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How to Overcome Emotional Eating(part 3)

How to Overcome Emotional Eating(part 3)

The Mental Mind Shift is the focus of part 3 in the series of How to Overcome Emotional Eating. So far, we have discussed simple ways to incorporate moderate exercise, simple dietary modifications, and meditation to help empower you to overcome emotional eating. The potential benefits of nutritional supplementation along with 3 specific categories of supplements were laid out in part 2 of How to Overcome Emotional Eating. On to Part 3 – The Mental Mind Shift, and how to further strengthen the power of your “Thinking Brain.”

Until now in your quest to prevent Emotional Overeating, you’ve seen some changes in your eating patterns because you’ve adopted a healthy diet, you're exercising regularly and meditating, and you may even be taking the suggested supplements, but then WHAM, you’re hit with stress and your Emotional Brain goes berserk.  It has become the most single-minded, block-everything-else-out, monster and it is in PAIN. It has one and only one goal in mind, to relieve the pain, it must eat.

This is a habit you have created over the years, and someway, somehow it is serving your immediate needs, but the long term effects are without a doubt failing health and lower self-esteem.

All habits have three components: 1) triggers 2) routines 3) rewards.

Your Emotional Overeating habit has the same three components. 1)Trigger=stress 2) routine=overeat 3) reward=feel good.


Repeated over and over again this pattern becomes ingrained.  Ironically, the least productive way of overcoming this urge is by resisting it. Once your trigger has been sparked, your Emotional Brain will go on autopilot until the reward has been achieved. That’s right; resistance is futile, resistance creates more stress.

A better strategy is to create a new habit.   It is your Thinking Brain that will create the new habit.  If you have read this far, you are to be congratulated and encouraged. It means your Thinking Brain can focus and learn. You have the potential to change your habit!

Step 1- Identify the triggers. When you have the urge to overeat ask yourself, “Is there a common person, place, time of day, or event that sparks the urge?” What emotions were you feeling when this happens? It is important to link the answer to the first question with the identified emotion.  It may take a few overeating binges but keep observing; the answerers will come to you.

Step 2- As you are playing out/succumbing to overeating, ask yourself “Is the act of overeating satisfying the emotionally triggered urge?” 

Step 3- Substitute a different activity and test if the new activity satisfies the emotionally triggered urge. Here are a few examples: walk outside, watch a short comedy, smile in the mirror, or my favorite, a five-minute meditation. Keep on testing different activities until you find the one that satisfies the emotionally triggered urge.

Step 4- Once you’ve identified the emotion you are trying to satisfy, and you have discovered an activity that satisfies the emotion, you need to write out and prepare before the next triggered happens. For example,  “When I get home from work (time trigger), and I feel lonely (the emotion of woe is me), I will write out what I am grateful for (feeling that I have a lot of joy in my life).” Another example-“When my Dad (person trigger )calls to “talk”(triggering the emotion of I’m not good enough) I will look at pictures of my kids because that gives me the feeling of “I am good enough.”  In both of these examples, the previous habit of overeating satisfied an emotional need. By planning before the event, you have the ability to create a more empowering habit.

As you have just read, Overcoming Emotional Eating, at best takes a multi-faceted approach that doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. There are many factors that come into play.  Please let me know how these strategies work for you, or of any other strategies you have found helpful in dealing with Emotional Eating. 

Part 1

Part 2

How to Overcome Emotional Eating(part 2)

How to Overcome Emotional Eating (part 2

Welcome to part 2 of How to Overcome Emotional Eating. You are either very curious by nature and felt compelled to read each of the segments in this 3 part series, or you need a little more assistance to overcome emotional eating. Part 1 in the series discussed why emotional eating happens and gave three strategies to get you started. Here we will talk about flexing the power of your “Thinking Brain” over your “Emotional Brain” and the positive boost supplementation may have on this process.

In the spirit of full disclosure, there is a third portion of the brain we need to bring into this discussion to fully understand the challenges your Thinking Brain must overcome to help you beat Emotional Eating. 

