About Sheila Gleason

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Sheila Gleason has created 6 blog entries.

What you need to know about CBD and Anxiety

CBD and Anxiety

Most of us have heard about treating Anxiety with CBD.  At Sonder Grace, we have customers that call us and write us to tell us how CBD has changed their life.  Their anxiety has subsided, their panic attacks are gone and they feel like they have their life back.

We wanted to reference studies that explained what the media has grabbed onto as the magic cure for anxiety.  Do you really suffer from anxiety? Why does CBD help people with anxiety?  How should you start using CBD for your anxiety?

As usual, do not use contents of this article as medical advice.  Always consult your physician before changing medications or adding a supplement like CBD.  

Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the United States each year1. While this disorder is highly treatable, only 37% of those suffering receive treatment2. The three most common methods for treatments include short-term self-treatment, counseling and therapy, and medications3. Even when these treatments are working in tandem with one another, sometimes, they do not offer enough relief for anxiety. In the past decade, people and researchers have been experimenting with treating anxiety with CBD. Due to its relaxing nature, many have claimed that the natural plant derivative has helped ease the symptoms of anxiety. To understand the beneficial qualities CBD can offer for those who suffer from anxiety, we will explore how anxiety effects our bodies and how CBD can help easy those pain points.

What is anxiety?

The American Psychological Association (AP) defines anxiety as:

“An emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure”4

Along with tension, worry, and physical changes, the common symptoms associated with anxiety include5:

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
  • Having difficulty controlling worry
  • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

Categorization of anxiety

There are many different anxiety disorders that range in symptoms. The five main categories that the disorder is typically categorized into: generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder6.

  1. General anxiety disorder (GAD) is the category of anxiety that most are familiar with. This type of anxiety usually includes excessive fear and worry that can cause a person to have negative behavioral and emotional outcomes.
  2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by obsessive and intrusive thoughts that can cause compulsive behavior. Examples of compulsive behavior would be frequent hand-washing, counting of objects or actions, and excessive exercise.
  3. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) typically results from a trauma (like an accident, death in the family, violence, or military combat).
  4. Panic disorder is most commonly experienced through unexpected and recurrent periods of intense fear and worry that can cause a physical reaction like chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal
  5. Social anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder that can cause overwhelming worry and self-consciousness around other people. This type of anxiety can range from fear of public speaking to not being able to leave the house due to possible social interaction7.

Who has anxiety?

Anyone can experience anxiety during their life. The cause of anxiety is not fully understood but is can be linked to “underlying health issues, medications, and certain risk factors like trauma, stress due to an illness, stress buildup, personality, other mental disorders, having blood relatives with an anxiety disorder, or drugs/alcohol”8. General anxiety disorder (GAD) affects 6.8 million adults9. Women are twice as likely to experience anxiety compared to men10.

Anxiety does not discriminate in age either. 25% of children between the ages of 13 and 18 years old are affected by an anxiety disorder. Untreated anxiety in children can lead to distress, low grades, substance abuse, and poor social skills11.

Treatment of anxiety

Anxiety is treated in numerous ways. For short-term and mild anxiety, many people opt to treat their anxiety themselves. This means they will actively try methods to reduce their anxiety without therapy or medication. Self-treatment often includes stress management, relaxation techniques, regular and enjoyable exercise, diet, and a strong support network12.

Another approach is counseling and therapy. Therapists will attempt a number of different types of therapy in order to find the right method for their patient. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and exposure therapy13.

People who experience anxiety can discuss their options with their doctor and may find that medication is the best route for them. Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed for anxiety but there is an added risk of addiction and drowsiness when taking them. Anti-depressants are another common medication prescribed to people with anxiety. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are another option to treat anxiety but there are negative side effects compared to older anti-depressants. Tricycles are an older class of SSRIs that can provide relief from anxiety disorder other than OCD but there are also negative side effects that can occur. Additional medications that people use to treat anxiety are monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), beta-blockers, and buspirone14.

What is CBD oil? How does it work?

CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is a plant derived compound found in hemp and cannabis. It has the medicinal effects similar to marijuana but does not result in psychotropic effects (getting high). CBD works in tandem with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system regulates physiological processes, like mood, blood pressure, immunity, stress, energy, and more, to keep us in homeostasis. CBD activates receptors like the vanilloid, adenosine, and serotonin receptors in the ECS. Depending on the receptor, dopamine, glutamate, or serotonin will be released and have a positive effect on the body. Each neurotransmitter has various different functions, which is why CBD has many beneficial effects on the body15.

