Though mortality rates will take time to understand, COVID-19 appears to an especially infectious virus. As such, the immune system needs all the support it can get during this crisis.
In this uncertain time, strategies to shore up biological weaknesses are incredibly valuable for our immunity to function optimally.
Everything mentioned in this article has been shown to be effective for boosting immunity against viruses and even past coronaviruses in published studies.
COVID-19 is a unique pathogen that can cause a dangerous, exaggerated immune response. As such, many traditional immune remedies that “boost” immunity are considered risky once the illness has progressed.
Good general health may not be advantageous for patients who have advanced to the severe stage: once severe lung damage occurs, efforts should be made to suppress inflammation and to manage the symptoms.
Women’s includes iron. Women’s (50+) is iron-free.
Take a quality multivitamin daily, with or without meals, before 2 pm.
Poor nutritional status predisposes to certain infections. Immune function may be improved by restoring deficient micronutrients to recommended levels, thereby increasing resistance to infection and supporting faster recovery when infected.
You just want relief from being awake. Why can’t I fall asleep? What’s wrong with me?
Maybe a sleep supplement solves the problem for a while. That is, until the solution wears off as the body builds tolerance and becomes resistant to it.
The body creates new cells that have fewer chemical receptors for the supplement’s active compound that induces sleep.
Sleep doesn’t need to be induced, though. It’s a natural process or, at least, it can be.
Maybe it’s the unnatural stuff — or even the unnatural way we do/take natural stuff — that prevents the body from being able to sleep.
Get To The Root Cause
Anxiety about insomnia can certainly make the situation worse.
That’s why it’s so important to understand what is at the root cause of poor sleep.
There’s not as much room for anxiety about poor sleep if we have a deep understanding of our body — what works for us and the general factors that improve or harm sleep.
If you find yourself struggling with insomnia, look at this list of potential causes. If you recognize something on this list, you’ll have identified a potential cause of your insomnia. Which means it can be fixed holistically.
Let’s clear some things up, and hopefully reduce anxiety about sleep.
Perhaps the premier cause of insomnia is sleeping in late.
Sleeping in throws off the circadian rhythm so deeply that, without doing anything else “wrong,” sleep can become extremely difficult.
Some folks are able to overcome the negative impact of sleeping in by being extremely active during the day — athletic types and performers can sometimes appear to “get away with” a later circadian rhythm. These people are typically younger and haven’t faced the scourge of debilitating health problems, and live on the high of sheer exhaustion. They may be able to “pass out” at night, but this is certainly a recipe for future insomnia.
For the rest of us, sleeping in greatly disrupts the ability to fall and stay asleep the following night. The circadian rhythm is delayed, meaning melatonin simply won’t rise the next evening.
Serotonin is created by morning light and, without this light stimulus, evening melatonin will not be adequately created from that serotonin.
For those folks interested in the ill effects of high serotonin, perhaps the most reasonable way to fight back is bright sunlight — which balances serotonin by raising dopamine during the day and lowers serotonin at night by properly converting it to melatonin.
Sleeping in robs the body of the necessary morning light stimulus, sets the circadian clock backward several hours and harms the efficiency and inevitability of sleep the following evening.
Insulin sensitivity (a marker of diabetes) is also impaired by sleeping in, which could directly lead to a metabolic energy deficit at night. Needing to eat late at night to induce sleep, or waking up hungry? Sleeping in could be impairing your glucose metabolism all day, destabilizing your blood sugar, and making it harder to stay asleep through the night.
On the other end, staying up late at night will contribute to insomnia, mostly because it makes sleeping in more likely. Late nights also introduce bright light at night (this is correlated with nearly every disease risk factor) which makes sleep less efficient, and thus further impairs an early rise the next morning.
When staying up late for any reason — whether socially or otherwise — it’s still best to follow natural light cycles to some extent. Better light cycles certainly make it more easy to wake up early after a late night.
If sleeping in has become the norm, the answer is to simply wake up early while supporting this change with simple circadian hygiene steps.
When shifting to earlier mornings, it will be necessary to endure one or multiple short nights of sleep. The days following short nights of sleep don’t have to miserable. The beauty of being awake early, even if tired, can shine through the temporary challenge of resetting the circadian rhythm.
Again, when coupled with other pro-circadian habits — proper light cycles, daily movement, meal timing, etc — forcing an early rise can invite exhaustion and “sleep pressure.” This sleep pressure, when coupled with better circadian habits can lead to an excellent reset of the circadian rhythm after long periods of sleeping in.
These tenets of good sleep hygiene — waking up early, being active, eating on time, and moving a little — are incredibly effective at restoring sleep in their own right and represent the solution to the type of insomnia that occurs as a result of sleeping in.
Unfortunately, there are some situations that can derail sleep to its core — on their own — and, when these situations become bad enough, sleep hygiene is not enough to overcome them. Let’s explore some of them:
Nutrient imbalances are becoming exceedingly common in the modern health world, especially in the groups dedicated to boosting metabolism and hormone production/manipulation.
Decades of science have provided studies demonstrating the pro-metabolic and prohormone effects of nearly every substance and chemical on the planet.
It only takes a little research to find lists of biochemicals, vitamins, and hormones that research suggests will boost or block a desired biological activity.
Unfortunately, this method of supplementation may be pyrite — fool’s gold.
