Shining the Light on the Immune System: Part 5 – Meet Your Adaptive Immunity

Thank you for the positive feedback on this immunity series! I’ve gotten comments like ‘thanks so much for filling in the void of what we’re NOT hearing’ and ‘I love how you walk the line in your approach.’ As safe as natural healing approaches are, shouldn’t they be a mainstay of our health care prevention?

Hygiene and distancing are one part of the equation for our current times. Supporting immune resilience through natural methods is JUST as important. So WHY are we hearing NOTHING about this?!

Well, unfortunately, the FDA widely censors information about natural healing methods that aren’t ‘FDA approved’ in order to protect consumers from those making ‘false claims.’ As you know, the sheer cost of the FDA approval process is prohibitive. We’re living in a time when naturopathic doctors and other holistic health practitioners are under a watchful eye – it’s not uncommon for us to be asked to remove articles from our websites chock full of helpful information. In truth, we’re not making false claims. Just offering suggestions that support longer term prevention.If preventative health information was widespread or even on the news, imagine how many lives could be supported or even saved? 

If you’re interested in taking action on this, scroll to the bottom.Here’s a link to parts 1-3 of the immunity series if you missed a part or want to refresh. Here’s a webinar that the NDs of VA created at the beginning of the pandemic to support immune resilience. It’s loaded with a plethora of on point information about prevention. (Check out our licensure movement! Note: If you contribute, I’m personally giving away thank you gifts. More on that in the P.S.)

OK, so now, let’s approach the arena of our adaptive immune response. Adaptive immunity is the most specialized and complex aspect of the immune system, so we’ll take a few posts to break it down into pieces you can digest, and start with an overview. As I highlighted before, the adaptive immune response is set to come online when pathogens have crossed the barrier and then have also gone onto defy the innate defense. 
The barriers and innate responses have still done their job to slow down microbial growth while allowing time for the adaptive response to strengthen. The innate response had also been working behind the scenes the entire time, sending messages to prepare the adaptive system for the microbial invasion. 

Our lymphocytes (white blood cells) are by and large the reason why the adaptive immune response is so astonishingly specific. First, a little background – there are two types of lymphocytes: T cells and B cells, both derived from the same stem cells that give rise to red blood cells and platelets. T cells and B cells are named after the organs in which they develop -T cells develop in the thymus, while B cells develop in the bone marrow.

These types of adaptive immune cells – B and T lymphocytes have receptors on their surfaces that recognize antigens – the particles associated with microbes. The adaptive immune response to these antigens is so versatile that it can develop as many as 100 trillion different receptors to recognize and respond to every conceivable pathogen, even COVID19.

The adaptive response is as thorough as it is robust. Think of it as occurring in stages – a primary response builds a memory which leads to an effective secondary response. A primary adaptive response happens when you get exposed to a pathogen for the very first time. It is this first infection that is more severe as it takes time for the initial adaptive response to create the necessary antibodies. 

Then, when we’re re-exposed to the same pathogen, a secondary adaptive immune response gets created, which is much stronger and faster than the primary response. In fact, this response often eliminates a pathogen completely before it’s able to cause significant tissue damage, or even symptoms. When this is happening, the individual is not even aware of the infection. Just think how many times we’re successfully fighting something and don’t even know it?

It’s this very secondary response that is the basis of immunological memory, which protects us from getting diseases repeatedly from the same pathogen.

I want to close with a very important feature of our adaptive immune response that could be a course in and of itself. ‘Tolerance’ is  the ability to tell the difference between ‘self-antigens’ and foreign antigens (and of those foreign antigens, those that might be infectious vs harmless tree pollen). 

As T and B cells mature, tolerance develops – these include the mechanisms that prevent the lymphocytes from inflicting an immune response against the body. Allergies and auto-immunity result when tolerance isn’t effective. It’s also this very reason that I prefer to use the term ‘immune support’ or resilience versus immune ‘boost’ as auto-immunity and allergies result from an overpowered immune response.