CBD and anxiety: Recent studies

While more research needs to be conducted, a recent study published by Colorado researchers attempted to determine if CBD helps improve sleep and/or anxiety. The study documented the anxiety and sleep patterns of 103 adults over the course of several months while they took CBD regularly. Patients reported that within the first month their anxiety decreased and remained decreased for the remainder of the study. Patients also reported that their sleep patterns improved within the first month of trial but fluctuated over time. Through more clinical evidence, the researchers reported that CBD has a calming effect on the central nervous system, explaining why anxiety was reduced in their patients16.

Published in the journal of Neurotherapeutics, another study found that through the activation of the serotonin receptor, 5-HT1AR, CBD will mediate and reduce the symptoms of “…anxiolytic, panicolytic, and anticompulsive actions, as well as a decrease in autonomic arousal, a decrease in conditioned fear expression, enhancement of fear extinction, reconsolidation blockades, and prevention of the long-term anxiogenic effects of stress.”17 Not only that, the study claims that the many experiments they conducted proved that CBD can be used as a promising treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, especially when administered at high dosages (~300-600mg)18.

In 2011, Neuropsychopharmacology published a study determined to prove that CBD can provide relief to those with social anxiety disorder. Twenty-four patients with reported social anxiety were given 600mg of CBD or a placebo before a public speaking test. Results found that the group that took CBD before the test had reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort while taking their public speaking test19.

How much CBD oil should I take for my anxiety?

CBD is a safe, natural alternative to treating anxiety. If you would like to self-treat your anxiety with CBD oil, it is best to consult your doctor beforehand. CBD effects everyone differently. It is important to start with a low dosage to give your body the opportunity to adapt and get used to the possible effects. Slowly increase your dosage to a comfortable level. Once you find a dosage that works for you, try to separate your dosage into smaller doses throughout the day. This can improve the absorption rate of the CBD oil. While research found that 600mg of CBD was effective for reducing the symptoms of anxiety in patients, other studies have found that lower dosages can be effective as well. Search for a CBD oil that is high-quality, organic, and full-spectrum for best results20.

  1. Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  2. Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  3. Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  4. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  5. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018, May 04). Anxiety disorders. Retrieved from
  6. Digital Communications Division. (2015, August 21). What are the five major types of anxiety disorders? Retrieved from
  7. Digital Communications Division. (2015, August 21). What are the five major types of anxiety disorders? Retrieved from
  8. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018, May 04). Anxiety disorders. Retrieved from
  9. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018, May 04). Anxiety disorders. Retrieved from
  10. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018, May 04). Anxiety disorders. Retrieved from
  11. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018, May 04). Anxiety disorders. Retrieved from
  12. Felman, A. (2018, October 26). Anxiety: Overview, symptoms, causes, and treatments. Retrieved from
  13. Felman, A. (2018, October 26). Anxiety: Overview, symptoms, causes, and treatments. Retrieved from
  14. Felman, A. (2018, October 26). Anxiety: Overview, symptoms, causes, and treatments. Retrieved from
  15. S. (2018). Why we CBD Oil. Retrieved from
  16. Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019, January 7). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Retrieved from
  17. Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015, October 12). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved from
  18. Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015, October 12). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved from
  19. Bergamaschi, M. M., Queiroz, R. H., Chagas, M. H., De Oliveira, D. C., De Martinis, B. S., Kapczinski, F., . . . Crippa, J. A. (2011, May). Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Retrieved from
  20. How Much CBD Oil Should I Take for Anxiety? (2018, March 20). Retrieved from

CBD for Menstrual Cramps

Living with a Painful Period

When I first hear about supplementing with CBD for menstrual cramps, I dove into the research. When I was a teenager, I used to get debilitating periods. I mean, cramps so bad I couldn’t go to school, kind of periods. My mood would swing by the hour and I was having to change my tampon an alarming number of times a day. Not the best situation for a girl who is just trying to survive middle school.

My gynecologist eventually put me on the pill and the majority of my period symptoms went away. But with the pill, other side effects arose. While it’s nice to have a light period, I wasn’t too keen on my weight constantly fluctuating, going through phases of depression, and not really knowing how to control my body because my hormones were imbalanced. It felt like I couldn’t win.

