How Inflammation Impacts Physical, Mental, and Social Health

Inflammation has become one of the most feared and misunderstood aspects of health. Any conversation about the human body should be one that is full of nuance – and discussions aimed at fleshing out whether inflammation is whole-heartedly good, or bad, is an exercise in futility. 

Inflammation is a normal, healthy part of our immune system’s response to injury, pain, or stress. Some classic examples of helpful, productive inflammation are the swelling and redness you experience after spraining an ankle, the fever you have to endure when you are battling an illness or infection, and other short-term responses that are meant to protect various cells and tissues. In one way or another, acute inflammation is designed to protect you – you can’t live without it. When immune cells start to overreact, or get activated inappropriately (as is the case with autoimmune disorders) however, the helpful can turn detrimental very quickly. 

Chronic inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors, as you will read about later on, but there are many reasons why you should seek to avoid having it run amuck and unchecked. Having a persistent, unnecessary inflammatory response increases your risk for many effects such as cancer, heart disease, depression, Alzheimer’s, and many more chronic illnesses that are notoriously difficult to manage and live with. Essentially, this incredibly nuanced topic can be summarized as: Acute inflammation is both helpful, and necessary for survival. But chronic inflammation is precisely the opposite. 

We are going to cover the various and profound impacts that chronic inflammation can have on your physical, mental, and social health. Doing so will allow us to fully illustrate just how much of a concern this issue is for our body and mind, and just how much it can interrupt overall wellness. Of course, we will also provide you with some actionable steps that you can start implementing today to begin mending, or preventing the damage that unchecked chronic inflammation can have on your physical health, mental well-being, relationships, and more. 

Effects of Inflammation on the Body

Rampant and constant inflammation can cause more than just a few issues in our bodies. In fact, most chronic conditions such as asthma, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and many more are linked to inflammation and the destructive effects it can have on cells, tissues, and even the very structure of DNA. 

There are a few areas of the body that seem to be particularly affected by the continuous presence of inflammatory molecules. Your brain, and the similarly complex gastrointestinal (GI) tract are both especially impacted by the excessive presence of the various immune cells, chemical messengers, and proteins that are on the frontline of your immune system. The effect it can have on the brain is at the root of many of the detrimental behavioral and social influences chronic inflammation can have. The effect it can have on your GI tract however, is an excellent example to show just how complex the immune system and it’s inflammatory responses can be. 

It may surprise you to know it, but most of your body’s immune cells are located in your GI tract. This makes sense though, because there is a constant exposure happening from the foods and beverages you bring in from the outside world. The inside of your GI tract can really be thought of as being outside of the body, and everything that passes through it must be deemed safe or not safe to enter the body. Luckily, our immune system usually ignores the countless beneficial bacteria that live all over inside there. Also, while ignoring all of the usually “good” bacteria that have taken to living mostly inside of your large intestine, our immune system also has to be able to identify foreign invaders, help neutralize them if possible, as well as sound the alarm and mount an appropriate attack if they escape the GI tract and get inside the body. The ubiquity of bacteria inside our GI tract, and the constant warfare the immune cells there must be under, makes it pretty easy to see why there are so many inflammatory conditions of the gut. Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease are all debilitating examples of how chronic inflammation can cause significant and persistent issues inside of you. The inflammation in your gut has the ability to spread throughout your body and brain.

Systemic, chronic inflammation is also implicated in:

  • Obesity: Obese people have consistently higher levels of systemic inflammation. This leads to insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes), dysregulation of hormones that relate to hunger, and a reduced metabolic rate – making it increasingly more difficult to lose weight when they try to. 
  • Bone loss: The perpetual process of bone remodeling is effectively interrupted by chronic inflammation – leading to bone loss and corresponding conditions.
  • Joint problems: Joints are especially degraded by chronic inflammation and conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are both directly linked to the unchecked presence of it.
  • Heart disease, cancer, skin problems, asthma, and the list goes on…

The effects that systemic, chronic inflammation can have on the body are no joke. We will of course provide you with some action items to focus on to help empower you to prevent this from occurring – but to gain a much deeper understanding of the complex entity that is your immune system, take a look at our in-depth blog on the topic here.

Effects of Inflammation on the Brain

Chronic inflammation’s greatest threat to our health is due to the systemic effects it can have on the body. Your brain and body are nearly inseparable – except through an ever-vigilant, yet fallible border between the two. This barrier is known as the blood brain barrier, and we owe our lives to this thin membrane made of specialized tissues and immune cells. Unfortunately though, it isn’t impossible for stuff to sneak by and make its way to the brain. This is precisely the case with the cytokines and various other inflammatory molecules produced by your body.

Once these inflammatory molecules make it into the brain, there is the potential for an unnecessary immune response to occur. Microglia (brain immune cells) are activated, and just like with joints and other tissues, brain tissue is damaged by the inflammation that ensues. This cascading response is specifically why multiple, severe mental illnesses are associated with increased inflammation. Neuroinflammation is especially dire because of all of the body’s processes that are controlled by the brain (so…basically everything). According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, chronic inflammation in the brain is associated with:

  • Depression/major depressive disorder
  • Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sleep disorders
  • anxiety

If it wasn’t already, it should be pretty clear by now that many states of diseases, are linked to chronic inflammation. What most people don’t yet understand though, is how chronic inflammation can affect more than just our physical, and mental health – it can impact our relationships with others and social health overall!

Effects of Inflammation on Relationships

Human beings are social creatures. This logically stems from our evolution in groups that worked together to collectively find food, shelter, and survival. 

Enter: Chronic inflammation. 

Chronic inflammation is known to impact social interactions – a phenomena known as sickness behavior. Inflammation-induced, sickness behavior is primarily characterized by social withdrawal or loss of interest in social activities. In a systematic review published by Mona Moieni, Ph.D. and Naomi I. Eisenberger, Ph.D., investigating the social effects of inflammation, it was also noted that it also tended to cause following effects:

  • Social disconnection.
  • Social anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure).
  • Increased sensitivity to both positive and negative social stimuli.
  • Heightened sensitivity to social rejection, and threatful situations.

These behaviors are believed to be adaptive, and our desire to avoid others might have actually been a good thing. It would have kept us from socially interacting with others, and potentially infecting vulnerable members of our tribe. Our response to these varied social stimuli whilst under the throes of chronic inflammation can depend entirely upon the context of the situation as well as your perception of it. But your response is likely going to be innate and instinctual. It is easy to see just how easily chronic inflammation can disrupt your ability to live your life and enjoy healthy social relationships. Now, let’s start exploring how to reduce inflammation through diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits. 

How to Reduce Inflammation

Reducing inflammation can be easily accomplished by making some basic adjustments to your diet, exercise, and wellness routines. 

Many of these options are free, or nearly so – requiring only that you commit to the changes and make them a part of your lifestyle for good. One of the changes that can have the largest impact on your levels of chronic inflammation is what you choose to put on your plate. 


The foods that you do or don’t eat can have a massive influence over whether or not you are able to overcome chronic inflammation and avoid the multitude of ill effects which we have already mentioned. Keeping in mind that a high percentage of your immune cells reside within or around the GI tract, it is clear how this relationship between diet and inflammation can be established. Avoiding foods that are heavily processed, those that contain high amounts of fat and sugar, and foods that you have an intolerance to (these can be huge triggers for autoimmune conditions) will allow you to essentially stop “feeding the fire” that is your chronic inflammatory response. We know that gut inflammation can travel throughout the body, and avoiding foods that are inflammatory for you is one key aspect of managing your diet. Another aspect of significantly impacting your inflammation through the diet is by including foods that have a recognized and established anti-inflammatory effects. 

Some anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Leafy greens (plenty of phytonutrients and magnesium to help squelch inflammation).
  • Cold-water, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring are all chock-full of marine Omega 3 fatty acids).
  • Nuts (especially walnuts which are brimming with ALA).
  • Berries, and other fruits like oranges (full of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds). 

When you boil it all down, it is clear that eating to reduce inflammation is essentially synonymous with eating for overall health and longevity. Eat a diverse diet full of whole, natural foods. Avoid processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and rancid or trans-saturated fats. Even after taking these steps, you may need to supplement with various nutrients that just aren’t very easy to get from the diet. Vitamin D, for instance, is uniquely difficult to get from the diet and you may need to keep a bottle of it in your cabinet at home. This powerful vitamin/hormone likely won’t be the only thing you will want to supplement with, however. 

Take Supplements

Dietary supplements are meant to be utilized to augment an already sound diet and lifestyle. 

That being said, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get all of the nutrients you need from food alone – even if you are sticking to a well-rounded diet full of whole foods. There is an endless list of the supplements on the internet claiming to reduce inflammation, squelch free radicals, and lead you to better health – one expensive bottle at a time. Yet, most of these fall short when placed up against rigorous scientific analysis. Fortunately for us as consumers, these dilligent scientists did a lot of the hard work for us. 

If you are seeking to reduce chronic inflammation, and need some help from the supplement realm, take a look at proven options like:

  • Fish oil or other sources of Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Circumin (turmeric)
  • Ginger
  • Resveratrol
  • Spirulina
  • Magnesium
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Body Protection Compound 157 (BPC-157)

It is important to point out here that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like tylenol or ibuprofen are not on this list. NSAIDs are incredibly effective at managing acute inflammation, but their frequent use for attempting to handle chronic inflammation (usually in conjunction with corticosteroids) can be highly destructive and harmful to the human body. In contrast, BPC-157, which stimulates the growth and repair of injured tissues throughout the body, is emerging in the health and wellness sphere as a clinical alternative to the antiquated usage of NSAIDs and steroids that still remain (currently) as the standard of treatment for chronic inflammation and pain. As you might have guessed, the connection between chronic inflammation and the human body goes much deeper than just your diet, and which supplements you choose to take. To remain healthy and with appropriate levels of inflammation for the long-haul, you probably need to move!


Exercise and inflammation are deeply intertwined. Inflammation is by nature an immune response. And the cells, resources, and waste associated with the immune system are transported in the lymphatic system. Unlike your circulatory system, your lymphatic system does not have a pump. This means that bodily movement and muscular contractions are required to push your lymphatic fluid around – keeping what can be thought of as your own internal sewer system, moving freely. 

Exercise has another implication in chronic inflammation, and that is that it can allow you to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight. It is no secret that high levels of body fat are directly linked to high levels of systemic inflammation. Simply increasing your daily activity, and participating in a structured resistance training protocol can do wonders for weight loss and reduce levels of chronic inflammation as a result. Exercise can be overdone however, which would ultimately lead to you doing more harm than good when it comes to the levels of inflammation you are experiencing. If you want to make the most of your exercise approach, take a look at our article titled “Your 3 Keys to Post-Quarantine Fitness Success” – where we lay out a clear and concise explanation of what actually matters for you to make significant changes both in and outside of the gym. The importance of not over-doing it with exercise in a misguided attempt at creating healthy changes cannot be overemphasized. In fact, the stress from excessively exercising can and does easily contribute to the total burden of stress on your body – which, unsurprisingly can influence inflammation.

Manage Stress

Stress of any kind can be beneficial for us in small, intermittent doses. A perfect example of this is how lifting weights can help build muscle, make us stronger, and make us healthier. Taken too far however, this stress can quickly become negative. 

In the case of psychological stress, chronic inflammation can come as a result of living in a stressful environment, working at a stressful job, dealing with financial distress, or just simply neglecting to manage the mounting burden placed upon you. The intersection between psychological stress and physical disease or dysfunction seems to hinge on the hormone cortisol. Our bodies release the stress hormone cortisol in response to, you guessed it, stress. Having too high of cortisol, for too long can have lasting and negative implications on your body, brain, and overall health. Luckily, as you may have already surmised, much of what you can do to manage stress is easy, and free. 