As you can see, the adaptive immune system is powerful and dynamic. It operates like a finely tuned orchestra, so what we’re aiming to support is optimal function. There is a balance of factors that come into play, and I notice in my body that when I over-treat a cold/flu that I can tend to swing in the direction of allergies afterwards. I see a big trend towards ‘bio-hacking’ and loading up the body with vitamins in an attempt to stave off infection, but we need to consider the whole picture and allow our bodies to do the job they are naturally designed to. This is a more vitalistic approach, a gentler less invasive approach that honors our body’s inherent healing capacity.

In a way, it’s getting back to the basics where technology and science have driven us further away from. To tune inwards versus outwards and trust what our gut is saying – this is after all where 80% of our immune cells reside!
Support Access to Natural Health ApproachesMovement to License ND’s in Virginia

For 15-years, I’ve had the opportunity to help get naturopathic doctors licensed in Virginia. They’re currently licensed in 22 states and 3 jurisdictions in the US, with active licensure movements in several states—Pennsylvania and North Carolina are so close to victory. In Virginia, we’re making connections, growing our support base, while chipping away at an extremely old and outdated structure (the Med Society of Virginia has its hands DEEP in the regulation of EVERY health profession in the state).   It’s taken time and persistence, and I now understand the adage: ‘never give up.’ Our bill is already pre-filed for 2021, our bill sponsors are Senator Chap Petersen and Delegate Rasoul – both of whom championed us last year. We have a lot of work to do, but we feel optimistic from all the support we’ve gained.  A license will finally allow NDs in Virginia (who currently practice as health consultants) to:   touch our patients, order labs, order diagnostic imaging, legally ‘diagnose’ and ‘treat,’ and provide the codes necessary for insurance reimbursement. We’ve seen our support grow immensely in the past few years and we hope to gain your support too! (I’m personally giving gifts to those who participate.) Check out our website to sign up for action alerts and a GoFundMe campaign to stay informed and become part of the solution..

Action Alerts to Protect Access to Natural HealthThe ANH is the largest organization in the US and abroad working to protect our rights to utilize effective, safe, and low-cost healing therapies, based on high-tech testing, diet, supplements, and lifestyle changes.   Take a look,  – they are doing some serious health care reform work.

Shining the Light on the Immune System – Part 4: The Microbiome and How Clean is too Clean?

We’ve been learning about our complex immune system, and we’re all set to dive into the adaptive immune response this week. But I often like to take a step back, take a breath, and look at the larger picture (like I do with my paintings). So let’s dial back for a moment before leaning into the microscopic lens to see the adaptive immune response. I felt like doing this today, because something has been stirring in the back of my mind. 

With all of the emphasis on sanitizing to prevent infection, I’ve been wondering about the long term impact that this could have on our beneficial bacteria, and even our microbiome. 

As I mentioned, maintaining whole body wellness supports a resilient immune system. Our microbiome is very important here as well.

The microbiome is made up of trillions of microbes that we pick up from the world. They’re mostly concentrated in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but they also live in the lungs, mouth, and other parts of the body.

The microbiome has even been called a supportive ‘organ,’ because it plays so many key roles in promoting the smooth daily operations of the human body. It stimulates the immune response, supports vitamin production in the large intestine, affects our levels of inflammation in the body, and yes, even our weight.

Recent studies show the effect that the microbiome can have on long term health. People in developing countries who live in less sterile environments, and eat mostly whole foods while spending more time around people and animals have a wider variety of microbes in their GI than those living in more developed countries.They also have lower rates of allergies and autoimmune conditions than Europe, US, and Australia. These findings support the “hygiene hypothesis” – the idea that childhood infections acquired through unhygienic contact bolster the immune system against diseases later in life.

SO, with that said, are we being too clean now?? 

We ARE in the midst of a pandemic … but should we sanitize everything with harsh alcohol-based products on the daily (or multiple times daily?) to prevent infection – especially if this goes well into 2022? 

Many people will continue to wash, spray, and sanitize away. I won’t. Why? Because alcohol-based sanitizers kill the beneficial bacteria on our skin – an important part of our body’s microbiome, which is designed to help us thrive – and they also break down the important epithelial barrier on the skin. We learned all about our barrier protection in part 1.

What’s a good balance then? That depends on your bio-individuality. For those with diagnosed immune compromise; it makes sense to minimize exposure through more vigilant hygiene while taking extra special care in supporting your immunity in other ways – whole food nutrition, exercise, and nutritional supplementation. 

