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!

Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+)

Every so often a mysterious new molecule grabs the public’s attention – making the rounds of news, magazines, and social media before quickly disappearing into irrelevance soon after emerging.

This disappearing act is often a result of the use of largely unsubstantiated claims about how the newly discovered compound will help you live longer, train harder, regrow your hair, improve your sex life, or all the above.

Unfortunately, because of the regularity with which these unproven, or just plain untrue, claims appear on their newsfeeds, most people have rightfully become cynical. As a result of this cynicism, actually effective compounds like NAD+ are often scoffed at as just the latest trendy topic that will be replaced next week with something new. Wait a minute though, NAD+ is one compound that won’t soon be replaced, and it is only beginning to gain traction in the anti-aging and generally health-minded community. The fact is, NAD is functionally irreplaceable because it is absolutely critical for life to exist.

Why is NAD+ So Important?

NAD’s importance for the existence of life is due to these facts:

  • It takes part in hundreds of metabolic processes.
  • It is both a cofactor for energy production and a source of energy itself.
  • It plays a role in DNA repair.
  • It is crucial for immune system activation, and so much more.

But with everything in health and wellness, it is important to look at all of the facts and determine whether utilizing NAD+ is both practical and applicable for you as an individual. All the lab tests and research in the world mean nothing if you aren’t able to apply the information and tools they provide into your daily life. That is what we are going to do today – help you determine whether increasing your NAD+ levels is practical and applicable to you.

To do this, we will cover:

  1. What NAD+ is.
  2. How to effectively increase your levels through supplementation and/or lifestyle modifications.
  3. What the benefits of increasing your NAD+ levels are.
  4. What the potential dangers of elevating them may be.  

What is NAD+


NAD+ is such an amazingly complex molecule that is involved in a seemingly never-ending list of processes throughout the body – so any attempt to fully examine it will almost certainly be in vain.

You may have already heard something about NAD+ on the news, social media, or even from some friends in the know. Common descriptions of NAD+ don’t even begin to do this amazing compound justice, though. NAD+ is found in every single living cell on earth, working as a cofactor (a molecule that assists enzymes in chemical reactions), and playing an essential role in multiple physiological processes such as DNA repair, energy metabolism, immune activation, and the list goes on. NAD+ is also essential for the activity of sirtuins, a class of enzymes involved in longevity (resveratrol, one of those molecules that periodically makes the rounds in popular media is another potent activator of sirtuins).

But that’s not all, NAD+ is also vital for the activity of the PARP family of DNA-repair enzymes. NAD+ ‘s central role in the process of turning the macronutrients we eat into energy your cells can actually use (known as ATP) is likely why the depletion of NAD+ that happens with age has been associated with the onset and progression of multiple age-related conditions – from metabolic dysfunction to neurodegenerative disease. 

Our body’s require such high quantities of both NAD+ and it’s reduced form NADH, that we have the ability to create both from multiple sources. NAD+ levels can be raised or supported by many foods, and can be directly synthesized in our body from the amino acid tryptophan. Supplementation with nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), nicotinic acid (NA), and nicotinamide riboside (NR), all known collectively as niacin equivalents, has been shown to raise NAD+ levels in certain tissues and organs as well.

Diet and supplementation are not the primary source of NAD+ however, not even close, in fact. Our largest source of this amazing molecule is an internal mechanism known as the NAD+ salvage pathway. When our cells use NAD+, a molecule called nicotinamide is left as a byproduct. Nicotinamide is then converted into NMN, and eventually back into NAD+. Unfortunately, this process of recycling NAD+ is shut off when sufficient amounts of NAD+ are created – presenting a potentially harmful obstacle which we will discuss later on. So now that you have a somewhat better idea of just how important NAD+ is in the body, let’s go over a few highly effective strategies to increase your levels.

How Do I Increase NAD+?

Luckily, there are quite a few ways to increase your NAD+ levels – many of which won’t cost you a dime.

Certain lifestyle practices that are commonly accepted as life-extending, such as intermittent fasting, caloric restriction, and exercise all increase NAD+ levels substantially. Exercise and caloric restriction of any kind are able to raise NAD+ levels because of an energy sensing mechanism within our cells. When our cells use energy, levels of NAD+ within the cell rises. This then activates enzymes like sirtuins which are linked to improved cognitive function, increased mitochondrial biogenesis, improved hormonal function, and reduced inflammation. 

