Archive for Author Dawn Marie

About the Author: Dawn Marie
Dawn Marie has been a longtime advocate for all forms of healing from biomedical to complementary. Having struggled with various health issues herself, she shares her journey and insights to help others who are struggling with chronic conditions.

The Path to Transformation

The path to real transformation

The path to real transformation

I started going back to the Y towards the end of my semester and have been waffling about taking Yoga for Transformation (YFT) at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis again this summer. YFT was an amazingly significant shift in my life and helped me find a path that I knew existed, but was unable to unearth on my own and many of the lessons I learned during that four week session I still carry in my toolbox. At the Y, I take a class called Body Flow that is a combination of Tai Chi, Yoga, Pilates and Meditation. I love it. A number of years ago, one of my instructors encouraged me to become certified to teach and while in-training, I became sick. It took a year, but, I was eventually diagnosed with cancer. I never pursued the certification. After speaking to another instructor who said that they don’t offer regular certifications, I realized that my desire to be certified in teaching Flow may or may not happen any time soon. I began looking at YFT again.

I was talking to a girlfriend who is thinking about becoming certified to be a Yoga instructor, and that’s when it hit me. Yoga has been this massive undercurrent in my life and while YFT is simply wonderful – what is more transformative than going through a 230 hour yoga study program and becoming certified to teach yoga? Pretty much, not much. I looked up upcoming training and discovered that they were going to start teaching one on June 22. I signed up that night. Where will this next path take me, I won’t know until I get on it. But, I’ve got on my walking shoes and ready to discover the twists and turns as they come.

Nothing good gets away

This week, I was struck by an article that I read on The Atlantic about falling in love. It was a letter that an American author, John Steinbeck, wrote to his son while he was attending boarding school. His letter was in response to his boy telling his father that he had fallen desperately in love with a classmate. John Steinbeck’s response is beautiful and touching. Both respectful and fatherly to his son’s blossoming love, his final line struck me most…

Nothing Good Gets AwayNothing good gets away.

Four simple words and yet so powerful.

Nothing good gets away.

Just sit with that a moment.

There is profundity in simplicity. Like when a child expresses a observation that we often dismiss as mundane. An everyday occurrence and, yet, in the eyes of a child, a stunning discovery. Those four words stopped me in my tracks.

Nothing good gets away.

How many times have we thought we have struck upon the most amazing thing? It could be love, could be lust, could be a fleeting infatuation. At that moment, it feels like it is the only thing that is important. But, as time wears on…and layers get stripped away, there is an opportunity to examine this plane and decide – do I wish to go further?

With infatuation and lust, those layers tend to be superficial and the interest to go deeper fades away. But, when it is good, truly good, even if those layers may be difficult, there is the desire to keep moving forward. Those layers can take months and years to work through, but intrinsically, the heart intuitively knows when it wants to continue to explore – sometimes into deep, dark caverns of the human spirit.

Where I am going with this, is I want to implore you to think deeper about your personal relationship with love, lust and infatuation. I don’t want you to think about a specific person, but more, about your actual meanings of love, lust and infatuation. How do those three simple emotions relate to your life in more than a just sexual way?

There may be interests, your career, your personal self-illusions – that you have had that could easily fall into any of those three interests. Have you been truly been moving to the next layer or are you ruminating in one – not certain if you want to take the plunge into the next level?

Lust and infatuation are fun, but fleeting. Love transcends those first layers and, in the end, culminates into something beautiful. I want you to find what you truly love, because my friends, when it is good, it doesn’t get away.

Khichdi (Khichadi) Recipe

Khichdi is a simple rice and mung (moong) bean dish that is made throughout India. Each family has their own version and it is considered comfort food. It is fundamental in Ayurveda and is seen as both restorative and healing. Mung bean is tri-doshic, meaning that it balances all three doshas. It is easily digestible and especially good for those with Vata doshas. It is excellent to use while recovering from illness or detoxifying your body.

2015-04-04 22.54.17The beauty of khichdi is, there is no wrong way to make it. If you prefer it bland or spicy, with or without vegetables, it is very customizable based on your tastes. My local Indian grocery store has a pre-mixed basmati rice and mung bean mix that I like to use. It doesn’t have quite enough beans in it for my personal tastes, so I usually add additional.