The “Primitive Brain” is the oldest and most domineering part of the brain. Located in the brain stem, the Primitive Brain’s job is survival; after all, it controls heart rate and breathing. It controls you. You may be thinking, “there is no way an old part of my brain is more powerful than “me.” By the way, the concept of “me” exists in your “Thinking Brain,” located in your frontal lobe. Okay, lets put this to the test. If you were given a choice of having a million dollars or taking your next breath, it wouldn’t matter if “You” chose the million dollars, you will, without thinking, take your next breath.

This illustrates the influence of each area of your brain. From most to least influential-Primitive Brain, Emotional Brain then Thinking Brain. Your actions and reactions are driven by the needs of each of these brain areas.

The Primitive Brain is wired instinctually for immediate protection from the environment and keeping you alive. The “Emotional Brain” dictates how we interact with others and responds to our desire for social acceptance. The newest part of the brain, the Thinking Brain is keeping you involved in the thought process of reading this blog and figuring out how its concepts apply to your life. Your Thinking Brain can influence both the Emotional and Primitive Brain, but it takes understanding and training.  Let me illustrate.  I said before if I gave you a choice between a million dollars and your next breath, regardless of what you think or feel, your primitive brain would kick in and force you to take that breath. But if I changed the scenario a little and had the million dollars at the end of a 100-yard pool and you had to swim underwater to get to it, your thinking brain might have a chance to override the Primitive Brain and get both the bucks and breath.



I am often asked, and would imagine most doctors are asked, “What can I take to help?” My answer is always the same. The two biggest influences on your mental function are the foods you eat and how frequently you move your body. If these are not addressed, no number of supplements will have any lasting effect. So, assuming you are eating well and regularly moving or exercising, there are supplements that have been shown to be quite beneficial when dealing with Emotional Overeating.


1)      Adaptogens: Adaptogens are a category of supplements that have the unique characteristic of “smoothing a stress response”. Adaptogens will support either an exaggerated or insufficient stress response. The word Adaptogen means creating an ability to adapt. The adaptogens I recommend are Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Ginseng.

2)      5-HTTP:  Serotonin is the chemical produced in your brain that makes you feel happy.  5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin.  That means the body uses 5-HTP to make serotonin. The most researched and safest way to raise serotonin is by taking a supplement called 5-HTP. Other effects besides making you feel happy are a positive effect on sleep, mood, and anxiety.

MCT OIL or Healthy Bran Fat: The third recommended category of supplements is those that increase healthy fat to the brain; after all your brain is composed of 60% fat. Fat is vital for nerves to fire; therefore, your thoughts and emotions need healthy fats. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), particularly from coconut oil, is very beneficial for the brain and body.  Use caution when purchasing MCT Oil. It should only be derived from coconuts and, although Lauric Acid has other benefits, improving brain health isn’t among them.

Do the recommendation in these first two post and you will be prepared for next week's part 3 of “How to Overcome Emotional Eating”.

Part 1

How to Overcome Emotional Eating. (part 1)

How to Overcome Emotional Eating (part 1)


In this 3 part series, we’ll examine why we are prone to eating our emotions, how to outsmart yourself out of emotional eating, and when necessary, what it means to call in the reserves to successfully reach your goals instead of a bag of potato chips.

A patient, we’ll call Mary, recently came to see me. Three years ago, she successfully completed a metabolic makeover; she looked great, felt 20 years younger and couldn’t believe how mentally aware and alive she acted. Not to mention her glee over her 30lb. weight loss. Her biggest fear she related to me back then was “when I get emotional, I eat junk food.”  She managed to keep her healthy lifestyle for two years then major stressors entered her life and she started eating junk food again. She gained all the weight back and developed severe joint pain and brain fog, both of which she was now on medication to manage. Then she reentered my office.

Most people who enter my office with chronic conditions have success after fully understanding all the factors affecting their condition and following a protocol that eliminates the causes one by one.  However; the most challenging complication to overcoming chronic problems is “Emotional Eating.”

Why do I crave junk food when I’m stressed?

People eat junk food when stressed because sugary and fatty foods raise serotonin and dopamine. When these feel-good chemicals in your brain increase, you will temporarily experience a spike in happiness and motivation. But these foods also create obesity, inflammation, and diabetes. Despite knowing Emotional Eating is only providing a short-term boost and giving in to it will be harmful, your “Emotional Brain” easily overpowers your “Thinking Brain.”

Is your brain thinking or doing?

