Category Archives for Holistic Nutrition

The Benefits of Adding Juice to Your Diet

Our founder, Sara Makin, recently did a juice feast with The Pittsburgh Juice Company! This allowed her to get firsthand experience on how healthy, organic juices can benefit your body. This juice “feast” lasted five days and consisted of about six organic juices and smoothies per day. Each juice contained a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Only a very small amount of food was eaten during the feast.


A juice cleanse is a big diet change, and in order for it to go smoothly, it is important to prepare ahead of time. A few days before the cleanse begins it helps to cut out harmful substances like coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, and sugary drinks. The purpose of the cleanse is to remove the toxins that some of these drinks put into your body. In order to help your body be ready for a large intake of liquids, you should be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water a day or two before the cleanse. Continuing to stay hydrated during the cleanse will also aid in the removal of toxins. Since adjusting to a juice cleanse takes a lot out of your body, getting plenty of rest before the start of the cleanse will be beneficial. Make sure to listen to your body during the process and change exercise/sleep routines to fit your energy levels.

Day 1

On the first day, Sara reported that it was challenging to stick with all the juices. It takes adjustment in order to get used to not eating and only drinking liquids. However, since she was busy without the day,

there wasn’t much time to think about food until she came home for the night. Although, the thoughts of food subsided once she continued the cleanse.

Day 2

The second day showed the first signs of the benefits of a juice cleanse. Sara started to feel a little better and more adjusted. She felt like she gained a bit more clarity mentally. In the afternoon, she usually takes a B12 vitamin or gets a coffee in order to gain more energy to make it through the day. On the cleanse, she did not feel the need to take a supplement to boost her energy.

Day 3

Day three built upon the progress already made from the previous days on the cleanse. Sara began to feel much better and reported having better digestion along with more energy throughout the day. She noticed her skin gradually clearing up. Mentally, she felt sharp and focused but not stressed. She reported her mind feeling clear but relaxed.

Day 4

On the fourth day, digestion continued to improve. Her skin looked clear and glowing. Her appetite decreased, but her energy level remained high. Again, she was able to work through the day without feeling drowsy or drained. She didn’t need as much sleep as she previously did but was still able to maintain mental clarity and sharpness.

Day 5

This was the last day of the “juice feast”. Juice cleanses take dedication and effort, so at the end of the five days, Sara felt ready to be finished. However, the benefits of the juice reached their maximum levels on the fifth day. She felt very energetic while only needing five hours of sleep, the least amount of sleep that she had gotten that week. She woke up refreshed in the morning and ready to take on the day. Her mind was focused and clear, making the afternoon tiredness completely disappear. She no longer felt the need to take vitamin supplements or coffee in order to push through the day.


As a whole, the juice cleanse raised energy levels, increased digestion, and improved the look of her skin. Along with the many benefits, Sara had her favorite drinks. Witch’s Brew, a juice made from cucumber,

Granny Smith apple, kale, spinach, celery, lemon, ginger, and Drink Me, which was said to taste like a vanilla milkshake. Drink Me is a juice made from Blue Majik spirulina, house-made cashew milk, dates, vanilla, coconut oil, pink Himalayan sea salt. Once the cleanse was over, Sara noticed that she tended to be thirsty more often than she was hungry. This decreased appetite could be beneficial to those looking to lose weight. When adjusting back to eating food, she noticed that her taste buds were more sensitive, almost as if the juice feast had restarted her sense of taste.

Returning to a Normal Diet

After finishing a juice cleanse, you shouldn’t automatically binge on food. It will make the transition smoother if you continue the healthy habits of drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeine, coffee, and alcohol. If you’re an avid coffee drinker, it is advised that you introduce coffee back into your diet gradually at around ¼ cup increments. Alcohol, however, should be avoided for about a week after the cleanse. Since the liver is key in flushing out our body’s toxins, alcohol won’t allow it to have the well-needed break it deserves after a week of nutrient-dense juices. The post-cleanse process is very similar to the pre-cleanse preparation. Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber and nutrients will aid in adjusting your digestion. In addition to your greens, proteins and healthy fats are a great way to stay healthy after a cleanse. Exercising and sweating will help clear out other toxins, but it is important to consider taking it slow at first and making sure that you’re eating enough calories.