Years of Trial and Error

After eleven years of trial and error I have finally gotten the majority of my symptoms under control. Yet, I still wonder what it would be like to live without hormone imbalance. I’ve gone all of my teenage years and some of my twenties, not knowing what my mind and body are really like without the pill. So, I’ve decided to get the copper IUD and try to address the underlying issues that caused me to be on the pill in the first place.

The problem: the copper IUD is notorious for heavy periods and painful cramps. I knew I needed to have a plan to get through those first few periods, so I don’t go running back to my gynecologist begging to be put back on the pill. As I thought about my options (Midol, Advil, chocolate…) I decided I wanted a more natural remedy. After all, I was doing this to have as little hormones in my body as possible. It only made sense to seek out a plant-based natural alternative. My research led me to CBD.

CBD and Cramps

As many know, cramps are due to the uterus contracting to shed the uterine lining more efficiently. Many women take an over the counter medication to help with the pain.

In 2008, Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management published a study stating that CBD is effective in the management of difficult to treat pain. Not only does CBD have anti-inflammatory components to help with pain, it was proven through trial that it also has analgesia agents.1 CBD is a good alternative for OTC pain medications because it can provide relief through its numbing mechanism.

While more research needs to be conducted, psychopharmacologist Dr. Julie Holland has studied cannabis and CBD for over two decades and found that numerous patients of hers reported CBD helping with PMS and cramps.2 “CBD can be immensely useful in treating the irritability and discomfort that comes during the premenstrual phase of our cycles. Because it has strong anti-anxiety properties and is also a muscle relaxer, it can help with the overall tension, both physical and psychic, as well as menstrual cramps that can come later,” she says.3


So now that we know CBD for menstrual cramps is legit, what about all the other premenstrual symptoms you can get from your period?

    • bloating
    • irritability
    • fatigue
    • headaches
    • nausea
    • anxiety
    • mood swings
    • tension

CBD can be effective in treating these too. While we already know that CBD has anti-inflammatory agents that can address the physical symptoms of PMS, let’s dive into the psychological benefits of CBD.

Dr. Karen Munkacy is the CEO of Green Remedies and has done extensive research on hemp and cannabis products in relation to health. She concludes that “The brain has a high density of [endocannabinoid] receptors. As a result, cannabis-derived products prompt ‘a series of sensations that include euphoria, sensory stimulation, positive mood alterations, and even feelings of improved cognition’”4. Sounds pretty good, huh?

In another study, published in the Annual Review of Neuroscience, researchers Natalie Zlebnik and Joseph Cheer discovered that CBD can increase motivation and decrease the effects of some mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.5 Due to this, “…in motivational disorders with complex etiology and underlying neural substrates, the multitarget effects of CBD may make it a highly efficacious treatment option”.6 CBD’s positive emotional and mood components have the ability to provide you with some relief to the mood swings that can occur during your period.

While current research does not focus specifically on periods and PMS symptoms, many studied suggest that if you’re looking for a natural remedy for pain and mood, CBD is worth a try. We always suggest consulting your doctor first, but if you get the “go ahead”, go for it!

Sometimes it feels like your period can make you put your life on hold for a few days, but with the help of CBD, it doesn’t have to feel that way.

Sonder Grace has full spectrum tinctures and capsules derived from organically grown hemp.  See if there is one right for you.


  1. Russo, E. B. (2008, February). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Retrieved from
  2. Can CBD oil help with PMS? (2019, February 28). Retrieved from
  3. Can CBD oil help with PMS? (2019, February 28). Retrieved from
  4. Cassano, M. (2019, March 22). Can CBD Help Reduce Period Pain and Menstrual Cramps? Retrieved from
  5. Zlebnik, N. E., & Cheer, J. F. (2016, July 08). Beyond the CB1 Receptor: Is Cannabidiol the Answer for Disorders of Motivation? Retrieved from
  6. Zlebnik, N. E., & Cheer, J. F. (2016, July 08). Beyond the CB1 Receptor: Is Cannabidiol the Answer for Disorders of Motivation? Retrieved from

CBD: Fitness & Sports Recovery

Though treating anxiety is at the forefront of the headlines when it comes to CBD, CBD for fitness and sport recovery is not a revolutionary idea when you examine the research that’s been completed to date.

Remember that time you left the gym feeling super proud of yourself for killing that workout, only to wake up the next morning feeling stiff and sore? Instead of reaching for that bottle of ibuprofen, consider using CBD as a natural, plant-derived workout supplement to improve your fitness routine. 