While a young and healthy person may be able to take hormones and nutrients without apparent harm — for instance, a college-aged fitness enthusiast taking steroids, stimulants, estrogen blockers, or high doses of nutrients to increase lean muscle and burn fat — for folks who aren’t already extremely healthy this approach can be a disaster, and sleep is often where the negative symptomology is ultimately displayed.
For folks who have been battling chronic illness for several years, this “metabolic boosting” and “hormonal manipulation” can lead directly to a no man’s land of severe insomnia with no clear path out of it.
Supplemental hormones can use up nutrients, leading to depletion of minerals and vitamins.
Hormone-blockers can lead to depletion of certain hormones — and then cause the body to create new cells that are hypersensitive to the hormone being blocked. This is especially common with estrogen-blocking supplements like DIM and calcium d-glutarate, along with cortisol blockers like Seriphos (and cortisol-lowering herbs, to a lesser extent).
Over time, supplemental vitamins and minerals can cause severe nutritional imbalances, especially when focusing on boosting desired biological results. Nutrients should rarely or never be taken for their drug-like effect — whether it’s to induce sleep, alter the metabolism, nudge hormone balance, or elevate performance — and especially not long-term and in doses that far exceed 100% of the recommended daily value.
The fat-soluble vitamins(D, A, E & K) are especially known to cause sleep disturbances when levels are imbalanced or too high in the system.
The fat-solubles are incredibly powerful at boosting the immune system (they are quite antimicrobial) and are equally pro-metabolic. This means they are essential for health. It also means they can produce excellent results upon initial supplementation — with a happy honeymoon period of solid results — only to be followed by worsening symptoms that persist for weeks or months after the nutrient supplementation ceases.
When Vitamin D levels have become too high, it may even be necessary to avoid UVB light frequencies from the sun (from midday, summer light) until Vitamin D levels can return to a healthy level.
Vitamin A is a double-edged sword, much like Vitamin D. Much of the population will be deficient in both D & A, and yet some will be dangerously high in one or both (usually after supplementation). If one is low, that deficiency alone can wreck sleep. If one is high, that excess (or “vitamin toxicity”) can equally disrupt sleep.
Vitamin A & Vitamin D are just as likely to ruin sleep in excess as they are to restore sleep in deficiency.
Additionally, of particular importance is one’s sodium and potassium balance.
In chronic illness and hypothyroidism, sodium levels are often depleted, so adequate daily sodium intake can be incredibly pertinent for sleep. Any nutrient — when too low or too high — will raise levels of cortisol, and this is true of sodium in particular as a primary electrolyte.
Many folks will need to restrict sodium intake and balance it with potassium.
Monitor this critical, fragile ratio daily, doubly-so if insomnia is a recurring issue.
For example, restless leg syndrome (RLS) is especially related to sodium/potassium balance. RLS is also linked to Vitamin D/A balance, as well as calcium/magnesium balance. If any nutrient is low or high, restless legs can present.
All in all, anynutrient, when out of balance with its cofactors (read: all other nutrients), can cause persistent insomnia until supplementation has stopped and the body can balance itself once again.
It can take weeks for sleep to return when nutrients and hormones have been thrown out of whack, although improvements can often be noticed within mere nights of stopping the offensive supplementation.
Insomnia can certainly be caused when too-few calories are eaten, or when calories are eaten too late in the day.
When calories aren’t eaten early, they are less efficiently metabolize later in the day — leading to an energy deficit that can only be ameliorated by further, excessive caloric intake.
Simply put, eating too little early means even more calories must be eaten later in the day to compensate — to keep up with energy requirements of the body.
In this state, adequate caloric intake may become essential to facilitate sleep. Erratic blood sugar (possibly as a result of a disrupted circadian rhythm or low-grade infection) can directly cause insomnia. The obsession with caloric restriction as a path to longevity can directly impair health, particularly if it disrupts quality sleep.
When blood sugar regulation is a concern, it’s increasingly important to 1) eat enough calories and 2) eat those calories on time: early and not late.
The caveat: if you find yourself unable to sleep due to insufficient calories during the day — there may be no other choice but to get up and eat sufficient calories to induce sleep.
Snacking at night isn’t ideal (poor glucose metabolism, eating signals “daytime” to the brain), but insomnia is easily a worse outcome. Eat what’s needed for the night, and get back on track in the morning and over time.
Daily movement is a major component of good sleep.
Movement reinforces the circadian rhythm by suppressing melatonin and signaling daytime to the brain’s clock (suprachiasmatic nucleus).
Additionally, movement burns through glutamate stores, allowing for a more appropriate GABA-glutamate balance in the evening which facilitates better relaxation of the nervous system.
Exercise also improves liver bile flow and digestive wellness, allowing for more efficient absorption of nutrients and, therefore, improved metabolic function.
The lymph system is nourished by daily exercise and, when sleep cycles have been impaired, the lymph system depends upon movement even more to clear lymph and the toxins housed inside it. This increased reliance on movement is because the circadian rhythm is critical for lymph function. In circadian disruption, movement is all that remains to stimulate lymph flow (along with, potentially, manual lymph drainage, massage and infrared light).
Some well-intentioned health advice recommends extreme resting and avoidance of exercise. While this advice is based on some measure of truth (long-term overexertion can harm health), it mustn’t ignore the fact that daily, tolerable levels of movement are critical to digestive motility, lymph function, and preventing insomnia.