Benefits of Juice

Adding juice into your diet is an easy way to incorporate more vegetables and fruits into your daily routine. There are many benefits of juicing which include supporting the immune system, aiding in digestion, promoting a healthy gut biome, and even affecting our mental health.

The Immune System

Fasting has been shown to increase immune rejuvenation. This is because when the body uses up glycogen stores during fasting, the processes carried out support healing throughout the body. The lining of the intestine is usually replenished around every five days. The cells that maintain the intestine, intestinal stem cells, are important in repairing any damage. As people age, the ability to regenerate intestinal stem cells decreases. This, in turn, increases the recovery time for your intestine after an injury or infection. Although the topic is still being researched, it is reported that fasting changes the metabolism to go from burning carbohydrates to metabolizing fatty acids. This change leads to an increase in stem cells abilities to regenerate.


When you’re only consuming liquids and not food, your digestion system does not have to work as hard. This makes digestion easier. Juice allows the body to absorb nutrients at a more efficient rate because liquid travels through the body faster than whole foods that have to be broken down and digested. Some foods that are not normally in an individual’s diet can be harder to digest, which can cause the nutrients to not be distributed throughout the body. Completing a juice cleanse that helps increase the bacteria that support digesting certain foods can allow those nutrients to be more effectively absorbed.

Healthy Gut Biome

Most importantly, however, juices promote a healthy gut biome. The gut biome, in simple terms, is all of the bacteria, viruses, or other living things that are located in your intestines. This biome affects aspects of digestion, the immune system, and even brain health. The bacteria in the gut are key in digesting fiber which is commonly found in fruits and vegetables. This can help with weight loss and diabetes. The gut biome communicates with immune cells to control how your body response to infection. Recently, it has been hypothesized that the gut biome may influence the central nervous system, which controls brain function. The gut is connected to the brain through nerves. It is thought that the gut biome may influence brain health by affecting the messages that are sent through those nerves.

Mental Health

There is a strong link found between nutrition and mental health. Studies have shown that adding fruits and vegetables into one’s diet can improve mental health symptoms. A study called “Let Them Eat Fruit! The Effect of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption on Psychological Wellbeing in Young Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial” took a sample of college kids with low fruit and vegetable intake and had them report their initial depression and anxiety symptoms. Some were told to continue their normal diet and others were given two weeks’ worth of fruits and vegetables. The study found that only those who were given the supply of fruits and vegetables showed improvements in “vitality, flourishing and motivation”. Adding juice into one’s diet is a very easy way to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your daily routine.


Completing a juice cleanse has many benefits that range from supporting our immune systems to aiding in digestion. Although, one does not need to partake in a full-on juice cleanse to reap the benefits of one. Juice cleanses improve our health, but they also serve as a reminder that there is an easy way to work fruits and vegetables into your everyday diet. A juice feast where you drink mostly juices and a small amount of food is still beneficial because you are still adding a large amount of important vitamins and minerals into your diet. It can be difficult to have to remember to eat healthy or to be around places where these foods are available. Juices provide a solution that allows you to improve your health mentally and physically in a way that can even taste better than the whole foods themselves.

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.

8 Autumn Health Habits for Fall Wellness

Welcome to shorter days, crisp air, and changing leaves. A new season is the perfect time for a fresh start to your wellness routine. Seasonal produce, cozy sweaters, and maybe a warm cup of your favorite tea come to mind. Cooler temperatures make for a perfect fall walk, to support the mind and body. fall wellness

Fall recipes are a great way to enjoy fresh produce, helping boost immunity and support overall wellness. Here are some Fall wellness tips to help support your wellness through this changing season. Who couldn’t use a health reset? fall wellness

Fall Wellness Tips:

  • Pumpkin Everything – Ok, well maybe not everything. BUT, did you know the pulp of pumpkin is full of tasty nutrient dense seeds – otherwise known as pepitas?! They are perfect for adding to fall recipes or roasted all by them self.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – Water is key to a strong immune system to flush out toxins and keep things moving. Hydration is especially important if you come down with a cold.
  • Indulge Sparingly – With seasonal treats being available just about everywhere, it’s hard to avoid everything. Enjoy and indulge sparingly, choosing your favorites in moderation.
  • Buy Seasonal Veggies – In season veggies like broccoli, brussel sprouts, and squash can be made a variety of ways. Roasting veggies are simple and delicious. Not to mention, the benefits of a plant-based diet include prevention of diabetes, control of hypertension, and heart health, just to name a few.
  • Practice Year-Long Giving – This season many are thinking of giving to friends and family, but good deeds can be interwoven in large and small ways throughout the year. Help someone in need, offer words of encouragement, or give away some things you no longer need or use. And if you live in a busy city like Pittsburgh, maybe try letting someone in your lane on your morning rush to work. Simple acts of kindness can make a big impact, and brighten up your mood too!
  • Embrace Fall Fresh Foods – Apples, pears, and pumpkins often come to mind in fall. Foods like persimmons may get overlooked, yet they’re packed with B complex vitamins, and vitamins A and C. They are rich in phytonutrients, and potassium, magnesium , copper , and phosphorus. Try something new this season and google a persimmon recipe!
  • Set New Fitness Goals with a Fall Reset – Fall walks are the perfect, simple way to add in a little exercise with the crisp fall air and lovely scenery of changing leaves. Wipe the slate clean and start a new set of goals with the changing season.
  • Incorporate Essential Oils for an Immune Boost – Therapeutic grade essential oils like cinnamon, lemon, clove, and eucalyptus are perfect to boost the immune system, and it makes for the perfect fall scent. Add 8-10 drops in a diffuser and your home will be smelling fresh, while helping rid the air of germs!

If you’re looking to reset your wellness routine, or just need some motivation, contact us today at Makin Wellness for a free 15-minute consultation! We’re happy to support you through a holistic approach incorporating techniques to promote a new mindset, meal planning, aromatherapy, and other natural and effective options to help you reset and reach your wellness goals! fall wellness

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.

Nutritional Intervention for Anxiety & Depression

We’ve all likely heard the term “brain food.” Likewise, when we think of mental health we may think of the mind, or certain brain chemicals. Growing research in the field of nutritional psychiatry explores nutritional interventions to relieve mental illness, specifically anxiety and depression. Did you know simply drinking a glass of water can improve brain function??

Adults and children alike are affected by mental illness, with anxiety and depression being the most common. In our ever hurried world, fast food may provide convenience, yet takes its toll on both mental and physical health.

Modifying lifestyle and diet has shown to be a preventative measure in mood disorders. Nutritional interventions encouraging a balanced, nutrient-dense, whole foods diet, helps prevent and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. The Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research brings together practitioners and scientists interested in various nutritional research, linking the effects of nutrition on mental health. Dozens of research on the following nutritional recommendations have shown to have a positive effect on anxiety and depression: nutritional intervention

  • Whole foods (fruits and vegetables): Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption has been associated with lowered depression and anxiety. A diet high in a variety of raw fruits and vegetables provides vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal physical and emotional well-being.
  • Probiotics: Probitiocs are the beneficial bacteria in the gut, providing better nutrient absorption, and have been connected to mental wellbeing. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods, beverages, or supplements.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3’s are essential to brain function and development. Low levels may contribute to brain deficiencies and accelerate aging. Omega 3 fish oil has shown to positively impact mental clarity, memory, and depression. Salmon, sardines, and nuts and seeds like flaxseeds and walnuts are high in Omega 3’s.
  • Water: Water is essential to brain function and mood, as it flushes out toxins, carries nutrients to cells, acts as a lubricant to the body, and prevents constipation. Even if you’re mildly dehydrated, you may feel tired, having impaired concentration.

Holistic nutrition and therapy is an approach that looks at the root cause of illness, offering a natural approach to dis-ease. This includes considering a variety of factors affecting physical and mental health, such as nutrient deficiencies, lack of exercise, stress, and thyroid issues. A holistic approach works to improve immune function, digestion, and brain function, with an understanding that all body systems are interrelated. Makin Wellness is happy in providing nutritional intervention and other holistic treatment options. nutritional intervention

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.

Laura Stewart Makin Wellness Nutrition Pittsburgh

Laura Stewart, B.A., CHN – Certified Holistic Nutritionist

Boosting Immunity for “Back to School”

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Benjamin Franklin

Whether you have children in school, homeschooling, or you’re kid free, it’s that time of year where the back to school germs flying around can affect us all. Grocery stores, libraries, and other public places all have the potential to spread germs. As we move into fall and temperatures drop with less sunlight exposure, our bodies could use a little immune boost.