CBD & Inflammation

Any workout can cause micro tears in the body’s muscle and tissue. The inflammation caused by this process prompts the body to start healing itself, so the muscles and tissue can grow back stronger.1

However, if inflammation is not monitored it can result in pain, muscle damage, and delayed results from your workouts.2

In a study published in Future Med Chem, researchers found that the CB2 receptors in our endocannabinoid system can react with CBD to treat inflammation and autoimmune diseases.3 Because of its restorative qualities, CBD is quickly becoming an imperative step in workout routines, especially for professional athletes.

CBD & Professional Sports Associations

Floyd Landis

Aches and inflammation were the main drivers for professional cycler, Floyd Landis, to try CBD oil. 

While suffering through the pain of a major hip injury, Landis miraculously went on to win the 2006 Tour de France. Four days after winning the race, Landis’s urine sample tested positive for testosterone and epitestosterone, otherwise known as doping. He was suspended from professional cycling for two years and stripped of his winning title.4

Years later, Landis was still experiencing pain from his hip injury, leading him to rely on opioids to cope. In an effort to stop using painkillers and address his depression, Floyd discovered CBD. He found that, with continuous use, he was pain free and no longer needed opioids.5

This life-changing discovery caused Landis to start his own CBD company, Floyd’s of Leadville. His goal is to help others with pain management and sports recovery. Landis strongly advocates for professional athletes to be able to use CBD oil for their own ailments. 6

While not directly related to Landis’s advocacy, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) officially took Cannabidiol off the list of prohibited substances in September 2017.7

This is the first and only official sports association to recognize CBD as a substance independent from marijuana. It’s a major step toward addressing the opioid addiction within professional sports and offering a natural alternative in return.


While no other association has removed CBD from their list of banned substances, the NHL and MLB have more tolerance surrounding the usage of CBD compared to other professional sports. The MLB only drug tests with reasonable cause. If THC is found, they will be fined $35,000 for each violation.8

The NHL does not have cannabis or CBD on their list of banned substances. However, if a player is drug tested and THC or CBD is found in their system, their playing status will be subjected to review.9


Unfortunately, many professional sports associations, like the NFL, NBA, and NCAA, still ban CBD due to its assumed relationship to cannabis. If a player if found with CBD in their system the punishment can range from drug treatment, fines, or permanent suspension from games.10

Many athletes are speaking out against CBD’s position on the prohibited list. In a time when opioid addiction is at its highest, professional athletes want to use a non-addictive, natural substance to aid their multiple ailments.

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive end, Ebenezer Ekuban, stated in an interview that he thinks CBD can benefit recovery for athletes.

“…in due time, the NFL is going to realize CBD is not a performance-enhancing drug. If anything, it helps with anxiety, helps with concentration, and helps with pain”.11

Retired NHL enforcer, Riley Cote, is another strong advocate for CBD in easing pain and anxiety. He recently spoke out about the injuries professional athletes endure that can lead to mental health issues. He believes CBD can be one of the solutions to this growing problem.

“[Cannabis] is a tool and it needs to be treated with respect…. It’s all about increasing quality of life. It’s about helping these guys wake up the next morning, where they can feel functional enough, good enough, [that] they can enjoy their family and not worry about the pain and anxiety — that vicious cycle that generally leads to mental health issues”12

Even with many professional athletes using their platform to speak of the benefits of CBD and hemp, they’re a long way to go for reform. CBD is legal in all 50 states, yet professional sports associations still have difficulty separating cannabidiol from cannabis.

Hopefully, with push from retired athletes sharing the positive impact CBD has upon their health and the example WADA has set for removing CBD from their banned substance list, progress will be made.

CBD For Your Workout

Professional athletes aren’t the only ones who can benefit from using CBD with their workout. There are a number of ways CBD can be utilized to enhance your workouts for success.

CBD can have energizing qualities when taken in small doses. If you’re looking for a natural energy boost without all the jitters you’d get from caffeine, take a small amount of CBD right before your workout.

CBD can also be taken before working out if you are searching for muscle production. CBD aids in the balancing of homeostasis and, in turn, the regulation of blood sugar levels.