This is a general guideline to how I make my Khichdi. Many recipes show directions for using a pressure cooker, which I don’t have, so this is made entirely on the stovetop. This makes a large pot, I will say probably 4 or more servings.


  • 1 cup Khichadi mix (or one cup of Basmati rice)
  • 1/2 cup split mung (moong) beans – I like a mixture of green and red
  • 1 medium onion-sliced
  • 2 carrots peeled, sliced and diced
  • 1 cup of chopped cauliflower
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 2 tablespoons of ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • 5 cups water


  1. Place rice and beans into a large bowl and rinse three to four times, using a strainer to pour out water. Then, cover the rice-mung mixture with fresh water, letting it soak for about 20 minutes.
  2. While your rice and beans are soaking, prepare your vegetables. Peel, cut and dice your onion and carrot. Chop cauliflower and green beans into bite sizes.
  3. In a large, heavy bottom pot, melt the ghee. When completely melted, place the cumin and mustard seeds in the pot until they begin to crackle. Add diced onion, carrots, cauliflower and green beans. Then add curry and ginger. Saute veggies until onions are translucent.
  4. Add the rice and lentils, sauteing for about two minutes. Add salt and water. Let come to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Khichdi should have a “mushy” consistency when fully cooked. If it begins to get too dry, add more water.
  5. Serve the khichdi in a shallow bowl with additional warm ghee and fresh cilantro.

Other spices that can be added would include coriander, fennel, cinnamon and cardamom. Coriander and fennel are both cooling, so are excellent for this with Pitta dosha. Cinnamon is excellent for Kapha and good for Vata as well. Cardamom is great for all three doshas, but, Pitta should use less.

Every time I make this recipe, it changes on my mood, what my body is telling me it would like and what I have available in my refrigerator and pantry. Isn’t that the true definition of comfort food?

Homemade Lavender Cuticle Balm

Ingredients for Homemade Lavender Cuticle Balm

Ingredients for Homemade Lavender Cuticle Balm

Blame my Vata tendencies, but, I have notoriously dry cuticles, usually all year, but particularly in the winter. I have used a number of commercial cuticle creams and balms, which work okay, but, I don’t like ingredients like read like a chemistry test. Also, as someone who wavers between vegetarian and vegan tendencies, I also don’t care for products that have been made from an animal based product or tested on animals. Since I make so many of the products I use and consume, I decided to make my own.

I just happened to have a leftover container from a commercial product, that I cleaned out and measured how much volume it could hold…not much – roughly 2.25 teaspoons. The recipe I used below fits this container perfectly. If you have a larger container or wish to make a larger batch, this can be doubled or tripled.

Cruelty-Free Lavender Cuticle Balm

3/4 tsp Candelilla Wax
3/4 tsp Coconut Oil
3/4 tsp Shea Butter
1/8 tsp Vitamin E Oil
5 drops of Lavender Essential Oil

Homemade Lavender Cuticle Balm

Homemade Lavender Cuticle Balm

In a double boiler, add the candelilla wax, shea butter, vitamin e and the coconut oil until thoroughly melted, making sure to not scorch the blend. Add lavender essential oil and stir until all ingredients are completely blended. Pour into heatproof container and let sit until cooled. This will harden fairly quickly. The cuticle balm was ready to use in less than half of an hour, but, it could take longer depending on the room temperature and how large of a batch you made. If you increase this recipe, take note that Candelilla wax tends to be a harder wax than beeswax, so you may want to decrease the quantities if you double or triple this recipe.

It smells delightful, has soothing ingredients and is cruelty-free, which is important to me. This container is also small enough to pop into my purse so that can easily reapply throughout the day.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.


Natural Solution for Hypothyroid

Thyroid Support Blend of Essential Oils

Thyroid Support Blend of Essential Oils

Last November, my thyroid was diagnosed as being low functioning, likely due to the medication I take to counterbalance my neuroendocrine cancer. Bummer. It sucks when you have to take a medication to counterbalance a medication. I won’t lie, I am one of the worst people when it comes to remembering to take any medication on a daily basis. (I never miss a beat to make sure my dogs get their meds though!) So, in addition to my levothyroxine, I have decided to try essential oils to see if they boost my thyroid and energy levels. I don’t anticipate this will ever replace my medication, but, if it helps me get through the highs and lows of this disease, ultimately, I win.

