Tips for Building a Resilient Immune Boundary

At a time when we are receiving the coronavirus death toll on the daily, I thought I’d chime in with some of what I know about strengthening the immune system. If you are interested in epidemics and the current coronavirus situation, here is a blog by a widely respected and well-seasoned naturopathic doctor, homeopath, author, and epidemiologist – Dr. Paul Herscu.

What I want to focus on here are:

  • some tips for supporting a resilient and balanced immune system
  • how to best take care of yourself in the early stages of infection in order to minimize symptoms
  • the connection between our immune system and our (energetic/interpersonal) boundaries

Supporting a resilient immune boundary

The first place to begin with building a healthy immune response is making sure you are getting quality rest. This cannot be sacrificed – our bodies do very important repair work while we are asleep. Did you know that every hour before midnight is worth 2 hours? We produce twice a much melatonin before midnight, so getting to bed even just a half and hour earlier will be replenishing for your immune system.

Stress management is next – stress depletes the immune system like no other. You may be able to power through busy work periods but have you noticed that when you you have time and space, ‘bam’ you catch a cold. Time to consider some helpful stress easing routines – a ‘go to’ fave of mine is legs up the wall for 15-20 min before bed time – it is really great for discharging tension and restoring the adrenals after a busy day. I fall into a deeper sleep much more easily when I take the time to do this.

Last but certainly not least is nutrition. Get off that sugar, as it dramatically lowers your white blood cell count…dairy is next, it is inflammatory and congests the mucous membranes – which are our first line of defense. Make sure you are eating abundant vegetables and smattering of fruit daily. Consider a whole foods nutritional product to make up for what you don’t get in your diet. We are ‘supposed’ to get up to 13 servings daily.

How to take care in the early stages of an infection

Are you very aware of when you are run down? Are you familiar with your body’s signs that you are fighting off an infection? Becoming clued into your physical sensations and respecting your body’s limits – i.e. not ‘overriding’ your body, will go a very long way in keeping you well during the winter. It is commonly the type A individual that works very hard and burns the candle at both that ‘misses’ the early signs.

The first 48 hrs are the critical window of any illness, so it’s a huge benefit to be able to recognize your body’s early warning signs – no matter how subtle they are. I had an extremely busy and stressful January working my butt off on some legislation for the licensing of NDs in VA – and I got extremely run down as a result. I took a long epsom salt bath and allowed myself to just sleep as long as I needed and it turned into an 11 hr night, I also took oscillococcinum and elderberry syrup. I still needed to rest from all the work, but the virus was not longer a threat.

The more tapped into your body, the better chance you have at minimizing the severity of an infection. These early signs can include: feeling heavy and lethargic, tight neck, sneezing, inner ear itch, difficulty with temperature regulation, dry or scratchy throat. Begin to take note of these first signs as these are the time to implement my favorite cold and flu- busting strategies: oscillococcinum, v-clear (or umcka cold care), warming sock treatment and elderberries. Other powerful tips – hydrogen peroxide drops in the ears (viruses often transmit via ear canal), staying warm and using essential oils for steam showers and inhalations.

Our immune system’s connection to our (energetic/interpersonal) boundaries

Did you know that your immune system – like your gut and your skin, is a type of boundary. What is the purpose of a boundary? To keep what is nourishing and supportive inside and to protect against what is noxious or potentially harmful from entering. This function requires a certain degree of clarity, resilience and balance. An over-active immune system can lead to allergies, auto-immune issues, increased sensitivities to foods as well as environmental toxicity.

Our bodies are 90% energy and 10% physical substance – and thus there is a link between the balance of our energetic boundaries and the health of our immune, GI and skin boundaries ( a key hermetic principle is: ‘As above, so below’). The question then begs to be asked – how are your energetic (or interpersonal) boundaries in general? Are you ok with saying ‘NO’ to people or setting limits? Or do you over-give and then regret/resent it in the end? How good are you at a) recognizing and b) honoring your body’s cries for rest and downtime?

In my practice it is common that I see an unresolved lung infection has its energetic underpinnings in an unresolved interaction where something went unsaid and something was ‘swallowed’ or unprocessed. This gives the body the message ‘my needs don’t matter’ and it actually weakens our immune response – a virus that our immune system had been fighting successfully just got the opening to enter.

In addition honoring your body’s clues for rest and when it may need some immune boosting supplements, begin to pay attention to where your personal/energetic boundaries lie and speak up to defend them – this will translate to a more resilient immune response!

Is your body ready for seasonal change? ‘Fall’ into some self-care!

I had really been feeling anxious and off this week. It all started before the equinox with body aches, congestion and some serious lethargy. Luckily some rest and immune support – elderberries – were perfect for clearing the rogue virus. Immune system back on track, but I was still left feeling buzzy, racey and had seriously achey legs. Classic signs of my root chakra needing some serious attention! Following the impeachment saga and getting frazzled about downed internet were doing absolutely nothing to support me feeling grounded.