When our blood sugar is regulated, we have lower levels of insulin being produced. This means less fat is stored in our body during this time. When less fat is being stored, especially during your workout, “…your body works in an anti-catabolic mode to help produce more muscle.”13

If you desire a recovery aid, take CBD is a higher dosage after your workout. It will get straight to work in reducing inflammation and you’ll sleep better, ensuring you’ll be ready for your next workout.


  1. Gurganus, M. (2019, March 05). CBD for Pre- and Post-Workout. Retrieved from
  2. Gurganus, M. (2019, March 05). CBD for Pre- and Post-Workout. Retrieved from
  3. Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009, October). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Retrieved from
  4. Cyclingmag. (2018, December 16). Floyd Landis outlines how easy it can be to dope. Retrieved from
  5. Legal CBD Products – About Floyd. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  6. Legal CBD Products – About Floyd. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  7. CBD Regulations for Six Top Sports Organizations. (2019, March 15). Retrieved from
  8. CBD Regulations for Six Top Sports Organizations. (2019, March 15). Retrieved from
  9. CBD Regulations for Six Top Sports Organizations. (2019, March 15). Retrieved from
  10. CBD Regulations for Six Top Sports Organizations. (2019, March 15). Retrieved from
  11. CBD Regulations for Six Top Sports Organizations. (2019, March 15). Retrieved from
  12. CBD Regulations for Six Top Sports Organizations. (2019, March 15). Retrieved from
  13. Working Out With CBD: CBD Supports Muscle Gain & Boosts Stamina. (2018, October 04). Retrieved from

Can CBD Really Help You Lose Weight?

The weight loss and obesity management market is worth about $66 billion and is expected to grow to $253 billion by 2024. As a result, there are tons of harmful weight loss supplements being sold with sketchy ingredients and dangerous side effects.

Could there be a safer alternative that produces results?

As the list of health benefits associated with CBD oil continues to grow, scientific research is pointing to CBD being a natural aid in weight management.


In a recent study3, it was found that CBD largely contributes to the “fat browning” process. White adipose tissue and brown adipose tissue are the two types of fats in our bodies. White adipose tissue stores energy, while brown adipose tissue burns energy4. Babies are born with brown fat in their bodies, but by adulthood, we are comprised more of white adipose tissue. According to Dr. Pam Peeke at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, white adipose tissue in the body is associated with “…increased risk of breast, colon, esophageal, gall bladder, and pancreatic cancer. It’s also associated with sleep apnea and physical disabilities such as knee arthritis”5.

CBD has the ability to aid in the conversion of white adipose tissue into brown adipose tissue, causing the body to burn more calories, lose weight, and prevent certain diseases. Pairing CBD with other methods of “fat browning”, such as exercise, quality sleep, and exposure to cold temperature can increase fat loss as well6.


In a study7  published by the Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry Journal, researchers found that in addition to “fat browning”, CBD also has the ability to “…stimulate genes and proteins that enhance the breakdown and oxidation of fat”8. Further, CBD also boosts the number of mitochondria in the body, resulting in an increase in the body’s ability to burn calories. Lastly, they found that CBD reduced the number of proteins that create new fat cells in the body9. Not only is CBD directly supporting fat transformation, but it is also enhancing our metabolism, leading to a healthier, balanced body.


Speaking of balanced bodies, CBD also influences homeostasis. The list just keeps going on. Homeostasis is the human body keeping all of our important internal functions in check. Our endocannabinoid system and our CB1 and CB2 receptors help maintain homeostasis. This explains why CBD can stimulate appetite among people that need nutrition and can suppress appetite for those in need of losing weight. To support this, a study10 published by Psychopharmacology experimented with appetite in rats and found that CBD decreased their desire to eat. While animal trials can’t be directly applied to humans, there is enough evidence discussed above to support CBD being a positive effect on weight loss. 

In a market full of scams, CBD is one of the cleanest, natural supplements you can take. With no side effects and no additives, this plant-product is making conclusive progress is this expansive industry.

It’s legit: Paired with a healthy diet and regular exercise routine, CBD can immensely improve and accelerate your weight loss results.