Children build their immune systems through exposure to germs, and since they’re mostly learning from home nowadays, I’d stick to hand washing instead of the harsh alcohol sanitizers. If they have a very busy day in contact with a variety of people and someone just so happened to have a runny nose, then you may consider a sanitizer, or good wash up at home.

It makes sense to regularly clean common areas of exposure and transmission (bathroom and kitchen) and pay special attention to frequently touched surfaces – keyboards, phones, remotes, and door knobs – especially if someone at home is sick. But if your family is well, frequently spraying lysol or alcohol-based products at home could be more harmful than helpful in the longer term.

You may consider a couple of alternatives that I like:
:: A natural cleaning spray for your home using thyme essential oil.
I found a great recipe here: In a 16 oz spray bottle, add 1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide, 12-36 drops thyme essential oil, and 13 oz distilled water. Shake it up and spray on a surface. Let it sit for 10 minutes before wiping off. 

:: Take a look at HOCl (hypochlorous acid) – a game changer for disinfecting. HOCl is made naturally by the white blood cells in response to a pathogen and until recently; this molecule wasn’t stable enough for use outside the body. It’s highly effective as a surface disinfectant without the harsh side effects. (The only downside is that it isn’t as cost effective as the DIY solution). 

Since we’ll be at this for awhile, I think it’s a good idea to take a look at the big picture and consider how our everyday activities, like sanitizing, will have a long range effect. When we come out of distancing, we may have done a great job of preventing exposure, but will we have created other issues? Given we build immunity through exposure and human contact, will we have depleted ourselves? Will we be less resilient and less able to defend effectively? It’s entirely possible, and I do think it’s a good idea to consider a balanced approach with some healthier disinfecting alternatives for prevention’s sake.
Flow into Immune Resilience
Want to get Fall-ready? Meet us outside for the Flow into Immune Resilience Workshop September 13th. Enjoy gentle yoga, a lively discussion on immunity, and a deeply restorative meditation. It’s almost full (there’s only space for 16 of us)! Learn more, sign up, and prepare to boost your immunity. You’ll receive a bag of handmade ‘Immun-I-Tea’ for coming. 
Support Access to Naturopathic Medicine
Did you know that naturopathic doctors are not yet licensed in every state? I personally think SO much can be done preventatively at this time, and it’s frustrating to see how natural solutions are being glossed over . Wouldn’t you also like to see a more widespread preventative approach to healthcare?  make sense for everyone to have access to the health care of their choice? If you answered yes to any of the above, you may be in alignment with the movement to support licensure for NDs in Virginia.

Shining the Light on Our Immune System – Part 3 – Chemical Attraction

Before we dive into part three, I have an important update on the movement to license medically-trained NDs in Virginia – if you’re following, it’s been a 15-year labor of love! Scroll down to the bottom for more information.

Knowledge is truly empowering. As I’ve dug deeper into the ins and outs of our adaptable and robust immune response, I’m becoming more confident in my body’s ability to defend itself. We’re in the long haul right now, and when the body is in constant fear, it works against our resilience. Today I want to highlight some of the stealth signaling molecules behind the scenes who are responsible for keeping you well.

Some are alive and  ready—part of a built in communication system. While others are created in real time when you need backup. You may be hearing about ‘cytokines’ from the ‘cytokine storm’ that happens in those who get the severest form of Covid. A cytokine storm is a rare event that happens with an uncontrolled immune response (imagine having your foot glued to the gas). It happens in people with chronic disease, who have multiple sick organs, or those who have severe inflammation. Normally, cytokines enable cells to communicate with each other over short distances. They’re very important signaling agents that get released into the space between cells. They trigger the inflammatory response and mobilize key players of immune function.

Chemokines are also always at the ready and are able to attract white blood cells to an area to fight infection.

Our innate response also induces classes of molecules on an as needed basis:
interferons are made by cells infected with viruses. These brilliant molecules then travel to other cells telling them to make antiviral proteins.

C reactive protein is made in the liver and it binds to the bacterial cell walls in a type of ‘tagging’ – known by the fancy term ‘opsonization.’ 