I’m thinking – OK this really is anxiety- and it feels crazy. Knowing that it is hard for me to give myself advice, I literally had to think ‘ok what would I tell a client to do if they were feeling like this’. hmm I would say “legs up the wall yoga posture immediately for 20 min”

Legs up the wall is the perfect nervous system reset. In 10 min I can feel my adrenals throbbing and then I immediately got the hit that in addition to my normal meditation routine, I really need to connect more with nature to attune to the seasonal change- barefoot on the grass preferred…imagine myself rooting just like the trees send their energy down into their roots this time of year. Now is the time for more self care and even a ritual to honor the change of season. I’ve been spending 10-20 min barefoot outside in the mornings and what a huge difference it has made.

This is a perfect time of year to invest in ourselves in terms of self-care. When all of nature is slowing down and rooting, we humans tend to get busier – back to school schedules followed by holiday train. It’s hard on our bodies and it weakens our immunity. It’s not uncommon to feel edgy, irritable, lethargic or experience digestive woes or upper respiratory symptoms as we adjust to fall.

Consider ‘falling’ into some self care with a healing session for some grounding support, AND when you refer a friend you will receive 50% off a facial or massage with my friends at Ladan Holistic Spa!!

I hope this finds you all well with the transition to these cooler, shorter, ‘back to school’ days..

For those of you who may not know, I have moved back to the East Coast!  I made the long cross country trip with my 2 cats in their carrier and arrived late August in time to get a dose of heat and humidity.  

After living 2.5 yrs on the beautiful Northern CA coast, I honestly had had enough  🙂  Hard to believe – California is a beautiful and healthy place to live, but after 2.5 years in a small sleepy coastal town, I was ready for more activity – I had also had enough of the cold weather and fog.  (Think UGG boots and puffy jackets year round !)

The time I spent out West was fruitful for personal healing on many levels. Having all that extra space enabled me to see patterns and make changes that I wouldn’t have been able to had I stayed in my routine here.  I also had the opportunity to expand my horizons in the healing arts.  I took several myofacial release classes and am able to offer that approach in combination with my craniosacral therapy for an added approach for pain relief.  I also am now certified in Past Life Regression – it’s great for sensitive people and healers who want to address patterns from those deep and ‘hidden’ place.  I tend to span the spectrum when it comes to healing – there is no ‘one sized fits all approach’

I want to extend a warm thank you for your support during these past couple of personal healing/transition years.

To that end, I am offering a 10% discount on your next visit – through November 2019.

This time of year is perfect to treat yourself to some self care to support grounding and adjusting to the change of season.  I always get a bit anxious in the fall and benefit from practices and therapies to support my nervous system and digestive system in adjusting.

I am offering healing sessions in person and over the phone and I am maintaining office hours at the same locations in in DC and VA.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Dr.  Marie

Black Elderberries are Amazing

Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) is one of  favorite plants.  It’s roots go way back to Hippocrates the ancient Greek “father of medicine,” who described Elderberry as his “medicine chest” for the wide variety of ailments it seemed to cure.

I love Elderberry for building the immune system ‘boundary’ during cold and flu season.  I will also recommend it for improving energetic resilience – especially in children who absorb the energy of others all to easily.  It is wonderful prevention that tastes great and can even be taken year round because of it’s nourishing properties.

Why do Black Elderberries pack such a nice punch for your immune ‘muscle’? 

~They are rich in bioflavonoids – potent antioxidants (think preventing rust on a car!)
~Elderberries have anthocyanins which boost the immune system signaling
~They contain potent antiviral compounds that actually deactivate viruses- making them unable to get inside our cells!
~Elderberry is known as an ‘anti-catarrhals’ – meaning it prevents excess mucous formation, it assists in removing phlegm, AND it and reduces inflammation in the body.

If you aren’t already convinced –  studies  demonstrate Elderberry’s powers:

A 2016 Austrian study showed that supplementation with elderberry can reduce the symptoms and duration of a cold in air travellers.  Those who used elderberry 10 days before travel and up to 5 days after arriving had a noticeable reduction in symptoms as well as an average 2 day shorter duration.

There was a double-blind trial involving Elderberry during an outbreak of influenza B in Panama in 1995. Within 2 days there were significant improvements in symptoms, including fever, among 93.3% of those taking elderberry syrup. 90% of the elderberry group were completely well again within 2 – 3 days compared to 6 days in the placebo group.