  1. McKellar, S. (2018, July 24). How CBD Can Help With Weight Loss Management. Retrieved from
  2. M. (2018, July 04). Weight Loss and Obesity Management Market is Worth US$ 253 Billion By 2024. Retrieved from
  3. Parray, H. A., & Yun, J. W. (2016, May). Cannabidiol promotes browning in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Retrieved from
  4. Staff, M. (2019, February 27). CBD Oil to Lose Weight: Is It a Scam? Retrieved from
  5. Peeke, P. (2018, May 25). What’s the Difference Between White Fat and Brown Fat? Retrieved from
  6. Peeke, P. (2018, May 25). What’s the Difference Between White Fat and Brown Fat? Retrieved from
  7. Article, S. (2016, August 11). Can Cannabidiol (CBD) Help Support Weight Loss and Metabolism? Retrieved from
  8. Article, S. (2016, August 11). Can Cannabidiol (CBD) Help Support Weight Loss and Metabolism? Retrieved from
  9. Article, S. (2016, August 11). Can Cannabidiol (CBD) Help Support Weight Loss and Metabolism? Retrieved from
  10. Farrimond, J. A., Whalley, B. J., & Williams, C. M. (2012, September). Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns. Retrieved from

Eat Your Sunscreen – Sunburn Protection Starts in the Kitchen

Have you ever spent the day at the beach swimming, running through the sand, and sunbathing, only end your day with a painful sunburn? You swore you put on sunscreen three or four times throughout the day but somehow you were still burnt. While sunburns can leave the skin blistered and red, the real damage goes skin deep. Ultraviolet rays from the sun are carcinogens, meaning they have the ability to turn into cancer. However, applying sunscreen isn’t the only way to prevent sunburns, we can eat it too.

Why do we get sunburn?

To begin, when we expose our bodies to harmful ultraviolet sun rays, the DNA of our skin cells becomes damaged.1 The proteins, prostaglandins and cytokines, synthesize differently due to this damage and cue the “dilation of the cutaneous blood vessels and recruitment of inflammatory cells.”2 This leads to the redness, pain, blisters, and swelling commonly experienced with sunburns.

You might be wondering why some people’s skin burns and some people’s tan. This is due to an individuals melanin level. Melanin is what gives skin its pigment and what protects us from sun.3 When we stay in the sun for too long and damage our skin, the body produces even more melanin to prevent further damage.4 People with darker skin produce more melanin, which is why they tan. People with lighter skin produce less melanin which is why their skin turns red and burns.5

Is sunscreen our only option?

So, what can we do to prevent sunburns? The answer that first comes to mind is typically to apply sunscreen. While there are natural, mineral-based sunscreens on the market, most sunscreens are chemical based.6 Oxybenzone, which is added to almost 65% of non-mineral sunscreens, can cause allergic skin reactions, the raising and lowering of testosterone, and the possibility to effect the length of pregnancy and the baby’s birth weight.7 

Many of the chemicals used in sunscreen, including Oxybenzone, have not recently been assessed for potential harm, due to The Food and Drug Administration grandfathering the ingredients in during the late 1970s.8 9 Are there other alternatives to using sunscreen to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays?

A more holistic approach

As most people know, having a healthy diet and a diverse gut microbiome can build immunity and prevent many health issues, like cardiovascular disease and hypertension. But did you know that you can use your healthy diet to fight sunburns as well? While these foods will not completely protect you during extended hours in the sun, they will fight against sun exposure on a regular day basis.

  • Tomatoes, carrots, and watermelon: All three of these vibrant foods contain lycopene. Lycopene is categorized as a carotenoid. Carotenoids help eliminate free radicals from the skin using its antioxidant properties.10 10 Pairing your tomato and carrot intake with olive oil will help the body absorb the lycopene. 11 Simmering your tomatoes and carrots in olive oil to make a pasta sauce is an easy way to incorporate the antioxidant food into your diet. Watermelon can be eaten on its own or added to smoothies and salads.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: This healthy form of fat contains anti-inflammatory elements. Seeing as the symptoms of sunburn like pain and redness are caused by inflammation, eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acid is a logical method of preventing sunburn.12 Foods that include omega-3 fatty acid are fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.13
  • Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate is rich in flavanols, a polyphenol antioxidant.14 This antioxidant has the ability to prevent your skin from UV light damage. 15
  • Green tea: Green tea contains polyphenols, an antioxidant that could possibly protect the skin from sunburns.16
  • Avocado: Avocados are packed with vitamin E, an antioxidant that eliminates and protects against free radicals. Vitamin E also have anti-aging properties, not only protecting you form the sun but also from the wrinkles caused by the sun!17
  • Strawberries: Strawberries contain loads of vitamin C, with 84.7 mg of it per one cup of strawberries.18 According to a study from the Vanavarayar Institute of Agriculture in India, “…vitamin C plays a ‘main role in fighting against free radical species that are the main cause of numerous negative skin changes.’”19

There is a common theme here: antioxidants. Antioxidants have the capability to prevent and possibly repair certain types of cell damage.20 While the foods listed above will certainly help protect your skin from sunburn, incorporating the following foods into your diet can further their effects.

