Anxiety and Vitamin D
Most people agree, especially if you live in an overcast climate like we do in the Pacific Northwest, they feel happier on a sunny day than a gloomy day. Why is this? There is a definite relationship between the sunlight and our mood. Many people know humans get vitamin D from the sun. Is it perhaps this vitamin D that makes us happy? If so, what other things does vitamin D do?
Let's first talk about some myths of vitamin D:
The truth is, no matter where you live, you are likely to have a deficiency in vitamin D if you're not already supplementing. What's more, even if you aren't frankly "deficient", you are likely to have sub-optimal levels. Although vitamin D is made in the skin when the skin comes in contact with sunlight, most of the time we aren't getting the right type of sun rays or even getting the right part of our body in the sunlight in order to make the vitamin D.
Unless you eat mushroom-covered cod steak with cups of fortified milk all day long, you most likely are NOT getting enough vitamin D from your diet. Vitamin D is not readily found in fruits and vegetables, like most other vitamins. For that reason, most people need to supplement with vitamin D.
Although vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin meaning that it stores in your fat cells, high vitamin D status tends to optimize immune function, decrease pain, decrease allergies, and support healthy cognitive function. The only negative side effect I've seen with high vitamin D levels is increased calcium absorption which increases risks of things like calcium kidney stones. I generally target about 70-100 ng/ml as the ideal range for my patients' vitamin D levels.
The truth is, the normal reference range for vitamin D is quite wide - for most labs it's 35 - 100 ng/ml. What I've seen in most of my patients is they feel the best when their vitamin D levels are as close to 100 as possible (between 70-100 ng/ml ideally). So, unless your vitamin D is already very close to 100 ng/ml, you might feel even better with more vitamin D.
Ok, so maybe I need to take vitamin D…now what can it do for my anxiety?
One thing we do know is that vitamin D acts in the body a bit more like a hormone than like a true vitamin. That is to say, vitamin D is responsible for signaling more than it is used as a cofactor for different processes to occur, like most other vitamins.
Many are aware of the relationship between vitamin D and mood issues like depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Most people aren't aware of the connection between vitamin D and the frustrating feeling of anxiety. It may make sense that if vitamin D can send a signal to your brain that it is happy (i.e. not depressed), then it may also be able to signal to the brain that it is content (i.e. not anxious).
In fact, that's exactly what happens.
Vitamin D and Neurotransmitters
Just as a lack in the production of serotonin is one reason why a person may experience depression, an overall imbalance in the neurotransmitters is one reason a person may experience anxiety. One of the roles of vitamin D in the body is to assist in the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Although the exact mechanism of vitamin D deficiency triggering anxiety is not well understood, it seems to be most related to this effect of the vitamin D in signaling appropriate release and metabolism of the neurotransmitters.
Joe, the anxious teenager
Joe, youngest of 4 (and the only male child) was in the midst of his freshman year in high school. His mom and he came to see me with a chief complaint of anxiety and chest tightness. For a 15-year-old, this is a pretty rare complaint in my practice. The boy was not athletic, preferred technical work over anything outdoors, and lived in the PNW. We checked his vitamin D levels at the first office visit: they came back at the lowest I had ever seen - 9 ng/ml!!!
I couldn't believe it!
We started oral doses of 20,000 IU daily + a weekly dose of 100,000 IU to help raise his vitamin D levels. After a month of oral supplementation, his vitamin D level rose to 34 ng/ml. More important though, he reported less anxiety and sleep had even improved.
How much vitamin D is recommended daily?
If you ask the FDA, the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin D is 400 IU - yes four HUNDRED. Every doctor has his/her own opinion about the best daily dose of vitamin D, but in general, most doctors recommend at least 2000 IU daily for adults. This dosing can be much more liberal if a full health assessment has been made.
One last thing…
There is usually more than one thing contributing to a person's anxiety. Most of the treatment plans I put together for people have a few items geared towards modulating anxiety. Almost always, though, vitamin D is one of the first things on the list.