You can make your own Elderberry syrup:


3/4 cup dried elderberries
3 cups water
1 teaspoon dried cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon dried cloves or 4 whole cloves or 1 drop clove essential oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon dried ginger or 1 drop ginger essential oil
1 cup raw honey


In a large pot, bring the elderberries, water, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger to a boil.
Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, about 40-45 minutes.
Allow the liquid to cool, and then drain the liquid using a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth.
Press all liquid out of the berries using the back of a wooden spoon.
Add the raw honey and mix well.
Store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Easing Stress with Family Constellation Work

Would you like to ease stress  in your family dynamics this holiday season?  Isn’t there something about the holidays that seems to bring out the less than desirable patterns in our families?

Did you know that our emotional and physical health and life patterns are influenced by the experiences of our ancestors? We are part of a larger family energy field that influences us through epigenetics.

Consider family constellation work to release these unhelpful patterns within your family and create harmony.  This powerful healing modality taps into the family’s energy field to dissolve blockages and heal the trauma that is at the heart of stuck patterns of interaction.

Special at Cypress Natural Medicine through February – $250 for 90 min session

Naturopathic Tips to Ease Childhood Stress and Improve Focus

Doesn’t  it seem like life only gets busier and that there is more and more information coming at us all the time? There is too much information out there to take in and process! The human nervous system has never had a physiologic ‘upgrade’ to be able to handle this level of over-stimulation.  As a result, a lot of us feel overwhelmed, anxious, and have difficulties concentrating and sleeping well.

Because the nervous system isn’t fully developed until age twenty-five, the impact of our modern lifestyle is felt even more deeply by children and adolescents.  A striking example – digital screens affect the frontal cortex of the brain and alter dopamine levels much in the same way that stimulating drugs like cocaine affect the brain.   This level of sensory data in combination with the added burdens of environmental toxicity and nutritional deficits are compromising children’s nervous system health.  They are at a disadvantage for todays’ rigorous (and often unreasonable) classroom demands.  It’s not surprising at all that attention, focus and behavior are common concerns.

As a naturopathic physician in practice for over 15 yrs, I have seen just how dramatically the lives and health of children have changed.  Anxiety levels in little ones have risen remarkably.  In supporting children and adolescents to feel clearer, calmer and more focused, I like to focus on boosting brain health,  managing daily stressors, and building nervous system resilience.

In supporting overall brain health – I encourage parents to eliminate foods with additives, dyes, processed sugars and taking a look at potentially  inflammatory foods that can impact focus, energy and mood.  I encourage parents to take a look at protein content of foods – making sure there is protein at each meal.  This balances blood sugar – which works wonders for balanced energy and moods.  The developing brain requires a plethora of natural plant based vitamins and minerals for repair and essential fatty acids for optimal nerve cell membrane function.

I love making nature prescriptions to help children and families manage stress – children thrive in the outdoors!  There is so much great information out there about the healthy benefits of earthing – or connecting our body’s electromagnetic field with that of the earth’s.  It is powerful for discharging stress and reseting the nervous system.  Think bare feet in sand or grass for 10-15 minute daily.

Because children and adolescents are so open and sensitive, they respond really well to energetic bodywork.  I incorporate craniosacral therapy in my practice – a gentle system that eases the nervous system out of fight or flight and back into the restorative parasympathetic state.  This modality in combination with guided visualization is really effective for improving adaptation to stress, boosting concentration and improving sleep quality.

Our children don’t have to be at a disadvantage as we life life in the fast lane.  We just need to implement wellness strategies at a much earlier age.  Gone are the days when kids could get away with fast foods as a nutritional mainstay, and no one is too young to begin a daily mind body practice for calming and strengthening the nervous system.

The Mayan Yoni Steam

In traditional Mayan culture, the ‘womb’ or uterus is considered to be the center of a woman’s power. If her womb was out of balance her life would also be out of balance. For this reason, ancient Mayan women took great care to maintain the health of their wombs, and as a result, they rarely experienced cramps, fibroids, PMS, or even menopausal symptoms!

One of the treatments they utilized was the vaginal steam – also known as the ‘yoni’ steam. This ancient herbal hydrotherapy treatment involves steaming a variety of herbs that are cleansing, nourishing, promote circulation, improve moisture and hormonal balance. I have seen many of my female clients heal from painful periods rather quickly by simply incorporating this ancient ritual once or twice a month.

The first steam I did has a powerful effect, I could feel a palpable sense of groundedness rise up me as the steam rose. It felt like I was tapping into and re-activating an ancient part of myself. I also had zero PMS symptoms the cycle that followed! That is worth it’s weight in gold.

Here’s how to do you first yoni steam:

You will need a chair with perforations, or you can sit at the edge of a chair – they make special chairs with holes in them, but for beginners it may be easier to work with what you have
one large thick blanket, comforter or quilt
Put 1 cup herbs – I like the blend by DeviSteam – in 2-3 cups water and simmer for 15 minutes until steam is rising – do not boil
Place pot under chair (if there is a hole) or right at the edge of the seat
Undress from waist down, sit over steam ‘path’ and wrap your blanket completely around you for a steam tent effect
Sit for 20 min and enjoy