Bodily hydration is a major challenge in chronic illness.
It can be a struggle to maintain homeostasis and fluid balance due to chronic inflammation and poor nutrient absorption.
Monitoring fluid intake — as well as water quality — is important when sleep is a challenge.
There’s certainly a “Goldilocks zone” for each person when it comes to fluid intake.
The amount of water required will vary depending on the diet and intake of minerals. Sunlight, light therapy, heat therapy, exercise, and mineral intake will all greatly increase daily water needs.
In hypothyroidism, it’s common for folks to restrict water intake and increase sodium consumption. This improves fluid balance due to hyponatremia as a result of various health challenges: low hormone levels, high inflammation, poor gut health, and poor nutrient absorption.
Increasing this sodium-to-water balance may help sleep. However, it’s possible to go too far in either direction: You may find water to impede sleep during the night, and sodium induces sleep. You may wake up a few hours later dehydrated (from the sodium), and need more water.
Ultimately, this is a sign of severe fluid imbalance. Frequent night urination can be a sign of many things: diabetes, mold toxicity, high EMF exposure, and high inflammation. The root causes of fragile fluid balance need to be addressed going forward, rather than merely addressed through intense sodium/water balancing.
Poor Gut Health
Poor gut health can cause each bite of food eaten to turn into endotoxin in the gut.
In dysbiosis of the gut, nutrients will be poorly absorbed and, when absorbed, will not reach cells efficiently due to inflammation.
Pathogens become comfortable in the gut, eating food and causing inflammation. They’ll even enter the bloodstream — a place they certainly don’t belong — and trigger a strong immune response (more inflammation).
Some folks are able to find some spotty relief by removing problematic foods from the diet (such as grains, fibers, or animal products). However, this does not totally address the underlying health problems and may cause imbalances over time (due to an imbalanced diet).
If insomnia is truly persistent, it’s certainly possible gut health is a root-cause factor.
Of course, the circadian rhythm is a primary controller of overall gut health. Therefore, attacking both the gut and sleep simultaneously through great sleep hygiene and a solid gut health regimen may present a valid approach.
There’s no reason to go in-depth on this topic, here.
However, if you’re really struggling with insomnia and absolutely nothing else is helping, you might want to explore your building — and see if it’s a sick building.
When water damage grows significant mold — or air conditioning units go unmaintained and grow mold — this can cause insomnia all by itself.
Mold releases toxins called mycotoxins which directly cause inflammation. Its spores can also be allergenic and even become lodged in the mouth and nose and grow fungal colonies (possibly the gut, too). The scent of mold (technically “volatile organic compounds” or VOCs) is particularly disruptive to the sensitive body, too.
EMF, on the other hand, doesn’t affect everyone equally — but if you’re someone who is affected by it, it can cause sleep to flatline on its own, as well.
Get to know your sleeping domain — is it within high-risk distances for any of the EMF-emitting sources in this chart?
It’s an ongoing process to understanding mold and EMF in the environment.
Mold is becoming a modern epidemic as buildings are built with cheaper materials and tighter envelopes (less air exchange), and are inhabited and owned by people who are too busy, ignorant, or financially limited to properly maintain their premises.
EMF prevalence is rising exponentially, with current 2020 average exposure levels most likely exceeding previous decades’ average exposure levels on a magnitude of millions of times more radiation — and that’s just the wireless component of EMF, not magnetic and electric fields, which may have remained more constant. One thing is for certain: EMFs are biologically active and not completely inert.
If you’re struggling with insomnia, it’s most important to understand why it’s happening rather than look for a quick fix.
As tempting as it is to find a quick solution — and as sweet a relief a few decent hours of sleep might be — in the long run, the only thing worse than having insomnia now is still having chronic insomnia in the distant future.
Instead of searching for random, fleeting fixes, it’s best to see if we can analyze our situation and remove the common major obstacles that are capable of — on their own — causing debilitating, unrelenting insomnia, the kind that can occur despite even the best of sleep hygiene habits.
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Because oregano oil is quite powerful, it should only be taken for several weeks at most, and then cycled off for at least month or two. In dire cases, it may be used a month or so for its immune-boosting, antiseptic properties.
Oregano oil is most effective when the body is sick, fighting off illness, or struggling with dysbiosis of the gut, but it should not be taken daily for long periods of time.
Oregano oil may even reduce pain perception and increase a sense of calm, although these should not be the primary reasons to take this supplement.
Note — Oregano oil can deplete iron levels, and should be used cautiously or avoided when iron levels are too low.
OREGON’S WILD HARVEST True Cinnamon
Cinnamon oil has potent antimicrobial properties against virtually all pathogens, even in drug-resistant strains.
Cinnamon oil is powerful stuff. If taken too frequently, it can kill off good gut flora in the gut.
Triphala has potent antimicrobial properties and, therefore, it should be classified as a “killing” gut supplement, in that it will increase hostility in the gut against microbes. It also tends to have a mild laxative effect on the gut, helping to produce more complete and regular stools.
HEATHER’S Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is a gentle antimicrobial, with varying rates of effect against different species of bacteria.
Peppermint doesn’t kill all microbes equally, but it can absolutely support the immune system by making the gut more hostile. Peppermint oil is known to have good results in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s but it also has value as a general antimicrobial for ongoing gut health.