Macrophages (remember Pac Man?) have receptors for these very proteins, so they easily ‘see’ the bacteria, and are able to devour them. 

Lastly, let’s briefly mention the 30 proteins or so which make up the complement system – an entire complex system that involves three different pathways, enhancing (complements) the ability of both the innate response and the adaptive response – which we’ll talk about next time! This system is usually maintained in check by inhibitor proteins, it has a variety of triggers that cause its irreversible activation. The result of this activation is bacterial destruction, phagocytosis, and inflammation.

What a thorough and robust system we have!I

I wanted to end with a brief share of one of my absolute favorite immune herbs- black elderberriesBlack elderberries are a go-to for preventing viral infection for so many reasons, one in particular is its ability to support cytokine function. As we read earlier, cytokines are important signaling agents that turn on the immune response. This plant got a really bad rap earlier on in the pandemic with a misinterpretation of a 19-year old study done on elderberry using test tubes, not people. Someone started the false claim that the herb could induce a cytokine storm. Not true. Read this article which refutes the idea. Black elderberries are safe, effective, and well-tolerated, it is my go-to for the Fall transition. In fact, I make my own big batch every year. Let me know if you’re interested! 
Want to get Fall-ready?  Meet us under the tent outside for the Flow into Immune Resilience Workshop September 13th at Ease Yoga and Cafe. Enjoy gentle yoga, a lively discussion on immunity, and a deeply restorative meditation It’s almost full (there’s only space for 16 people)! Learn more, sign up, and prepare to boost your immunity. You’ll receive a bag of handmade ‘Immun-I-Tea’ for coming. 🙂

Shining the Light on our Immune System – Part 2: Beyond the Barrier

In my 18 years of clinical practice, I’ve witnessed a serious decline in peoples’ faith about their body’s own self-healing ability. 

Unfortunately, I’ve also noticed an increase of germophobia. Based on our busier lifestyles, and being more connected to technology and less to the earth, we’ve forgotten how resilient our bodies really are. Top it off with fearful media messages and most of us would go down the dark rabbithole, too. . 

Now more than ever, it’s critical to revisit ancient wisdom for guidance and remember that our bodies are indeed designed to self-heal.

One of the primary tenets of naturopathic medicine is the ‘vis medicatrix nature’ or the healing power of nature’ – which we possess as an inherent part of our being. Back in the times of Hippocrates, it was noted that if an injured or wounded individual was left alone, healing would often happen on its own over time without intervention. Our bodies do know how to heal.

Our sophisticated immune response is certainly testament to this. Last week we learned a lot about all the wonderful barriers our bodies have at our defense 24/7, and this week I wanted to begin to shine the light on the cells of our innate immune system.

Our innate immune system is a response that is robust and unspecific, and it involves a host of players whose names you might recognize from your lab results. The innate response is critical when controlling the early stages of infection. While the barrier defense is physical, this defense is part of our physiological immunity – the other component being the adaptive immunity – which we will discuss later.

We have a robust array of fighters involved in our innate immune response: macrophages, neutrophils, and monocytes are all ‘phagocytes.’ These guys are like Pac-Men (if you aren’t too young to remember the video game!) and they surround and engulf particles and cells, clearing away debris, old cells, and destroying bacteria. These phagocytes are the body’s fast acting, first line of defense against organisms that have breached the barrier defenses and have entered the more vulnerable tissues of the body.

Chomping Pac Man GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Macrophages: the true first line of defense found in connective tissue and lymph nodes. They’re called different names, depending on where they reside in the body: Kupffer cells in the liver, microglial cells in the brain, alveolar macrophages in the lungs, dendritic cells in the skin, macrophages in lymphoid tissue and mammary macrophages.

Neutrophils: spherical cells contain a variety of mediators such as histamine, they act as a reinforcement to the macrophages.

Monocytes: mobilize rapidly to areas of infection by signal molecules of inflammation. Monocytes then differentiate into either a macrophage or dendritic cells (cells that display proteins to other immune players).

Lastly, natural killer (NK) cells are also a part of this innate immune response. They’re a white blood cell capable of killing cells that are infected with bacteria and viruses. NK cells have the ability to recognize these cells by their surface receptors.

