Dr. Peter Borten, LAc, DAOM

Articles and Resources on All Facets of Health and Healing


I became interested in natural medicine at a young age, writing my first report on acupuncture at age 12, and shopping the witchcraft stores of Salem for medicinal herbs as a teenager. In high school, I somehow became the designated counselor among my circle of friends, which led me to enter UMass Amherst as a psych major. But my passion for medicinal plants turned out to be stronger than that for psychology, and I ended up graduating with a degree in botany.

After college, hoping to find a way to pursue my varied health-related interests, I discovered that Traditional Chinese Medicine was the career I was looking for. It encompasses acupuncture, nutrition, qi gong, the world’s most sophisticated system of herbal medicine, and a model of health in which psychological factors are inseparable from physical ones. This brought me to Portland to attend the prestigious Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. Four years and several healing certifications later, I started my private practice.

In 2002, I decided to go back to school, this time to learn a different form of Chinese Medicine called Classical Five Element Acupuncture. CFEA specifically addresses the psycho-spiritual origins of illness, and its Daoist philosophical foundation is derived entirely from observations of nature. It sees the natural world as our greatest teacher, and natural phenomena as mirrors of all facets of human existence. It’s beautiful and poetic.

While practicing this system, I realized that I had personally benefited more from knowing Chinese Medicine and reconnecting with the natural world as my teacher than I had from having it done to me. My understanding of my body and surroundings is continually informed from this background. So, with the encouragement of many of my patients, I (slowly) started to write a book for laypeople on the essence of Chinese Medicine and the immense value of reconnecting with the natural world in order to better understand our lives.

Meanwhile, my wife and I established The Dragontree Holistic Day Spa in 2003, which quickly grew into a major healing center in Portland. Owning and working in a spa on a daily basis gave me a great appreciation for the healing power of spaces. I had previously worked in a typical medical building with beige carpet, white walls, and fluorescent light. In the spa, I saw that its colors and lighting, peaceful music, and gurgling fountains could turn a medical visit into a transcendent healing experience.

In 2006, I had a feeling that there wasn’t enough on my plate. A few years earlier, the Dept. of Education had granted schools of Chinese Medicine the ability to award doctorates. Up to this point, although most school were four-academic-year post-graduate programs, they were restricted to calling this a master’s degree. I felt we deserved to be on equal academic ground with other medical professionals, so I returned to OCOM and, after an additional two and a half years of study with many leading experts of Chinese and Western medicine, I was part of the third graduating class with a doctorate in this field. This program served as a nagging impetus to finish my book (and an accompanying three hour video presentation), which became my capstone thesis.

In 2007, still in the midst of my doctoral work, my wife and I opened The Clearing Cafe next door to our spa. Our dream was to provide a warm and bright spot for locals to enjoy high quality organic tea, food, juice, and coffee, including soups and smoothies that incorporated invigorating Chinese herbs into the recipes. Just a month after opening, our daughter Sabina was born. After a few years, we decided to leave the cafe business to someone else, and sold The Clearing to a wonderful couple. We still eat there all the time.

Meanwhile, Portland International Airport invited us to build a spa there. I hate airports, so the idea of creating a sanctuary in PDX, which would be as un-airport as possible (announcements of found bags being “confiscated and destroyed” notwithstanding), was very appealing. We opened our doors there in 2009.

Over the next few years, despite having so much going on in Portland, I started to get tired of living in a big city – and a mostly dark, rainy one at that. I found myself looking at the weather statistics and demographics of other places, and fantasizing about a life in the sun. I hadn’t intended to stay in Portland when I moved there for grad school, but ended up being there for 15 years. In August of 2012, we moved to Boulder, Colorado.

We had dreams of opening a spa in Boulder, but faced the most difficult challenges of our lives making it happen. Finally, after drawing on every possible resource, praying, chanting, visualizing, vision boarding, and working our asses off day and night, we finally made it happen in July 2013.

In October of 2014 we opened our fourth spa, this one in the Sheraton Hotel in Portland. And in November of 2014, our second daughter, Sailor, was born. We feel very blessed.



