Alternative routes to health and wellness

Western medicine is great for treating acure illness and injury, but when it comes to wellness and preventative measures, many turn to alternative practices. Here are a few of the resources available to Portland State students with the Aetna Student health insurance plan at the Center for Student Health and Counseling as well as various locations throughout the city.

nutrition counseling

Eating right is not always easy, but it’s an important feat to master. It’s also a key component to staying healthy, and students have resources available that can help with this. SHAC provides group counseling, called “intuitive eating groups,” as well as individual nutrition counseling.

Individual counseling consists of a 50 minute appointment with a registered dietitian who is there to help students assess their nutrition status, and to help them modify their eating habits if need be. This might take place in two appointments or potentially more, depending on the individual’s needs.

Before scheduling an appointment with a SHAC dietitian, there is paperwork to be filled out online, including a nutrition counseling intake form and a three day food record form, both of which can be found at

Intuitive eating groups meet weekly at SHAC for an hour and a half and are assigned nutrition-related reading at each meeting, along with two or three questions to be discussed between the group and group leaders.
If you are interested in joining an intuitive eating group, you are asked to fill out an interest form online, which can be found at


Based in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture was historically used to restore balance to one’s life force and energy, known as the qi (pronounced “chee”).

Acupuncture is seen as being particularly effective for relieving pain and improving overall health. It is used as a part of many treatment plans for various illnesses, some of which include addiction, fibromyalgia, headaches, back pain and menstrual cramps.

It is not completely clear how acupuncture works, but one theory suggests that the nerves stimulated by the needles send signals to the spinal cord and brain, which release hormones that help to reduce pain and improve health.
Both group and individual acupuncture appointments are available to students at SHAC and are offered every Monday. Group appointments ($12 for students) are 30 minutes long and individual appointments ($50) are scheduled for one hour. To schedule an appointment, call the main SHAC phone line at (503) 725‑2800.

chiropractic care

Another alternative health option available to students is through Clearwater Chiropractic Clinic, which has a walk-in express location right on campus at 1717 S.W. Park Ave., Suite E. Their full service clinic is located at 1201 S.E. 12th Ave., Suite 205, where, in addition to chiropractic services, they offer natural medicine and acupuncture.

The primary goal of chiropractic treatment is to relieve pain from muscles, joints, bones and tissue. Many chiropractors also incorporate nutrition and exercise components into their treatment plans, with the goal of restoring normal function and preventing injury, as well as providing relief from pain.

massage therapy

As a complementary and alternative medicine, massage has been shown to be an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. Some studies have found other benefits, including coping with anxiety, digestive disorders, stress-related insomnia and headaches.

Massage therapy is offered to students at three locations around Portland.

Bridgetown Body Work (8638 N. Lombard, Suite 7) offers hour-long massages to PSU students, faculty and staff for $45.

East West College (525 N.E. Oregon St.) has a student-run clinic, where a 50 minute massage costs $25. They also have a professional clinic where you can get a 60 minute massage for $50, or a 90 minute session for $70.

Finally, you can bring your PSU student ID to Midnight Sun Massage (4020 N.E. Fremont St.) for a $45 hour-long session.

naturopathic medicine

Another resource available to students is the National College of Natural Medicine Clinic, located at 3025 S.W. Corbett Ave. Physicians at the NCNM Clinic include medical doctors, as well as those who specialize in Chinese medicine and chiropractic care. They offer a medicinary that provides supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies, tinctures and other products.

The goal of the naturopathic physician is to identify and eliminate the root causes of an illness, emphasizing prevention, treatment and optimization of health.

Some common conditions that can benefit from natural health care include anxiety, depression, back pain, fatigue and allergies. The NCNM Clinic offers wellness exams, homeopathy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, nutritional counseling and even minor surgery.