Some great tips for reducing stress are:

  • Meditation or another mindfulness practice
  • Get out in nature
  • Working out
  • Yoga
  • Start an intentional breathwork practice
  • Keep a gratitude journal

You may find another activity or hobby that works for you to reduce stress – that’s great, do it often. What matters is that you are consciously engaging in some consistent practice to proactively deal with stress before it can rear its ugly head and manifest some unwanted physical, social, and mental health effects. Even cheaper than these stress reduction techniques, is one that you likely already know the importance of, even if you don’t currently appreciate it. 


By now, if you aren’t aware of just how important sleep is, then you must have been living under a rock for quite some time. Sleep is, and likely always will be, our number one resource for developing and maintaining health at nearly every level. Sleep is crucial if you want to manage stress, lose body fat, build muscle, manage your appetite, and much more.

Mechanistically, sleep is the time when your body rests, recovers, and prepares for another day. Your circadian rhythm is the metronome by which nearly every bodily function aligns itself, and living in a way that disrupts this natural ebb and flow can lead to a whole host of disease and dysfunction – not the least of which is uncontrolled, chronic inflammation. If you aren’t sleeping well, there isn’t much else that you can do to significantly and sustainably improve your health. 

Get enough good, quality sleep, every night!

Chronic inflammation is a growing concern in our society with real consequences if you don’t take steps to control it. But there are steps that you can take to protect yourself, and many of them are free of cost. Chronic inflammation typically goes unseen and unaddressed until it has culminated in disease or dysfunction that cannot be ignored. Before you reach this state, put a plan in place and stick to it!

The Connection Between Gut Health and Mental Health

Your brain and your gut have a unique relationship that makes them inseparable from one another. They are bound to one another, physically, and biochemically – to a degree that science is only just beginning to appreciate. The sum of these connections and interactions is referred to as the gut-brain axis (or GBA) – though the name doesn’t quite fully illustrate just how deeply important the strength of this bond is for us to live healthy, and happy lives. 

As a people we seem to have intuitively known this connection existed – even if we weren’t able to fully comprehend its full complexity and importance. Phrases like “gut feeling”, or getting “butterflies” in your stomach when you are nervous exist for a reason. They suggest that our inherent wisdom had long ago established the existence of a link between the brain and the gut. Now the science clearly shows that the link is real. Its infrastructure includes aspects of the nervous system (the gut is now often referred to as the “second brain”), as well as countless bacteria and microorganisms (we need them!), and more. If you are craving a deep dive into the research to learn the intricacies the gut-brain axis, we recommend this article published in the Annals of Gastroenterology, which explores every aspect of the connection between our mind, gut, and health. 

Research articles can be dense and redundant at times however. So, we have taken the time here to explain what exactly is the gut-brain axis, and how it pertains to you in relevant, relatable, and actionable chunks. This article will go over what makes up the GBA, how the gut and brain interact, the extent of gut bacteria’s role in the GBA, and we will wrap things up with some actionable steps to protect, or even improve the capability and capacity of this connection to enhance your health and wellness overall.

There is much more required to create lasting balance and health, and you can read our approach to tackling this daunting and perpetual task here. Before we start explaining how to improve it, it is best we begin by detailing just exactly how there is a connection in the first place. 

How the Gut and Brain Are Connected

Whether you know it or not, your health and vitality rely upon a delicate, yet strong synergy between your brain, your gut, and the estimated 100 trillion microbes that are living inside your digestive tract at any given moment. 

This recently discovered, bidirectional relationship between your enteric nervous system (ENS), and central nervous system (CNS) involves crosstalk between your endocrine system, immune system, and obviously, your nervous system. Explaining every component and their specific roles in the GBA can get very complicated, very quickly. Luckily, there are some major players that you can focus on to get a decent understanding of how it all works, and how you can make steps to improve your own GBA.

The Vagus Nerve

If there were a highway running straight from your brain to your gut, it would be your vagus nerve. 

The vagus nerve is the primary nerve leading to and from your digestive tract. It is also the main component of your parasympathetic nervous system – often referred to as the “rest and digest” side of things. 

There have been many studies demonstrating the relevance of the vagus nerve for communication between the gut, microbes, and the brain. One study concluded that a more complete understanding of the functioning of the vagus nerve may lead to new nutritional and microbial interventions for mood disorders. This hypothesis is supported by the fact 80% of the nerve fibers that comprise your vagus nerve are headed to your gut from your brain, and the remaining 20% are leading back to your brain from your gut. That means there is a direct line of communication from the 500 million neurons in your enteric nervous system and your brain. An understanding of this fact makes it much easier to comprehend just how two seemingly separate parts of the body (your brain and gut) are able to work in synergy with one another – when everything is going right that is. So if the vagus nerve is the highway that connects your brain and your gut – neurotransmitters can be thought of as the cars that drive on it.  


By now everyone has at least heard of neurotransmitters. They are tiny chemical messengers that have an enormous influence on both our psychology and our physiology. 

And though we tend to more closely associate neurotransmitters with structures like the brain and spinal cord, there are more than just a few reasons why we may need to rethink that notion just a bit. 

There are 5 times as many neurons (these cells use neurotransmitters to communicate) in your enteric nervous system as there are in your central nervous system. That fact alone means we better start thinking of our gut as our “second brain” – as many scientists are already doing. But there is another reason neurotransmitters may be even more of a “gut thing” than a “brain thing”, and that is that the microbes living in your gut make neurotransmitters and other molecules that your body uses everyday. 

95% of the serotonin in your body is produced in your cells in your gut, and this process appears to be stimulated and regulated by specific kinds of bacteria according to this study published in the journal Cell. This powerful neurotransmitter is heavily involved in sleep, your circadian rhythm, and many aspects of mental health. 

Additionally, the neurotransmitters GABA and dopamine, both of which are needed for overall health and a properly functioning brain, are created as byproducts by certain kinds of gut bacteria. These two facts alone seem to make it a foregone conclusion that the health of your gut, and the microbes within it, can have a much further reach than we ever thought possible. 

Gut Microbes

The conversation about gut microbiome and just how interconnected with the rest of our body it is, has been happening for well over a decade now. 

Relative to other health-related topics though, this is very very new – and also very uncertain. The Human Microbiome Project, started back in 2007, is a much needed initiative dedicated to discovering and understanding the diverse array of microbes that live on, and in us. 

Researchers have learned a lot thus far about how the gut microbiome in particular may impact your physical and mental health. Most of the research has been done in rodents so far, but the totality of evidence suggests that an imbalance or dysbiosis amongst gut microbes is associated with allergies, autoimmune disorders, metabolic disorders, and many neuropsychiatric conditions. This detrimental effect is either contributed to or compounded by intestinal hyperpermeability, or “leaky gut syndrome” which is becoming increasingly common in modern societies.

The name leaky gut illustrates precisely the malfunction that is occurring within the intestinal tract and the issue can lead to increased levels of systemic inflammation – increasing the likelihood of countless issues you can read about here. When you are experiencing leaky gut syndrome, you are far more likely to experience an inappropriate immune response to your beneficial gut bacteria, as well as the undigested food particles that find their way into your bloodstream. 

The impact that the health of your gut, and the microbes in it can have on your mental health is based on two pillars. The sufficient production of neurotransmitters and other signalling molecules that takes place there, and the ability for inflammation in the gut to cause systemic issues including depression, anxiety, and more. Clearly, our mental health is highly dependent on having a healthy, and balanced microbiome within our digestive tract. 

Gut Bacteria and Mental Health  

We have a tremendous ability (and perhaps responsibility) to influence our health through our diet and lifestyle – and we can influence the health of our gut bacteria in exactly the same way. One of the more popular methods to alter or improve our microbiome is through the use of probiotics – but they may not always be the answer. 

Probiotic supplementation has been all abuzz in recent years. But it is likely that most people aren’t even sure what is actually in the capsule they are taking. Probiotics are actual live microorganisms, and supplementing with certain kinds of them has been shown to hold the potential for a ton of beneficial effects. It isn’t an exact science yet, however. And it is difficult to know what bacterial strain to use, how much of it, what combinations work best, etc. Basically there is still a lot left to figure out. Luckily, researchers are hard at work figuring it out for us, and it seems that more and more data comes out every day. 

Besides supplementing with probiotics in a capsule, you can just as easily get some beneficial microorganisms from food like:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Natto (fermented soy)
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut and other fermented veggies

In a study published in the prestigious journal Nutrition, it was found that individuals with major depressive disorder can have observable, positive changes after 8 weeks of supplementing with specific probiotics. They also had notable improvements in markers of inflammation, endogenous antioxidant activity, and more signs that point to enhanced health. 

Prebiotics are a little less cool, yet no less beneficial. Prebiotics are compounds that are typically found in the parts of plants we can’t actually digest ourselves – but our gut bacteria love it. Examples of prebiotic foods include:

  • Legumes, beans, peas
  • Oats
  • Bananas, berries, and other fruits
  • Asparagus, leafy greens, and other veggies
  • Alliums like garlic, onions, leeks 

You’ll notice that none of these foods are processed or in a package. This backs up our own admitted bias towards whole, natural foods – we’ve even posted more than one article about the topic of whole foods and fiber intake. Likely resulting from the downstream effects of it feeding our beneficial microbes, this study determined that prebiotic intake has the ability to both reduce stress, and improve attention placed on positive compared to negative stimuli. Based on these studies, it seems pretty clear that getting both probiotics and prebiotics in your diet or through supplementation can be one of the more important things you do for your gut health and mental health. Your work doesn’t end here though, there is much more that you can however to improve your gut-brain connection. 

How to Improve Your Gut-Brain Connection

Many of the diet and lifestyle principles for creating health and improving longevity must owe at least part of their power to the effects they have on your gut and digestive health. These are just some of the many proven strategies to enhance or strengthen your gut-brain axis – but you may have to experiment and do some research of your own to find what works for you. If that is your goal, it is probably best to focus first and foremost on what you are putting on your plate and in your mouth. 


As we just explained, a diet based on whole foods will take care of most of the nutritional requirements for a healthy gut-brain axis. This is because you will find nutrients like protein, fiber (both kinds that each have unique benefits for gut health), and micronutrients in whole foods that you simply don’t get from processed and packaged foods. 

More specifically, look to incorporate foods that are: 

  • High in omega 3’s (they have been shown to improve good bacteria and they are crucial for the health of our brains)
  • Fermented (the fermentation process creates probiotics)
  • High in both soluble fiber, and insoluble fiber (both of which are needed for a healthy gut)
  • Rich with polyphenols (anti-inflammation/antioxidant compounds)
  • Good sources of the amino acid tryptophan (required for serotonin production)

You are going to need to experiment and find foods that work best for you and your digestion. This is important because individual variances in dietary requirements can vary widely. Also, you may have an intolerance to certain foods, or have an altered need for certain nutrients at certain times. Above all else, it is important to get a wide variety of protein sources, fat sources, fiber sources, and maybe include some fermented foods at least somewhat often to get some good probiotics. Many people in modern society fall short of fulfilling these dietary requirements for a healthy gut strictly from food however. 

Vitamins and Supplements

Which supplements to take to help improve the health of your gut-brain axis is going to vary from person to person. 