Aren’t you impressed by all of the ‘fighters’ we have that work in concert to keep us safe? We haven’t even gotten to the adaptive branch of the immune system. And beyond all of the above, we also have a built in system of chemical warfare to boot. We will go more into that next week.

Since our innate immunity is part of our body’s own self healing response, steps we take to support our own wellness include: a diet rich in plant nutrients, stress reduction and restorative sleep, will go a long way to support this branch of immunity. 

You might also consider taking Vitamin D and the herb astragalus to support your immunity. Because vitamin D receptors are widely found in monocytes, macrophages, and natural killer cells, supplementing with D or getting regular sunlight exposure will assist in the regulation and expression of these very important immune cells.

Astragalus is a Traditional Chinese Medicine herb. It’s been included in formulas for hundreds of years to strengthen the Wei Qi – an energetic “shield” that serves as a primary defense against immune threats. Studies show how astragalus is effective at enhancing macrophage effectiveness.

The beauty of having such a powerful and complex immune response is that our options for supporting immune resilience are abundant.

P.S. What if you knew that you were doing the right thing at the right time to boost your immunity and not get sick? Flow into Immune Resilience Workshop is coming September 13th … and it’s almost full! Join us here. You’ll receive a bag of handmade ‘Immun-I-Tea’ for coming. 🙂

P.P.S. For my ND friends, the Virtual Mid-Atlantic ND Conference is coming up September 25th – 27th … and you’ll receive continuing education credits! Join us here. Please share. <3 

Shining the Light on Our Immune System – A Series

Priming Our Natural First Line of Defense

Did you know that our bodies are naturally equipped with both physical and physiological defenses against infection? If you’re following the media closely during this time, you may be led to believe that a pathogen can just merely enter the body. Nothing is farther from the truth! Our skin barrier is constantly working on our behalf to prevent microbes and pathogens from entering. 

Just beyond our natural barrier response, we’re also well-equipped with innate and adaptive immunity. So we have not one, but two immune systems at the ready to fight infection. We’ll talk more about this later.

Let’s get back to our physical barriers. The skin, covered with a layer of cells that is too dry for bacteria to colonize, is also shedding these cells continuously – carrying bacteria and other pathogens with them. Also, sweat and other skin secretions lower pH, contain toxic lipids, and physically wash microbes away.

We also have many other protective mechanisms that are associated with any areas where pathogens may try to enter: 
~Saliva in the mouth is rich in the bacteria destroying lysozyme.
The acidic environment of the stomach is fatal to many pathogens.
~Mucus layer of the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, reproductive tract, eyes, ears, and nose traps both microbes and debris, and facilitates their removal. 
~IgA is a natural surface antibody present on all of these mucous membranes (also present in tears, sweat, saliva, and colostrum) it neutralizes viruses and toxins, and inhibits microbial growth.
~Cilia of the upper respiratory system moves contaminated mucus upwards to the mouth, where it is then swallowed into the digestive tract, ending up in the harsh acidic environment of the stomach. 

As you can see, we have multiple barrier mechanisms that have evolved to work hand in hand to protect us from viruses. Before a microbe, virus, or other foreign invader can even gain entry, it must breach this variety of physical defenses.

Aren’t our bodies amazing? All of this protection, and we haven’t even gotten to the physiologic immune response yet! We’ll get into that in part two of the series.

Some simple ways to support our natural barriers:
~Optimal hydration to promote healthy mucous membranes – consider drinking spring water, structured water, or adding in trace minerals for absorption.
~Licorice is my favorite herb for bolstering this defense as it supports the integrity of the respiratory and GI mucous membranes
~Consider Propolis – quite fitting that the substance bees use to seal off their hives is also powerful for building the natural resistance of our barrier mechanisms. (Take caution if you’re sensitive to bees/bee products.)
~Dry skin brushing to support sloughing of dead skin cells and circulation of the lymph which is critical for optimal immune function.

Interested in this topic and want to learn more? I’ll be co-leading a
Flow into Immune Resilience Workshop at Ease Yoga & Cafe
on September 13th at 6:00pm. You’ll receive a bag of handmade
‘Immun-I-Tea’ as a participant. 🙂 Space is limited due to distancing requirements. Registration is through Ease Yoga and Cafe.


