Oak Edit

What Dr. Natazia Stolberg Wishes We'd Forget About Wellness

March 13, 2024
Photos by: Bliss Braoudakis

If you've ever found yourself trodding and confused through the arena that is modern wellness, let our recent conversation with acupuncturist and herbalist Dr. Natazia Stolberg be a welcome refresh. In the face of trends, tactics, and overcomplicated routines, she's joined us to share some of her best-kept insights—from mindset shifts to everyday practices, plus an approach to eastern-meets-western medicine that anyone can get behind.

What first drew you to Chinese medicine?
I was first introduced to Chinese medicine and acupuncture in high school when I was searching for alternative treatments to help with debilitating pain from Endometriosis. I had exhausted all Western medical options, including surgery, and still was unable to control my symptoms. I had read that some women were using acupuncture to manage their pain and I was immediately drawn to trying it.

My acupuncturist changed my life and I have been essentially pain-free for the last 14 years with the use of acupuncture and herbal medicine. It is crazy to think back now and see how Endometriosis, something I used to see in such a negative light, was the driving force behind my career and my ability to connect with patients. Even if they have a different diagnosis or complaint, we find common ground in understanding the feeling of desperation to heal your body.
What does wellness mean to you? In what ways has your training reframed that concept?
To me, wellness is synonymous with ease, both physically and mentally. Feeling ease in whatever I choose to do—waking up and going for a long hike or indulging in delicious food without impacting my digestion. I know I am well when days or weeks go by and I notice how everything was effortless. Acupuncture has taught me that things do not need to be approached with force to create change. I have always believed that less is more.

Living in Los Angeles I have a front row seat to the insanity that is the ‘wellness industry’ and I honestly think it becomes more toxic every day. The standard of what you need to do and eat to be well can be a full-time job if you let it and I have seen it become an obsession. I can honestly say that the patients who come to me on the most supplements and the strictest regimens are still the most depleted and unhealthy—there is simply no room for ease and joy!
For those less familiar with acupuncture and its history, what are some of the most significant benefits of regular treatment?
The system of Chinese medicine views humans as microcosms in the universe that are not separate but one with nature and subject to their surroundings. Disease or unwanted symptoms are a sign of an imbalance in the opposing forces of yin and yang which can cause a blockage in the flow of Qi, meaning certain areas of the body do not receive enough energy to function optimally. Treatment aims to restore the flow of Qi in the body so it can treat anything and everything by regulating the nervous system, reducing inflammation and improving circulation. Acupuncture is most commonly associated with its ability to reduce pain and heal injuries but I find its power in treating chronic symptoms often overlooked by conventional Western medicine to be far more relevant such as bloating, constipation, adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, infertility, insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression.
Whether a symptom or common misconception, what’s one of the most concerning issues you come across in your practice? How can we remedy it?
I see women who are experiencing symptoms that they don’t realize are related to being on hormonal birth control. It is a sensitive topic, however, I try to educate them on the likely correlation. Many are completely shocked as they were never told this information before having their IUD placed or being prescribed birth control pills. Choosing to go off of hormonal birth control is a very personal decision and I love supporting women in re-establishing their natural cycle.