Many of the vitamins, minerals, and other supplements you can take to improve your health are the same ones that you should likely be paying attention to already. For instance, the following minerals are crucial for a healthy gut:

All of these are vital for overall health and play various roles in the gut specifically – varying from reducing inflammation to repairing your gut lining. This further enforces the notion that eating a diet based on whole, natural foods is an excellent course of action to begin improving gut health. 

Perhaps the most important aspect of maintaining a healthy GBA is the lining of your gut itself. This relatively thin membrane has the paramount role of deciding what comes in and what doesn’t. Hence the increasingly common “leaky gut syndrome”, and its associated disease states, are simply caused by the gut lining letting in stuff that it shouldn’t – for whatever reason. Proven supplements like glutamine, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, and collagen peptides all work to improve the lining of your gut so it can better control what actually makes it through and into our bloodstream – but an extremely  interesting peptide called BPC-157 seems to currently reign supreme at the job of restoring a healthy gut lining. BPC-157 (body protection compound 157) is a gastric peptide with an amazingly safe track record, and a growing body of research behind it. One research article exploring existing research on BPC-157 postulated that because it has been so effective at treating certain gastrointestinal issues that it may soon be used strategically to ameliorate some of their associated mental health issues. 

Talk To Your Doctor

There really is a ton that you can do on your own to improve the health of your gut, brain, and the microbes that live in it. But in some instances, working with a medical professional will almost certainly be necessary and beneficial. Conditions like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and more can be more than just a little serious and should be handled by someone with the proper training and experience. That being said, in some ways Western medicine has done quite a bit of harm to our guts. 

Your microbiome is a living organism – one that works with you to keep you healthy. But that also means that the antibiotics (the opposite of a probiotic by every definition) can and often do decimate the microbes in your gut. Though they are entirely necessary at times, antibiotics have been shown to consistently and significantly alter the gut microbiome – negatively. Either by reducing the overall number, or eliminating entire species altogether, antibiotics can wreak havoc on our microbes, and the gut-brain axis as well. 

Consider Alternative Treatments

Slightly more fringe treatments like fecal transplants or coffee enemas are usually not common dinner table talk. But with gut issues becoming increasingly common,it is important to mention some alternative approaches to creating a strong gut-brain connection. If you are trying to further reduce gut inflammation, improve associated mental health issues, and enhance your overall gut health, take a look at alternative options like:

  • Fecal transplants (think of it as a good bacteria transplant)
  • Coffee enemas (stimulates bile production in the liver)
  • Colonics (these will really clean you out)

None of these treatments are likely to significantly improve the connection between your brain and your gut unless you are doing the most important things for overall health.  

  • Get enough sleep, every night
  • Manage your stress
  • Eat a diet full of actual nutrients
  • Move!

What Are the Eight Dimensions of Wellness?

As modern Americans, we tend to share an extremely limited ideal of what real health actually means. 

The pursuit of the inextricable duo of health and wellness requires much more than simply avoiding illness or disease – it demands exploration and development across multiple dimensions of the human experience.

Western society by and large has been conditioned to look at things in reductionist terms. Black and white, good or bad, healthy or sick. But the World Health Organization, seen by many as one of the primary authorities on human health, has developed their own standards (they go as far as to call it their constitution) for what they believe comprises actual wellness – and it covers far more than just avoiding disease of dysfunction. They believe that real health requires a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and that governments worldwide have a responsibility to provide the right atmosphere, resources, and opportunities for each and every one of their citizens to realize their full potential. 

To achieve a state of physical, mental, and social well-being, attention must be paid to each and every dimension that contributes to creating this state. As it turns out, there seems to be either entirely unique, and yet interconnected dimensions that collectively contribute to overall wellness. These dimensions are physical, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental, financial, spiritual, and occupational wellness. None of these can create a sense of overall wellness alone – they all feed into one another to achieve balance and harmony. Each must be cultivated and nurtured over time. 

As human beings we are extremely adaptable, and we can survive without fulfilling many, or even most of these dimensions – but we won’t thrive. This disparity is precisely why we have written this article – to illuminate each of these dimensions as well as to provide you with a few actionable steps for each to help you begin to curate and maintain more thorough health and wellness habits and practices into your daily life. Each dimension may have more or less importance than others, depending upon who you are and where you are at on your health and wellness journey, but the very nature of these unique aspects is that they are all deeply and fully interconnected with each other. 

Physical Wellness

Something that we need to recognize about our modern lifestyles is that they just aren’t very conducive to good physical health. We sit far too much and move far too little. We are overfed but undernourished. We are fully displaced from our ancestral ancestors in these ways. But our internal biology is still basically the same! It is no wonder we are experiencing an astronomical increase in chronic disease and dysfunction. So once we acknowledge this context, the necessity for prioritizing better sleep, more movement, and a more whole-foods based diet becomes increasingly apparent. 

There are an endless number of ways that we can improve our physical health. But the good news is that there are a few key points to focus on that will get you most of the way there. Prioritize the following aspects for physical wellness:

  • Move, alot. 
  • Eat food with actual nutritional value.
  • Sleep, well. 

There is, of course, much nuance that applies to each of those. For example, how much movement, and what kinds are appropriate for each individual might vary a bit – but generally these three statements apply to each of us to some degree. 

You may need to look deeper into each of these points to determine how they specifically apply to you. Moving more is something that most modern humans can benefit from – it should be no surprise to hear that. Finding what kinds of movement you enjoy and can do consistently is a good place to start. And tracking your daily steps appears to be one of the most effective strategies for losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight for long periods of time. Once daily activity is one of your non-negotiables, perhaps the logical next step is to begin resistance training. Lifting weights has been linked to a whole host of beneficial effects, some of which will last a lifetime. 

Eating food with actual nutritional value is crucial for many reasons. You need vitamins for enzymes to work and cells to function properly. Some minerals are utilized by your immune system to get toxins out of your body. Your brain needs fatty acids and beneficial plant compounds to thrive. Specific amino acids are required for certain tissues, hormones, and neurotransmitters to be built. Whole, natural foods and the wide variety of nutrients they contain are an enormous part of how we can maintain our physical health. You can also utilize supplementation to procure certain nutrients that are difficult to get from the diet. 

It also might be beneficial to verify that your gut is in proper working order. With the rise in chronic inflammation and gut-related dysfunction, consider strategies with proven gut-healing properties like fasting, certain diets, drinking bone broth, collagen, BPC-157, colostrum, or zinc may just do the trick. 

Sleeping well means more than just being in bed for 8 hours a night – though that would be a big step in the right direction for most people. To make sure we are getting the most out of having a free healing/restoration mode, we need to put in actual effort to protect the quality of our sleep as well. Reducing light exposure at night, and waking up at the same time everyday seem to be the two biggest requirements to entrain your circadian rhythm and guarantee you are going to enjoy the countless benefits that sleep provides us. 

Emotional wellness

It is tough to say if the world is becoming more or less stressful for the people living in it. Life has become easier for most people, but it has also become more demanding, busy, and distracting at the same time. 

We are (virtually) connected with more people than ever before – with the COVID lockdown only increasing the digital nature of these relationships. But most of us aren’t exactly designed to be as isolated as our modern society is, especially as we have been for the last year or so. Humans evolved with social interaction and dynamic relationships at the core of our how we coexist and grow with one another. These modern shifts in the human experience bring with them an increased need for finding coping strategies that are, at the very least, not destructive. This is what emotional wellness means to those of us living in modern society., and we can look towards some basic principles of wellness to help kickstart the development of emotional wellness. If you need to improve this dimension, start doing the following:

  • Reduce stress. 
  • Learn to simply acknowledge and cope with emotions – good and bad. 
  • Give your brain an edge. 
  • Manage inflammation to improve emotional resilience.

The general stress response is an extremely beneficial part of life – chronic stress on the other hand, couldn’t be less beneficial for our long term health. There are countless psychological and physiological reasons why stress is bad for us, but most everyone is aware of these by now. It is more important that we direct attention towards stress management practices that will help ameliorate some of the harmful effects of chronic stress. Practicing meditation or another mindfulness approach, get enough sleep, engage in breathing exercises often, do some yoga, and move enough everyday. These stress management techniques will often have the added benefit of helping you on a fundamental level to deal with all kinds of emotions.

Social Wellness

The relationships we have with other people can have an unbelievably deep impact on our overall sense of well-being. 

If you wish to develop a sense of connection, belonging, and rock-solid support system that you can count on no matter what, forging relationships is a big part of where you should focus your energy.

This dimension often goes overlooked because we live in a very work-focused culture. We all know we should spend time with family and friends, but that can always wait – or so we seem to think. Social wellness is absolutely crucial to building emotional resilience as well (though it is entirely unique from the emotional wellness dimension) and it allows us to better communicate with the people around us. Here are just a few ways that you can start to build up your sense of social wellness:

  • First, take time to reflect on yourself and your unique social needs. What aspects of your current social life do you actually enjoy? What parts do you wish you could improve upon?
  • Make an effort to keep in touch with supportive friends and family – especially during times of increased isolation such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Become a better listener – practice!
  • Join a club or organization with like-minded people.

Intellectual Wellness

Your brain is like a muscle – it needs to work in order to thrive. This is the essence and basis of developing intellectual wellness. We are inherently curious creatures, and acknowledging that fact allows us to find ways to satisfy this drive in productive and creative ways.

Curating a state of intellectual wellness will likely be lifelong pursuit – as is the case with all other dimensions. Yet, we tend to stop seeking intellectual development as we age. We are never too old to benefit from engaging in creative and mentally stimulating activities. It is never too late to expand your knowledge or skills, and share it with your friends, family, or community. 

Every dimension of wellness will take work to develop, and intellectual wellness is no different – it will take effort and focus to create balance. What is most important of all however, is that you remain open-minded and receptive to new situations. If you aren’t open in this way, no amount of work will manifest intellectual wellness in your life. Some more useful tips to begin curating intellectual wellness within your own life include:

  • Be more mindful and listen. If you aren’t actively listening, fully present, and engaged, you won’t fully receive the information being given. 
  • Find a hobby that allows you to learn, develop skills, and grow your capabilities.
  • Traveling to experience other countries and cultures will change your perspectives and allow you to grow intellectually.
  • Find a way to be creative. This can be fulfilled by a hobby, or even a career (which we will discuss again later). Remember, we are creative beings – express yourself.

Environmental Wellness

Nobody would argue that the environment around us can’t have a profound impact on the way that you experience life. Environmental wellness is about recognizing this potential for your surroundings to either enhance or degrade your life, and taking action to redesign them to benefit you, and those around you.

Environmental wellness is really quite a broad term. It can refer to that which is in close proximity to you like your home, bedroom, office space, cubicle, etc. – or it can be expanded to the world at large. The concept is all the same, though. We must be inspired and intentional about living a lifestyle that is respectful of our surrounding and practice habits that promote a healthy environment. Some more tips to help develop a more complete sense of environmental wellness include:

  • Do your part to conserve energy, recycle, and limit your footprint on the world.
  • Volunteer with, or donate to organizations dedicated to improving the environment.
  • Appreciate and understand our earth’s finite resources. 
  • Spend time in nature by camping, hiking, or just generally experiencing the natural beauty of our dwindling natural resources.

Spiritual Wellness 

The realization of the profound importance behind cultivating spiritual wellness escapes more people than perhaps any other dimension. It may be because this dimension is shrouded by an intersection of religious beliefs and convictions – but it shouldn’t be. 

Spiritual wellness can, and often does, have absolutely nothing to do with organized religious practices. Though traditional religious practices can fulfill the need for developing spiritual wellness, and often do so extremely well, having this somewhat limited perception of what this dimension means can perhaps dissuade people from cultivating it in the first place.

