Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, Alumni News

Alum Story: Dr. Vados Knows Chronic Pain

Larissa Vados, LAc, PhD ‘12 knows chronic pain. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis as a teenager. “It was a very long process of trying different medications with many terrible side effects,” she explained. She eventually found a medication that worked for her and was covered by her insurance. At the time preexisting conditions weren’t covered by insurance, and she feared for the future.   

She saw multiple doctors, asking what she could do beyond taking the medication. “Every single one of them said the same thing to me: there’s just nothing else you can do.” She found acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine through a friend, worked with a naturopathic doctor, and made changes to her diet and exercise. “Eventually I got off my medication completely and I’ve been in remission with no symptoms for over 15 years now. I found that whole process so fascinating. That’s why I wanted to become an acupuncturist.” 

Collaborating in Health Systems

Dr. Vados earned her master’s at NWHSU, and her PhD at Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China. There, she saw how Chinese medicine was integrated in the hospital systems, and how that access made a difference for patient outcomes. When she returned to the U.S., she sought out a job in a health system, working for eight years at HealthEast, which became Fairview.   

She worked on the acute and chronic pain teams, collaborating with providers across disciplines. “We had weekly meetings with everyone in the chronic pain clinic,” she explained. “Someone would bring forward a patient they were seeing, looking for other perspectives or ideas. It was a wonderful learning experience.”   

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be so beneficial as a medicine, but also just listening to patients. A lot of times people, especially with chronic pain, get dismissed by the allopathic medicine world. With our form of medicine, we’re able to really spend time with people and hear them, and take the whole person into consideration.”  

Opening an Integrative Clinic

A year ago, Dr. Vados and her spouse Said Isayed, TCMD, opened Minnesota Integrative Health Studio in Northeast Minneapolis. They utilize acupuncture, cupping, herbal medicine, and Dr. Vados offers Pilates. They’ve also brought in massage therapists, a holistic nurse who offers reflex integration for stress resilience, a community holistic nurse who offers Reiki and health and wellbeing coaching, and infrared saunas.   

“Our vision was to have an integrative, community-based clinic with several options for care that work together,” she shared. “It came from our experience studying in China. Acupuncture is one part of the medicine. There are herbs, cupping, bodywork, exercise therapy, etc., and patients have access to all those things. That is really part of our vision, we want someone to come here and have that team of professionals working together to treat the whole person.” 

This story first appeared as part of “Touching Chronic Pain” in CONNECT: NWHSU’s Alumni & Friends Publication