While most public places take measures to reduce the spread of illness, with sanitization and public hand sanitizers, the best defense against germs is a strong immune system. Its common for colds and flus during winter months and we may not be able to prevent all illness, but a little preventative measures can go a long way. Diet, exercise, and adequate sleep all support strong immunity. boostingimmunity

First and foremost, a healthy diet is essential to boosting immunity. Highly processed foods, dyes, artificial sweeteners, and chemical preservatives are all things to steer clear of. Quick and easy may be convenient, but its best to avoid these things to prevent sickness. A balanced diet with whole foods will provide nutrients the body needs to fight off infection and function at its best. boostingimmunity

Unhealthy foods can cause inflammation in the body, making it harder to fight infection. Here are some foods to support a healthy body and mind:

  • Colorful fruits and vegetables
  • Organic leafy greens
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Organic eggs
  • Grass-fed beef/organic poultry

Essential oils are an excellent option to boost immunity, promote restful sleep, and help calm the mind. Therapeutic grade oils provide the best results. Lavender and chamomile can be used to support a good nights rest. Sleep is essential for immunity and overall wellness. Here are essential oils to keep on hand during cold and flu season:

  • Eucalyptus – eucalyptus is an uplifting oil that promotes mental clarity and support the respiratory system.
  • Lavender – lavender promotes restful sleep and has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety
  • Peppermint – peppermint is excellent for mental clarity and opening up the airways. Its great to have on hand for sinus congestion and colds.
  • Lemon – lemon oil helps supports immunity, and promotes nutrient absorption.
  • Thieves – thieves is a blend of clove, cinnamon, lemon, eucalyptus, and rosemary from Young Living Essentail Oils. It can be rubbed on the bottoms of feet to boost immunity and diffused into the air to reduce airborne germs.

If you’re interested in support with meal planning or would like a customized oil blend to boost immunity and support your overall wellness, contact us today for your personal blend!

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.

Laura Stewart Makin Wellness Nutrition Pittsburgh

Laura Stewart B.A., CHN

Mental Health and Nutrition


“I haven’t had an anxiety attack in months. I’m completely off my antidepressants, which I 100 percent attribute to diet and lifestyle changes.” – Jane Green

We love hearing stories like these, where behavior changes are made to improve diet and lifestyle and positive results are clearly seen. While everyone is different and there is no one size fits all approach, research has shown the many benefits of diet and lifestyle changes for mental health. mental health

Fueling the body with nutrient dense foods supports enzyme function and serotonin levels (the happy hormone). Reduction of sugar intake improves mood and energy, while an abundance of sugar has been found to decrease a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is connected to anxiety and depression. Consider one study showing the benefits of reducing sugar intake.

In 2017 a study showed those who ate 67 or more grams of sugar (17 teaspoons) had more anxiety and depression. Those who had less than 40 grams of sugar (10 teaspoons) exhibited less anxiety and depression. Reducing sugar in the diet can be difficult at first with symptoms of headaches, feeling tired, and flu-like symptoms. It’s the body’s way of detoxing.

Nutritional counseling can be a great addition to traditional therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Diet and lifestyle is an important part of self-care and self-love, which is key in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). We are all worthy of self-care and incorporating tasty, nutritious foods is a great self-care habit to form.

Increasing healthy habits and reducing unhealthy ones can seem difficult at first, and does take a bit of discipline and behavior change. If you are interested in professional support in making positive changes to support your mental wellness, contact us today for a free consultation! mental health

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.

The Psychology of Food

We eat. We work. We eat. We play. We eat. We sleep. And we eat. It’s clear to see the significant role food plays in our lives. Our culture plays a large role in our beliefs around the foods we eat. Best of all, food brings us together. What determines what we eat? More importantly, what determines how we feel about the foods we’re eating?

Food has long been used as a way to make meaningful connections with others. The way we think about our food is developed as early as childhood. The way our body metabolizes food is dependent on our thoughts about food. Consider the way our limbic system works. The limbic system is responsible for regulating emotions and physiological functions like hunger, thirst, temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Therefore our thoughts in relation to our food transfers this information into physiological responses.