NATURE’S WAY Ginger Root
The main active ingredient in ginger is gingerol, which has powerful antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Ginger is beneficial for dyspepsia (which is related to GERD, ulcers, gastric reflux, and gastroparesis), improving the rate of gastric emptying.
When used as an antimicrobial, ginger greatly reducing the growth of bacteria and viruses. Gingerol absorbs into the bloodstream, exerting its anti-inflammatory and antmicrobial effects throughout the body.
Garlic has powerful antimicrobial properties that affect the full spectrum of microbe — including bacteria, yeasts/fungus, protozoa, and viruses.
It’s antimicrobial effects are due to sulfur compounds that form as the garlic is chopped. Allicin is the main example, and it exhibits powerful antiseptic effects against microbes. Allicin is unstable — it breaks down shortly after garlic is chopped.
In this Zhou garlic supplement, allicin is stabilized — so its benefits are available anytime. The sulfur compounds in garlic are absorbed and travel around the body, behaving as an antioxidant and killing pathogens.
Curcumin is a legitimate antimicrobial compound with far-reaching benefits for the entire body.
Against bacteria, curcumin has the most severe effect against H. Pylori, but also has broad-spectrum antibacterial effects.
Curcumin is being considered as an antiviral drug, and has broad-spectrum antifungal effects — most especially against Candida.
Repopulate the gut microbiome with broad-spectrum microbes.
RAW Women – 85 Billion
RAW Men – 85 Billion
Continually introduce good flora — and then feed them with prebiotic fibers.
GARDEN OF LIFE Raw 85 Billion
GARDEN OF LIFE Raw 85 Billion
This product meets many criteria for quality and has unparalleled results after years of experience.
Species Diversity — There are 31 strains in this blend, which is an extremely (perhaps remarkably) high number for a probiotic product. Results are always hit-or-miss when you go searching for “that one strain” that you need more of. Too, single strain products can cause imbalance over time (just like with nutrients). High diversity also reduces the likelihood of a bad reaction, due to diversification. Too, a healthy gut typically has more diverse species of microbes.
Vitamins, Minerals & Enzymes — Low-dose nutrient blends can be a major positive in poor gut health. Each time you take one of these pills, you’re getting not just the probiotic army, but a light dose of virtually all major nutrients and minerals you’d expect from a multivitamin — and in natural, non-synthetic forms. I would expect the small number of enzymes to possibly detract from the effectiveness of the probiotics, but this does not seem to be a concern, based on results.
Prebiotics — There are modest additions of potato starch and acacia fiber, which are both well-known prebiotics. This improves the effectiveness of the probiotics even when this product is taken alone on an empty stomach. It’s still optimal to take well-tolerated prebiotics with any probiotics, even if the probiotic contains some prebiotics.
It is perfectly acceptable to take one pill per day as a maintenance dose — meaning one 90-capsule bottle product can last 3 months. When we take probiotics with prebiotics, the numbers of the beneficial species can double in as little as fifteenminutes. This can be an efficient way of making probiotic supplementation more cost-effective.
The ability to take a single pill — rather than the full, 3-pill dose — also allows the user to test for tolerability when first starting the supplement.
After nearly a decade of taking probiotics and working with clients, this product clearly comes out the winner. Better results have been consistently achieved with this product than any others — even the outrageously-priced expensive brands like Metagenics (and other functional medicine probiotics).
Prebiotics are always more safe and effective in multiple smaller doses rather than one larger dose.
When tolerability is confirmed, combine multiple prebiotics for maximum benefit.
Take prebiotics with another compound that will ensure optimal fermentation in the gut (such as antimicrobials or probiotics).
SOLGAR Apple Pectin
Apple pectin is a gentle prebiotic fiber that is quite well-tolerated and has many, many benefits for the gut.
Apple pectin can increase (and even double) butyrate levels, feed beneficial microbes and — surprisingly for a prebiotic fiber — actually reduce the number of harmful bacteria.
Apple pectin also increases the concentration of short-chain fatty-acids, acetate, propionate, and bicarbonate. Somehow, it also seemed to lower lactic acid in the stool (some folks struggle with lactic acid).
Importantly, the beneficial effects of apple pectin were not achievable simply by eating apples, apple juice, or apple puree — apple pectin alone was required.
When the apple pectin was removed from the diet, the improvements in gut began to retreat, suggesting that consistent pectin supplementation is a good idea.
A good, small starting dose is 250-500mg, with a large dose range being 1.5g/day.
SOURCE NATURALS F.O.S.
Fructooligosaccharides are a natural fiber that occurs in foods.
FOS can be produced by breaking down inulin (usually from chicory root).
Taken properly, FOS can be a powerful tool to reshape the health of the gut microbiome. FOS is generally well-tolerated, except in certain more severe cases of gut dysbiosis, IBS, Crohn’s, etc. In these situations, FOS should be a later experiment, explored after other steps are in place (such as fixing the circadian rhythm, daily therapeutic light,
GOS is a fiber produced after lactose is digested, directly feeds beneficial microbes, and could be critical in the developing newborn gut microbiome.
Oligosaccharides resembling GOS occur naturally in human milk and may be one of the factors that protect human infants from gastrointestinal pathogenic bacteria.