Perhaps you're like many of our clients - wanting to keep your hair, skin, and joints looking and feeling full and youthful, but you aren't ready to use the more toxic options out there. Maybe you've even tried some of the conventional hair regrowth or skin-firming techniques and had little or no results. You're in luck! There are some natural solutions to hair loss, wrinkles, sagging skin, cellulite, osteoarthritis, and excess adipose cells (fat cells) that really work and are actually good for you.
At Elevated Natural Health, because we love ozone so much, we've combined the traditional PRP (platelet rich plasma) techniques with ozone to make them even more effective and healthy! Ozone is known for its immune-modulating and immune-supportive actions. You can read more about ozone here.
Natural Hair Regrowth Treatments - PRP Hair Restoration
Does it work?
That's everyone's first question. Understandably, as there are lots of false claims out there these days. The answer is a firm "YES!" In fact, research has shown that even when conventional prescription medications have failed for hair regrowth, PRP (platelet rich plasma) can still work! Whether you struggle with autoimmune alopecia (hair loss), androgenic hair loss (the type most men get as they age), or hair loss as a result of hormone imbalances, PRP is a good option for you! Check out these studies showing the efficacy of PRP for Hair Regeneration:
How does it work?
PRP can work to stimulate hair growth at the cellular level by increasing follicle viability, preventing apoptosis of cells needed for hair growth, and increasing the density of the hair by prolonging certain stages of hair growth (specifically the catagen phase).
What does the treatment involve?
The treatment involves collecting a blood sample in the physician's office, collecting platelets from your blood sample, activating them with various nutrients like calcium, vitamin C, and ozone, and injecting them into the skin on your scalp (or wherever you're trying to regrow hair).
We usually recommend a series of six (6) treatments on a monthly interval. Most people notice hair growth in about 3-4 months (common time length with any hair regrowth treatment, both conventional and alternative).
Do I take any supplements during the process?
Most likely yes. You may need to address some underlying causes of the hair loss before seeing lasting results. Your practitioner will talk to you about what else is involved in treating the cause of your hair loss (whether it's hormonal, autoimmune, allergic, or age-related).
Do you have persistent cellulite or fat deposits in certain parts of your body? Have you tried everything from detox wraps to cleansing juice drinks to exercising in a wet suit to try to get those areas of cellulite and fat to shrink? We have too. Then we found ozone.
Ozone can help to break up the fascial matrix that surrounds and creates cellulite pockets in legs, arms, and on the torso. Ozone also works to stimulate lysis of fat cells, modulate the immune system, and increase microcirculation in these areas, further promoting the improvement in the tissue and decreasing the appearance of fat and cellulite.
You can read a study about this here.
The PRP "Facelift"
You've definitely heard about it...but what exactly is it and does it work? Let's break it down:
What is the PRP Facelift?
This "facelift" isn't quite what you've seen in the movies - there's no scalpels, no surgery, and no recovery time. You're not going to look like you've been sliced, diced, and stuffed at the end of it. Most of your friends will notice a difference, but they won't know for sure what is different - just that you look more refreshed. Most importantly, you'll look and feel like you're glowing!
What is used in the PRP Facelift?
Just like with the hair regrowth treatments, the procedure starts with a blood draw to collect the platelets from your blood. These platelets are then activated with other nutrients (calcium, vitamin C, and ozone) and injected into the skin on your face, neck, hands, and chest (as desired) using a tiny needle.
Wow - this sounds like a lot of injections...does it hurt?
There are more than a few injections - your practitioner and you can decide exactly how much you want to treat in one session though. We do utilize topical numbing agents to keep the pain to a minimum in areas that we know are especially tender for most people.
What am I going to look like afterwards?
Unlike other plastic surgery treatments, you will look pretty much like yourself afterwards. You may have a few small pink spots (they look like small mosquito bites), but most of the injection sites will almost instantly "disappear". You may get a bruise (as with any injection technique), but they can usually be easily covered with a little makeup. Most people find they are able to apply their normal amount of makeup later that day or the next day and carry on with their normal schedules. Your face will NOT be covered in blood afterwards and you will NOT have to take sick-days from work to "recover!"