According to the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, if we’re thinking positively about our food choices, the body can better metabolize the foods and better provide needed nutrients. However, if we’re thinking negatively about our food choice, our body may not metabolize the food as efficiently, causing it to stay in the digestive system longer, possibly diminishing healthy gut bacteria and release toxins into the bloodstream.
Positive mindset is key in relationship our eating habits. If we want to receive the full nutritive power of our foods, it is vital to think positive about the foods we are eating. Instead of shaming yourself after indulging in a dessert, try incorporating positive self-talk by saying something like, “Ill be sure to take a walk and make healthy choices for my next meal.” Instead of negative self-talk, staying positive will help our mind and body move toward positive change.
Making a Diet and Lifestyle Transition
Food preference is an interwoven sense of our identity and culture. Making changes to our food choice can be difficult and even scary, in that we don’t want to lose this sense of identity and connection to culture. The good news is, taste is acquired. Transitioning to a new way of eating can be accomplished through a personalized plan, customized to your food preferences and lifestyle. Simple meal planning, food journaling, an other measurable tools can be used to effectively transition. food

If you’re interested in working with a nutritionist to support your diet and lifestyle, contact us at Makin Wellness for a free 15 minute consultation!

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.

Anxiety & Medical Marijuana

“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.” – Kahlil Gibran

As human beings, it is natural to feel anxious when leaving our comfort zones. Pushing through our anxiety though, is what helps us to grow as individuals. Finding effective tools to manage anxiety, including preventative measures, is key to reaching our full potentials. When worry seems to take over day to day living, this may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Read more about anxiety disorders here. While prescriptions medications are often used to treat anxiety disorders, they do not come without side effects. Holistic therapy and other natural treatment options are a safe alternative to prescription medications. anxiety

Health secretary Rachel Levine approved Turetts and anxiety as qualifying conditions for medical marijuana as of July 20th. Included anxiety conditions are generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), separation anxiety, social anxiety, agoraphobia, and other phobias.

Medical marijuana is not recommended to treat children, adolescents, or pregnant women with anxiety disorders due to brain and fetus development. Long-term overuse of medical marijuana can cause issues with cognition and memory loss, and the risk of psychological dependency. For best results, it is recommended to incorporate traditional or alternative therapies, and lifestyle changes during medical marijuana treatment. anxiety

Research has shown positive results with medical marijuana being used to decrease and manage anxiety, since the body’s endocannabinoid system appears to play an important role in response to stress and anxiety.

A study conducted by Washington State University showed a decrease in stress, anxiety, and depression with the use of medical marijuana. Both men and women reported a decrease in all three symptoms. Women reported higher reduction in anxiety.

According to the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, THC, the main active ingredient of cannabis, “appears to decrease anxiety at lower doses an increase anxiety at higher doses.” Individual responses differ and there are a variety of factors to take into consideration when treating anxiety with medical marijuana. THC in combination with CBD oil can enhance benefits and reduce unwanted effects, including psychoactive affects of THC. The best approach is to start at a low dose, and monitor your bodies response. anxiety

Talking with your physician and a trained therapist can provide the needed support when deciding the right treatment for you. Makin Wellness is happy in supporting you through a natural, holistic approach to wellness, including cognitive behavioral therapy, nutritional counseling, aromatherapy, and other natural treatment options. Contact us today for a free 15-minute consultation!

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.


Cannabinoids: A New PTSD Treatment Paradigm

The PTSD treatment paradigm, currently reliant on a spectrum of medications, has been increasingly challenged for the dependence it facilitates and its artificial approach to healing a complex, integrated system. Emerging from this has been a cry for increased research on holistic alternatives, namely cannabis and/or CBD use. Legal complications have tied up the field for a while but new research should be emerging soon as a Phase 2 study on the safety and efficacy of smoked marijuana for PTSD symptoms in US veterans is completed. cannabinoids


In the meantime, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine recently published the first study investigating the clinical effects of CBD for people with PTSD. It does need to be supported by randomized, controlled studies, as it was performed on a small sample of 11 patients who were also exposed to psychiatric medications and psychotherapy at the same time, but it is an optimistic opening for this field of research.


Over the course of 8 weeks, the study participants took CBD orally (either in pills or a liquid spray) once or twice a day. They completed the PTSD checklist (PCL-5) at the beginning of the study and again after 4 weeks and 8 weeks. The PCL-5 assesses symptom severity on a scale of 0 to 4, which allowed the researchers to study both the overall impact as well as the effect on specific symptoms.cannabinoids


The average baseline score for the participants was 51.82, which then dropped to 40.73 after 4 weeks and 37.14 after 8 weeks, showing an overall decrease in the severity of symptoms. Of the 11 participants, 10 experienced a decrease in their score by the fourth week, with an average of a 21% drop. While 3 of the 11 participants experienced increases in their symptom severity (an average increase of 8 points) from weeks 4 to 8, 10 of the 11 still experienced an overall decrease from the baseline, with an average of a 28% drop.


