years to put this team together and I am very proud of everyone. Like I said earlier, my priority was to build a team of skilled, caring and passionate practitioners. The fact that they are also keen on working in the field of fertility is a bonus! We do have quite the diversity of skill on the team, though, we offer help with so many things in addition to fertility, pregnancy and hormone health, such as digestion, stress, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disorders, skincare, and more.
Loni: How did you find each practitioner on the team? Everyone is so caring and knowledgeable and have such great relationships with their patients.
Jeda: I am so lucky that I have found each of the practitioners on the team at BodaHealth. All of the practitioners came to BodaHealth in different ways. To be specific, I went to school with Antonella and Vanessa, they were a year ahead of me at ICTCMV. I kept in touch with them and always wanted them to join me at BodaHealth. When they were ready to expand their practices, they joined BodaHealth.
Heather, Emily and Kristen actually worked for BodaHealth as receptionists when they were studying Chinese medicine and Acupuncture at the International College. I often hire students to help at the front desk and when they graduate and pass their licensing exams, I ask the ones I really like to join us. I knew these 3 were the right fit.
I met Dawn when I put out an advertisement when we were looking for another massage therapist. Dawn was looking to change clinics, and she was keen to work with women that were having reproductive issues so she was a great fit.
I met Alana at a HANS event. I was giving a talk on thyroid disorders and Alana was there. We connected on the fertility and hormone interest. She was working in Port Moody and at Grace Fertility and wanted to have her practice all in one clinic, so she moved her practice to BodaHealth.
Rachel was living in London Ontario and was looking to move to Vancouver. Alana and Rachel have been friends for years so Alana suggested that Rachel work with us, so Rachel joined us in 2015.
Alana also helped bring the other naturopaths to BodaHealth. She was working at the Naturopathic College in New West and she taught Kyla and Carley, and knew how skilled they are so she helped me recruit them. Lauren approached us because she wanted to move her practice to Vancouver. After meeting her I could see what a great fit she would be at our clinic.
It's taken years and now we have an outstanding team of practitioners!
Loni: Are there any other types of practitioners that you would like to add to BodaHealth?
Jeda: Yes, I would love to have an Osteopath. Osteopathic medicine is not as common in Canada so it’s is hard to find someone who will fit in with the culture and BodaHealth.
Loni: We now have 3 Registered Massage Therapists as part of the BodaHealth team. What brought you to the decision to offer Massage Therapy?
Jeda: I find the combination of massage therapy and acupuncture is so beneficial for patients. They are excellent adjunctive therapies and having massage therapy at BodaHealth really complements everything we do here.
Loni: How long have you worked with massage therapists?
Jeda: I have always worked with massage therapists, right from the first clinic in 2003. In 2004, when I returned from China I worked with 9 massage therapists so I really gained a feel for what it is like to work with massage. I really love the use of both therapies (acupuncture and massage) together.
Loni: Do the massage therapists at BodaHealth have areas of focus as well?
Jeda: Yes, our therapists are very passionate about supporting women that are trying to conceive, working with pregnancy, rehab techniques, abdominal massage, deep tissue and craniosacral therapy. In British Columbia, the scope of practice of RMTs is more limited than the scope of TCM practitioners and naturopaths.
Loni: We do have a lot of our fertility patients asking about massage therapy so it would be great to clarify how we should answer their questions. Patients will often ask if massage can help with fertility?
Jeda: We should tell our patients that a registered massage therapist can treat and support women who have fertility issues with the hope that it will improve their overall alignment and the functioning of their bodies. Massage therapists treat various soft tissue and musculoskeletal conditions, using techniques such as Swedish massage, myofascial release, and visceral techniques on the abdomen. If indicated, one of the goals might be to help release abdominal and pelvic adhesions and other restrictions. And massage therapy helps patients to relax, which can also be helpful to these women. But it’s also important to make it clear that massage therapy can’t “cure” reproductive medical conditions and infertility. Does that make sense?
Loni: Yes, it is important that we are clear with our patients. I guess in other jurisdictions the scope of practice for massage therapists is different. For example, fertility massage therapists, such as Claire Spink, founder of Womb and Fertility Massage Therapy in the UK, advertises that she offers fertility massage treatments. I know that Dawn Sells has trained with her in Europe, but that she doesn’t use the term “Fertility Massage” to describe her practice.