Our Adrenals and our Ancestors

You may be wondering about the connection with our adrenals and our ancestors. On different levels, these two aspects of our human experience – the adrenals on a physical level, and our ancestors on an energetic and spiritual level – both influence how we cope with stress.

Physiologically, our adrenals are responsible for producing cortisol and catecholamine hormones. Cortisol influences our waking response (are you someone who has the coffee maker programmed to have pot brewed with your alarm clock? If so, you probably have a poor waking response). Cortisol also maintains even blood sugar and blood pressure. Our catecholamines – norepinephrine and epinephrine – get recruited in times of higher stress – they are our fight or flight survival hormones.

Supporting healthy and balanced adrenal function is crucial for restorative sleep, better resilience and yes, even better immunity. Think of balancing your blood sugar throughout the day by avoiding ‘peaks’ with caffeine and ‘lows’ from withdrawal of processed carbs, sugar and alcohol. We all need our comfort during these challenging times, so consider adding in fiber or protein with foods/drinks that can have an adrenal stimulating effect that can lead to a crash later on.

Vitamin C and licorice root tincture are 2 of my favorite go-to’s for adrenal support right now. Vitamin C is adrenal nutrition and it stored in the highest quantities in these little glands that sit like hats on top of the kidneys. Licorice doubles the half life of cortisol so it unburdens the adrenals. And both of these remedies are helpful for COVID19 – licorice is anti-viral and boosts mucosal immunity and Vitamin C supports white blood cel response and is anti-inflammatory.

Now shifting gears to our ancestors. Their experiences influence our stress coping both biologically as well as energetically. First, we are all descendants of ancestors who experienced collective trauma – war, pandemics, famine, mass migrations and genocide. The science of epigenetics explains that ancestral experiences are transmitted biologically from generation to generation through gene expression.

Additionally, from the field of family constellations we are understood to be a part of a collective energy field or family soul. The ancestral energy field holds information of past experiences as an informational imprint – especially when an issue has gone unresolved. This collective energy field, of which we are a part, wants to move toward healing. To this end, unprocessed energy and unacknowledged energy can show up in future generations.

I can get sense of this influence with myself and in clients when unhelpful patterns – whether they be in relationships, physical matters or even thought patterns tend to repeat themselves – in spite of best intentions with therapy, naturopathic medicine, meditation, affirmations, tapping, etc.

Perhaps as we survive in this time of so much intense collective energy – grief and loss, fear, and viral infection we may re-visit those patterns of our ancestors that live within us at a very deep level and choose to do it in a constructive way that offers healing and empowerment backwards and forwards in time.

Join me for a guided healing meditation for grounding and healing ancestral ties tomorrow 7-8 pm.

Important COVID19 update – brand new information about natural treatments

Since there are currently no clinically researched natural treatments specific for COVID19, my recommendations to this point have been based upon what is typically helpful to support a strong and healthy immune system – including remedies that are known antiviral agents.

I now have very important new information from immunology research that I wanted to share as it could be extremely helpful – for prevention and treatment. I think it’s critical to share this information widely and as quickly as possible as it has the potential to turn the course for those who are immune compromised and elderly.

Most of this information comes from a couple of webinars and from this excellent podcast I recently shared on Facebook. I will summarize the important points below. The podcast is heavy into immunological science but it is chock-full of critical information and I’d dare say potentially life-saving information.

Avoid with COVID-19 infection:

ACE-inhibitors. These medications work on the very receptors that that the virus binds to- so they stress the very biological system the virus attacks. Because ACE inhibitors increase the amount of receptors the virus binds to, those who are on this medication will invariably have a higher viral load. Better to utilize other types of blood pressure lowering medications than ACE inhibitors now.

Ibuprofen – switch to acetominophen instead. It is thought that Ibuprofen exacerbates the illness as it puts more stress on the very system (renin-angiotensin) implicated in infection.

Things to add in for prevention:

Vitamins: C, A, D3 – These vitamins shut down the biochemical cascade responsible for the severe lung inflammation. Preventative doses to consider:

2-4,000 mg of Vitamin C

20,000 IU Vitamin A (not beta-carotene)

2-4,000 IU Vitamin D

Good quality sleep to boost melatonin which also reduces inflammation

Herbs to consider adding in for prevention:

Andrographis has been indicated becasuse it inhibits the furin protease on the cellular membrane which is necessary for viral binding, also – Elderberry, Astragalus.