Here is a huge clue to overcoming Emotional Eating:  Your thinking brain needs to understand the why of this occurring and then be able to identify when your emotional brain takes over and you dive into chocolate covered sugar bombs. Since your Emotional Brain directs your moment to moment reactions, you need to strengthen your Thinking Brain. This is not an easy task, but it is doable. Here are your first steps:

1)      Exercise-I know, if you don’t like to exercise your first thought is probably “ugh.” That should tell you which part of your brain is in charge. Your emotional brain is saying “nope, I’m not going to exercise,” but your thinking brain is saying, “get off your butt.”  Perhaps you would be willing to start walking for ten minutes a day? Try not to think of it as exercise – think of it as increasing your brain power.  Walking just 10 minutes per day will strengthen your “Thinking Brain’s” muscle to flex over your “Emotional Brain.” And, you’ll burn a few calories.


2)      Diet-Did I hear you “ugh” again? In my book “The Whole Body Cure” I try to give very specific nutritional protocols for health related issues. But since we are discussing Emotional Eating try the simplest diet I know: If you can’t read it don’t eat it.  Yes, it is that simple.

3)      Meditation-Relax, it’s not all ohmmm stuff. If you already meditate then you have felt the benefits. If you haven’t, what do you have to lose? Research is 100% clear; meditation is one of the best and safest ways to improve “Thinking Brain” function. If you have never meditated, I suggest you try any 7-minute meditation for seven days and see if you feel just a little bit calmer or less anxious. Apps like Calm or Headspace can help you start your meditation journey. 


You’ve heard it over and over again, “exercise and eat right and you’ll be on the path to good health.” It can be true for some but not easy for most, especially if you fall victim to emotional eating. Decreasing the time and intensity of exercise to a 10-minute walk is not as daunting as committing to a gym membership and tugging on Lycra pants. Eating foods that don’t even need a label, like an apple or orange is a great way to shift your eating habits. Meditation, as little as seven minutes has been shown to improve your Thinking Brain’s influence over your Emotional Brain. If these strategies are all it takes for you to overcome emotional eating, congratulations, keep up the good work. Need some more help? Read part 2 of “How to Overcome Emotional Eating.”

Could Your Anxiety Be Genetic?
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Could your anxiety be genetic?

There is a simple to challenge to find out.

There are many known factors that contribute to anxiety, but one that is rarely discussed is a genetic variant that can inhibit traditional care. You may wonder, “how can I make a change if my problem is genetic?” In fact knowing your anxiety stems from a genetic variant will empower you to possibly find a more appropriate path to feeling better.

Let me explain:

Your brain is influenced by a number of chemicals called neurotransmitters, chemicals which pass messages from one nerve cell to another.Two of the most influential neurotransmitters are Glutamate and GABA.

•    Glutamate excites the brain

•    GABA slows the brain

As you may have guessed, an imbalance between glutamate and GABA may have an adverse effect on your mental state. Too much glutamate may equal more anxiety.


Glutamate turns into GABA in the brain. A number of things influence this process, including your genes. If you happen to have the gene variant that inhibits the process, you may be expressing it in the form of anxiety.

Take the Alpha-ketoglutaric acid challenge

When taken as a supplement, the body should turn Alpha-Ketoglutaric Acid(AKG) into glutamate and then GABA. If you have this genetic variant, the body can't convert glutamate into GABA, in essence temporarily creating too much glutamate and the resulting symptoms.

The test: Take 1000 to 1500 mg of Alpha-Ketoglutaric Acid. You will be symptom-free if your body successfully converts it to GABA. But if you have the genetic variant your body will have a problem completing the conversion, and you may notice excitability, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, or gut disturbances. You might have to do this challenge for a few days to notice any changes.

What to do if the result is positive?

 If this is positive you will want to develop a strategy to increase GABA through supplementation. You can also add supplements that support GABA, such as l-theanine, l-taurine, vitamin b-6, Valerian, and lithium orotate.

What else can you do?

 •    With your prescribing doctor, you may want to readdress some of your medications. Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, may be difficult to withdraw from because of the resistance you build up over time.

•    Avoid MSG. This is one of the largest contributing factors on raising unnatural Glutamate levels in the body and brain. This may cause what is called the Chinese food syndrome.  MSG raises glutamate and if your body can't convert it to GABA, it may lead to hyper-excitable symptoms like a racing heart rate, headaches, stomach problems, among others. By the way, MSG goes by many different names. Get educated on other names MSG goes by.