After researching a number of sites, I decided to use the following combination:

(Hypo) Thyroid Support Blend

10 drops Myrrh

10 drops Lemongrass

2-3 drops Clove

2-3 drops Peppermint

I combined all of these ingredients into a rollerball and topped it off with coconut oil for a carrier. It recommended that you apply this blend “neat,” however, I tend to have problems with certain essential oils on my skin, so I chose to dilute. I may end up using this blend more frequently through the day because of it.  The recommendation is to roll over the thyroid, 2 – 3 times a day, until you achieve results. Please note: clove oil and even peppermint can be very difficult for sensitive skin when applied neat. Use accordingly.

My biggest symptoms are fatigue, poor sleep, inability to handle stress, brittle fingernails and weight gain. I am hoping to turn a few of things back in the right direction. The nice thing is, I can throw my new essential oil blend into my purse and (hopefully) I will remember to apply occasionally, especially when I forget my meds…again.

Most of the essential oils that I used are from doTERRA, except the Myrrh, which was a brand I bought while I was visiting India last month!

Let’s breakdown what each of these ingredients does for us:

Myrhh essential oil is known to stimulate the immune system and blood circulation. It is anti-inflammatory and most interestingly, can help regenerate tissue. It is also analgesic, anti-inflammatory and is very calming.

Lemongrass essential oil is sweeter than most citrus oils and is a super effective pain reliever. It is also a mood balancer and helps with mental clarity.

Clove essential oil has a lot of wonderful attributes that help during treatment for hypothryoidism. It is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and acts as a sedative.

Peppermint oil helps to improve your mental alertness and acuity. It is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, antiseptic and acts as a stimulant.



30 minute yoga, pranyama & meditation

We all know we need to spend more time meditating and moving our bodies. Although I try to commit to this every day, I still find it a struggle managing the balance between life and work. This is a wonderful 30 minute video that runs through ten minutes each of yoga, pranyama and meditation. It’s really the perfect way to start a morning without taking up too much time. Thirty minutes is better than no minutes. Do yourself a favor and check out this practice now.

Some of my favorite essential oils

I have been using essential oils for many years, but only recently started using dōTERRA. They make very high quality, therapeutic grade essential oils. Essential oils are wonderful tools to help alleviate a variety of symptoms and for overall well-being.

These are a few of my favorite uses of essential oils….

Peppermint Oil

When I am feeling congested, I will put a couple of drops of peppermint oil in my hands, rub them together and then cup them over my mouth and nose and inhale slowly for a few minutes. This almost always helps open my airways.

Also, when I feel like a fever is coming, I will rub some peppermint oil on the back of my neck to help “cool” me down and rest for a bit. It works relatively quickly.

NOTE: Be careful with peppermint oil around your eyes! It will sting…I speak from experience.


This is a new product that I started using, which is what sold me on dōTERRA products in the first place. This is now my first line when I am feeling congested from allergies, cold, flu or other respiratory crud. Breathe is a proprietary combination of laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon and ravensara. It feels less “intense” than pure peppermint oil, but it is extremely effective for opening airways. Again, I will put into my palms and rub together and cup my hands over my mouth and nose and breathe deeply. If it is before bedtime, I will rub it into some coconut oil and on my chest.  This could also be put in a diffuser.


Lavender is my go-to essential oil. If I have an insect bite or a paper cut, I will place lavender oil on it.  Lavender oil is anti-microbial, so it helps to fight infections. It is also extremely calmitive, so it is wonderful to place a couple of drops on your wrists or temples before bedtime to help sleep.


I just love rosemary oil and I combine it, almost daily, as my regular fragrance. Rosemary is uplifting and helps with respiratory issues. (Notice a trend here?) It also helps with indigestion. I make a hair rinse combining lavender and rosemary that I use each time I wash my hair and not only does it smell good, but, it makes my hair really shiny and soft.


Pardon my saying so, but vetiver is damn sexy. I combine it with passionflower, ylang ylang, vanilla, and jasmine in a little distilled water and make a light fragrance. I will also combine these together with dead sea salt to make a bath salts.

Tea Tree (Melaleuca)

Another oil I use on my skin. Excellent for acne and other facial blemishes.

Rose Oil

I like to infuse witch hazel with rose oil to create a refreshing toner for my face after rinsing it. Rose oil is naturally antiseptic and anti-bacterial, so it is a nice way to cleanse the skin. Afterwards, I usually use coconut oil for moisturizer.