At its fundamental core, spiritual wellness is about finding meaning and purpose in life, developing your own personal morals and beliefs, and exploring your inner self. This exploration and development can allow you to create balance, become more resilient to obstacles and setbacks, and find a more comprehensive appreciation for the human experience. 

As we said, organized religion can play a major role in developing this dimension, but spiritual wellness doesn’t have to exclusively come from this avenue. What is most important for developing wellness in this dimension is the practice and exploration of your inner self. To start cultivating your own sense of spiritual wellness, try doing the following:

  • Take time to be alone, and think about your inner self.
  • Reflect and explore life changing events. Consider your perceptions of each situation, whether they are productive, and whether or not they are congruent with reality. 
  • Practice meditation or engage in another mindfulness approach.
  • Actively practice acceptance of situations.
  • Remain curious as you age. Explore new topics and ideas that interest you.
  • Consider traditional religious faiths and find one that you align most with.

Occupational Wellness

Many of us work to earn a paycheck, so we can do what we enjoy on the weekends with the ones we love. But this may not be enough. Not enough of us derive actual satisfaction and fulfillment from our work. Developing occupation wellness in our lives requires us to acknowledge this fact and inspires us to work towards finding a profession that satisfies this itch. 

Our occupation can be more than just a paycheck. Some of us may find our calling in life almost by accident. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a nurse, and no other occupation will allow you to be fulfilled in the same way. Perhaps a career in law enforcement or firefighting will enrich you each and every day – and you’ve known that was your path for as long as you can remember. For some of us however, it can take much more time. The occupation that helps you derive a sense of meaning and purpose in life may be something you haven’t even considered yet. This is why it is absolutely essential to keep trying, and keep searching. More tips to enhance your sense of occupational wellness are:

  • Take an honest assessment of yourself and your occupational needs. What kinds of tasks do you enjoy? Which would you rather never do again?
  • Consider both paid and volunteer opportunities that interest you. (remember you may find a path you had never even considered)
  • Actively practice communication and proper conflict management with your coworkers. Perhaps better work relationships can help create a greater sense of fulfillment in the job you already have.
  • Set career goals for yourself and constantly work towards improving and accomplishing these goals.

Financial Wellness

Though the financial and occupational wellness dimensions seem quite similar, they are quite different in reality. Financial wellness focuses on developing a sense of satisfaction and security with current and future financial situations – whereas the occupational wellness dimension is a bit more existential in nature.

Financial stressors are one of the more common pitfalls of modern life for many people. We aren’t commonly taught how to manage our finances by tracking expenses, budgeting, or becoming financially disciplined in general. Setting both short and long term financial goals is a great first step towards developing wellness in this dimension, but to take it further than that, consider trying:

  • Actively work to analyze finances to identify problems before they occur.
  • Maintain organized records of your finances.
  • Plan ahead. Set budgets, and stick to a plan to reach your goals.
  • Take classes to better understand your financial situations and learn to create discipline. 

8 Dimensions of Wellness

By now it must be abundantly clear that each of these eight dimensions of wellness are entirely connected and dependent on one another to reach their full potential – and for you to reach yours as well. 

Each of these dimensions will take work to develop and maintain, but that isn’t to say that the process won’t be enjoyable. Keep in mind that every bit of progress you make will help to balance your wellness overall and create a sense of congruence within different aspects of your life.

The Ultimate Guide to Vitamin D

When you take a hard look at the list of potential benefits vitamin D can provide, you might quickly realize they are really just a perfect example of the powers of genetic expression.

Nearly all of the power that vitamin D wields comes from its ability to influence what is known as the expression of your DNA. This influence over how your genes are expressed comes from the choices you make (or don’t make) in the realms of nutrition, training, and lifestyle. Being protective of your vitamin D status should be near the top of your health priority list – along with getting enough quality sleep, adequate movement, and nutrition as a whole. You might be wondering why vitamin D deserves to be mentioned with three major pillars of health and wellness. To understand vitamin D’s VIP status, it’s best to start with the importance of micronutrients altogether – there are roughly 40 of them on the essentials list. All of which we must get from our diet in order to survive, let alone thrive. After that we can shift the focus of our conversation to vitamin D in particular and highlight some fascinating research that illuminates just how important it is. There will also be some clues on how to determine if you may be at risk for a deficiency, and how to bring your levels up to what is known as the “sweet spot” for long term health.

The importance of micronutrients in general cannot be overemphasized, and vitamin D is one that should be given an even higher priority than most in your nutrition plan.

What Are Micronutrients?

Vitamin D Shots

Collectively, micronutrients are a family of roughly 40 vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids that we require for stuff in our body to work properly.

Nearly every biochemical process (there are a lot) within us requires some sort of micronutrient to function optimally. We may not feel a deficiency right away, in fact many people live years with suboptimal levels of many micronutrients. Our modern diets tend to be devoid of most micronutrients, although it is possible to get everything you need from whole foods – if you work hard enough at it. Another factor limiting our nutrient intake is the fact that certain classes of micronutrients are more readily absorbed by humans than others.

Vitamins for instance, are divided into water-soluble and fat-soluble varieties. Those that are fat-soluble require fat to be eaten with them in order to be absorbed effectively.

This is just an example of one potential reason why Americans are generally suffering from an insidious depletion of most micronutrients – even if they are getting all their fruits and veggies. For example, in the United States…

  • 70% of the population does not get enough vitamin D.
  • 60% is missing out on adequate levels of vitamin E (a group of compounds that are extremely effective antioxidants).
  • 45% of the population in the US does not get enough magnesium (required for energy production, DNA repair, and so much more).
  • 35% of the population grossly under-consuming vitamin K.
  • 30% of the population is not getting enough vitamin A.

Each of these missing micronutrients has countless roles to play throughout the human body, and when you are not getting enough of one, your body uses whatever you do have for tasks that are required for immediate survival. Long-term tasks such as DNA repair, that will take years to develop into dysfunction, are placed on the back-burner – a phenomenon known as the “triage effect”.

Benefits of Vitamin D

So what is that makes vitamin D so special among this list of these already important building blocks of health we call micronutrients?

Vitamin D is so important, that we’re able to make it from the sun’s UVB rays. Once created from UVB rays, it is converted to what is known as vitamin D3 (if supplementing, you should be getting it already in D3 form). Once in D3 form, it is converted by the liver to 25-hydroxyvitamin D. From there it is converted once more in the kidneys to what is known as the active form or 1,25-hydroxyvitamin D (this is what they test the levels of in your blood). Once in this form, vitamin D is able to do its work all around the body as a steroid hormone. Steroid hormones have the ability to regulate the expression of genes within our DNA – essentially turning them on or off. Flipping this switch results in various downstream effects controlled by that particular gene. 

Another profound effect that inadequate vitamin D levels can have on our body and mind is through production of a key neurotransmitter called serotonin. Vitamin D can be thought of as a rate limiter for serotonin production in the body. It acts as a cofactor for the enzyme known as tryptophan hydroxylase. This enzyme is required for the production of serotonin thus, vitamin D is required for you to produce enough serotonin for normal cognitive function.

Serotonin production isn’t the only function of vitamin D that may convince you to prioritize supplementation to maintain adequate levels within your blood. Vitamin D levels have also been directly correlated with modulation of the aging process.

Vitamin D has been shown to slow shortening of your telomeres, one of our closest markers of actual biological aging. Telomeres are the little caps at the end of strands of DNA which protect it from damage and subsequent mutations. On average, the older we get, the shorter our telomeres become. In one study involving thousands of female twins, those with the lowest levels of vitamin D also had the shortest telomeres. Another important finding of this study was that more is not better with vitamin D. Those in the study that had the highest vitamin D levels (exceeding the suggested range of 40 to 60 ng/ml) also had markedly shorter telomeres. This is why it’s important to fall within the vitamin D  “sweet spot” of 40 to 60 ng/ml. There are countless more reasons why it’s crucial to try and hit this sweet spot for vitamin D – inadequate levels have been linked to

  • Reduced cognitive function
  • Increased inflammation
  • DNA damage
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Lower levels of nerve growth factor
  • Greater risk for all cause mortality. 

Vitamin D Deficiency

You may be asking how you might be able to determine if you are deficient in vitamin D.

Currently, the gold standard of determining if you are deficient in vitamin D is a blood test – preferably done before beginning supplementation to determine your baseline levels. If you do not have access to a blood test, there are a few risk factors that may help you determine if you are susceptible to a D deficiency. Those that are especially at risk of deficiency include overweight individuals (because D is a fat soluble vitamin, it will be absorbed and essentially held hostage by fat cells), as well as the advanced age population (the older we get the less D we are able to make from the sun). Also at risk are people living in more northern latitudes (especially during the winter when sun exposure is limited), and people with a darker complexion (the skin pigment melanin acts as a natural sun block). Once you have determined whether or not you may be deficient, or if you are seeking to optimize your current levels, there are a variety of ways in which you can increase your vitamin D.

How to Get Your Vitamin D Levels Up

Current mainstream recommendations for daily vitamin D intake seem to be extremely low. Research has shown that taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day was enough to bring deficient individuals up to a level sufficient for normal physiological function. Notice that this number is far above the RDA laid out by the government, so please don’t be shy and go get your levels monitored by a medical professional. When choosing a supplement, opt for the D3 version rather than the D2 version whenever possible. This is because the D2 version is not as easily converted by most people to the active form of vitamin D within the body. Sun exposure is also a fantastic way to raise vitamin D levels within the body – provided you live in a location that receives adequate UVB radiation, and you are exposed to the sun for sufficient amount of time.

Unfortunately there aren’t many foods that have significant amounts of vitamin D other than some fish, algae, mushrooms, and fortified food products. That is why we typically recommend an oral supplement. For those individuals that have difficulty remembering to take vitamins or supplements in general, intramuscular vitamin D3 injections have been shown to significantly raise levels in deficient adults for up to 12 weeks, negating the need for daily supplementation during that time.

Vitamin D is no doubt an especially important micronutrient that has sadly not been given enough attention. At least 70% of the US population could greatly benefit from increasing their vitamin D levels via supplementation or whole food nutrition. Many micronutrient deficiencies can go years without being discovered, don’t let the 1000+ genes regulated by vitamin D be ignored!

Super Immunity

There is so much that the average person can do on a daily basis to help (or at least not hurt) their immune system’s ability to function.

Besides being incredibly important for overall health, eating a diet full of whole foods that are brimming with micronutrients is especially important if you want to ensure you are enabling the never ending pile of work that goes on behind the scenes to keep you healthy and happy. These micronutrients that we speak so highly of, are becoming increasingly scarce in the average American’s diet and there are real, measurable consequences if you burn through your supplies. While full-blown micronutrient deficiencies are relatively rare in countries like the United States (researchers report that 31% of the population is deficient in at least one micronutrient), individuals experiencing micronutrient inadequacies is another story.

Investigations have suggested that a significant portion of the population isn’t getting enough Vitamin D (come on now, it’s usually free!), more than 80% of us don’t get enough of the heavy-hitter Vitamin E, and almost 40% can be considered low on Vitamin C intake – each of these are pretty crucial to proper immune function, by the way. It is safe to say that there is at least a chance that you are unknowingly included in one of these stats, or you’re somewhere in the crowds of others that are lacking in any one of many other micronutrients that are often absent from the average person’s diet. This is exactly why a winning strategy includes lifestyle changes that are reinforced with supplementation either orally, intravenously, transdermally, sublingually, or any other effective way to get your levels back up to normal and support the countless processes that are occurring at any given second within us.