How effective is this? How many treatments do I need?
Because this is a natural treatment that promotes your own collagen to regrow to support the skin matrix, the results are not overnight. You'll look different, but more gradually. Your wrinkles will slowly fade as your collagen matrix regrows under your skin surface. Your cheeks will slowly regain a lift and your face will slowly become more full and supple. As with most things, everyone is different. Most people need somewhere between 3-4 treatments at monthly intervals and possibly annual "tune-ups", but for some people, they may get one treatment and be perfectly happy with the results for several months. You and your practitioner can decide what will be the best thing for you and your cosmetic needs.
Do I take anything orally during this process?
Your practitioner will almost definitely recommend some oral agents to take on a regular basis to continue the process of collagen healing and regrowth. These nutrients include things like vitamin C, B vitamins, and sometimes collagen powders. It's best to discuss your current diet and nutritional plan with your physician to get the best plan of oral supplementation.
What are Food Allergies:
With food ALLERGIES, when you eat a contending food, there is an actual hypersensitivity reaction by the immune system leading to rashes, hives, itching of eyes or throat, or even anaphylaxis. This is the person that cannot even be in the same room as a dish of peanuts, for example. This is also the type of reaction some people have to a bee sting. This person should carry an EpiPen and be prepared to use it if they come in contact with the allergen.
How to test: Typically testing is relatively easy and involves either a skin-prick test performed by an allergist (a type of doctor specializing in allergies and allergic reactions) OR a blood test checking for IgEs to a certain type of food. IgE molecules indicate a hypersensitivity reaction to a food group or other allergen (pollen, dander, etc), and anyone with IgEs to an allergen should carry an EpiPen.
What are Food Sensitivities:
Food Sensitivities are much more common reactions, though not as immediately life-threatening. Though, I do like to point out that people that have food sensitivities that go unaddressed are likely to have inflammation that becomes chronic and leads to a myriad of other life-threatening illnesses (i.e. cardiovascular diseases, cancers, memory/brain issues, arthritis, etc.). Inflammation is key when considering your overall health, and eliminating foods that are causing inflammation is paramount in maintaining and optimizing your health.
Common reactions to food sensitivities include: rashes (eczema, psoriasis, acne), heart palpitations, asthma, hair loss, joint pain, digestive issues (reflux, diarrhea, constipation), post-nasal drip, sinus issues, headaches/migraines, and more.
How to test: Testing is a bit more complicated than it is for Food Allergies (IgE reactions). With food sensitivities, sometimes people will have elevated IgG or IgA levels (different types of molecules in the immune system that recognize more chronic antigens). While some people acknowledge that you could have IgG and/or IgAs for any food you've eaten since your body has "seen" it and responded to it, I have seen that too high of IgG or IgA could also be a problem. It makes sense that when these IgG and/or IgA levels get too high, this indicates an over-response of your immune system, and thus increased inflammation from these foods.
So, back to testing: Testing can be done with a blood test, an elimination/rechallenge diet, or a pulse test (or a combination of those). Each of these testing methods has pros and cons, but all of them do help guide you to understand your particular sensitivities.
1) Blood Test: Commonly done through private labs, this blood test takes an average of about 1-3 weeks to return and typically gives you a bar graph analysis showing the foods you have the highest reaction to. The pros: This is a very easy way to test and the data is pretty clear - it's easy to see which bar graphs are biggest, and thus it's easy to identify the foods you react the strongest to. Cons: This test costs money and it has a lot of false positives and false negatives by nature.
2) Elimination/Rechallenge Diet: This is a well-known way to strategically avoid foods that you are wanting to "test" for a food sensitivity. Typically, I recommend people avoid the testing foods for a period of 3-6 weeks, depending on their symptoms. After that time period, foods are reintroduced strategically and then we watch for symptoms to arise after the testing food. The Pros: This is the gold-standard for testing foods as the body doesn't lie. If you eat something and get a reaction, there's no question that you have a sensitivity to that food. This is a relatively inexpensive way to test, except the cost of wasted foods that you may find out you don't tolerate. The Cons: This test is difficult to adhere to for many people. It requires a lot of planning and strong-will to avoid the foods when not even certain if reacting to them or not.