This is another dōTERRA blend that I love. This blend combines ginger, peppermint, tarragon, fennel, caraway, coriander and anise, all which aid in digestion. When I have an upset stomach, I will rub a few drops of this combined with coconut oil on my tummy. It can also be taken internally, so you can place a few drop into a capsule and take with a few sips of water.

These are just a few of my favorite essential oils that I use on a regular basis. There are dozens more. Please visit dōTERRA for the highest quality, therapeutic grade essential oils available on the market today.

Moisturizing Essential Oil Hand Sanitizer


I won’t lie. I am a germaphobe. This is partially due to the fact that I have a compromised immune system, so I try to be mindful of my behaviors and surroundings. The worst part is, when I am at work, I frequently find myself resting my hand on my face or rubbing my eyes, which immediately sends off my creepy crawly alert. Blech. I use hand sanitizer like it is going out of style, but, it is very drying for my skin. Also, with the horrible chemicals (triclosan or benzalkonium chloride) that are in it, I hate having to ask my body to process that stuff. So, I decided to make my own. I looked at several recipes online and kind of came up with my own version. This may change over time, but, here are the products that I used for this round:

2014-11-29 10.45.07


  • 4 oz Witch Hazel
  • 2 Tablespoons of Aloe Vera Gel
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Vitamin E Oil
  • 30 drops of dōTERRA On Guard blend
  • Distilled or Filtered Water

I placed the first three ingredients into an 8 ounce measuring cup and mixed well. Then, I topped off the mixture with filtered water to hit the 8 ounce mark.

Using a funnel, I then poured equal amounts into 8 one-ounce glass atomizer bottles. DO NOT use plastic bottles! Essential oils are extremely potent and will actually make the plastic bottle “collapse” in a few days. Stainless steel bottles would work, too.

Voila! You are done. Shake the bottle before spraying about 5 squirts into hand. Rub hands together and you have just sanitized your skin with a safe and fragrant hand sanitizer.

Witch Hazel is an astringent, but, it is also soothing for the skin. It helps to lock moisture into your skin, plus the oils will blend better than with straight water.

Aloe Vera is both healing and moisturizing for dry skin and rashes. Generally speaking, I would use a clear aloe vera gel, but, I was desperate and the pictured item was all that I had on hand.

Vitamin E oil is a supercharged antioxidant and can actually help with cell repair by neutralizing free radicals. It actually helps with scar reduction and improves the moisture of the skin.

dōTERRA‘s On Guard is a proprietary blend of essential oils that is a non-toxic way to eliminate and control pathogens. (Like your co-workers nasty unwashed hands that you just watched them sneeze into!) It combines Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf/Stem, Rosemary Leaf/Flower and Cardamom.

Water – nothing is as pure and healing and distilled or filtered water. I originally used just plain water and essential oil for my hand sanitizer, but, felt it took too long to dry and that there were additional ways to help preserve the water I was using on my skin.

I hope you enjoyed this hand sanitizer recipe. Please, let me know if you have any other suggestions by sending me a note to: {This email is obscured. Your must have javascript enabled to see it}


Complementary Approaches to Managing and Preventing Influenza

In my ongoing process of posting the things I write for my graduate program in Holistic Health, I want to share with you my most recent paper…enjoy!


ivebeensickInfluenza is a contagious respiratory infection that can cause major illness requiring hospitalization or even cause death.  While vaccines are available for this illness, there is a likelihood that the vaccine may not help immunity to particular strains that may develop over the course of the season.  Children and the elderly, the immunocompromised, are at most risk of acquiring this illness and, up until 2000, were the only groups that were recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to receive the vaccine (Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices, 2000).  The statistical data that surrounds mortality from influenza in the United States is vaguely interpreted by the CDC.  They do not require states to report deaths from influenza for anyone over the age of 18, and frequently, when the patient had an underlying health condition, seasonal influenza is not cited since secondary complications are the main cause of death. Finally, seasonal influenza is infrequently listed on death certificates of people who die from flu-related complications.  The wildly varying estimates of 3,000 – 49,000 deaths per year from the 1976-1977 to 2006-2007 flu seasons (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013) have made many people question why the CDC has changed its recommendation, suggesting that the flu shot be given to everyone as opposed to only those who are at high risk.  However, this paper is not intended to address the specific controversies surrounding the influenza vaccine or why people may choose to not receive it. Rather, this paper is a means to look at complementary approaches to preventing the acquisition of the illness and to make recommendations to alleviate the illness, should the reader unfortunately acquire it. The five main approaches addressed in this paper will include the use of certain types of dietary supplementation, the importance of nutrition, exercise, the use of nasal irrigation products, and the use of essential oils.