If you haven’t been accruing enough of some of the key materials needed to maintain a dynamic, resilient, and overall healthy immune system, supplementation is an effective means to jump start the process of helping you avoid further depleting your stores. That is why our Super Immune IV therapy includes specific micronutrients, antioxidants, and other components to enable your body to develop and maintain a robust immune system that acts swiftly, intelligently, and appropriately – all characteristics needed for optimal health and longevity. Our immune IV therapy harnesses the functions and capabilities of ingredients like:

  • Tri-amino (Arginine, Citrulline, Ornithine)
  • B-Complex vitamins
  • L-Lysine
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin C
  • Trace Minerals
  • Zinc
  • Glutathione
  • Sodium Bicarbonate

Each of these can help you develop your defenses against foreign invaders, disease, and dysfunction. Each ingredient has a unique purpose and function to fulfill, starting with arguably one of the most important minerals for immune function – zinc.


Keeping the right balance of zinc in your body is absolutely imperative for the proper functioning of your immune system.

Unfortunately, a zinc deficiency/inadequacy is rather common, affecting up to an estimated 2 billion people worldwide. According to a research article published in the journal Nutrients, zinc has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it is involved in the intracellular communication going on within certain immune cells, and your body requires it to defend itself against pathogens. These same researchers from the Institute of Immunology in Germany went so far as to declare that zinc should be considered a “gatekeeper for the immune system” and they determined that there are clear benefits to zinc supplementation if you have a malfunctioning immune system.

B12 (methylcobalamin)


By now everyone should have heard about the importance of B12 for the complex process of energy production, making and maintaining healthy blood, and supporting nerve health – but those aren’t the specific benefits we are currently interested in.

Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin is a naturally occurring form of B12) also plays a crucial role in the functioning of the immune system. Experiencing a B12 deficiency can result in a decreased number of lymphocytes (immune cells), and especially natural killer cells which are instrumental in our defense against viral infections. B12 is used for so many different roles by the body, and the estimated 40% of the population who are deficient in this vitamin will inevitably experience some degree of dysfunction in their physiology eventually. 

B-complex Vitamins (B1,B2,B3,B5,B6,Methyl-B12) 

B Vitamins play countless roles throughout your entire body.

Besides just facilitating cellular energy production, these B vitamins are required to repair DNA, create some hormones and neurotransmitters, and a whole lot else. Not getting enough of one or all of this class of vitamins can drop you into a state of chronic fatigue, anemia, or even compromise your immune system depending upon which one of the individual nutrients you are missing and how badly they are lacking. 


Lysine is an essential amino acid that is an absolute must for proper growth, the production of valuable proteins, and has other side jobs all around the body.

Interestingly, lysine is able to have profound antiviral effects by blocking arginine activity and having enough of this amino on board is also crucial for keeping up the production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. 


Magnesium is used for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body – so even simply based on that fact it is safe to say that it is pretty important.

Magnesium also works to help maintain normal muscle and nerve function, facilitates energy creation and usage at the cellular level, and on top of all that it supports a healthy immune system. This awesome mineral is also involved in both the adaptive immune response (focused on responseding to specific invaders), and the innate immune response (doesn’t discriminate). Magnesium is just absolutely critical for surviving everyday life, let alone creating an optimal immune system. 

Trace Minerals (Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Selenium)

These trace minerals are used by your body to create hundreds of enzymes, enable many biochemical reactions, and do a bunch more behind the scenes. Trace (meaning you only need them in small amounts) doesn’t at all mean they aren’t important. If you are low on copper for example, you are going to be at an increased risk of infection because of a decreased ability to respond by cells that create antibodies. Low on iron? You can bet your immune cells will have difficulty spreading out and just as much difficulty killing off invaders. 

Vitamin C

In many ways Vitamin C actually does live up to some of the hype, and it definitely has the ability to make a significant impact on immune function – good and bad.

In fact, Vitamin C contributes to your immune defense on various levels. From supporting our epithelial barrier (skin) to enhancing the immune response to pathogens, C is widely considered to be a key regulator of immune function, cellular growth, and proliferation. If you are chronically stressed, sick, or just under-nourished, it is highly likely you will be burning through your C stores incredibly fast. Fortunately, intravenous Vitamin C has been consistently proven to be especially effective at saturating your body with this crucial nutrient.


Here is another ingredient that should be expected in any protocol meant to support the immune system and improve overall health.

Glutathione is an absolute expert at preventing cellular damage and eliminating all kinds of reactive molecules. The intricate and ever-changing balance that is struck within our body’s between endogenous (made within us) antioxidants like glutathione, and pro-inflammatory molecules is part of what regulates the innate immune response, according to a review published in the journal International Journal of General Medicine. Not only does glutathione play a primary role in managing this balance, but there are many pathological conditions directly associated with a deficiency in this anti-oxidizing, free-radical scavenging, and detox-ifying compound.

Tri-amino (Arginine, Citrulline, Ornithine)

Some amino acids are more important than others, and in this context, these three are among the most important.

Arginine and it’s precursor citrulline are vital for the initiation of the immune response, and maintaining levels of arginine is considered to be vital while experiencing profound inflammation and sepsis. Ornithine, in a similar fashion, has been consistently linked by research to expedite wound healing and facilitate recovery. 

Sodium Bicarbonate

Regular old baking soda is used to fight heartburn, squelch UTIs, and boost exercise performance (but it can also cause some real GI distress), along with quite a few other little-known purposes. It is also often called upon to neutralize certain poisons once they’ve been ingested and it is incredibly effective at helping your body rid itself of some select toxins. Strange, that the little box of powder we all have in our fridge is one of the most effective tools for enhancing exercise performance and reducing acidity in the blood.

Unfortunately, pounding back a glass full baking soda to improve your workouts will likely bring some intense GI discomfort – not the case with an IV, however.

The Bottom Line

There is a lot that goes into developing and maintaining a thriving and balanced immune system, and nutrition is just one aspect of a solid wellness plan.

At Ikon Health, we offer our Super Immune IV to improve potential nutritional shortfalls by focusing on some key vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. If you are lacking in any of these key nutrients, your immune system will be placed at a major disadvantage and the degree to which it will impact you as a unique individual isn’t always known. Supporting your immune system goes beyond just filling up any holes, it can also mean kicking it up a notch. With some nutrients, like Vitamin C, higher dosages have been shown to have increased benefits, in some situations. Our immune system is always working (especially at night) and it needs certain resources more than others – the Super Immune IV focuses entirely on those resources.

Incorporating IV therapy can be part of an effective wellness plan that includes plenty of sleep, movement, stress management tactics, and of course…whole food nutrition.

PRP Injections: Healing with Platelet Rich Plasma

Healing from injury, disease, or dysfunction is an incredibly complex process – yet we take it for granted as an expected result of unseen biological forces.

Content with standing idly by, most assume that we cannot use the tools we now have available to take proactive and decisive steps to enhance (or in some cases, begin) the healing process. If we are going to try and flip the script and take charge of our healing, it makes sense to start with the center of how the body heals physically  – platelets. 

Your platelets are one the first responders to injury. They are immediately drawn to the site and go to work releasing their granules filled with growth factors and an inflammatory cascade then ensues – kicking off the healing process. Growth factors, proteins, and various other substances released by the granules enable the body to heal, enable us to heal. Harnessing this innate power is easier than you think, and platelet-rich plasma injections (PRP) show incredible promise in the field of regenerative medicine. There is still a lot to find out about this cutting edge technique that has been used to remedy all kinds of cosmetic issues, musculoskeletal injuries, joint dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, and more, but you can bet you should at least consider looking into a treatment if you have any of these issues. Due to a current lack of standardization and consensus in the research, there is no definitive answer as to whether or not you as an individual should try PRP, or whether it will be effective for you and your unique issues. However, based on the incredible safety profile of PRP, it’s simple mechanisms of action, and the potential it has for healing various tissues, we recommend reading on and deciding for yourself. 

How PRP Works

When you break it down to the nuts and bolts, the functional properties of PRP are mainly based on the creation and secretion of the many growth factors that are released by platelets after activation.

Platelets (or more technically, thrombocytes) are the body’s first response to injury and they quickly arrive at the site of damaged tissue to begin their work clotting blood and releasing various growth factors and other substances needed for repair. Some of the major growth factors released by the granules within platelets include:

After a patient’s own blood is drawn, it is placed in a centrifuge and spun to separate the blood from the plasma and its constituents, then the concentrated plasma is then reinjected into the targeted tissues. This process creates a concentration of platelets up to 10x what is normally found in whole blood and with all this growth-factor power concentrated into one specific area in the body, the healing process is able to be kickstarted or enhanced greatly. 

It is important to note that a greater concentration of platelets does not necessarily mean better results!

Based on this incredibly straightforward (and yet, also complex) mechanism of action, it is easy to see why PRP may have the potential to change the way chronic pain, joint disintegration, wrinkles, erectile dysfunction, and many more disorders will be treated in the near future. Mechanisms aren’t the only impressive feature of PRP. In fact, there is plenty of clinical application for both musculoskeletal pathologies, as well as aesthetic use of PRP injections.

PRP may be instrumental in dealing with an incredibly pressing issue – one that impacts an estimated 50% of American adults. 

Musculoskeletal Restoration

PRP has been used extensively for the treatment of many musculoskeletal disorders but results have varied depending upon the individual and their specific issues. Research has concluded that PRP treatment can improve healing in soft tissues and bone – showing the most promise for afflictions like:

  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • MCL injuries

Unfortunately, there currently exists a lack of standardization amongst research techniques, effectively hindering any consensus from developing regarding the efficacy of PRP treatment. That hasn’t stopped those at the forefront of regenerative medicine from restoring tendons, ligaments, and joints at a fundamental level by releasing the potent growth factors available within PRP. To ensure the successful application of PRP for treating musculoskeletal dysfunction or degradation, a skilled practitioner will often utilize an ultrasound to guide the procedure. This technical prowess, as well as a thorough screening process to verify that PRP will be effective for an individual, is key to the successful application of a platelet-rich plasma treatment. 

As PRP treatment advances and becomes more widely utilized, more and more benefits have begun to emerge – many of which are entirely backed by research and have been proven effective by actual application.

PRP & Aesthetic Rejuvenation

PRP and Aesthetics

Taking into consideration the fact that the term rejuvenation can be used as a vague and generic defining characteristic, let’s start by clearly explaining exactly what we mean by it.

Rejuvenation is “the action or process of making someone or something look or feel better, younger, or more vital”. In this sense, PRP absolutely does rejuvenate tissues – allowing them to heal, and objectively improve based on a wide array of parameters. 

It is widely known that the stimulative effects of PRP on fibroblasts (cells that create collagen and other connective tissues), as well as its ability to promote the secretion of hyaluronic acid and Type I procollagen are just a few of the mechanisms by which these treatments are able to vastly improve both the appearance and health of skin. PRP has even been used to enhance sexual function in both men and women. Basically, there are few tissues found thus far that won’t respond favorably to the skillful application of PRP. Luckily, there is plenty of objective research supporting it’s aesthetic efficacy. 