The ability of sirtuins to reduce inflammation is especially important due to the fact that chronically elevated levels of inflammation may actually deplete NAD+, creating a downward spiral of cellular damage and degradation. Both the loss of NAD+ that comes with age and reduced sirtuin activity has been observed as a fundamental occurrence in the aging process. 

Another effective means of increasing your NAD levels is through supplementation. There are a few important caveats to add when deciding on a supplementation plan for NAD+ however – the first of which is the source.

The group of supplements known as “NAD boosters”, or “niacin equivalents,” have all been shown to effectively raise NAD levels throughout the body to varying degrees in different tissues. Unfortunately, NAD+ itself has poor bioavailability and is quickly broken down into its precursor nicotinamide. This is an important fact to consider because high levels of nicotinamide have actually been shown to inhibit sirtuin activation, potentially eliminating some of the sought-out beneficial effects of increased NAD+ levels. This is just one aspect of an elaborate and confusing relationship between our cells and NAD+ supplementation.

Currently, your best bet is to engage in lifestyle practices that will naturally increase levels of NAD+. Further research is needed to determine whether NAD+ administered through an IV is an effective and reliable means of increasing levels systemically, although more and more research is beginning to suggest that it is likely. Oral supplementation of nicotinamide riboside (NR) has also shown promise at raising NAD+ levels in plasma. Only time and experimentation will tell if supplementation will provide an effective means to raise NAD+ levels throughout the body – for now though, try to incorporate exercise and strategic caloric restriction whenever it is appropriate and safe for you to do so. 

Is NAD+ Safe?

There have recently been some concerns that increasing NAD+ levels may contribute to cancer growth. While this will take far more research to confirm or debunk, this particular finding was found only with a very specific and relatively rare form of cancer. It otherwise is widely believed that increasing NAD+ via supplementation or other strategies is incredibly beneficial and may improve healthspan. Due to its ubiquity in all living cells, it is unlikely that NAD+ has any potentially harmful effects whatsoever. Until more research is done to elucidate this concern however, and to determine how to best supplement with NAD+, look to practices like intermittent fasting, exercise, and generally restricting calories which are all proven to be effective options. NAD+ is far from another trendy health hashtag, but we are nowhere near fully understanding its potential for improving health and longevity. 

The Truth About CBD Oil

Beneath all the mainstream media buzz and marketing gimmicks, lies a truth about the fascinating compound known as cannabidiol (CBD). You may know it as the miracle that is reported to relieve chronic pain, reduce anxiety, eliminate inflammation, and everything in between – but does it actually work? Well, like many things in the field of human health and wellness the answer is…it depends. To fully understand how CBD works (or doesn’t work) it is important to grasp how the newly-discovered endocannabinoid system impacts human physiology on a fundamental level, and how each of the 113 cannabinoids are able to uniquely affect us. We hope to arm you with enough information for you to see through all the false advertising and downright unsubstantiated claims that surround CBD and elucidate just exactly what benefits it has been proven to provide, how to make sure you are getting a product containing dosages that are actually effective, and the importance of choosing specific forms of CBD products. There is an overabundance of misinformation circulating which are unfortunately devaluing the potential beneficial effects some people may receive from CBD – so we are here to start helping set the record straight on cannabidiol.

Truth About CBD

It is important to note right off the bat that CBD is not just another flashy nutritional supplement – though you wouldn’t know by it’s increasing presence in everything from potato chips to lattes. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system which was only discovered less than 30 years ago. The endocannabinoid system spans the entirety of our body, involving every single cell. Another discovery that coincides with this recently found system is the fact that our bodies produce cannabinoids endogenously (in the body). There have been at least two major endogenous cannabinoids discovered so far: Anandamide and 2AG. Both of these naturally occurring cannabinoids have their own unique properties and functions within the body. There are receptors for cannabinoids (named CB1/CB2) on every cell allowing this cannabinoid, and over a hundred more to have beneficial effects across the body. CBD research has existed ever since it was discovered in 1940. Unfortunately, due to the widespread criminalization of the cannabis/hemp plant, CBD research was effectively halted for many years. With the rise of the internet however, anecdotal reports of successfully utilizing CBD for treating rare forms of epilepsy grasped the public’s attention. Followed shortly thereafter by the decriminalization/legalization of cannabis in many states, CBD was thrust into the spotlight and has since been thoroughly taken advantage of. Adding CBD into all kinds of snack foods, personal hygiene products, and the like are nothing more than marketing ploys meant to capitalize on the popularity of cannabinoids and their novelty for the average person. There are many pitfalls to adding CBD to everyday products which we will discuss later, but surely you’d like to know by now just what benefits CBD has been proven to provide.