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Purple, red, and blue grapes
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash and acorn squash
  • Black beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, kidney beans
  • Nuts. 21

Using mineral-based sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and limiting your time in the sun are all adequate ways to prevent sunburn. However, if you want to get ahead, sunburn prevention should start in the kitchen, long before you head out for a day in the sun.

  1. “What Is Sunburn? A Look at What Happens to Your Skin.” SkinReading: The Skin Care Blog. February 08, 2018.
  2. “What Happens When You Get a Sunburn?” Scientific American. August 6, 2001.
  3. “What Causes a Sunburn and Suntan?” Ringworm | American Academy of Dermatology. 2018.
  4. “What Causes a Sunburn and Suntan?”
  5. “What Causes a Sunburn and Suntan?”
  6. EWG. “EWG’s 2018 Guide to Safer Sunscreens.” EWG. 2018.
  7. “EWG’s 2018 Guide to Safer Sunscreens”
  8. “EWG’s 2018 Guide to Safer Sunscreens”
  9. Reisch, Marc S. “After More Than A Decade, FDA Still Won’t Allow New Sunscreens.” CEN RSS. 2018.
  10. “The Anti-Sunburn Diet: How Eating the Right Foods Can Protect You From Cancer-Causing Rays.” The Hearty Soul. September 22, 2017.
  11. Raloff, Janet. “Dietary Protection against Sunburn (with Recipe).” Science News. October 28, 2014.
  12. “The Anti-Sunburn Diet: How Eating the Right Foods Can Protect You From Cancer-Causing Rays.”
  13. “12 Foods That Are Very High in Omega-3.” Healthline.
  14. “12 Foods That Are Very High in Omega-3.”
  15. “12 Foods That Are Very High in Omega-3.”
  16. “12 Foods That Are Very High in Omega-3.”
  17. Buckingham, Cheyenne. “7 Foods to Eat to Prevent Sunburn.” Eat This Not That. May 10, 2018.
  18. “7 Foods to Eat to Prevent Sunburn”
  19. “7 Foods to Eat to Prevent Sunburn”
  20. “Antioxidants.” MedlinePlus. March 01, 2018.
  21. Magee, Elaine. “10 Nutrient-Rich Super Foods.” WebMD. 2010.

Intermittent Fasting: What’s All the Hype?

Growing up, I was taught breakfast was always the most important meal of the day. So, you can understand my surprise when intermittent fasting (IF) was introduced to me. No breakfast? No more midnight snacks? The horror.

However, IF is not a diet. It is a pattern of eating.

In the simplest of terms, intermittent fasting is the act of only allowing yourself to eat in a certain window of 6-10 hours. For example, if you eat dinner at 8pm you wouldn’t eat again until 12pm the next day.

How does intermittent fasting work?

As you eat, the body takes that energy from the food and stores it in the liver as glycogen. Glycogen is a “readily mobilized storage form of glucose”.1 When you fast for 10-12 hours, your body begins to deplete that glycogen storage. When that glycogen storage is very low, the body releases fat cells into the bloodstream. These fat cells travel to your liver and are converted into energy for your body. This means that your body starts to burn fat for energy rather than the food you’d typically be eating all day to keep your body going.2

Why intermittent fast? What are the benefits?

  • Weight loss: Fasting increases your metabolic rate due to low insulin levels, high growth hormone production levels, and an elevated supply of noradrenaline. All of this helps breakdown the fat in our bodies, allowing us to burn more calories, and thus lose more weight.3
  • Improvements in brain health: According to the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford Law School, our brains heighten synaptic plasticity when we are fasting. This is the place in our brain where most of our learning and memory occurs. Intermittent fasting also improves cognitive function, increases growth of new neurons, and prevents and alleviates depression and anxiety.4
  • Cellular repair and disease prevention: When we fast, our cells begin the autophagy process. The autophagy process removes harmful proteins and clears out any damaged cells. Autophagy also helps boost cellular health and repair, giving it a key role in preventing diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, liver disease, autoimmune diseases and infections”.5
  • Heart health: According to studies conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology information, short-term fasting has the ability to lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triacylglycerol concentrations. Lowering these risk factors has the ability to promote a healthy heart and prevent cardiovascular disease. 6 7
  • Inflammation reduction:  When there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidant defense, inflammation in the body occurs. This development is referred to as oxidative stress. IF has been proven to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, making IF an important role in pain control and prevention.8
  • Longer lifespan: In a study, by the Gerontology Research Center of the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, MD, found that rats on an IF regime lived 83% longer than rats consuming a diet of eating when they please. While health studies conducted on animals should be taken with a grain of salt, given what we know about inflammation reduction and increase metabolism during IF, IF may have the possibility to extend lifespan. 9 10