3) Pulse Testing: This relatively simple testing method involves first counting your pulse for a minute, then tasting (holding in mouth but not swallowing) a questionable food and re-counting the pulse. If the pulse goes up by more than 6 beats in a minute, the person is likely to have a sensitivity to that food.
So, do you have any of the Food Sensitivity symptoms? If so, are you ready to explore your Food Sensitivities? Even if you cannot pinpoint a particular negative symptom but you're still interested in checking foods, it could be worth testing the 8 most common food allergens/sensitivities (wheat, peanut, egg, milk, fish, soybean, shellfish, tree nut) and possibly another common food group that tends to trigger inflammation (the nightshade family of fruits/vegetables).
Not sure where to start? Need help sorting out your data? Want to try a blood test? Great! I can help you with all of these and more. Simply fill out our Contact form here, and I'll get back to you right away.
By Dr. Jessica Corbeille Harris, ND
There’s really nothing quite like a migraine.
You can’t see.
You can’t focus.
And work? How are you supposed to work with a migraine?
What are the top causes of Migraines?
Migraines are truly debilitating… And what causes a migraine for one person may be totally different than what causes one for someone else. Here are some of the top causes of migraines I see in my practice:
What can you do about your migraines??
Well, let’s go through the list I mentioned above and see what you can get started on today to improve your migraine threshold tomorrow. How about trying:
And what if you’ve done all that and you still have migraines? Or if you get a “breakthrough migraine”?? Or what if you just don’t know where to start?? Then what??
Then you come see me!!
I specialize in various treatments for pain including trigger point injections and anti-inflammatory injections for your nerves causing your migraines. Scared of needles? I hear you, and you’re not alone. I’d love to talk to you about this treatment anyway and even discuss some preliminary [needle-free] treatments we can do that may be just as effective for you.
Know someone with migraines that could benefit from this information? PLEASE share this article and pass on my contact information. Migraines are literally THE WORST and no one should have to continue to suffer when there is help available!!
Have pain or arthritis?
Avoid NSAIDs and Steroids – they both lead to joint breakdown!
By Dr. Jessica Corbeille Harris, ND
Do you have pain? Do you have “bone on bone”?
Have you seen your primary care doctor about it? If so, they’ve probably recommended you take up to 800mg of ibuprofen once or twice a day for the pain. They’ve also probably recommended a steroid injection (or sent you to someone else who did).
NSAID prescription is one of the first-line treatment recommendations for moderate to severe osteoarthritis. And steroid injections remain part of the standard of care for treatment of joint pain if NSAIDs haven’t helped (or sometimes in combination with NSAIDs). The next step is physical therapy and/or surgery, and that’s sometimes all your doctor may have to offer.
The NSAIDS and/or steroid injection(s) may have helped…and if you’re one for which they did – GREAT!
For the majority of my patients, though, these treatments haven’t helped. What’s more is that for several years now (at least 10), research has shown that corticosteroid (i.e. “steroid”) injections lead to increased joint deterioration. Newer research is also revealing that NSAID medications, in addition to stressing your gastrointestinal tract, may actually be causing deterioration in your joints as well!
So why is this the standard of care in our model? What else can be done!?
When you have pain or when your doctor has recommended NSAIDs or steroid injections – STOP!! Think PROLOTHERAPY FIRST!
Prolotherapy works to repair arthritic joints (“bone on bone”) and stop pain. In this treatment, the joint is treated with natural products like dextrose, saline, and sometimes vitamins and growth factors to promote the healing from within. There’s no masking of the pain or decreasing the inflammation – in fact, the opposite is true. With prolotherapy, we trigger a small amount of controlled inflammation alongside administration of the proper nutrients to allow your joint to heal in the proper way. This is true healing.