  1. We were recommended to you by Mark Stone while we were in Florence OR.
    We live In Fort Collins, CO.
    What is your contact information in Boulder?
    Jim and Nancy Schuler

    • Peter Borten

      September 12, 2013 at 12:04 AM

      Hi there!
      Sorry – I just saw this. For some reason the system had categorized it as spam.
      Anyway, I practice in our spa – The Dragontree – at 1521 Pearl Street in Boulder.
      The phone number there for making appointments is 303-219-1444
      Take care

  2. Hi Dr. Borten,
    I read that you have worked with or had some level of interaction with Dr. Hong Jin. I have not been able to talk to her directly but am trying to determine the appropriate ratios for the herbal paste described in the attached article.

    Dr. Hong Jin and another Dr. Bian had report on this “paste” used to treat COPD.
    My Dr. of Chinese medicine & acupuncturist Mark Williams of Manchester, VT, is familiar with the individual herbs and similar formulas but not this one and the appropriate ratios for “Xiao Chuan” or “XCP” as it is referred to in this article.
    If you can help me it would be greatly appreciate it.

    • Peter Borten

      June 21, 2014 at 10:16 PM

      Hi Doug, Dr. Jin was a professor of mine when getting my master’s and again during my doctorate. In between I audited a few of her classes on the topical application of herbs (wish I’d been able to attend them all). I’m not near those notes, so can’t say whether that formula was ever discussed, though in my experience, we have more flexibility with dose and ratios topically than internally. I would just mix some up with equal parts of those three herbs, or if you were to alter it at all, I feel shi chang pu is less topically active than the other two. While all three have opening properties, ma huang and xi xin are definitely more potent, so you could potentially do something like 1:1:2 mahuang:xixin:shichangpu. remember to just use the root of xi xin to minimize exposure to aristolochic acid (though this should be a pretty minuscule risk topically). Hope you can find bulk ma huang.

  3. Hey Peter,

    was just on skype with a friend of mine to discuss some patient issues, when it came to M.Tung & Dr. Tan acupuncture, I explained some of it to him and then started searching the net to forward some information, when I stumbled across your site – so a big Thank You! for the work you put in here!! And of course for sharing it so freely!!! Really well done summary´s of quite some important stuff!
    I´m my self am a physician from germany with some TCM training, just digging deeper into hunyuan-style classical CM with Yaron Seidman… if interested check here and on Youtube http://chineseclassics.org/j/….

    Thanks again for all the accessible material,


  4. Thank You so much for all the summary’s! A lot of work you put in here indeed. And of course thanks for sharing it with us.

  5. Tracy Cloninger

    May 26, 2015 at 3:12 PM

    Hi Peter- I work with Becky Knott (your wife’s second cousin) and she recommend you as someone who might be able to help with my son’s eczema. We are really struggling to keep it under control and it is getting worse and worse. I think there is a systemic imbalance and I’m working on it but I’m too close to the patient (: Do you work with kids and do you have experience treating allergies and eczema? Thanks so much! Tracy

    • Peter Borten

      May 26, 2015 at 3:20 PM

      Hi Tracy,
      Yes, I work with kids and with allergies and eczema. I just treated a 4 month old for this last week. I agree that eczema usually is systemic, which means we sometimes have to try a number of different avenues before finding a solution, but luckily children’s bodies are responsive and things tend to change more quickly than with adults. You can make an appointment through the front desk here in Boulder at 303/219.1444 if you like.
      Be well,

  6. Hello Dr. Borten,
    Your website articles are so inspiring. I used to live in Portland and have been to dragon tree. It’s an amazing place. I didn’t know if you then.
    My son who is 4 now, has eczema and we now live in San Diego. Do you recommend a phone consult? Is it something we can try with you for my son?
    Thank you for all the articles that you write with amazing knowledge and passion.

    • Peter Borten

      November 20, 2015 at 11:51 PM

      Hello Sudha, I emailed you. Thanks for the kind words. We can do a phone consult or I can help you find a practitioner in your area.
      be well,

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