What to do when/if infected:

Increase Vitamin C levels – It down regulates the inflammatory markers that cause the severely uncontrolled inflammation in the lungs. Increase C levels to bowel tolerance – which basically means taking upwards of 10,000 mg per day or higher or until your have looser stools

Add in stress reducing herbs:

Passionflower, Feverfew, Ashwagandha– Not only are these herbs powerful for reducing stress (which is so depleting to the immune system) they reduce IL6 (interleukin 6) a key modulator of inflammation implicated in this disease.

One last note about prevention = Quality sleep important

Lastly, sleep and stress reduction are both extremely important. Because melatonin levels are inversely correlated with illness, sleep is critical now. This is thought to be the reason why children are less susceptible because they have higher melatonin levels.

Consider: meditation, limiting your news consumption and including some deep breathing that will not only promote relaxation, it will power up your lungs. I really like ‘5 for 5’ breathing. Inhale for a count of 5, hold for a count of 5, exhale for a count of 5 and hold again for a count of 5. Repeat this 5 times.

I will be offering another healing meditation at 1 pm EST Wed March 25th:

Join Zoom Meeting

COVID-19 – Some Additional Support Right Here :)

I felt like sharing some support and information during what feels like an unusually ‘weighty’ time. Last week, it felt like all I needed was more breathing room, so I have been tuning in quite a bit less to media and I’m feeling so much better!  For those of you who are currently tuning-out and happily going about your day, I applaud you – there is no need to read the rest of this post.  Just know that I am offering a guided stress-reduction meditation this Saturday 3.14 at 5pm  EST, I will also have time for q&a and cover some immune supportive ‘tips’. Stay tuned for a link. 

For those of you who believe knowledge is empowering, I wanted to share some quality information from a few perspectives that have come across my path in the past week:

Integrative Medicine Perspective

My dear friend and colleague, Dr. Christine Schaffner at Sophia Institute treats a large population of chronically ill patients with high-level cutting edge methods that are integrative.  Their center combines the best of research oriented protocols and bioenergetic interventions.  Since they treat such an immunocompromised population, the doctors at Sophia are really at ‘ground zero’ for learning what will be useful in prevention and treatment of COVID-19.  They are doing amazing work to keep us abreast of the latest developments and tools that can be helpful.  I attended a webinar last week that went heavy into the immune science behind this variant of coronavirus, and based upon this update, I am still recommending the measures I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Tonight, Dr. Klinghardt at Sophia is offering a webinar with more information, feel free to sign up for the call, and you should be able to get a replay.

Chinese Medicine Perspective

This is a great research article of findings from Chinese Medicine practitioners who traveled to Wuhan and treated COVID-19 patients first hand with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.  I find it extremely fascinating and very informative.  Translated from Chinese medicine terms to layperson’s terms: what they discovered was that the manner in which the virus infects and then affects the respiratory system is unique and requires an entirely different approach. People aren’t getting sore throats and upper respiratory congestion with this illness, they are experiencing fevers, sometimes headaches, and a dry cough with a thicker congestion that settles deeper into the lungs. The acupuncturists were able to help the patients by treating the large intestine meridian instead of the lung meridian (which is typically how a respiratory illness is addressed).  The large intestine and lungs are connected after all.

Long story short, if we get this virus, it’s not one that we will be able to ‘cough up’ – it’s almost like we just have to ‘digest it’ – for lack of a better explanation.  Since the congestion is ‘sticky’, it will stick around longer, so hydration, warm broths and your herbal teas here will really help.  Staying well now goes really far in not only preventing, but also increasing our chances at moving through it more comfortably.  Once again, my previous suggestions still apply.  