In infants, the supplementation of formula with a mixture of GOS and fructo-oligosaccharides can modulate bowel function and stool characters in the same direction as does breast-feeding.
Infants consuming a formula with 2′-FL and LNnT had significantly fewer parental reports of bronchitis, reduced incidence of lower respiratory tract infections, reduced use of antipyretics and reduced use of antibiotics compared to infants fed a formula without HMOs (human milk oligosaccharides).
Many of the benefits of chicory root are attributed to inulin, although other helpful compounds are certainly in play, such as chicoric — which can improve blood sugar levels.
Inulin and chicory are longer-chain fibers and, therefore, may cause trouble in situations where gut health is weak. Coffee can have some minor benefits for the gut microbiota and can help relieve constipation — and makes a delightful pairing with chicory’s rich taste in this traditional New Orleans-style beverage.
Inulin is the least tolerable prebiotic on this list. It is not recommended in situations where gut health is sensitive to fiber. Instead, start with something more tolerable, such as pectin — or non-supplement approaches like the circadian rhythm, therapeutic light, and environmental health.
Honey is praised and valued in nearly every ancient religious and wisdom tradition as both a food and a healing topical balm and internal medicine — with known hunter-gatherer tribes utilizing it as 20% (and more) of daily calories, while commonly living into their 80s.
Honey even seems to directly interfere with cancerous cells:
“[Honey] has significant anticancer activity against human breast and cervical cancer cell lines.”
Y.S. ECO Manuka Honey
Manuka honey has every benefit of raw — andmore.
Known for its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant qualities, manuka honey has been used for centuries to heal wounds and improve oral health.
Manuka honey can even stimulate macrophages to release compounds such as TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6 — which are critical for combatting microbial infections and wound healing.
The higher the UMF rating of manuka honey, the more potent the antimicrobial properties.
The only downside to manuka honey, for most locations around the world, is its expense — and higher UMF ratings can be extremely costly. On the bright side, even lower-UMF content seems to have profound antimicrobial activity.
I recommend buying what you can afford — don’t worry about achieving the highest UMF ratings. My results with various affordable manuka honey have been stellar.
Bee Pollen, Royal Jelly, & Propolis
BEE FARMS Triple Complex
There are over 2500 articles on PubMed concerning the benefits of propolis.
“Propolis has been reported to have various health benefits related to gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, and gynecological, oral, and dermatological problems.”
Royal Jelly may even protect the skin from UVB-induced damage by improving collagen formation in the skin. Royal jelly also contains the unsaturated fatty-acid (10-HDA), which may have antitumor and antibacterial activity.
Other enzymes are often included in digestive enzyme products: cellulase (breaks down cellulose, or plant fiber), and lactase (breaks down the milk sugar, lactose). Invertase breaks down sucrose (table sugar) into glucose and fructose. Beta-glucanase breaks down beta-glucans, a sugar found in plants (oatmeal, barley), and the cell walls of microbes (making this enzyme an antimicrobial and anticancer compound).
All in all, digestive enzymes can slightly improve the risk of maldigestion, ramp up gut hostility during digestion, and increase the absorption of nutrients. They may especially play a minor role when gut health is truly struggling and food is not well digested.
Sometimes, enzymes can increase energy in the body to the extent that they interfere with sleep. Enzymes can also deplete minerals in the body, particularly sodium and magnesium. Enzyme products also tend to advertise large doses per capsule — when smaller doses would be more tolerable and effective.
If you have any negative symptoms, such as insomnia — or feel that sodium or magnesium levels are being depleted — reduce the dose or frequency or stop taking enzymes altogether. Discontinue enzymes if any pain is noticed after taking.
BRAGGZYME Systemic Enzymes
Systemic enzymes not only benefit the gut, but also enter the bloodstream and break down microbes, toxins, metabolic waste, and junk protein.
The benefit of systemic enzymes to the gut shouldn’t be overlooked, though. In fact, this is a critical component of why systemic enzymes seem to improve symptoms, performance, and quality of life so much.
The most popular systemic enzymes are all considered proteolytic — which means they break down proteins. This term is often used interchangeably (with “systemic”) to describe systemic enzymes, though it isn’t a perfect translation.
Systemic enzymes are quite popular — and for good reason. Taken exclusively on an empty stomach, they function in a more alkaline environment (the intestines and bloodstream) rather than an acidic environment (the stomach).
Attacking pathogens without the interference of food entering the digestive tract allows systemic enzymes to make significant headway — cleaning up the gut and bloodstream, and lowering inflammation as a result. Many folks notice more energy, better brain function, less joint pain, and improved mood as a result of systemic enzymes.
The most popular systemic enzymes are:
Serrapeptase — (from silk worms)
Nattokinase — (from Japanese natto)
Trypsin — (pancreatic enzyme)
Chymotrypsin — (pancreatic enzyme)
Bromelain — (from pineapples)
Papain — (from papaya)
It’s best to take these enzymes in a blend, together, to benefit from all of them simultaneously.
Too, the benefits of enzymes are possible in smaller doses than are often supplied in products. High doses can be jarring to a weaker system, and aren’t necessary. These products are often formulated to “impress” the average person — when the needs of those struggling with chronic digestive issues are very different.