Supplementation to an otherwise healthy person’s diet is crucial during influenza season as many factors can contribute to immune suppression and the spread of the virus during the winter months.  In 2008, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) discovered the coating of the flu virus is like butter, which hardens and melts depending on the temperature.  During the winter months, this coating hardens with the colder temperatures, making it more stable and easily propelled through airborne transmission (e.g. sneezing or coughing). Once the virus enters the warm respiratory tract, the coating melts, thus allowing it to infect cells (Fox, 2008).  Despite the immune system’s winter-bombardment, there are a number of supplements that can help curb the collateral damage caused by influenza.

Active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) is one supplement that has been proven to bolster the immune system by increasing natural killer (NK) cells, the first line of defense in the immune system (Ritz, Nogusa, Ackerman, & Gardner, 2006).  AHCC is a proprietary medicinal mushroom blend that is intended to strengthen the immune system and is taken in capsule form.  This bionutraceutical formula contains several species of Basidiomycete mushrooms, including shiitake.  A 2013 pilot study showed that AHCC significantly improves the efficacy of seasonal influenza vaccination (Roman, Beli, Duriancik, & Gardner, 2013).

In addition to AHCC, another important supplement to consider is turmeric, which can assist in a preemptive strike towards fighting the influenza virus.  Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family and has a bright yellow coloring.  It is most commonly used as flavoring in Indian curries.  An important pharmacological agent in turmeric is curcumin, which has been used in both Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.  Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that is also antimicrobial and boasts impressive daily nutritional values, including manganese, iron, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, and fiber.  It can be consumed in a dried, powered format, shredded from fresh turmeric root, or used in capsule form.  A fascinating study in 2009 showed that curcumin has the ability to interrupt virus-cell attachment, thus showing promising potential as an anti-influenza drug (Chen et al., 2010).

While curcumin has antimicrobial qualities, licorice root is yet another extremely powerful herbal remedy.  Licorice root, also known as “sweet root,” is a powerful herb that grows throughout India, parts of Asia, and southern Europe.  This herb is frequently taken either in capsule form or used in teas.  It contains the pharmacological agent known as Glycyrrhizin. Glycyrrhizin has been extensively studied and shown to be antiviral, hepatoprotective, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory.  It also helps to increase blood pressure.  In vivo studies using mice showed that while this powerful agent did not stop the influenza infection, it did help to alleviate the course of the influenza by increasing the body’s natural production of interferon (Utsunomiya, Kobayashi, Pollard, & Suzuki, 1997), a protein that inhibits virus replication.


There are also nutritional deficiencies that are known to lower the effectiveness of the immune system, thereby making the host more susceptible to many diseases, including influenza.  However, there are a number of ways through supplementation and nutrition that you can bolster your immune system.  While the minerals zinc, selenium, and iron are important for fighting all infections, there are several vitamins that are particularly powerful in fighting infections (Cunningham-Rundles, McNeeley, & Moon, 2005).

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that facilitates the intestinal absorption of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, and zinc, all of which help to fight infection.  The human body has the ability to synthesize vitamin D from unlight absorbed by the skin, but is not otherwise capable of producing vitamin D.  Vitamin D may be ingested through foods like cheese, egg yolk, fatty fish like tuna and salmon, and fortified foods like orange juice and cereal.  Supplements are another good way to obtain vitamin D, particularly in northern regions where sunlight is scarce many months of the year.  In a 2009 study, it was determined that patients with a blood serum of 25-hydroxyvitamin D higher than 38 ng/ml demonstrated significant health benefits by reducing the recovery time of influenza to two days. Patients whose blood serum concentrations were lower generally took nine days to recover (Sabetta et al., 2010).

Vitamin D is not the only vitamin that helps bolster the immune response. Vitamin C is a protective powerhouse.  Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C, is a water-soluble nutrient found in foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, kale, broccoli, and peppers.  This antioxidant protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals. It has been directly linked to decreasing the length of time to recover from an acute respiratory ailment such as the common cold or flu.  In one study, students with upper respiratory illnesses were given megadoses of vitamin C at the onset of their illnesses. Each hour, for six hours, they were given 1000 mg of vitamin C, resulting in 85% of participants finding relief from their symptoms (Gorton & Jarvis, 1999).