Mental Health Perspective

Check out this supportive blog post written by another dear friend and mental health expert, Dr. Julie Lopez.  It offers keen insight about risk vs. stress levels during these times.  While COVID-19 will need to run its course, it’s important to dial out and get the bird’s eye view as much as possible.  Is keeping up with the flood of statistics more harmful than helpful?  Probably.  As important as it is to keep our bodies strong and healthy, it’s also important to discern what is helpful information, and what can be ‘too much’ information.  Afterall,  our DC metro airways are already extra-burdened with politics in an intense election year.  This is more than enough energy for my system.
One final note – have you noticed we are heading into Spring?  You may be sniffling and sneezing and these are extremely common allergy symptoms, not COVID-19 symptoms. So no need to fear the seasonal allergy sufferer – there are a lot of us out there!

I feel we are all doing our best to contain this, and this is a time for us to support each other in this shared experience –  in spite of it being inconvenient.  We will get through it!

Dr.  Marie

Yoga & Energy Healing Retreat for Women in Haramara, MX November 14-21, 2020

The intention of our yoga and energy healing retreat is to support and empower you on your healing journey – you may crave replenishment and renewal or you may have a specific intention or a desire to create a change in your life.  Dr. Marie and Liana will create a warm and safe supportive environment for you to become deeply grounded and cultivate your inner calm and resilience.  You will be guided through yoga and energy healing sessions designed to clear past energies and support optimal alignment with your present –  so that you may flow into your future goals with greater ease and awareness.

Haramara resort is located outside of Puerto Vallarta near the neighboring town of Sayulita.  It is set on a lush hillside overlooking the ocean – it is a beautiful eco-resort. The land at Haramara is special – it is sacred land previously occupied by the local Huichol tribe.  The owner of Haramara built the resort with the intention of keeping the native vibe fully intact.  It is the perfect place to unplug – all of the open air cabanas are spaced far apart, so you feel fully immersed in the terrain, and electricity is limited to the main dining and pool areas.  A visit to this land is deeply healing in and of itself.  

Together, we will experience:

~twice daily yoga at your pace

~guided breathwork, meditation, and chakra clearing 

~group energy work for healing and renewal

~rituals for transformation of energy and patterns 

We will also have opportunities for:

~spa treatments~temezcal (Aztec sweat lodge)

~walks into the neighboring town of Sayulita

Unplug, tune into nature and receive support on your journey – we hope you can join us!

Who We Are:
We are both alternative medicine and healing professionals practicing in Washington, D.C.  We deeply believe in the body’s innate capacity to heal from physical, mental, emotional and spiritual disharmony and are passionate about helping others gain access to their own healing power.  We met almost 20 years ago at a yoga studio and have continued to build on that initial connection through our friendship, respective healing journeys, and professional paths.  We are very excited to be collaborating together on our first of what we hope will be many retreats! 
Dr. Marie has been in naturopathic medicine practice since 2002, and has over 20 years experience as a craniosacral practitioner.  As a fervent seeker and forever student, Dr. Marie’s personal healing journey inspired her to study a myriad of energetic healing modalities.  She has extensive shamanic training, has been a long-time meditation practitioners, is a family constellation facilitator and is recently certified in past life regression.  
Dr. Marie recognizes that the physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual aspects of our human experience are all highly intertwined.  She skillfully weaves the contents of her eclectic medicine bag to support people wherever they are on their own healing journey.
Liana Brooks-Rubin is nationally certified as a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine.  She is a licensed acupuncturist, practitioner of Chinese Herbal Medicine, and a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-500).  Like Dr. Marie, Liana is a seeker and perpetual student who is dedicated to deepening her study and practice of Chinese medicine, largely through an ongoing hands-on apprenticeship with the founders of the Association for Traditional Studies based in Asheville, NC.  Liana has also been a dedicated student and practitioner of alignment-based yoga, pranayama (breathwork), and meditation for 20 years and has been a teacher of Hatha yoga since 2004.  

Pricing, Accommodations, Reservations
*All prices below cover accommodations, three meals per day, twice daily yoga classes, guided group healing exercises and rituals, and one combined acupuncture/energy healing session per person.  Separate costs include airfare, shuttle to and from the airport in Puerto Vallarta to Haramara and any on-site spa services you opt to take advantage of while at Haramara.*
**We are offering a $200 Early Bird discount if you make a $500 deposit on or before May 15th, 2020**  Early bird prices are as follows:*Single:  $3,000*Double: $2,200*Triple:  $2,000*Quad:   $1800
To register or for additional queries, please contact us at and/or