As with any gut supplement, it’s common for a person’s response to systemic enzymes to be highly individual. Formulas change frequently — with the new ingredients being less effective than the old. Keep your wits about you; If you know why a product works you can be better suited to finding a replacement if a product changes or becomes unavailable in the future.
A main benefit of apple cider vinegar is its acetic acid. Acetic acid is highly antimicrobial and its attributes align almost perfectly with the broad-spectrum benefits of apple cider vinegar. ACV’s acidity also may allow minerals to be absorbed more effectively, and improve the acidity of the stomach after a meal — leading to increased immunity from opportunistic pathogens.
Take 1 tbsp (15 mL) in a glass of water 1-2x/day before meals or on an empty stomach.
Is ACV a cure-all? No, nothing is. Instead, apple cider vinegar is a powerful tool, and one component of a well-rounded gut regimen.
Miracles don’t happen with any individual supplement.
Very, very few people will find a gut supplement that restores amazing gut health on its own.
Instead, gut supplements must be combined — with each other and with a greater approach (the circadian rhythm, therapeutic light, good air quality, gentle movement, & wise nutrition) — to achieve the best effect.
It’s important that we understand 1) how the gut works and 2) what restores its function over time:
Increasing hostility to pathogens.
Constantly reintroducing beneficial microbes and giving them proper nourishment through diet and prebiotics.
When these factors are in play, great things can happen and gut health can be systematically restored.
This completes Big Supplement List (Gut). To continue, select Supplement Timing.
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How common is it to supplement with a nutrient on a daily basis?
It’s extremely frequent.
Across health groups and modalities, each approach often has “favorite” nutrients, which are sometimes taken too frequently, too consistently — and for too long.
It’s a problem on its own, but it’s compounded by the tendency to demonize the very nutrients that might balance out this preferential supplementation. This is often done in hopes of “nudging” hormonal balance in a preferred direction.
Over time this supplementation approach leads to potentially-severe imbalances between various nutrients in the body.
Supplemented nutrients stand the risk of rising too high, while the neglected ones fall too low.
The problem, here, is that all nutrients have myriad interactions with other nutrients — throughout the body.
In a manner of speaking, all nutrients oppose each other, either competing for absorption or “using up” each other. There are some exceptions (mostly in times of relative deficiency), but even with the exceptions, the general rule still applies: increasing levels of a nutrient ultimately works to deplete other nutrients.
The question, then, is: How long does it take to cause an imbalance between nutrients?
The answer: Not that long — especially when chronic illness is in play.
In chronic illness, there’s a shortage of energy supplied to the body. Related are poor gut health and, with it, poor nutrient absorption. This leads to widespread nutrient deficiency — across the board.
An imbalance between nutrients is easy to create via uneven supplementation when the body is somewhat deficient in all nutrients. It often doesn’t take long for any particular nutrient to cause problems. It may only take a few months or, sometimes, (much) less.
Additionally, widespread nutrient deficiency can be made worse by exogenously pushing the metabolism faster than a compromised gut can absorb nutrients. Elevated toxicity due to mold, chemical exposure, and/or endotoxin creates inflammation that blunts nutrient absorption into both the bloodstream and individual cells.
Most individual nutrient supplements provide 100-300% of the recommended daily value.
Some are much higher than that.
These products should almost never be taken daily.
Even a low-dose — say, 100% RDV — will create an imbalance over time if supporting nutrients are not also supplemented at a similar rate. This can happen in mere weeks in the chronically ill. Doses higher than 100% will only hasten the imbalance.
Imbalances happen because each nutrient exists within a family of other nutrients. For example: Minerals interact tremendously with each other. Each mineral has a major partner, with whom powerful interactions, synergy, and opposition are in play.
The ratios of each mineral with A) its partner and B) other cofactor nutrients deeply matter for human health, and the body struggles to keep these ratios in balance during illness — due to aforementioned reasons.
The same is true for the fat-soluble vitamins and B-vitamins, two additional “nutrient families” for whom balance between nutrients is critical. There are even endless interactions between nutrients of different families — too many to properly be aware of on a day-to-day basis.
To supplement one nutrient, while avoiding a partner nutrient or other cofactors, will skew the ratios between nutrients over time.
These imbalances can be theoretically avoided by taking a blend of all nutrients in a family (or simply, all nutrients — as in a multivitamin) in a dosage around 100% of the RDV.
However, problems arise even with multivitamins: Very few multivitamins limit their dosages to around 100% RDV. In fact, most advertise their super-high doses as a selling point. There are other problems with most multi-vitamins, as well, including ingredient quality and imbalanced ingredients in the product, itself. It’s not uncommon to see 150% of one nutrient and 1100% of a partner nutrient.
On the other hand, if we supplement a nutrient at a moderate dose (around 100% RDV), we can usually take that nutrient about twice per week without causing terrible imbalances, provided there are no pre-existing nutrient imbalances (usually caused by uneven supplementation practices).
A twice-per-week dose of any nutrient allows for the benefits of said nutrient to be enjoyed while minimizing the risks of imbalance.
However, two things must be noted about thE 1-2x/week schedule:
Over time, imbalances can still occur at this low-dose schedule.
At some point, cofactors and supporting nutrients must be considered. We cannot supplement a single nutrient — even at 2x/week — while ignoring its relationships with other nutrients.