•    Exercise has also been shown to restore neurotransmitters to a healthy level.

•    Organic Acid Tests and genetic tests can zero in on a cellular and genetic level to see what influençable markers you have and to develop more powerful strategies to overcome your anxieties.

If you experience thoughts of doing harm to yourself or others, seek help from a mental health professional.

Anxiety may be expressed in many ways, and there are many causes. If there is an influenceable cause, wouldn’t you want to know? I hope this article helps.

corey kirshnerComment
5 Tips to Help You Eat Healthy During the Holidays

The holiday season can be a real test to eating healthy for all of us. You do not have to completely sabotage your healthy routine. Yes, you may be tempted and you should be able to enjoy yourself without feeling all the guilt. Still take the time to nourish your body with the following tips to help you navigate through all the holiday temptation.

  1. Keep Hydrated! Did you know that keeping yourself hydrated will help with any cravings and can also assist with any over eating? Drinking plenty of water and keeping yourself hydrated will help you re-assess your craving. 
  2. Bring something to the party. There’s nothing like bringing a covered dish or your favorite desert to the holiday party. This allows you to make something on the healthy side or for you to create those dishes that are a fit for any stomach or intolerances you may have. Think of some healthy holiday trail mixes or low-calorie side dishes. Try making some healthy versions of your favorite holiday treats. There are lots of wonderful recipes online that can help. 
  3. Eat the good stuff during the day and before you go to the party. Eating well during the day and then eating prior to going to your holiday function will help you make better choices when you arrive. Look to fill up your plate at the party with the healthy choices first. 
  4. Watch your drinks. Alcohol does a few things, it can be loaded with calories but it also can assist you in making bad choices when eating. Pace yourself and make drink choices that aren’t loaded with sugar and mixers. 
  5. It’s a mindset. If you have a routine the holidays shouldn’t give you a pass to veer off course. Stick to the routines you're used to and know that you may stumble but you have to get back into the groove of that routine. Don’t make the holidays your excuse for bad decisions. 

Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends. Savor all the wonderful foods that you will have and don’t feel too guilty about it. This holiday eat well and be merry!

Corey KirshnerComment
Top 5 Reasons To Eat a Ketogenic Diet

The Ketogenic Diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. So let’s put down the bread and increase your brain power!

The “Keto” in Ketogenic comes from “Ketones,” the small fuel molecules produced when you eat very few carbs and only moderate amounts of proteins.

The goal of a Ketogenic diet is for your body to switch its fuel supply to run entirely on fat. 

  1. Losing the Pounds: Transforming your body into a fat-burning machine makes it a weight loss machine. Revving up  fat burning puts the breaks on the production of insulin – the fat storing hormone, creating ideal circumstances in which fat loss can occur, without hunger.
  2. Jedi Knight Mental Focus: Ketosis provides a steady flow of fuel (ketones) to the brain, unlike the big energy swings that occur from burning sugar (glycolysis), often resulting in the experience of increased focus and improved concentration.
  3. Let’s get Physical: Ketogenic diets can vastly increase your physical endurance by giving you access to the energy available in your fat stores. When your body primarily burns carbohydrates your fat stores are not easily available and they can’t fuel your brain. Burning sugar makes you hangry (hungry and angry). Burning fat makes you heppy (happy and energetic).
  4. Settle the Stomach: It’s common to experience fewer stomach ailments and complaints on a Ketogenic diet. You may produce less gas, be less nausea, experience less cramping and have fewer bouts of diarrhea. You may even get relief from constant heartburn, allowing you to shelve the antacids.
  5. Less Acne: Many people experience less acne and fewer breakouts. A low glycemic diet, often in combination with the elimination of dairy products and the addition of fruits and vegetables has been shown to reduce acne, decrease body mass index and the risk of type2 diabetes.

Before making dietary changes be sure to check with your physician or health care provider.