Jeda: There have been very few scientific studies proving that massage can help women get pregnant or enhance fertility. There is a lot of information on the internet about various types of womb massage, Maya Abdominal Therapy, Mercier Therapy and visceral massage claiming to help reposition the uterus and cure conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS and other menstrual problems. Because of the lack of scientific evidence, a BC RMT shouldn't claim to have the ability to increase women's chances of conceiving with massage. Hopefully, some time in the future, that will change but it is difficult to fit massage into the scientific model.
Loni: Do you think that women who are trying to conceive have any benefits from having massage therapy? For example, does abdominal massage benefit them?
Jeda: When it’s indicated, Dawn Sells does a style of abdominal massage, using a combination of Swedish, myofascial, and visceral techniques, that our patients with fertility issues enjoy and find very relaxing.
Loni: Can abdominal massage be done on pregnant women?
Jeda: If there is a chance that a woman might be newly pregnant, our Massage Therapists will avoid treating her abdomen.
Loni: What happens if the patient is trying to conceive, and she is post-ovulation so she’s not sure if she’s pregnant. Would the RMT avoid doing abdominal massages?
Jeda: If there is a chance that a woman might be pregnant, the abdomen is avoided with massage.
Loni: In Vancouver, or I guess British Columbia, is it within a massage therapists scope of practice to discuss fertility issues with a patient?
Jeda: If questions or statements could be viewed as giving advice to a woman about her cycle then it is best for the RMT to refer the patient to an ND or a TCM practitioner, for instance. However, if the information is relevant for the massage treatment then it is fine to ask questions about the woman’s health history and her current complaints.
Loni: Ok, so I just want to be really clear, if a patient has questions about what part of their cycle, such as during menstruation, before or after ovulation, that they should have a massage, would we, or the RMT, be able to answer those questions? I am really curious about this because patients ask us at the front desk about when it is recommended or safe to have a massage especially when they are trying to conceive naturally or going through an IVF cycle, so it helps to know what to tell them.
Jeda: The main thing is that a massage therapist, or our reception staff, shouldn't imply that a treatment will cure infertility. For example, if the RMT recommends getting a massage before ovulation to improve the chances of ovulation for a patient that is anovulatory then that would be out of their scope of practice. The best thing to tell them is that massage is safe at any time in their cycle.
Loni: Ok, I think I am clear now. Do you see a lot of fertility patients in common with the massage therapists?
Jeda: Certainly, we treat a lot of patients in common. Patients love the abdominal massage techniques and I hear so much positive feedback from them. I had an abdominal massage and it was so relaxing and tranquil. It also felt really good to have someone massage my abdomen, that part of our body is so rarely treated therapeutically or even touched. I imagine there would be many benefits from having that area treated manually.
As far as enhancing outcomes, it is hard to say. We’ve never done any statistical analysis within our clinic but we do have a lot of patients who get pregnant.
Loni: In terms of the different types of massage therapy, how do the three therapists at BodaHealth differ from each other? How do you decide who to refer your patients to?
Jeda: I get regular massage treatments at BodaHealth and all three of them are excellent massage therapists! Rachel Guymer tends to do a lot deeper massage; Dawn Sells uses light to moderate pressure and enjoys working with patients who are trying to conceive and with pregnant patients; Lauren Brandt also does deep tissue and she adds therapeutic exercise to some of her treatments. When I refer my patients to them, I take their interests and styles into account and match my patient to who I think is the most appropriate.
Loni: Lauren does massage therapy and therapeutic exercise with a lot of pregnant women, it’s exciting to add the therapeutic exercise as an option for our patients!
Jeda: Absolutely! She had been working in Richmond at a sports therapy clinic but has a keen interest in working with women who are pregnant. Bringing her to BodaHealth has been an amazing addition to our team. She’s still doing a lot of sports massage therapy but she can now add more work with pregnancy.
Loni: Can patients get massage and acupuncture on the same day?
Jeda: Absolutely, a lot of our patients love to do that.
Loni: Would you say that having massage and acupuncture on the same day is preferable; do patients have a preference for which they do first, massage or acupuncture?
Jeda: This is really a personal preference. Therapeutically it doesn’t matter which comes first, the acupuncture or the massage.
Loni: We have a great team of Naturopathic Physicians here at BodaHealth as well. How long have you been working with NDs and what made you decide to bring them on at BodaHealth? What do our NDs focus their practice on?
Jeda: As I mentioned earlier, I originally wanted to be a naturopathic doctor. I’ve been drawn to this type of medicine my whole life, I just didn’t know what it was called it until I was in my 20s. I guess I grew up sheltered in Saskatchewan. Our naturopathic doctors add a dimension to BodaHealth that we didn’t have before they were here. Like primary care physicians, they are able to order blood tests, lab work, some medications, they can do IV injections and they can even do PAP exams. Our naturopaths are primary care for many of our patients. This is beneficial for many reasons and it’s great to have their services and knowledge at BodaHealth because they come from a very different perspective than the rest of us. Also, it’s difficult for people in Vancouver to find a family doctor so it’s great to be able to offer patients such an awesome service.