While vitamins D and C are two extremely powerful vitamins, there are many others that are crucial to overall health, including vitamin A and two B vitamins that are very potent antivirals including B1 (thiamine) and B3 (niacin).  Green juices are nature’s powerhouses for giving your body a super jolt of nutrients.  As Christine Roseberry, a Certified Holistic Nutrition Practitioner, explains on her website, “Just Glowing with Health,” a green juice daily helps to boost your immune system to fight the flu similar to how the influenza vaccine does.  She recommends juices combining broccoli and ginger, both of which contain flu-fighting elements.  The health benefits of broccoli, which is high in vitamin C, is also rich in flavonoids, zinc, and selenium, all that strengthen our immune systems.  Ginger is known to kill cold viruses, naturally contains two natural antibiotics, and can help to combat fever, chills, and congestion (Roseberry, 2013).


Many studies have shown that exercise is an important tool for preventing major diseases – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity – but it is also strongly linked to overall health and warding off common illnesses such as the cold or flu.  Keeping a regular exercise plan as simple as a daily walk or going to the gym every other day may have health benefits that extend into day-to-day wellness. Although it is not entirely known how exercise helps fight upper respiratory illnesses, there are a number of theories, including that physical activity flushes bacteria out of the lungs, thereby decreasing the chance of an airborne illnesses. Stretching and aerobic exercise also helps to move lymph fluid, which clears trapped toxins from the system (Richards, 2012). Additionally, as the heart pumps faster and circulates blood faster, it sends antibodies and white blood cells around the body faster than normal. Since they are moving around more quickly, it is speculated that they are able to detect illnesses earlier. Since the circulating blood is moving faster, it may also trigger a release of hormones that warn cells of invading bacteria and viruses.  The same mechanism that sends out hormones to warn cells of invaders also sends out other hormones that give the sense of well-being (Vorvick & Zieve, 2012).  Finally, the rise in body temperature may prevent bacterial growth, allowing the body to fight the infection more effectively.

Nasal Flushing

The use of saline nasal irrigation, either through the use of a Neti pot or by nasal spray, is another approach used to prevent upper respiratory illnesses that also helps to alleviate symptoms such as a runny nose and congestion.  Neti pots have been in use in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and are just as common of a daily hygiene routine in India as brushing one’s teeth.  When regular saline irrigation is used, particularly after an upper respiratory event, there is less likelihood of recurrence. This was a robust and consistent finding with parameters such as symptom relief, medication consumption, and reported absences (Slapak, Skoupa, Strnad, & Hornik, 2008)  Mechanically flushing out the nasal passages is a good way to help move viruses out of your body before they are able to latch on to cells.

Essential Oils

Essential oils can be used as inhalants, used topically or, in some cases, taken internally.  Essential oils are not true oils as they do not have a fatty acid chain. They are, however, highly concentrated liquids that contain volatile aromas.  They promote overall well-being by alleviating stress, improving your skin and digestion, and can act as repellents to viruses.  Eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, and oregano oils can be used to help open up stuffed sinus passages and provide antiviral and antifungal benefits when used topically.  An interesting study done using a commercially available essential oil blend showed that, in-vitro, the oil has the ability to reduce the effect of the influenza virus (Wu et al., 2010).  This essential oil blend contains a combination of the oils orange, clove, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus leaf, and rosemary.  It is a compelling study that has potential for further uses of other essential oils in the prevention and management of influenza.


While influenza can sometimes be unavoidable due to exposure in medical, work, and school settings, there are many ways to bolster your immune system without vaccination regimens.  Ironically, in the years that I have received the influenza vaccine, I have gotten sicker than I have the years that I have declined it, thus my interest in natural approaches.  This paper explored a small fraction of my personal favorite modalities. I apply these in my everyday routine to help prevent and manage the side effects of influenza, many of which I follow year round but ramp up in early September.  In conclusion, natural supplementation of AHCC, turmeric, and licorice root are all powerful anti-inflammatories. Vitamin D helps the absorption of critical minerals that fight infection, and vitamin C helps bolster the immune system.  Aerobic exercise helps flush out the immune system by both moving lymphatic fluid and moving bacteria out of the lungs.  Mechanical methods of flushing viruses from the sinus passages by use of Neti pots and saline washes may help fight further infection and can alleviate congestion during illness.  Finally, essential oils can be used to alleviate the symptoms of influenza and, with further study, may prove to be novel antiviral and antifungal approaches to managing illness.  Naturally, these recommendations should also be paired with the standard good hygiene practices of hand washing, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, getting plenty of rest, and staying home from work or school should you become ill.