CDB Benefits

As we mentioned already there are over 100 cannabinoids that have been discovered thus far. Each provides somewhat unique benefits but it is likely important that we utilize them all in conjunction with one another. Isolating a specific cannabinoid is akin to missing the forest for the trees. For example, the CBGA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that may treat certain kinds of cancer and schizophrenia and it is at the top of the chemical reaction for the creation of other cannabinoids. CBDA directly inhibits inflammatory pathways in the body similar to anti-inflammatory drugs and the ultra-popular CBD actually works through many pathways, not just the endocannabinoid system.

How Does CBD Work?

CBD essentially works by aiding the body in maintaining homeostasis or balance. You might be surprised to find that CBD modulates the transcription of over 1100 genes, many of which are responsible for making the signaling molecules required to reduce inflammation. In order to create this wave of homeostasis throughout the body, CBD increases anti-inflammatory biochemicals such as GABA, and reduces inflammatory biochemicals like glutamate. Anyone who has been paying attention to medical advancements is aware of the fact that inflammation is really at the root of many of the chronic diseases we experience humans. Because CBD is able to fundamentally reduce or eliminate inappropriate levels of inflammation, it has the potential to positively affect many disease states and dysfunction. Due in part to the recent change in the legislation regarding cannabis/hemp in general, CBD research is only beginning to be completed in humans. What research has been completed thus far has been somewhat contradictory. However due to the lack of adverse events reported from using actual CBD products (actual is the key word here), people are turning to cannabinoids in general for their alleged healing properties. CBD specifically has been reported to be effective at treating rare forms of epilepsy, relieving pain, reducing anxiety and depression, helping with cancer treatment, reducing acne, and potentially protecting the heart and nervous system. All of these are quite plausible and may be proven in research before long. In fact, due to the mechanisms by which CBD and all cannabinoids work in the body, it is likely that there will be many, many more proven effects illuminated over the next few years. These are all real benefits that may be possible effects of cannabinoids, but what most people don’t realize is that you often are not getting any actual cannabinoids in CBD products.

Problem With CBD Products

Observing the ever-growing selection of CBD infused products is quite disheartening when you know the truth behind CBD research. More than one study has shown CBD to be effective at reducing anxiety when given in 300 mg doses – 100,150,600 and 900 mg doses showed no significant anxiolytic effects¹,². Considering that many of the CBD products on the market allegedly contain 5-10 mg of actual CBD, it is easy to see that your CBD infused latte or cereal is an enormous waste of money.  Many of the seemingly legitimate CBD oil products from reputable companies are sold at upwards of $30-$50 for 100-500 mg of CBD per bottle. If you do the math, that adds up to about 1-2 effective servings per container. So unless you are ready and willing to be paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month to support your CBD use, it seems best to look elsewhere for the effects you are seeking. If you are still looking to try a CBD product, we highly recommend that you utilize a broad-spectrum hemp extract. These specific products should contain the entire spectrum of cannabinoids available from the hemp plant – including CBGA, CBDA, and over 100 more (minus THC if it came from hemp). If the fact that CBD oil is currently prohibitively expensive for everyday use were the only issue regarding its use, an argument could still be made for companies putting out such products. However, the problems with the current state of the CBD industry only begin there.

What is Wrong With the CBD Industry?