Jeda: Dr. Alana Shaw was the first I’ve ever worked with, she joined BodaHealth in 2014, I wasn’t sure how it would change the clinic but it has been fantastic! It makes BodaHealth like a one stop shop and it’s so easy for us, as practitioners, to communicate about treatment plans and have discussions about what is best for our mutual patients. It has been so positive that I asked Dr. Kyla Buten join us in 2016 and Dr. Akehurst to join us in 2018.
Loni: Do the Naturopathic doctors at Boda have areas of focus?
Jeda: They all treat general health issue but have a special interest in women’s health. Having worked at Grace Fertility, Dr. Shaw has a background in treating all kinds of fertility issues such as PCOS, endometriosis, thyroid imbalances, etc. Kyla loves to treat children, digestion and skin but she also does a lot of work in women’s health. Carley has a general women’s health practice. They are all very knowledgeable and experienced. I am so happy to have all three of them on the team.
Loni: How did you end up having only women working in the clinic, did you do that on purpose? Have you always only had women working here?
Jeda: Believe it or not, this was not done on purpose. I had two men working with me for several years. We even had a male receptionist for a while. I guess the right man hasn’t applied yet. I am very careful about who I bring into the practice, it really needs to be the right fit. That said, because our most of our concentration is in women’s health and fertility, many of our patients have mentioned that they really appreciate that all the staff, practitioners and doctors are female.
Loni: Yes, I’ve heard that as well. Do you have a preference that your patients also see other practitioners at BodaHealth?
Jeda: It’s not necessary but it’s nice because of the communication that we have within the clinic. For those patients who want a collaborative approach, it’s nice for us to be able to discuss and strategize treatment plans for our mutual patients.
Loni: Do all of you, the acupuncturists, Doctors of Chinese Medicine, naturopaths and massage therapists, see many patients in common?
Jeda: We have quite a few but not everyone.
Loni: Do you ever see each other’s patients, for example, if you are away or not available on a day that works for a patient, would they see one of the other practitioners of Chinese medicine or acupuncturists?
Jeda: Yes, that is also common. Not all patients want to see different practitioners, but for those that do, it’s nice to have that option. We have a really good system for sharing charts and notes in the cases when patients request it.
Loni: Do you see a lot of patients who go for massage or naturopathic medicine in other clinics but get acupuncture at BodaHealth or alternatively get massage at BodaHealth but other therapies in other clinics?
Jeda: Yes, that’s common too. We have good relationships with a lot of the other clinics and practitioners in the community.
Loni: What is the most common way that patients find out about BodaHealth?
Jeda: Patient or practitioner referral has always been the most common. Because we have good relationships with other practitioners in the community we get a lot of referrals from them. We also work closely with Grace Fertility and Genesis Fertility so they send patients to us. In the last 10 years, the internet has become more common. Patients will often find us through Google searches online.
Loni: Speaking of Grace and Genesis Fertility. We do a lot of pre and post IVF and FET transfer acupuncture infertility treatments at BodaHealth. Patients often ask me is how to organize these on short notice. Can you tell me a bit about this? Also, when do you decide to do transfers on site at Grace and Genesis Fertility?
Jeda: All of the acupuncturists and naturopaths at BodaHealth have been trained to do the Paulus protocol for pre and post IVF transfers. We do a lot of these for patients from all 4 of the fertility clinics in town. We usually do these pre and post IVF transfers in our clinic but at times we do them at Genesis and Grace Fertility. Because there are 7 of us that can provide this service, we are able to book them on short notice.
We are also building two more treatment rooms and will be able to accommodate more patients in the clinic. Some of the acupuncture clinics are offering Photobiomodulation or Laser treatments pre and post IVF but the studies haven’t been extensive enough yet to convince us that laser will have the same positive pregnancy outcomes as acupuncture. If we see that change we will add laser to our toolbox as well.
Loni: Thank you Jeda for this great information. These questions and answers will be helpful for all new and existing patients. I think it would be a great idea to interview a few of our other amazing practitioners at BodaHealth and add their interviews to our blog!
Jeda: That’s a great idea! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this Loni, I agree that this information will be very helpful for perspective patients.
If you have a question for us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe your question will make our next interview!
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.