Many factors will determine how well a twice-per-week dose improves your health: body size, nutrition in the diet, digestive health, and current nutritional status. It is possible to require weeks or months of ongoing supplementation with a nutrient to iron out pre-existing imbalances. This may continue for a few weeks or months until the imbalance is corrected. However, this can easily result in a “false-positive” as the new nutrient improves symptoms for weeks or months (as an old imbalance is corrected), only to “stop working” and begin to cause problems (as a new imbalance is created). This false positive is also observed in the first-time supplement-taker: Any single nutrient will almost certainly yield noticeable results until problems are created and the product is (hopefully) discontinued.
The most common symptoms of nutrient imbalance as a result of improper, unsafe supplementation are insomnia and fatigue. Dysregulated cognitive and emotional function can also present, as will digestive disturbances such as constipation, diarrhea, or food sensitivities. Nearly any nutrient, when too-high or too-low can and will cause these symptoms.
To maintain already-existing nutrient balance: A low-and-slow regimen is suggested, with infrequent, balanced supplementation of all nutrients. This can be achieved via low-dose multivitamin blends and wise individual nutrient supplementation — keeping in mind the 1-2x/week rule.
Low-dose multivitamins should not be taken daily to A) avoid over-supplementation and B) to allow the body to balance itself without the influx of supplemental nutrition. Perhaps most importantly, regular days off from nutritional products can provide an opportunity for observation of how one feels without the influence of supplements.
The way nutrient interactions work, it’s very possible to overdose on a single nutrient using common supplementation practices.
Just take one or multiple daily doses of a nutrient for weeks or months. Voila — levels in the body will likely become too high.
However, this is partly a “relative” imbalance, meaning an imbalance between one nutrient and its cofactors. This nutrient’s levels may not be terribly high yet, but if the cofactors’ levels are low in the body, we observe all the symptoms of moderate or major overdose.
When the cofactors’ levels are brought up, the oversupplied nutrient levels can begin to fall toward normal as the body metabolizes the excess nutrient.
(How badly a new imbalance affects you will depend on how strong or weak your body is — and whether you’re taking few enough supplements to notice why and when you start feeling worse).
To correct a relative imbalance, you must know which nutrients are needed — which nutrients are the main cofactors of your problem nutrient.
You should also know if you’ve taken any cofactors in excess in the past. If a cofactor nutrient has also already been supplemented in excess, taking more of it will not help, and will only make matters worse.
It requires a wise understanding of nutrient interactions to safely and properly lower an elevated level of any nutrient.
Of course, by far the simplest path is to avoid over-supplementation in the first place.
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Access to all health information & resources
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The gut microbiome gets a lot of attention as the hub of the body’s immune system.
After all, the gut microbiome houses a majority of the body’s microbes. Each of the body’s different microbiomes — the mouth, nose, ears, throat, stomach, skin, and vagina — are all directly influenced by the microbes that live in the gut.
However, did you know that the gut microbiome is deeply influenced by another microbiome?
Gateway To The Gut
For all microbes that enter the body the mouth is the primary entry point.
It should be no surprise that the mouth’s microbiome is rich and diverse — brimming with microbial life at all times.
The immune response to oral microbes is to destroy pathogens by creating acids that are much more damaging to the teeth (and fillings) than the pathogens’ own acids — leading to disastrous tooth decay.
The ongoing presence of stubborn pathogens in the mouth creates a toxic sequence of events that inflames the body, rots the teeth, and, ultimately, leads to disease. Microbes can enter the bloodstream via the gums and then travel all around the body, activating the immune system and causing inflammation.
A pernicious cycle develops over time as infection, inflammation, dental decay all lead to more and more of each other.
A Potential Weak Link
The teeth, themselves, can be fragile in youth as well as throughout the aging process. Teeth are especially vulnerable in chronic illness.
Dental plaque and the surface of the tongue are among the densest microbial habitats on Earth. Bacteria are pretty much wall to wall in there.
A quality tooth powder is, essentially, an all-natural toothpaste with solid ingredients including antimicrobial herbal extracts, Vitamin D, minerals, and even oral probiotics.
Rather than leaving the mouth coated with food particles — which feed and grow microbes — a good tooth powder refreshes, sanitizes, and repopulates, depressing microbial activity in the mouth and, in the case of this product, replenishing with a strain of beneficial bacteria.
It’s good to keep a bottle in the car, at work, and perhaps in a few places around the house (such as the kitchen), where having the ability to quickly clean the mouth might prove useful.
Swish for 1-5 minutes after each meal or snack.
Before bed, use multiple steps to thoroughly remove all lodged food, plaque, and microbial biofilms from the mouth.
Three Steps For An Effective Evening Routine
An evening routine can be additionally be used in the morning, though it shouldn’t be a replacement for the evening.
Flossing removes trapped food particles and plaque in between the teeth.
Floss first, then brush teeth. Be gentle on the gums while flossing — don’t overdo it.
This antimicrobial effect seems to last for some time in the mouth, giving the immune system a breather and making life hostile for opportunistic pathogens. Essential oils even penetrate the gums and gumline, helping sanitize deep into the tissues of the mouth.
There is considerable evidence that essential oils have potential to be developed as preventive or therapeutic agents for various oral diseases.
On the other hand, fluoride is also incredibly antimicrobial against microbes in the mouth. Fluoride disrupts pathogens’ enzyme receptors and weakens microbes’ resistance to acids.