One of the major reasons people look towards CBD as a new and exciting means of healing all types of aches, pains, and anxiety is the fact that it is non-psychoactive. CBD’s big brother THC is highly effective at providing many of the same benefits of CBD but it comes with mind-altering properties. Unfortunately, a study examining many of the CBD products on the market found that most contained little or no CBD, and many contain THC³. Following the example provided by the sports supplement industry, companies are likely putting THC in CBD products in order for you to actually feel an effect. Companies know that if you are able to feel an actual effect, you’re more likely to deem their product effective – whether or not it provided you with any of the benefits it was purported to have. This contamination with beneficial yet often unwanted THC can cause issues for people that must deal with any type of drug screening. Combine that with the prevalence of heavy metals and other toxic substances in many CBD products and you just may be convinced to wait a few years until the industry has aged and matured a bit.

Bottom Line on CBD

Cannabidiol and other cannabinoids are undoubtedly effective tools for reducing inflammation and improving health overall. More and more research is illuminating the benefits which were tragically hidden due to unfounded legislation blocking cannabis/hemp research. As we move forward in the age of information and individualized medicine, cannabis will likely play a central role in many people’s health and wellness protocols. Until we reach the point where we are able to reliably source CBD and other cannabinoid products, it is likely best that you seek out lifestyle practices and habits that will aid in providing many of the same benefits of CBD. For instance, practices like prioritizing sleep, proper nutrition, exercise, and tools like regular sauna use will undoubtedly provide you with more benefits than current CBD products can. Reducing inflammation and improving health will require more than just a daily dropper full of cannabinoids. Keep an eye on CBD research however, because the benefits are real, they just aren’t realistic yet.

¹ Linares, Ila M., Zuardi, Antonio W., Pereira, Luis C., Queiroz, Regina H., Mechoulam, Raphael, Guimarães, Francisco S., & Crippa, José A.. (2019). Cannabidiol presents an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve in a simulated public speaking test. Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, 41(1), 9-14. Epub October 11, 2018. https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1516-4446-2017-0015

² Crippa, J. A., Guimarães, F. S., Campos, A. C., & Zuardi, A. W. (2018). Translational Investigation of the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD): Toward a New Age. Frontiers in immunology, 9, 2009. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2018.02009

³ “Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol-Related Products”. United States Food and Drug Administration.


Infrared Sauna Benefits and FAQ

Human beings are innately wired to avoid discomfort. As we continue evolving as a society we are becoming further displaced from our uncomfortable roots. Until recently we continually experienced periods of relatively extreme variations in temperature, food availability, and other environmental factors that made us more robust as human beings. This positive, adaptive response to stress is a process known as hormesis. The principal of hormesis is at the forefront of why we are currently seeing a rise in tools and practices that expose us to these low-level stressors in hopes that we become more resilient as a result. Intermittent fasting becoming extremely popular is an example of individuals tapping into this age-old wisdom and experience that results in net-positive adaptations. Perhaps even more beneficial than not eating for periods of time is subjecting yourself to what is known as hyperthermic conditioning or heat exposure in a sauna. Sauna use has been shown to have profound cardiovascular, body composition, cognitive function, and general longevity effects as well as quite literally countless other uses that are being rigorously studied as we speak. Saunas or other tools for hyperthermic conditioning have been a part of cultures for generations upon generations, and yet it is only recently that science has turned an eye to its potential for improving and extending human life. There are many different kinds of saunas that all provide relatively the same benefits, but we are going to focus on infrared sauna because it is typically easier for most people to use.

Infrared versus traditional sauna

Both the infrared and traditional saunas provide many of the same benefits – what differs is how they are able to provide them. Traditional saunas work by heating up the air in a small room, also heating up anything in it, including you. They operate at a much higher temperature than an infrared sauna, at around 170° f. This may make a traditional sauna more subjectively stressful than it’s infrared counterpart which operates at a much lower temperature of around 110 to 130° f. Infrared saunas are able to operate at a much lower temperature because the way that they heat you.

Infrared saunas utilize light from the infrared portion of the spectrum to penetrate your tissues and literally heat you from the inside out. While this may sound a bit scary, in reality you experience infrared rays every time you’re exposed to the sun – it’s what you sense as heat on a sunny day. Sauna newbies will likely gravitate towards the infrared sauna due to its lower temperature range and its ability to raise your core and tissue temperature much more quickly. Although most of the research for the longevity benefits of sauna use are done utilizing a traditional sauna, you can expect many of the same benefits from the much more tolerable infrared sauna.