In a systematic review of the cosmetic applications of PRP by Motosko, et. al., they concluded that platelet-rich plasma injections can reliably result in:

  • Improved skin texture
  • Color homogeneity
  • Increased firmness/elasticity
  • Increased volume
  • Enhanced dermal thickness
  • Reduced solar elastosis (sun damage)
  • Decreased wrinkles
  • Reduced severity of nasolabial folds
  • Minimized acne scars
  • Alleviated erythema
  • And last but not least, satisfied patients

Overall, the majority of studies fully support the use of PRP as a beneficial treatment for facial aesthetics. It is also important to note, in most studies that have a wide age group, there is no significant difference found in positive response rates between those of younger age, and subjects of an advanced age. This highlights the fundamental power PRP has to work with our bodies, not against them like many modern approaches to “healing” tend to do. Our need to try any means of augmenting the healing process becomes increasingly dire as we age, due to our growing inability to complete the complex processes involved in restoring our bodies. You can certainly say that the research behind PRP is promising, but it is no less rife with disagreements. 

No Standard Opinion

Without a doubt, the largest obstacle to PRP being entirely proven effective (or disproven), is a lack of standardization within the research. Methods of concentrating platelets can vary greatly, resulting in subjects essentially receiving different doses in different studies. Also, there exists great individual differences in platelet numbers on any given day, which means those disparities will need to be controlled for in future research. This field is evolving rapidly and a more evolved understanding of the complex interaction between the immune system and signals from injured tissues has been accompanied by an increase in the use of PRP therapy to help heal musculoskeletal injuries, kickstart the rejuvenation of skin, improve sexual function, and a whole lot more.

Other Healing Compounds

There are a few other items that are strong contenders with PRP for healing properties on the body. Thymosin Beta 4 (TB-500), and BPC-157 (Body Protection Compound) are two promising compounds that have proven to have some potential. Currently, you can buy bpc-157 injections through online telewellness providers, whereas TB-500 isn’t as accessible, unless purchased through less trusted sources with possible legality issues. Some peptides are likely to assist in the healing process as well. You can buy sermorelin injections, cjc-1295, and ipamorelin online, also through telewellness providers. Each of these items help to increase HGH levels in the body, which is essential to cell health.

Body Protection Compound 157 (BPC-157)

Half of the population of American adults live with some sort of musculoskeletal injury¹.

Put more simply, this means that half of us experience chronic pain or dysfunction in our joints, muscles, or bones.

To varying degrees, these injuries can be quite debilitating and are notoriously difficult to fully heal from. Joint structures, ligaments, and tendons are categorically known to be hypovascular – meaning they have relatively few blood vessels compared to other tissues in the body. This lack of blood supply typically results in a prolonged healing process and an increased potential for reinjury in the future. Currently, the standard of care for musculoskeletal injuries involves the use of corticosteroids. Despite their destructive effects on tissues and organs, corticosteroids remain the primary (and controversial) treatment for such injuries due to a general lack of other viable options. Short of surgical interventions, (musculoskeletal-related surgeries absolutely dominate the list of top surgeries performed each year) there just aren’t many options for managing pain from such issues, let alone healing them. Fortunately, our body’s may have provided us with exactly that, an option – the promising compound called BPC-157.

BPC-157 Has Been Around

You might be surprised to find out that BPC-157 has been making the rounds in the scientific research community for quite some time. It was first introduced and overviewed in the Journal of Physiology by Sikirić et al. back in 1993². BPC-157 is a fifteen amino acid fragment of a protein (a peptide) found in human gastric juice. Luckily, it’s ability to regenerate tissue isn’t limited to our stomachs, however. In fact, BPC-157 has been found to promote increased healing and repair in nearly every kind of tissue in which it has been studied thus far.

Our primary focus today will be its proven effects on musculoskeletal repair, it’s potential mechanisms of action, what to do before trying BPC-157, and where you can find reliable, quality sources of this body protecting compound – we will also briefly touch on some potentially promising benefits and effects of BPC-157 across the body.

How Does BPC Work?

It is well known in the research that BPC-157 circulates throughout the entire body, whether it is taken orally or injected subcutaneously.

It has also been shown that BPC is specifically attracted to signalling molecules produced by injured tissues, yet the exact mechanism with which it heals the tissues is not known for certain, and likely varies depending on the particular tissue(s), as well as the nature of the injury.

Although the mechanisms of action are not fully understood, the scientific literature has identified some potential sources of this compound’s healing power, including its effect on nitric oxide, the FAK-paxillin pathway (focal adhesion kinase – an enzyme present in injured tissues), increased VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) activity, and the upregulation of growth hormone receptors in injured tissues. VEGF specifically is responsible for angiogenesis, or the creation of new blood vessels and is the most likely mechanism through which BPC-157 is able to promote the healing of joint structures, tendons, and ligaments. Additionally, most joint structures, ligaments, and tendons are composed primarily of different kinds of collagen, and their healing capacity can benefit from increases in collagen production stimulated by BPC-157. Like we mentioned already, these structures have a relatively slow healing process – once healed, they may still lack the structural integrity they had prior.

How Can BPC-157 Be Administered?

BPC-157 and Healing

BPC-157 has traditionally been administered via an injection as near as possible to the location of injury. Unfortunately, injected medications typically have a much lower rate of patient compliance when compared to easier administration routes such as oral delivery. One of the biggest obstacles to developing an orally administered version of any treatment happens to be the volatile and acidic environment within the stomach.

Fortunately, BPC-157 is stable in this kind of environment – likely thanks to the fact that it was discovered in gastric juice. Yet another unique quality of this peptide is that it can be administered through various routes and still remain effective. Researchers have tested BPC-157 administration orally via tablets and dissolved in drinking water, applied topically via transdermal patches and creams, rectally, and through intraperitoneal (abdominal) injections. In fact, every route of administration tested thus far has yielded positive healing outcomes.

What Else Does BPC Help?

This intriguing peptide also has many potential benefits outside of helping musculoskeletal repair and recovery. It is currently being researched for potential positive effects it may have on neurological disorders and inflammation, and it has profound evidence for healing gut issues like lesions caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This is especially interesting because NSAIDs are one of the primary medications utilized for chronic joint pain and other such ailments. The entire class of medications known as NSAIDs are proving to have more and more side effects with their prolonged usage by the population as a whole. If BPC-157 does indeed prove effective for not only healing the issues that were once treated with NSAIDs and corticosteroids, but also reversing or healing damage caused by them, it would be an obviously vast improvement over these outdated practices.

One commonly prescribed corticosteroid named 6alpha-methylprednisolone is incredibly effective at reducing inflammation and pain, but it comes with a whole host of unwanted side effects including the delayed healing of injured tissue. One study looking at the co-administration of BPC and 6alpha-methylprednisolone had astounding results: BPC-157 produced faster muscle healing and full function restoration and also improved muscle healing – despite systemic corticosteroid treatment when given intraperitoneally or locally. Positive results were demonstrated functionally, macroscopically, and histologically at all investigated time intervals³.

Before You Give BPC a Try

Due to its unique status somewhere between a nutritional supplement and a pharmaceutical drug, BPC-157 has not yet been extensively studied in humans.

However, in the human trials that have already been done, as well as in clinical application that has already taken place, there have been essentially no reported adverse events. Those that have been reported come through anecdote primarily, and consist of digestive issues and nausea. Before you purchase BPC-157 for musculoskeletal injuries and dysfunction you should assess potential nutritional deficiencies as well as possible behavioral/lifestyle issues that may be at the root of your joint, bone, or muscle pain.

Consistent and prolonged sitting, poor exercise form, inactivity, fatty acid deficiency, and other factors may be contributing to your chronic pain or discomfort and addressing them will help ensure BPC-157 is able to have a positive effect. More research is certainly needed for BPC-157 to replace surgeries and pain medication as the standard of care for musculoskeletal injuries – however, it is certainly the most promising compound available for this purpose. It’s lack of adverse events, as well as the fact that it has no known toxicity levels should be encouraging enough for those in suffering to give it a try. Keep in mind, even surgery is not able to promise a solution to the chronic pain that is being experienced by 50% of American adults, and the side effect profiles of NSAIDs and corticosteroids demands an alternative treatment be developed.

Where To Buy BPC

There are a variety of websites out there that are all racing to provide customers with BPC-157 and other peptides at the lowest cost possible. This inevitably results in companies cutting corners and providing products that are either diluted or that actually contain none of the advertised compounds. Your best bet is to visit a wellness or anti-aging clinic that sources their peptides from a compounding pharmacy that has an excellent track record as well as client testimonials to back it up. Another fantastic option is to buy BPC-157 injections through a clinic that provides telemedicine and allows you to speak to a licensed medical professional, receive a prescription, and order products all in the same place. There are few compounds that show as much promise as BPC-157 and it is likely to improve the quality of life for countless people suffering from joint and muscle pain in the coming years. 

¹ “One in two Americans have a musculoskeletal condition.” Science Daily,  March 1, 2016,

² Sikirić, P. et al. “A new gastric juice peptide, BPC. An overview of the stomach-stress-organoprotection hypothesis and beneficial effects of BPC.” Journal of Physiology-Paris, Volume 87, Issue 5, 1993, Pages 313-327

³ Pevec, Danira, et al. “Impact of pentadecapeptide BPC 157 on muscle healing impaired by systemic corticosteroid application.” Med Sci Monit, 2010; 16(3): BR81-88

Meet…Your Immune System

Most people seem to conceptualize their immune system as some sort of abstract defense against invaders that cause things like the cold or the even-more-dreaded flu.

Others know it as the root of their afflictions like hashimoto’s or any number of increasingly common autoimmune conditions. Any one-sided and simplistic perception of the immune system as a sort of rigid barrier that can’t be purposefully and beneficially influenced is a fundamentally false one  – there is a lot that we can do to both support our immune system and to sabotage it. Building a solid immune system isn’t extremely complicated, but it can take quite a bit of work and require lifestyle changes. No single factor is going to make our break the force shield that we like to call our immune system, but we can definitely provide the entire network of organs, specialized cells, chemical messengers, and more with some support to help it work as well as it possibly can.

To help drag the concept of our immune system from the abstract to the more practical, we should start by quickly covering some basics of the immune system to begin painting a picture of it as the dynamic and malleable entity that it truly is. After that, stay tuned for some ways to support your overall immune system function like getting enough sleep and eating some key nutrients, as well as a few major sources of friction that many people are creating unnecessarily in their lives. Your immune system is incredibly complex, and its capabilities and limitations are dependent on far too many variables to cover today, but what we want to focus on are practical strategies that you can begin incorporating into your life today to start developing your immune system into an intelligent and precise fighting machine. There is no way that we can fully thank our immune system for protecting us from infection by unfriendly bacteria or viruses, or for zapping cancer cells before they can spread – the most we can do is support it along the way!

What is the Immune System?

They say knowledge is power, and becoming aware of some of what makes up your immune system is extremely helpful in understanding exactly how, and why you can support it in the fight against all kinds of would-be invaders.

Although a complete and thorough description of the components and functions of the immune system is far beyond the scope of this article, there are some helpful distinctions that can illustrate just how complex it is. First, your immune system can be broken down into a few major parts: the innate immune system, which is composed of things like skin, cells of the GI tract, eyelashes, and other obvious physical barriers as well as more subtle built-in mechanisms like inflammation, gastric acid, and various other cellular responses. Then you have your adaptive immune system which is what seeks out specific pathogens, eliminates them, and creates a lasting memory of them in case you encounter them in the future. This side of your immune system is made up of many different specialized cells that all work together – a classic example of how this works would be your response and subsequent immunity created when vaccinated.

Arguably the most important component of the human immune system, and one that is extremely influenceable, is the lymphatic system.