What are the different methods? Which one is right for me?

Water and non-caloric beverages are permitted for consumption during all fast.

  • The 16/8 fast: This is the most common method of IF. This method involves eating in an 8-hour window during the day and fasting for the other 16 hours of the day, every day. While many people stop eating at 8pm, skip breakfast the next morning, and begin eating again at noon, pick a time frame that works best for your body and lifestyle.11
  • The 24-hour fasts: This method involves eating normally during the week and reserving one or two days out of the week to do 24 full hour fasts. This method should be done with caution. Doing a 24 hour fast is more difficult that the 16/8 fast due to the hunger, especially if you are exercising during the fast.12
  • The 5:2 fast: Similar to the 24-hour fast, this calorie deficit fast is comprised of eating 500-600 calories two days out of the week and eating normally the other five days of the week.13
  • The Every-Other-Day fast: This fast alternates every other day, meaning that you would eat normally one day, fast the next, eat normally the day after that, and so on. This fast is one of the more difficult, as you will be living with increased hunger half of your week.14
  • The Warrior Diet: This fast is comprised of fasting during the day and eating a large meal within a 4-hour window at night.15

If starting a structured IF plan every day seems too challenging for your schedule or health, skipping a meal here and there is a great way to begin. While a certain method might work well for you, it is important to eat a variety of healthy foods during the process to receive the health benefits intermittent fasting has to offer.


  1. Berg, Jeremy M. “Glycogen Metabolism.” Advances in Pediatrics. January 01, 1970.
  2. Anton, Stephen D., Keelin Moehl, William T. Donahoo, Krisztina Marosi, Stephanie Lee, Arch G. Mainous, Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, and Mark P. Mattson. “Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying Health Benefits of Fasting.” Advances in Pediatrics. February 2018.
  3. Gunnars, Kris, BSc. “10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting.” Healthline. August 16, 2016.
  4. Bair, Stephanie. “Intermittent Fasting: Try This at Home for Brain Health.” Stanford Law School. January 9, 2015.
  5. Glick, Danielle, Sandra Barth, and Kay F. Macleod. “Autophagy: Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms.” Advances in Pediatrics. May 2010.
  6. Gunnars, Kris, BSc. “10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting.”
  7. Varady, K. A., S. Bhutani, E. C. Church, and M. C. Klempel. “Short-term Modified Alternate-day Fasting: A Novel Dietary Strategy for Weight Loss and Cardioprotection in Obese Adults.” Advances in Pediatrics. November 2009.
  8. Johnson, J. B., W. Summer, R. G. Cutler, B. Martin, D. H. Hyun, V. D. Dixit, M. Pearson, M. Nassar, R. Telljohann, S. Maudsley, O. Carlson, S. John, D. R. Laub, and M. P. Mattson. “Alternate Day Calorie Restriction Improves Clinical Findings and Reduces Markers of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Overweight Adults with Moderate Asthma.” Advances in Pediatrics. March 01, 2007.
  9. Gunnars, Kris, BSc. “10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting.”
  10. Goodrick, Charles L., Donald K. Ingram, Mark A. Reynolds, John R. Freeman, and Nancy L. Cider. “Effects of Intermittent Feeding Upon Growth and Life Span in Rats.” Karger Publishers. April 06, 2009.
  11. Gunnars, Kris, BSc. “6 Popular Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting.” Healthline. June 4, 2017.
  12. Gunnars, Kris, BSc. “6 Popular Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting.”
  13. Gunnars, Kris, BSc. “6 Popular Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting.”
  14. Gunnars, Kris, BSc. “6 Popular Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting.”
  15. Gunnars, Kris, BSc. “6 Popular Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting.”