One of the symptoms most impacted by the study was sleep. Of the participants who responded to the question assessing “repeated, disturbing dreams of the stressful experience” with a score of 3 or higher, 50% reported an improvement in their nightmares. In all participants, 38% remarked improvement in the quality of their sleep. Other symptoms for which participants expressed benefits were anxiety, focus, and mood.


While more clinical studies are necessary to investigate the intricate effects of different types, dosages, frequencies, and conditions of cannabis usage on PTSD symptoms, this research sits on a strong foundation of theory. In fact, we are beginning to understand that there are innate systems in the body designed to respond to compounds found in cannabis as well as to regulate symptoms associated with PTSD.


The connection between PTSD symptoms and the effects of cannabis seems to be based on the compound anandamide – the “bliss molecule”. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid, meaning that it is produced internally (“endo”) and stimulates a system of cannabinoid receptors in the body. These receptors, along with the cannabinoids that stimulate them, comprise the endocannabinoid system, which maintains homeostasis through regulating appetite, immunity, memory, mood, motor control, pain, reward, fertility, and temperature regulation. Interestingly enough, there are compounds in cannabis with similar structures that can also trigger cannabinoid receptors in the body. THC, responsible for the “high” associated with cannabis, activates the same receptors as anandamide.


As we currently understand it, there are two cannabinoid receptors in the body – CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain and central nervous system and mediate emotional learning, stress adaption, and fear extinction. These receptors are understimulated in those with PTSD, for their signaling “deactivates traumatic memories and endows us with the gift of forgetting”.  cannabinoids


The use of phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD to stimulate CB1 receptors shows promise in balancing the endocannabinoid system and restoring its ability to regulate fear, anxiety, and joy. By allowing the system to have breaks from the constant stress it finds itself in when experiencing PTSD symptoms, cannabis use can reeducate the body to respond to stress as it does to acute stress. While endocannabinoids are broken down under chronic stress, under acute stress they are actually released to allow for return to baseline stress levels. What this means in terms of concrete response to symptoms, only the clinical trials will tell us, but there is reason to believe that cannabis users will become better equipped to respond to the stressors and symptoms that come with PTSD. cannabinoids


Although alternative treatments like CBD and medical marijuana still need conclusive evidence, our current approach to PTSD treatment has also yet to show any meaningful, consistent impact. In fact, PTSD United has shown that “in the past year alone the number of diagnosed cases in the military jumped 50%”. Many movements have emerged to raise awareness and funding for the cause, but, as organizational theorist Kenichi Ohmae recognized, “rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.” The structure toward which this increasing energy is being devoted must be willing to evolve. We must seek new methods, challenge our current understanding, and form a more nuanced approach to treatment that includes a variety of techniques and is responsive to individuals and their unique needs. We will never know what could be achieved unless we open our minds and try it.


“If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.” – Thomas Jefferson


About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.


Alex Brooks, Psychology Intern

Makin Wellness

Overcoming Oxidative Stress

Given the amount of psychological and physiological stress to which many of us are exposed, it’s no shock that dis-ease runs so rampant in our population. What is often puzzling, however, is from where exactly these conditions emerge and what we can do to combat them without combing every part of our lifestyle and environment. One process that can explain both is oxidative stress, the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants. Since it is dependent on these two forces, it has the potential to be both degenerative and restorative. Understanding of this process provides insight both into the danger of excessive free radicals in the body as well as to the healing powers of antioxidants. oxidative stress


Oxidative stress refers to the overabundance of free radicals, unchecked by antioxidant levels. The danger of this imbalance is that free radicals are highly reactive molecules. Because they have an unpaired valence electron, they travel the body searching for an electron with which to pair. However, they often achieve this stability by pairing with an element in an already stable compound, leaving that compound as a free radical itself. This process is called oxidation – free radicals oxidize compounds in the body. It is the same process by which metal rusts and becomes brittle and by which fruit browns and loses nutritional value.