So, the next time you or your friends or family have pain, before you consider taking medication or getting steroids injected into the area, STOP! Think PROLOTHERAPY FIRST!!
Check out these articles from the Journal of Prolotherapy for more information:
By Dr. Jessica Corbeille Harris, ND
It’s that time of year! The time of year where we embark on family BBQs, camping trips, and other get-out-town escapes. What do you bring? Here’s a few ideas to add to your checklist!
Enjoy your holiday weekend with your friends, family, and loved ones!
Oh - The Wonders of Ozone!
by Dr. Jessica Corbeille Harris, ND
If you’ve been in for a visit with me, chances are we’ve discussed ozone at some point. Ozone is a type of oxygen – a “super oxygen”, if you will. Oxygen exists in nature as O2, but ozone is oxygen as O3 (three oxygen molecules bound together). O3 is not very stable, but while it is in this form, it can do all kinds of cool things in this world.
Most people know of ozone for its sanitation purposes. Ozone has been used for a long time in America for sewer treatment processes and in air purification devices. Ozone is also that familiar smell when it starts to rain after a lightning storm (the lightning creates ozone gas naturally).
Did you know ozone gas can also be infused into an oil and then applied topically to the skin?
Yes. It’s true. Ozone is one of my favorite topical remedies for….well, almost everything. I commonly recommend topical ozone for things like acne, psoriasis, eczema, and even everyday scrapes and scratches.
How does it work? The ozone gas helps to oxygenate our cells which brings about more healing to the tissue. Cells also require oxygen to replicate and stay “young” thus keeping the skin supple and youthful-looking as well.
What else do we do with ozone? All kinds of things! Ozone can be helpful for sinus issues, cardiovascular health, viral infections, fungal infections, digestive issues, a common cold, bug bites, ear pain/infection, sore or arthritic joints, and more. We also use it in our PRP Facials and Hair Regeneration treatments as well as some of our Pain Treatments at Elevated Natural Health! It’s been safely used for decades in other countries with few (if any) side effects when administered properly.
If you haven’t tried it yet, be sure to grab a jar of ozone oil at your next visit with me. Otherwise, stop by the office any Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday to grab a jar of your own to start today!!
P.S. If you do try it topically on a skin lesion, be sure to take "before" and "after" pictures! You’ll be shocked – I promise!
by Dr. Jessica Corbeille Harris, ND
Many people deal with chronic pain (and I have a lot of remedies both at-home and in-office for helping with that), but what about those recent injuries (i.e. acute injuries)?
What do you do if you sprain your ankle playing soccer tomorrow? Or how about if you tweak your back doing some gardening this evening?
Many people have heard of the R-I-C-E acronym for injuries which promotes the use of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. What if I told you those were the exact opposite of what is actually needed for proper healing of the tissue? Instead, when people are injured, I always say, “Ask for your M-A-M-A” – which promotes the use of massage, alternating hot and cold, movement, and arnica to encourage a healthy inflammatory response to allow for proper tissue healing. Generally speaking, most of these are safe for most people, but as for any of my recommendations, if you have any questions or concerns about the safety of the remedies for you, it’s always best to consult your physician.
On the other hand, if your injury is not improving after a day or two or seems to be getting worse over that period, it’s always best to seek medical attention either at the emergency department or with your primary physician. Similarly, if your injury initially improves but you are left with pain or inflammation weeks or months after the injury occurs, it’s also a good time to seek attention from a trained physician to help with this situation. (This may be a good time for some of the prolotherapy treatments I write about as well - check them out here!)
Questions? Would you like to discuss your acute or chronic pain/injury? I’d love to connect with you! Check out the Contact page on our site or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Dr. Jessica Corbeille Harris, ND
Physical reactions to foods are common, but not all physical responses are classified as a true “food allergy” – many are deemed “food intolerances” instead. What’s the difference?