I help women learn to love their period as a sign of health and vitality and teach them about tracking their basal body temperature to plan or prevent pregnancy. I have hopes that this knowledge will get passed down to their daughters and the next generation will begin to adopt a different mindset when it comes to birth control.
Nutritionally speaking, what’s one trend you wish everyone would let go of? What’s something we can incorporate into our lives instead?
I hope everyone lets go of cold smoothies for breakfast. I hate this trend for two reasons. First, its popularity has grown because it is quick and convenient and if you start your day off with this mindset, you will only nourish your body in a way that is convenient to you—you’re literally saying you don’t have enough time to eat a proper meal. Second, ingesting something icy cold is a sure way to dampen your digestive fire which leads to slower digestion for the remainder of the day, increasing your chances of bloating and constipation. If you insist on smoothies, skip the ice and use fruit from the counter to make it less cold.
In terms of routine, do you have any daily non-negotiables?
Waking up early is something I have been doing daily for over 10 years. Regardless of my schedule or travel, I always wake up with the intention of having an entire hour free before needing to get ready, work out, etc. This allows me the time to make my favorite morning beverage, make and eat breakfast and either spend time with my fiance or quiet time with myself if she is already at work. Easing into the day is so underrated.
What advice do you have for living in better alignment with the seasons?
Eating seasonally is the easy answer, however, I think it is more impactful if you understand the energetics behind each season and choose your activities and mindset accordingly. Winter is a time of deep rest, nourishment, introspection and conservation of resources which unsurprisingly is the season most have difficulty living in alignment with. It’s ok to make resolutions in January, but no action should be taken yet. Spring is the time for growth when planning can turn to execution. Summer is associated with yang and the peak of our energy. Seemingly endless days are times when our goals become reality. We are naturally more social, eat lighter meals and move our bodies with ease!

Autumn is another hard one for people to accept as it is a time of death and letting go—a necessary shedding. Moving through the grief of this season allows us to critically consider the worth we place on things—what we would like to take with us into winter and what we would like to leave behind.
When someone’s struggling with bloating or digestion, what’s the first question you might ask them? Any go-to tips?
I ask my patients to give me a high-level overview of their meals and listen for the big offenders—cold water, iced coffee, cold smoothies, raw veggies, chickpeas, beans, lentils, cauliflower, meat substitutes. If you are unsure why you are bloated, I would try removing everything from that list first. More specific sensitivities can be gluten, dairy, sugar or fruit. Most people already know if one of these is true but they typically don’t want to admit or eliminate it from their diet. My general approach is to be less restrictive, however, if you’re in a spiral of chronic bloating there often needs to be a reset period where we eliminate triggers while strengthening your digestion. For my patients, an integral part of this reset period is drinking my Rest + Digest tea twice daily for 30-60 days. I healed my chronic bloating with this blend years ago and have helped thousands of others do the same with its natural ability to increase digestive enzymes, treat pain associated with gas and cramping, and reduce inflammation in the digestive tract.
Can you walk us through a few of your favorite herbs for everyday use?
My Rest + Digest blend—I drink 4-5x per week after dinner to increase production of digestive enzymes and reduce bloating. Goji berry—incredible for building blood after menstruation and helps with any eye-related issues. Just drop 3-5 in a cup of hot water and drink/eat.
Chrysanthemum—very effective in reducing headaches and migraines when had daily. Flowers are delicate, so steep only 3-5 minutes with water under 200 degrees.
Cinnamon—great for relieving period pain and PMS and so delicious to add to a coffee or sprinkle on oatmeal!
Ginger—I drink fresh ginger juice every single day to help with digestion and immunity. Extra important in the winter as it is an energetically warming food/herb that warms you up from the inside!
What’s your favorite way to reset and recharge?
Either a vacation with lots of time in the ocean or a day of home-cooked meals, a long walk outside and reading a good book.
Any mantras you’re repeating lately?
I am really into ‘effective efficiency'—over the last year both of my businesses have grown tremendously and I became overwhelmed with tasks and responsibilities. I have been working diligently to put systems into place to increase efficiency so I can spend more time on the aspects of my business that I love and less on those I don't.

First beauty memory: Watching my grandmother slather her body in Nivea Cream from the blue tin.

Three desert island skincare staples: Oak Essentials Ritual Oil, Super Goop Unseen Sunscreen and a Chapstick! 

Best beauty lesson: It comes from within.

Most underrated beauty tip or tool: Hydration and sleep! 

You feel your most beautiful when: On vacation.

Recipe you can’t stop cooking: Chicken Lemon Rice Soup. 

Current song you’re playing on repeat: Wicked Game by Chris Isaak.