Benefits of infrared (IR) sauna use

Attempting to create a definitive list of the benefits of consistent IR sauna use is a task akin to Sisyphus rolling his stone up the hill. Researchers seem to be illuminating just how effective saunas are at making us more resilient as human beings on a daily basis. Not just in laboratories but also large-scale, longitudinal studies of actual people over the span of decades. One such study conducted by the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, found that using a sauna four times a week was associated with a 50% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, 47% reduced risk of developing high blood pressure, 67% lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, all of which are major killers in Western society. But how does voluntarily subjecting yourself to an uncomfortable amount of heat provide all of these improvements in cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and general longevity? Well, most of it comes down to sauna use being a stressor, just like exercise.

What happens when you’re in a sauna?

You may not know it but when you’re in a sauna, there’s a lot going on inside of you at the cellular, tissue, system, and organismal level. This means that regular sauna use has the ability to alter your physiology in a way that can have a ripple effect throughout your entire body. For instance, when you are exposed to extreme temperatures like in a sauna, your cardiac output increases 60-70% due to an increased heart rate. Your stroke volume (the amount of blood your heart pumps with each contraction) remains the same however. This effect provides you with a stimulus similar to traditional cardiovascular exercise without the need for you to actually exert energy. This is why sauna use is considered an exercise mimetic or an alternative to traditional exercise. The effects of sauna use go much further than just increasing cardiovascular function – there is an interesting group of molecules known as heat shock proteins that are activated robustly by sauna use.

Guarding against Muscle Atrophy

Heat shock proteins or HSPs, are one of the more recent celebrities in the field of health and longevity. Essentially what these HSPs do is repair damaged proteins within our cells and ensure that they are functioning optimally. They also help to preserve muscle mass (muscle tissue is really just a bunch of proteins) while in a detrained or catabolic state. Consistent sauna use has been studied and proven effective at protecting against muscle atrophy during states of deconditioning or when an individual is unable to train. Benefits of sauna use go even deeper than just the physiological, and have been shown to have a profound effect on psychological well-being.

Anxiety, Depression, and Addiction

We’re all familiar with the presence of compounds called endorphins within the body – generally associated with feelings of euphoria or a blunted pain response. What many people have not heard of is it’s somewhat evil twin, dynorphin. Dynorphin is generally responsible for dysphoria, quite the opposite of euphoria. Dysphoria can be described as the sense of unease or comfort that you experience when in a sauna. This release of dynorphin triggers a response in the brain that produces more of the receptors that the feel-good endorphin will bind to. Not only does it produce more receptors for endorphins, but it makes the ones that it already has more receptive to this euphoria-inducing molecule. What this means for you is that sauna use may help anxiety, depression, addiction, and other cognitive issues by increasing your ability to feel the effects of endorphins. Essentially, because when you are in a sauna you feel bad, your body becomes more adept at feeling good.

Other Benefits of Infrared Sauna

As we mentioned before, creating an exhaustive list the benefits of sauna use is well beyond the scope of this article. But, if the effects we have already mentioned are not enough to convince you, consider the fact that sauna use has been consistently shown to decrease blood pressure and arterial compliance (how well your blood vessels respond to changes in blood pressure), and increase expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Jumping in the sauna regularly has also been shown to decrease inflammation, increase insulin sensitivity, lower blood fasting glucose, increase exercise endurance, facilitate the excretion of toxins and heavy metals, and generally decrease depressive symptoms.

What kind of sauna is best?

Many of the benefits of sauna can be gained by both traditional and infrared saunas. What it comes down to is primarily personal preference. Infrared saunas will be much more tolerable for the inexperienced, however most of the longevity research has been completed in traditional saunas. Infrared saunas are also reported to potentially be better at excreting toxins, and are often times lower in harmful EMF (electromagnetic fields) than most traditional saunas. Because you have the option to choose which is best for you, there really is no reason to not start jumping into our kennewick infrared sauna 3 to 4 times a week for 20 minutes. Starting a practice of regular sauna use will begin providing you benefits today, and the results will build upon each other for years to come.

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