Your lymphatic fluid is what circulates vital immune components known as white blood cells, as well as functioning to allow the body to eliminate toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials. There is definitely a major design flaw with this system though, in that it does not get directly pumped like your blood does – bodily movement and muscular contractions are what pushes your lymph around. This is just one of the many reasons why exercise is absolutely crucial to optimal immune function, as we will discuss later. As you can see, your immune system is composed of many parts that all work together to protect you from cancer, bacteria, viruses, and much more. Unfortunately, there are many common lifestyle habits and practices that are utterly opposed to optimal, or even effective immune function.

What Can Kill Immune Function

Knowingly or unknowingly, many Americans stomp down their immune system function like a schoolyard bully on a daily basis. Less-than-healthy habits such as not sleeping enough and eating carelessly can damper the capabilities of your immune system to protect you from any number of unwanted experiences. By essentially tying your immune system’s hands behind it’s back, you are going to be setting yourself up for failure. Some of the factors that may suppress immune system function include:

  • Not getting enough sleep or having an otherwise disrupted circadian rhythm. 
  • Lack of movement/exercise (resistance training is especially beneficial for overall health).
  • Diet lacking in micronutrients (our immune system needs certain vitamins/minerals to function properly).
  • Chronic stress or other unmanaged cognitive/psychological dysfunction.

Fortunately, most of what you can do to support your immune system comes down to avoiding these major sources of friction as much as possible, as well as generally living a health-focused lifestyle. There is an overabundance of research indicating that you do in fact have profound influence over your body’s ability to ward off disease and dysfunction.

The Importance of Sleep

Arguably the most important thing that you can do to support your immune system is to get enough quality sleep.

Our immune cells have a day/night cycle just like the rest of our physiology, which results in the immune system being highly active (from a circadian biology perspective) during the rest and recovery time provided by nightly sleep. Because of that fact, the activity of certain immune cells varies immensely between day and night. Basically, if you aren’t sleeping enough, you can bet your immune system isn’t firing on all cylinders.

In a fascinating study investigating the effect of sleep deprivation on immune function, it was found that not getting enough sleep will negatively impact your immunity on many levels and to varying degrees. Further research has found that sleep restriction causes:

None of these are favorable for optimal immune function. Slow-wave sleep is especially important to the health of our immune system, and mechanisms that allow your body to identify pathogens or other invading cells is especially enhanced during this part of the sleep cycle. If you are already getting between 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, and you wake up feeling rested each day, the next most important factor to focus on to support immune health is ensuring you are getting adequate nutrition from your daily diet. 


By now we likely don’t need to remind you just how complex your immune system is.

There are countless variables that can impact this system, and nutrition is definitely one of the major ones. Many of the cells, enzymes, chemical messengers, and hormones that work away for your immune system require certain micro- and macronutrients for them to function properly. What this means is that ensuring you get enough vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fats, and amino acids (in particular those that are essential to immune function) is one of the best strategies for supporting your overall health and resilience to disease.

Some of the more important nutrients for immune system function include:

  • vitamins A, C, D, B2, B6, B9, and B12
  • iron
  • selenium
  • zinc.

Poor nutrition can clearly compromise immune function and increase infection risk as well as the likelihood of severe infections. Luckily, you can absolutely improve immune function by patching up any holes in your diet, or with added supplementation if needed. Here are just a few of the major micronutrients that can deeply impact the capabilities of your immune system:

  • Vitamin D:  Vitamin D levels are notoriously low in America, and it is no surprise that D can have an enormous impact on your immune health – both good and bad. Low levels of Vitamin D are especially detrimental to immune function due to the fact that it binds to, or interacts in some way with many immune cells such as B cells, T cells, and antigen presenting cells (APCs). This powerful vitamin/hormone has the ability to modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses, and should likely be taken by everyone on a daily basis depending upon a variety of factors. Ikon Wellness clients can Buy Vitamin D injections online through our telewellness platform.
  • Zinc: Zinc is a heavy-hitting mineral that is crucial for immune function and depletion of this key nutrient has been associated with many adverse events. For example, zinc deficiency can enhance atrophy (shrinking) of the thymus, decrease immune cell number and activity, and increase oxidative stress and inflammation by altering production of cytokines. As a result, your ability to fight off infections is dramatically reduced. 
  • Vitamin C: Although it might sound obvious, Vitamin C is actually rather important for immune function. During infection, disease, or even chronic, the rate at which you produce reactive oxygen species is increased. This boost in ROS production further depletes vitamin C stores, requiring you to get even more than usual from diet or supplementation. Vitamin C is also crucial for modulating the inflammatory process, and has other roles within the immune system.

We typically recommend getting as much of your nutrition from whole food sources as possible. However, supplementation has absolutely been proven effective at boosting immune function if you are deficient in any of these key micronutrients. It is important that you keep in mind though, that adding in supplements likely won’t make much of a difference at all if you are not managing the other major sources of friction that can reduce immune function. Chronically elevated stress levels for example, are notoriously good at throwing a major wrench in things. 

Chronic Stress

Reducing your level of overall stress is one of the most impactful things you can do to positively influence the ability of your immune system to protect you from invaders and dysfunction.

Normal, acute increases in the sympathetic (fight or flight) stress response undoubtedly has the ability to cause potentially beneficial changes in immune function (like activation of detoxification pathways from exercise, heat stress, or caloric restriction). Once any stressful experience becomes overwhelming or too frequent however, all kinds of dysfunction can emerge. The infamous stress hormone cortisol is actually a potent antioxidant that is required to make certain the immune system or inflammatory response is appropriate and under control. If cortisol is chronically elevated, as it is with unmanaged stress levels, your body (more importantly some kinds of immune cells) become desensitized and down-regulate their receptors for it. This is just one example of the physiological adaptations that can occur due to chronic stress and how they may limit your immune system capacity. Other psycho-social factors such as social isolation and depression have also been shown to negatively impact immune function. 

To begin controlling your stress levels, a meditation practice has been proven effective time and time again. Interestingly, not only has meditation been proven to reduce stress in peer-reviewed research, it has been directly associated with increased immune function. In a meta-analysis looking at many randomized controlled trials (totaling 160 subjects) it was found that many markers of immune health were vastly improved by simply engaging in a mindfulness meditation practice. Researchers observed:

  • decreases in Nf-kB activity (pro-inflammatory molecule)
  • an increase in telomerase activity (DNA protective enzyme)
  • a decrease in levels of C-reactive protein (marker of inflammation)
  • an overall increase in many parameters of cell-mediated immunity.

These findings were not the first to suggest that reducing overall stress can aid in immune function. It is hardly controversial to suggest that having a positive mindset is an incredibly important factor to sway the outcome of various disease-states in a more favorable direction. One of the final pillars in developing a robust immune system is consistent movement and (hopefully) exercise.

Exercise and Immune Health

Exercise, and in particular resistance training, has the ability to positively impact your immune system on many levels.

At minimum, some form of movement is required for the circulation of lymph fluid (your lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, instead it relies on your physical movement and contracting muscles).  In contrast, too much exercise can result in overtraining which can be just as bad as not exercising at all – if you are wanting to stay healthy. This is why resistance training that is appropriate (for you), and the resulting increase in lean body mass, is likely your best route for improving immune function. Unsurprisingly, increases in lean body mass has been shown to result in more favorable outcomes from all kinds of health problems –  in fact, the importance of utilizing muscle mass as a new vital sign is becoming increasingly obvious.

Scarily, the expected and preventable decrease in lean body mass (sarcopenia) that comes hand-in-hand with the aging process can result in:

  • increased risk of infection
  • slower wound healing
  • increased risk of pneumonia
  • enhanced risk of osteoporosis and fractures
  • many more undesirable effects.

But that doesn’t mean that you absolutely have to start lifting weights in order to boost your immune system – simply moving more throughout the day can increase the circulation of your lymphatic fluid and result in more robust defense capabilities. Combining relatively frequent resistance training with a good amount of daily low-level movement (get off the couch!) will ensure that you are getting the best of both worlds. 

Last Word on Immune Health

Our immune system is always working, day and night. And the things that we do, or don’t do, can have profound implications on its ability to protect us from potential invaders. It is up to each of us to make sure that the habits and practices we implement in our daily lives are going to support this defense system in the fight against unwanted bacteria, viruses, cancerous cells, parasites, funguses, and more.

No single factor alone will completely make or break your immune system, but consistently getting enough sleep, exercising, eating the right food, and managing stress are all crucial aspects to ensure your immune system isn’t going into a fight that it is rigged to lose. 

Thymosin A1: Effective Immunity

In order for our immune system to fully protect us, it needs to be able to maintain balance.

Too strong or too weak of an immune response can manifest any manner of disease and dysfunction.

How exactly this internal balance is struck involves an incredibly complex network of organs, cells, hormones, neurotransmitters, and growth factors that require a never-ending supply of minerals, amino acids, vitamins, and antioxidants, along countless other resources that, together allow you to form the barrier between you and the outside world. This intricate system relies upon you to support it by getting enough sleep, reducing stress where possible, eating a diet that is actually full of nutrients, and by building your overall resilience through exercise.

If you are already living a healthy lifestyle, and you’re seeking to further enhance how your immune system can function, consider a clinically proven tool from the fascinating field of peptides: the biological response modifier (BRM) thymosin ɑ1 or TA1. Peptides are fundamentally changing the way we can approach chronic disease, hormonal insufficiencies, cognitive disorders, infections, and even the root causes of aging. By using highly specific substances like peptides which are created naturally in the body, we are able to avoid the unwanted side effects that are the major drawback to modern pharmaceuticals. TA1 seems to be an especially effective peptide that has shown promise through testing in both animals and in humans, in the lab and the clinic, and has even been shown to have less side effects than placebo in some research. 

TA1 is a peptide derived from a protein found in human thymus glands called prothymosin alpha. Consisting of 28 amino acids, TA1 was originally isolated from thymus tissue way back in the 1970’s and its potential for modulating the immune system, inhibiting cancer growth, calming autoimmune disorders, controlling infectious disease, and much more has been studied extensively ever since.

Currently, TA1 seems to be painfully underutilized in a healthcare system that concentrates on treating symptoms rather than their root cause. This allopathic or symptoms-focused approach to “healing” is hopefully approaching an eventual shift in the public’s paradigm that will call for more individualized approaches to treating and eliminating chronic disease by utilizing tools such as peptides and other modalities. TA1 opens many doors for supporting and improving immune function by acting on immune cells, modulating inflammation, influencing genetic expression and transcription factors, and so much more. All this sounds very technical, but in reality TA1 was discovered due to research investigating a very obvious avenue to approach for immune system enhancement. 

What is Thymosin ɑ1 and How Does it Work?

If you can remember back to your highschool anatomy days, you likely recall that the thymus gland is essential for both immune and endocrine function – more specifically for the development, maturation, and education of T cells who are our little immune warriors and crucial for our ability to adapt to and overcome specific pathogens.

If any of this jogs your memory, you are also probably aware of the fact that, after puberty, your thymus gland begins to atrophy or wither away in a process known as involution. Although the T cells that your once-robust thymus produced still remain effective, the actual gland itself becomes but a shell of what it once was – in fact, it was once considered to be a vestigial organ in adults, though it does still remain somewhat active throughout life. Research done in animals that were missing a thymus gland found that reintroducing thymosin fraction 5 (TF5, the origin of TA1) was able to enhance immune function. Thus, the next logical step would be to isolate the active section or functional component of TF5 of this protein (a.k.a the peptide fragment: TA1) and begin testing. As the research progressed, scientists began to identify the mechanisms by which TA1 can impact overall immune function, some of the potential benefits for individuals suffering from things like cancer and hepatitis, how it might prevent the escalation of infection, and much more. 