Corey KirshnerComment
The Role of Food in Your IBS

We are constantly being barraged with plates and pyramids dictating what makes up a healthy diet. Low-fat, moderate fat, only a little protein or a protein portion the size of your palm; lots of fruits and vegetables or lots of grains; none is the perfect answer for everyone. As a matter of fact, some of those guidelines may actually cause your IBS symptoms to flare up. There is no one size fits all answer when it comes to relieving IBS symptoms, but we will say that over the years we have found some common threads with our patients. 

Fiber - Yeah we know it should be good for you. Fiber is the thing that adds healthy bulk to your diet.  Buzz words like "whole grains" may be appealing, but they may not always be a good choice. Fiber can aggravate your symptoms, especially your diarrhea. Your best bet is to look for soluble fibers like vegetables and fruits. For those with a more sensitive system we often recommend cooking vegetables for easier digestion.

Grains - As discussed above, grains are known to aggravate IBS symptoms. Because of their inflammatory nature we often have patients steer clear of ALL grains, at least until symptoms calm down. Some patients are able to reintroduce grains successfully over time; however, patients with Celiac Disease or non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity are often limited to grains that do not contain   rye, wheat, barley, or other grains known to induce a cross-sensitive reaction. 

Foods that are Fried - We all love french fries, but fried foods are really hard on your gut, especially for those struggling with IBS. 

Beans and Coffee - IBS can appear as diarrhea or constipation, or alternate between the two. Either way it's unpleasant. We often hear about things like beans and coffee “helping things along” but we also hear how they can overshoot the mark and have a bad result. Your best bet: if you already know a food bothers you, don't eat it.

Milk - Like grains, dairy products are known to be inflammatory. For you, this may mean typical IBS symptoms like constipation or diarrhea, in others it may cause joint pain, bloating, or skin problems. Like grains, we often have patients eliminate all dairy until symptoms go away, then we add it back into your diet, one product at a time for a fews day to see how you feel. 

There is no cookie cutter solution for each person suffering from IBS even though we often see identical symptoms in those suffering with it. Everyone has a different underlying cause. Keep a journal and list what you eat and when you have problems.  These suggestions should be a good starting point for relieving your pain. 

Come to one of our FREE Workshops where Dr. Kirshner will answer all your questions about your IBS.

Corey Kirshner
Listen To Your Mother

Listen To Your Mother, She Knows What She's Talking About.

Remember when you were a kid rushing out the door and your mother’s voice would float through the air encouraging you: “Take a jacket; it’s going to be cold outside.” Maybe you paused for a second to consider her suggestion or, like most of us, without skipping a beat; you went on your merry way only to be cold later. Of course you never admitted that once again your mother was right!

When it comes to living a long, healthy, vibrant life three pieces of mom’s advice are continually supported by science, not just her uncanny intuition:

Number 1 – Eat your vegetables! Yes, it is really that simple. Although mom may not have had a degree in nutrition, she instinctively knew vegetables are a secret health weapon. Add a variety of vegetables that are rich in color to every meal. Spice up those boring scrambled eggs with sautéed spinach and salsa. At lunchtime, ditch the bread and wrap your grilled chicken and veggies in a dark green lettuce leaf. Dinner is a great time to try a vegetable you have been shying away from. Roasting Brussels Sprouts brings out their natural sweetness and tames the bitter cabbage flavor. Snacking on celery filled with peanut butter satisfies the desire for “crunch” while providing fiber and protein to keep you full until the next meal.

Number 2 – “Turn off that darn machine.” The old adage “move it or lose” is true. It doesn’t take long to lose muscle strength, flexibility, and balance. Physical prowess is not the only thing sacrificed by being a couch potato – your emotional wellbeing and brain health will also be challenged. After dinner, go for a walk around the block. Ride your bike to the store. If you must watch Dancing with the Stars get up and test your moves.

Number 3- Learn something new. Studies have shown one of the key components to maintaining brain health is to learn a new skill. Planning a trip abroad? Learn the native language, what better way is there to find the best local sites? Have you been thinking about picking up some knitting needles? Many charities appreciate knitted blankets and caps for newborns in need? Want to make mom really proud? Fulfill all three of her favorite suggestions by planting a vegetable garden, learn about soil and sunlight, and maintain rows of proliferating vines then sit down to a meal of freshly grown vegetables.

This Mother’s Day before you rush out the door to brunch or the kid’s soccer game, take a moment and connect with mom, maybe say thanks for her wisdom, and don’t forget your sweater.  Listen to your mother, you may be suprised. 