Food Allergies: An immediate immune system response to a food (even a tiny amount of that food) that causes sometimes widespread involvement in the body including (but not limited to) hives, anaphylaxis (closure of airway), asthma reaction, swelling, itching, or immediate GI distress/diarrhea.
Food Intolerance: An immune system response that is often delayed and can cause wide-spread, non-specific, sometimes less severe systemic responses. Sometimes a little bit of the food isn’t enough to trigger symptoms (but sometimes it is!). Common food intolerance symptoms include: GI upset (most common), increase in muscle and/or joint pain, headache, irritability/mood changes, depression/anxiety, breathing difficulties (less severe than an asthma attack or anaphylaxis), heartburn, ear infections, sinus congestion, post-nasal drip, urinary pain or discomfort, skin reactions (eczema, psoriasis, rashes, etc.), heart palpitations, and more. Basically, many of the symptoms people experience regularly can be caused by the foods they are eating.
It’s important to understand the difference between a true allergy and an intolerance, but often in either case, the problematic food/foods will be avoided (obviously this is a much more serious recommendation in the case of anaphylactic food allergens!).
One important symptom that I like to point out to patients at my clinic is the association with food to pain.The majority of my patients seek treatment with me for their pain, but many of them are not expecting me to suggest a food allergy/intolerance test as part of the work-up for the cause of their pain. Yes, I do like to treat pain with injection therapies (i.e. prolotherapies, PRP, neural therapies, etc.), but if the patient continues to eat a food that is causing them inflammation (pain), then the treatments are not likely to have a lasting effect – and sometimes they don’t work at all until the problematic food(s) are eliminated.
For this reason, I often will order a food intolerance test for patients as part of their initial workup when I suspect food as a component to their pain problem. The testing I use is relatively inexpensive and results come back quickly. These tests are really excellent ways to figure out quickly the most likely problematic food triggers for their body – and I OFTEN see that eliminating problematic foods for a period of time (or for good) will SIGNIFICANTLY change their pain problem!
Are you ready to explore your food intolerances? If so, send us a message through our Contact page today!
by Dr. Jessica Corbeille Harris, ND
I’ve been getting the question a lot lately – “Why does PRP work for healing my joints and also for treating my sagging skin?” So, I thought I’d share a little more about Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy.
For a PRP treatment, we collect a sample of the patient's own blood, process it to collect growth factors, combine it with nutrients and ozone gas, and then inject it into the damaged tissues (tendons, ligaments, bone, skin, etc.). PRP is loaded with concentrated growth factors from your body’s own immune system which is really the magic in the medicine. The healthier a patient is to begin with, the “better” their PRP product is, which means the better results they will get from a PRP treatment.
In the case of joint pain, the growth factors in the PRP help the body to heal and regenerate soft tissues (like tendons and ligaments) which helps to stabilize the joint and therefore decrease the pain. Often, people think they have sore and/or tight muscles which is causing their pain. In reality, the muscles have become sore and tight to compensate for weak tendons and ligaments. So, by treating the damaged tendons and ligaments to stabilize the joint, we can actually treat the pain!
With wrinkled and sagging skin, there is a similar loss of soft tissue – collagen, in this case. The growth factors from the PRP are injected here to support the collagen matrix under the skin, thus providing more of a scaffold for the top layer of the skin to hold on to. This ultimately decreases the wrinkles, “sagging”, scaring, and the dreaded “bags” under the eyes.
For hair regeneration, the growth factors in the PRP work to help the hair follicles regenerate thus promoting hair growth in areas where the hair follicle had degenerated. The injections themselves also work to improve circulation to the area which naturally increases hair growth as well.
PRP, although wonderful and capable of dramatic results, is an advanced technique requiring special equipment and training by the practitioner. Always consult with your practitioner about their specific methods, ingredients, training and other details of the procedure to gain a full understanding of how their product and method can help you.
If you're interested in getting started with PRP treatments today, send us an inquiry from our Contact page today or give us a call at 206-566-7225.
The Doctors at ENH post to this page regularly with new health information, home remedies, and other interesting tidbits.