How Does Thymosin A1 Work? 

To understand how TA1 can influence the immune system, it is important to understand some of the key players that regulate immunity. These include cytokines, chemokines, thymosins, growth factors, and various endogenous antioxidants and other compounds. Each of these unique compounds are dubbed “biological response modifiers” (BRMs) due to their ability to either enhance or inhibit immune system function – depending upon what is required at any given time. In many cases, the use of TA1 or another BRM has been proven extremely effective in combination with conventional therapies and may increase the efficacy of treatment, decrease mortality, and lower morbidity when compared to any single treatment alone. In addition to modulating the immune system, TA1 can influence both the central nervous system and endocrine system, a rather unique ability even in the fascinating realm of peptides. TA1 may also be able to enhance immune system function by:

  • Increasing the maturation of T cells.
  • Boosting the overall efficiency of immune cells.
  • Stimulating NK (natural killer) cells – crucial for the elimination of viruses and viral-infected cells.
  • Managing cytokine/chemokine levels to ensure an appropriate immune response.
  • Directly depressing viral replication.
  • Modulating genes involved with immune function.
  • Facilitating differentiation of toll-like receptors (these guys sense pathogens and initiate an immune response).
  • Increasing the expression of class I MHC (this major histocompatibility complex is on the surface of cells to signal to the immune system they have been invaded by a virus).
  • Amplifying cytokine receptors.
  • Enhancing the activation of dendritic immune cells.

This broad list of mechanisms, and a complete lack of side effects is only part of the reason that TA1 is such an incredibly promising addition to standard treatments for autoimmune disorders, infections, viral disease, cancer, and more. 

What Has Been Proven Thus Far?

Research has consistently proven Thymosin Alpha to be effective at improving the immune response and stopping the progression of many viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.

Although a lot of the current research has been done in animal models (funding for peptide research is relatively scarce), TA1 has been FDA approved since 1985 (it’s the active ingredient in brand name Zadaxin) and it is commonly used in 35 countries for the treatment of multiple forms of hepatitis and cancer. What seems to be precisely a ton of preclinical and clinical trials (a PubMed search yields over 700 studies) have investigated TA1 and a significant number of them have deemed this awesome peptide effective at treating other human viral diseases besides just hepatitis including those caused by cytomegalovirus, influenza, and various other disease states owed to microbes. TA1 may also increase the ability of immune-compromised individuals to respond favorably to vaccinations. 

One of the even more intriguing effects of TA1 however, involves its ability to vastly improve the outcome of individuals suffering from sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock.

According to the Sepsis Alliance, sepsis is the leading cause of death in hospitals. This reign may hopefully end someday, as research is showing that combining TA1 with some more conventional antimicrobial strategies may just be the key to making death from sepsis a far less likely occurrence. One study published in the Chinese Journal of Critical Care found that by adding the TA1 peptide to a standard sepsis treatment, survivability was improved significantly (86% vs. 58%) compared to the standard treatment only group. Not only that, but the TA1 group spent significantly less time on mechanical ventilation.

Similar findings were reported by another study that consisted of 342 patients – basically, TA1 has plenty of research behind it that all points to the same conclusion:

TA1 can increase our odds of overcoming the deadly downhill slide that is the progression from infection to septic shock and death.

Dig into the related research and you will find that TA1 has been utilized as part of the successful treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), AIDS, pneumonia, and as we already mentioned, hepatitis and different forms of cancer. TA1 is able to have such profound effects because it helps to maintain the fundamental balance that is required for optimal immune function. It not only increases the effectiveness of your immune cells, but it also acts directly on targeted problem cells – making them more visible to the immune system.

Bottom Line on Thymosin ɑ1

The burgeoning field of peptides is only beginning to become more widely accepted – as it becomes more understood. Thymosin ɑ1 stands out so much that the co-founder and vice president of Tailor Made Compounding (one of only a few compounding pharmacies that has the ability to create actually effective peptides) considers it to be one of his favorite peptides – and there are a lot of peptides! He has utilized it to help patients with certain kinds of herpes, Lyme disease, at the onset of flus and colds, autoimmune issues, and for general anti-aging purposes as well the obvious indications like hepatitis, as a vaccine adjuvant, and for some forms of cancer. It is genuinely difficult to find another intervention that has the ability to so positively impact your immune function and overall health.

Although we have already preached this, it is important to note that TA1 won’t be effective at supporting immunity unless you are also taking care of (at least most) of the fundamentals for immune health: 

  1. Get enough good sleep. 
  2. Stay active/lift weights.
  3. Manage chronic stress.
  4. Eat food that actually supports physiological function.

Vitamin C

Most people are aware that getting enough Vitamin C is important for their health, even if they can’t tell you exactly why.

You may already take a handful of Vitamin C when you are sick to hopefully aid the recovery process, but why exactly does it help?

Are there more potential benefits to supplementing with this water-soluble vitamin that also works as a potent antioxidant (and sometimes a beneficial pro-oxidant), helps to modulate stress, regulate hormones, and synthesize collagen, among many other roles?

You’ve no doubt heard many wive’s tales that report different benefits of using Vitamin C. Some people swear by superloading protocols that have you load up on grams of C at a time – others think that approach might be worse for you than not taking any at all. But in general there seems to be a lot of misinformation about the mysterious vitamin technically called ascorbic acid or ascorbate. Look no further for a simple description of this life-giving vitamin which many people are aware of but pay little attention to. We are going to touch on some of the roles that Vitamin C plays within each of us, signs of a C deficiency, different means of bringing your levels up and the possible benefits of super-loading (introducing large amounts that temporarily bring your blood levels astronomically high), any possible side effects, and everything in between.

All of the micronutrients that our body requires to function optimally are important, but few have the ability to impact as many systems throughout the body as Vitamin C can. 

What Does Vitamin C Do?

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is required for so many things to go perfectly right in our body, that it’s a shame most people only get enough of it when they are sick. Loading up with C when you are sick has absolutely been shown to cut your recovery time down significantly, but that is far from the most  important function we can thank it for.

Vitamin C is required for collagen synthesis, L-carnitine production, and the assembly of some neurotransmitters. Vitamin C also is involved in the activation of certain hormones, immune system function, reducing inflammation, it benefits blood flow, modulates the stress response, and so much more. Like many antioxidants, Vitamin C has the ability to positively impact systems throughout the body – mostly due to its capacity to neutralize free radicals and other potentially harmful compounds. 

There is also quite a bit of truth behind Vitamin C’s ability to reduce your likelihood of getting a cold or shorten your time to recover if you are already sick. In a study done on athletes, it was found that those who supplemented with Vitamin C were 50% less likely to contract a cold – likely because athlete’s baseline levels of inflammation are often higher than the average population. But the benefits of supplementing with Vitamin C didn’t just apply to athletes. Subjects from the general population who were already sick with a cold were able to reduce the duration of illness by 8-14%.

Vitamin C aids the immune system on many levels, partially because it accumulates in various kinds of immune cells, increasing their capacity to function. It also can act as a pro-oxidant – usually something you want to avoid but in this context it aids in the extermination of some nasty invaders. Some of this effect may also be due to the fact that being in any state of heightened stress (emotional, physical, mental, or otherwise) results in an increase in the rate at which Vitamin C is consumed within the body, subsequently increasing the amount you need to consume from the diet. Most animals are able to produce Vitamin C in either their liver or kidneys using glucose, as part of their response to stressful situations. Unfortunately, as humans we lack the enzyme required to synthesize Vitamin C as needed and must get it from our diet, although we are able to store a decent amount of it. There is a pretty famous example of what happens if you chronically don’t get enough Vitamin C in your diet involving limes, sailors, and scurvy. 

Vitamin C Deficiency

Sailors from the era of 1500-1800 accidentally served as test subjects in what essentially became a study of Vitamin C deficiency in humans. Spending endless months at sea with no means of storing fresh fruits and vegetables set in place the perfect conditions for developing a Vitamin C deficiency and eventually scurvy. This particular micronutrient deficiency resulted in the fully-preventable deaths of an estimated 2 million sailors over this 300 year span. Scurvy was said to have killed more sailors than storms, shipwrecks, combat, and all other diseases combined – that is until a surgeon named James Lind discovered the terrible disease could be cured and prevented with citrus fruit. But not all of us who forget to eat our fruits and veggies will develop full-blown scurvy. In fact, it is an incredibly rare condition to experience in developed countries. What is more likely however, is having levels of Vitamin C that are lower than what is optimal for health and longevity – especially when you consider there are various risk factors that may expedite the consumption of Vitamin C.

Some common signs you may be developing a Vitamin C deficiency include dry and damaged skin, slow-healing wounds, painful and swollen joints, fatigue or poor mood, unexplained weight gain, and chronic inflammation or oxidative stress. What can be confusing though, is that some of these signs may actually be the cause of Vitamin C deficiency. For example, as we mentioned already, having chronically elevated levels of inflammation and oxidative stress burns up your Vitamin C stores, requiring that you consume more than a healthy individual would normally need. Living with chronically elevated levels of inflammation is unfortunately very common and can be a result of any combination of the various stressors that we experience on a daily basis. Chronic disease in general results in a drain on Vitamin C levels but there is no better example of this than cancer patients who experience extremely high levels of inflammation and oxidative stress as a result of treatment. 

Vitamin C supplementation has been studied extensively in cancer patients, as they are especially prone to the deleterious effects of inflammation and oxidative – two troublemakers which C is pretty good at managing. Vitamin C has been shown to suppress many of the major players in the inflammatory process, and reductions in inflammation and oxidative stress have been consistently observed after administration of both oral and intravenous C. Although excess Vitamin C is readily excreted in urine, superloading with C has shown to effectively raise blood levels far above normal physiological levels. 

When high doses of Vitamin C are given orally, they have the ability to raise blood levels by up to 5x normal levels, how much exactly depends on many individual factors. When administered through an IV however, Vitamin C levels in the blood may be raised by 100x above baseline. No matter which route you choose, Vitamin C will be largely cleared from your system in 30-120 minutes. During this time C is working away at neutralizing free radicals, aiding in immune system function, and facilitating all of the biochemical processes that rely upon this vital nutrient to take place. 

How To Get More Vitamin C

You don’t need to take high doses orally or intravenously to reap the benefits of Vitamin C – those sailors’ lives were saved with limes! In fact, we always recommend you get as much of your micronutrition as possible from whole foods like fruits and vegetables. Excellent dietary sources of Vitamin C include strawberries, limes, oranges, broccoli, kiwis, red peppers, and various other things that grow from plants. What these foods can’t do however is raise blood levels of Vitamin C enough to fight the chronic inflammation and oxidative stress that runs rampant in many adults today. This task requires an antioxidant hail-mary, which is best executed with high-dose oral or, more effectively via intravenous administration. If you are concerned about any potentially harmful effects of raising blood levels to such a degree, consider the fact that in a survey including 9328 patients given high-dose intravenous Vitamin C, adverse events were only reported in 1.0% of administrations.

Although a 1.0% adverse event occurrence is extremely low, it is important to speak with a medical professional to determine if high-dose Vitamin C is safe for you to use, as there are various contraindications to consider. At Ikon Health, we offer IV administration of Vitamin C and we are able to walk you through the process of speaking to a licensed medical professional to ensure that you will experience a positive response from this amazing tool. Vitamin C has the ability to provide so many more benefits than simply fighting a cold, so come in today to begin taking advantage of them!

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