Is there a difference between drinking — ingesting — fluoride into the body (with its effects on the gut microbiome, joints and tissues), and applying it topically in the mouth?
After nearly a decade of personally avoiding fluoride in both drinking water and oral products, it might be a good idea to use a fluoride rinse 1-2x/week simply to boost hostility of the mouth toward pathogens.
Fluoride may not be a make-or-break ingredient. But it’s nice to have a safer way to benefit from it without incurring too much risk.
ACT Total Care Fluoride Mouthwash
A glass of city water usually has about the same amount of fluoride as a small serving of fluoride toothpaste.
Fluoride may not be necessary for optimal oral health — if you’re willing to put in extra work. Remember, many essential oils are just as antimicrobial as fluoride.
If you do wish to use fluoride topically (rather than ingesting it), it can most likely be done safely, even if only used as a rinse several nights per week.
If Desired, swish 1-2x/week for 30 seconds to increase hostility against microbes in the mouth.
Ozone is rapidly becoming a component of alternative dentistry.
Dental ozone use has a good amount of preliminary research into its clinical efficacy. Consider this passage from a 2019 study:
“Healthy cells contain antioxidants such as vitamins C and E to protect against ozone oxidization. However, pathogens such as bacteria contain very trace amounts of antioxidants in their membranes, which make them susceptible to ozone and destroy the cell membrane. This review explores the history, composition, and use of ozone worldwide in dentistry. Ozone therapy has thus far been utilized with wound healing, dental caries, oral lichen planus, gingivitis and periodontitis, halitosis, osteonecrosis of the jaw, post-surgical pain, plaque and biofilms, root canals, dentin hypersensitivity, temporomandibular joint disorders, and teeth whitening. The utility of ozone will undoubtedly grow if studies continue to show positive outcomes in an increasing number of dental conditions.”
A toothbrush should still be replaced on time, even with regular weekly sterilization.
Clean toothbrush weekly. Replace Every few months.
The health of the mouth is an integral factor of gut health as well as the function of the entire body.
Oral and dental health commonly suffers in chronic illness and aging.
In both scenarios, it is imperative to support the body’s immune system by continually improving the microbial health of the mouth — to keep it clean.
RECAP: The steps for sustainably improving oral health
Tooth powder swishing after each meal or snack is a potent first step toward better oral health.
A solid, multi-step evening routine that includes 1) flossing, 2) brushing, and 3) a gum oil or mouthwash is essential. This routine is also useful in the morning.
Creating your own charcoal swish (possibly with neem powder) can be a fantastic step to augment your regimen.
Using ozoneorfluoride several times per week (or both) could improve the oral microbiome drastically — especially in the more compromised mouth typically seen in severe immunosuppression or aging.
Nutrients For Oral Health
The fat-soluble vitamins are vital to the health of the teeth and gums, as is Vitamin C.
Minerals are also foundational to the health of the teeth, and as with all nutrients, they must be in balance with each other as well.
It’s important to understand how to obtain these nutrients in a balanced and thoughtful way. Overnutrition and imbalance can be just as detrimental as nutrient deficiency.
Of course, dental professionals and regular checkups are entirely necessary to fix any broken teeth, dental fillings or prosthetics.
Root canals essentially leave dead material inside the mouth, and as such is very prone to rotting. Decay indicates the presence of pathogens — always — and this means infection and illness.
Because microbes and pathogens so easily work their way inside existing dental work it is paramount to diligently keep the mouth exceptionally clean.
Ask pertinent questions of your dental providers. Respectfully get a feel for their competence. Improperly installed dental work can lead to infectious issues down the road — and all the chronic diseases that come with infection.
Uncle Harry’s Natural Remineralization Kit
If you’re looking for a starter pack — this is an excellent brand to check out. Several of my clients have reported excellent results.
Are you looking for a simple breakdown of the major, daily components of great sleep every night?
These are the basic steps to ward off insomnia.
Your sleep journey may require extra steps beyond these — such as identifying nutrient imbalances, improving your sleeping environment, addressing emotional issues, cutting back on obligations, or solving problems in a relationship.
While any of those may be true, these steps are the foundation. They’ll improve your odds of better sleep every single night.
Get these variables right, and give yourself a fighting chance at great sleep that you can rely on, that will restore your health night after night.
Light is the primary driver of the circadian rhythm.
Light boosts the metabolism, heals wounds, improves digestion — and biologically deepens sleep.
Nothing on earth improves melatonin in the human brain like bright sunlight. Clear heat lamps can be an excellent supplement bright light on:
Days where you’re stuck indoors
Even sunny days.
One daily 20-minute session of very bright light therapy — rich in red and infrared light — is proven to deepen sleep. This supplemental light is especially necessary on days of little sunlight exposure.
Clear heat lamps are the superior source of supplemental red & infrared. They’re affordable and provide optimal light frequencies.
Sunlight, of course, is the original, best source of infrared light — just don’t sunburn.
The most harmful wavelength at night is blue light — which, unfortunately, floods our modern world 24 hours per day.
The darker the bedroom, the higher melatonin rises in the brain — which ensures better sleep.
People in modern society who are exposed to dim light at night during sleep… could show interference in their sleep, resulting in a decrease in total sleep time and poor sleep efficiency.