Corey Kirshner
You want fabulous hair, skin and strong nails? You can have them!

Admit it, you want to look your best but sometimes no matter what you do you’re just not happy when you look in the mirror. Let’s put away the pretense of not being shallow and get to work on looking good.

You’re after strong nails that won’t split and flake with the slightest bump. Thick, radiant hair and luminous skin round out the picture. But how do you make this happen?

First you owe it to yourself to read the labels on the products you are using. Can you pronounce the ingredients without having a master’s degree in chemistry? Find a knowledgeable professional who uses high quality ingredients that don’t create more of a toxic load to stress your system.

About that toxic load: why isn’t your body able to eliminate it without your hair, skin and nails suffering? Innately all your body was created to do was survive, so it will prioritize which organs get fed first in order to achieve that goal. Highest on the priority list are you brain and heart. Guess what is at the bottom? That’s right, your hair, skin and nails; these will be robbed of nutrients for more essential body functions.

Your skin, the largest external elimination organ of the body is susceptible to a barrage of invaders, from free radical damage to oxidative stress, your skin doesn’t stand a chance if it’s not given the proper support. Free radical damage can be reduced by eliminating smoking, excess sugar and chemicals found in processed foods. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, including berries, dark leafy greens, bell peppers and more will help protect against oxidative stress.

imagesYour liver is your largest internal elimination organ, and as you may have guessed it works hand in hand with your skin. Don’t believe it? Try this experiment: cut an onion then massage the exposed portion into the bottom of your foot, wait a few minutes then see what you taste in your mouth. What you put on your body affects what happens in your body!  Treat you liver kindly with cruciferous vegetables like kale and broccoli and your skin and hair will thank you.

Healthy protein from whole eggs, free range and cage free animal sources are also essential to health inside and out. Healthy oils like coconut and olive will feed your brain and hair, skin and nails. You can also find healthy oils in avocados and raw nuts. You have probably been told these foods are high in calories, and that is true but they are also high in essential nutrients. Besides, if you are counting calories you are probably eating the wrong ones.

Try these tips for a few weeks and see if it helps. If you continue to have skin issues or if you want to have a more in depth evaluation please feel free to call the office at 610-435-1777.


Corey Kirshner
Why is Vitamin D Important?

Why is Vitamin D Important?

Hearing the words unrecognized pandemic can elicit fear in the most even tempered person. However; learning that you may have control over your exposure to this so called pandemic should come as some relief. To protect yourself you don’t need to get a shot, have your home debugged, or limit your travel. You probably don’t even need any special lotions or potions, you just need to have a simple understanding of why vitamin D is important.

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” has a receptor site on every cell in your body, which means every cell in your body needs vitamin D for some function. A healthy level of vitamin D is needed to “maintain bone health throughout life, but also plays an important role in reducing risk of many chronic diseases including type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, deadly cancers, heart disease and infectious diseases.” 1

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may include: 

  • Fatigue
  • General muscle pain and weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Restless sleep
  • Poor concentration
  • Headaches
  • Bladder problems
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Would you take action if protecting yourself from this global scourge required having fun and eating foods you like?

After having a breakfast containing whole eggs (yolks are a significant source of dietary vitamin D), go play outside for 15 or 20 minutes and you will be well on your way to satisfying your body’s daily need for vitamin D, and you will have done your part to protect yourself from a pandemic.

In truth, maintaining a healthy vitamin D level may be that simple. Because of a concern about skin cancer many people have done themselves a disservice by shying away from daily sun exposure by not going into the sun at all, using excessive amounts of sunscreen, or completely covering their skin when they are outside, thus becoming part of the pandemic. Although some vitamin D is found in food, it is not enough to maintain a healthy level. Moderate sun exposure is still the most effective way to ward off the ill effects of vitamin D deficiency.

Evaluation by a qualified professional is an important step in determining if you have a vitamin D deficiency, if it is the cause of your health concerns or the effect.

To learn more about why vitamin D is important, what is considered an optimal level, and the risks of not maintaining healthy levels click the links below:

1 The vitamin D deficiency pandemic and consequences for nonskeletal health: mechanisms of action.

Holick, MF-Department of Medicine, Section of Endocrinology, Nutrition, and Diabetes, Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.