Chen, D., Shien, J., Tiley, L., Chiou, S., Wang, S., Chang, T., . . . Hsu, W. (2010). Curcumin inhibits influenza virus infection and haemagglutination activity. Food Chemistry, 119(4), 1346-1351. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2009.09.011

Cunningham-Rundles, S., McNeeley, D. F., & Moon, A. (2005). Mechanisms of nutrient modulation of the immune response. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 115(6), 1119-1128. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2005.04.036

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Gorton, H. C., & Jarvis, K. (1999). The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 22(8), 530-533. doi:10.1016/S0161-4754(99)70005-9

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Ritz, B. W., Nogusa, S., Ackerman, E. A., & Gardner, E. M. (2006). Supplementation with active hexose correlated compound increases the innate immune response of young mice to primary influenza infection. The Journal of Nutrition, 136(11), 2868-2873.

Roman, B. E., Beli, E., Duriancik, D. M., & Gardner, E. M. (2013). Short-term supplementation with active hexose correlated compound improves the antibody response to influenza B vaccine. Nutrition Research, 33, 12-17. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2012.11.001

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Level One Reiki Attunement

Today, I received attunement for level one Reiki practice. Over the years, I have received many Reiki treatments from various practitioners and always felt profoundly healed after each session. I decided it was time to go deeper to learn this healing art and begin to share the healing I have experienced with others.

Attunement is something that is difficult to describe. Reiki is a spiritual practice, based in energy and mysticism. It is not religious and therefore, doesn’t conflict with any systems. It is about becoming a conduit and utilizing universal life force to initiate healing. Our bodies are designed to heal themselves, but, blockages in pathways, known as meridians, can interfere with our natural healing processes. Reiki helps to open up these pathways so that we can obtain our highest level of healing.

Reiki I was a day long class. The first half of the class went over the history and philosophy of Reiki,reviewing hand positions for treating yourself and others and the attunement ritual performed by my Reiki Master. We then gave ourselves a Reiki treatment before breaking for lunch. The second half of the class we gave and received a Reiki treatment from another classmate. My partner was Angel, who is currently a licensed massage therapist, so she is used to performing bodywork. I felt fortunate that we paired up. I have received many, many forms of bodywork over the years, but I have never been sure of my ability to perform bodywork on another person as it always feels so invasive. Angel was very helpful for me by giving me advice and tips. She reminds me a dear friend who lives in Canada, so we connected on a level deeper than you normally would with a random classmate. It also turns out that her brother is a customer of the company I do marketing for. Go figure. People like to think the Twin Cities is a huge metropolis, but, really, it’s just Mayberry with skyscrapers.

The treatment I received from Angel was very relaxing and I was appreciative. It’s been some time since my last Reiki session and I could feel I was due. We were told by our Master to drink lots of water as our bodies would be going through a detoxification process the next 24 hours or so. What surprised me is that when I got home, I was nearly immobile with etreme exhaustion. I dragged my dogs up to bed to “take a nap.” While I did have to wake up to feed them a short time after lying down, I ended up going back to bed immediately afterward and resumed my “nap” – for five and a half hours. When I woke up I was still wearing the clothes I left the house in that morning! As I wrote this I realize that exhaustion that is still overtaking my body. I decided to look at some Reiki sites online and they said this was not an uncommon occurrence after a treatment or attunement. Generally speaking, the healing process – what is sometimes also called “healing crises” can have various side effects, even flu-like symptoms, depending on the level of healing the body is going through. The good news is – this healing crises – is not a bad thing. It is just indicates that healing is taking place. Here is a wonderful article talking about healing crises after a Reiki treatment or attunement.

In the meantime, I will continue my Reiki self-treatments, on my canine companions, friends and family members while  continuing to expand my own consciousness on this healing art.

If you would like to receive a Reiki treatment, please send me a note and we can schedule a time. {This email is obscured. Your must have javascript enabled to see it}

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