Free radicals are produced naturally by the body through functions like breathing and digestion and even serve a constructive role when in balance, acting as a part of the immune system. However, they are also produced by exposure to radiation, pollutants, medications & antibiotics, overtraining, emotional & physical stress, and dietary factors (like oxidized fats, processed sugar, pesticides, herbicides, and additives). When unchecked, free radicals will damage DNA, cell membranes, lipids, and enzymes. By this process, oxidative stress leads to an array of diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, inflammation, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative disease, cancer, and aging.


The hero of the story is the antioxidant. Antioxidants donate electrons to free radicals, stabilizing them and terminating this otherwise lengthy and exhausting process. Some antioxidants are produced by the body, but there is a large dietary burden to consume plants that produce antioxidants of their own. Of highest importance are vitamins A, C, and E, as well as beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, and more. These are plentiful in the following sources, some combination of which is absolutely necessary for human vitality:

  • berries
  • grapes & red wine
  • citrus fruits
  • dark leafy greens
  • broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, and all brightly colored fruits and vegetables
  • olives
  • fish (primarily cold-water fatty fish) and nuts
  • green and white tea
  • cocoa
  • ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary
  • onion, garlic


For those of you that feel constant fatigue and poor recovery, it may be as simple as this: you may not have enough warriors fighting for you! Nourish these antioxidant warriors with lifestyle choices like eating high-antioxidant foods, exercising (without overdoing it), watching out for exposure to harmful chemicals (and, if you can’t, following a protocol like the heavy metal detox), and getting plenty of sleep. So treat yourself to some red wine, chocolate, and a summer nap and listen to the balance it brings.


About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.


Alex Brooks, Psychology Intern

Makin Wellness

Summer 2019 Wellness Trends

Summer is a season full of energy, abundant activity, and of course, increased heat! In reaction to heat, the body may sweat to maintain normal body temperature. Staying hydrated and protecting yourself from too much sun exposure is necessary in preventing irritability, sunburn, or more serious conditions like heat exhaustion. summer

Whole foods like cucumber, celery, and pineapple help keep the body hydrated with their natural water content. Summer foods such as watermelon, tomatoes, bell peppers, and papaya help to naturally protect the skin from UV-rays. Celery juice is the latest trend to stay hydrated, improve liver function, reduce free radicals, and increase energy!

Nourishing the gut with a proper balance of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates is vital to immune health, weight, and disease prevention. Improving gut health is still a trend in 2019, and rightfully so. Gut health is essential to balancing hormones in charge of mood, hunger, sleep, and stress. Simple ways to boost gut health include cutting back on highly processed foods, eating nutrient dense whole foods, and prioritizing stress reducing techniques.

Eliminating inflammatory foods like gluten and dairy has also been a large trend in 2019. This comes as no surprise with inflammation being the root cause of many chronic conditions. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods can help to reduce inflammation and reduce risk of disease. Popular foods like fresh ginger, turmeric, walnuts, spinach, and kale all help to reduce inflammation. Staying hydrated, reducing stress, and regular physical activity are others important ways to reduce symptoms of inflammation.

Camel milk is another wellness trend with its ability to improve cholesterol, lower blood sugar, and decrease insulin resistance. Camel’s milk has shown to be beneficial in reducing free-radicals and works as an anti-inflammatory.

IV drops are also gaining popularity in wellness routines. Nutrients are better absorbed as they’re delivered intravenously since they bypass the body’s digestive system. IV infusions aid in boosting immunity, improving digestion, muscle recovery, and enhancing your skin’s glow. Vitamins, minerals, and amino acids can quickly get into the bloodstream through IV at increased levels. This on-the-go treatment has been used by functional MD pioneer Frank Lipman for nearly 20 years, and is becoming more popular as a quick fix.

Being mindful our bodies needs is essential to wellness. No one else can tell you how you’re feeling. Being in tune with your body and listening to your intuition will help you to be more aware of your bodies unique needs. Mindful, or intuitive eating is simple eating when you’re hungry, and stopping when you’re full. This ensures you’re getting what you need, and avoids emotional eating. Mindful practices help promote sustainable wellness and longevity.

Summertime is the perfect season to detox and incorporate other natural approaches to wellness, helping your body function at its best. To receive support with a holistic approach to reach your summer wellness goals, contact us today at Makin Wellness to speak with our Holistic Nutritionist and receive a free consultation! summer

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.

Laura Stewart, B.A., CHN

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