Corey Kirshner
What is Your Poop Telling You?

What is Your Poop Telling You?

We may all be adults here but there are some subjects we still feel embarrassed talking about, and bowel movements is one of them. The list of funny names we call our excrement is nearly as long as the things about us it may reveal. Some equate examining our poop to the ancient art of reading tea leaves. So, pull up a stool, have a seat and let’s get down to business.

Important stuff you need to know:

Stool color is important and can be an indicator of serious health conditions that may need immediate attention. For instance, if your stool is bright red or black this may indicate the presence of blood. Please seek medical attention.  Your stool reflects what you eat and the color will change accordingly, but not all colors or changes are normal.  Yellow means something different than green, which means something different than brown. Admit it, you peek in the bowl; please share the information with your health care provider. It’s significant.
It is not normal to not poop every day, after all, you eat every day. If you aren’t regular – and daily is regular- where is the poop hiding? You only have so many feet of intestines. The perfect poop is a well formed, golden brown stool and should make an appearance about 3 hours after a meal, but if you have a successful visit once per day most doctors would consider that to be in the normal range too. Ongoing constipation or diarrhea may be a sign of a more serious condition. Surprisingly, there are many non-gastrointestinal conditions related to irregular bowel movements. A common complaint of thyroid patients is digestive distress.
Shape matters. There is even an “official” identification chart used by practitioners called The Bristol Stool Chart. Pooping pebbles? Sounds like you may be constipated. The question you need to ask is why. Is it because of illness or are you eating an unhealthy diet? Pooping fluffy pieces or something closer to brown pee equals diarrhea. Again, the important question is why. Unfortunately,  IBS patients suffer frequent bouts of diarrhea and are often afraid to engage in life because of the constant fear of embarrassing accidents.                                                                                         
Using the expression “I feel like crap” can actually be fairly accurate. Your brain and digestive tract are intimately related. As a matter of fact, the gut is often called the second brain. So when your emotional health is in the can it may very well have everything to do with your poopy poop process. By creating a sort of electrical circuit between your brain base and gut, your Vagus Nerve, the longest of your cranial nerves, tells your brain when food has been ingested and digested. Any interruption in this circuitry can cause serious problems like a loss of muscular function in the stomach and intestines, sending you running or doubled over in pain.
Although your body has many subtle ways of giving you signs about your health, your stool carries perhaps the biggest load of information. Color, consistency, sinking or swimming, all attributes are important. So, what is your poop telling you?

Corey Kirshner
Finding the Cause of Your Peripheral Neuropathy

Trying to explain what peripheral neuropathy is, and how finding the cause of your peripheral neuropathy is essential to your successful treatment, may seem daunting in the space of a blog post. At times it can be a very easy condition to address and fix, but more frequently it is very complex.

Peripheral neuropathy means the nerves outside of your spinal cord are damaged. Although often related to diseases like diabetes, the nerve damage ultimately comes from one of five things.

Five common causes of Peripheral Neuropathy:

1. Nerves are not getting enough nutrients (fuel) to stay healthy.

2. Nerves are not being activated, or used enough to stay healthy.

3. Nerves are being deprived of oxygen.

4. Nerves are being compressed, and from the point of compression on down, they are dying because of a lack of fuel, oxygen or activation.

5. Or, you are suffering from a combination of all of the above.

Depending upon the cause of your peripheral neuropathy, and which nerves are affected, you will eventually have symptoms like pain, tingling and numbness predominately in your feet, but it may spread to your hands as well. As nerves continue to die these symptoms will worsen and start to affect other tissue. The most commonly affected is the cerebellum, the part of your brain that controls eye movement, balance, and coordination of movement, so it is not coincidental that along with your peripheral neuropathy you may also have trouble balancing.

Try this test: stand in a relaxed manner, putting more weight on your left foot, then try to place your right foot on the floor directly in front of the left, touching the right heal to the left toe. Were you able to keep your balance? Now switch sides and try again? You should not wobble.

Pain is a normal, natural and essential sensation for your body to experience. It tells you something is wrong. Medications may truly give you relief from your pain symptoms, but relief only occurs while taking the medication; it masks symptoms for as long as you continue taking it. When you stop, you are still left with the underlying condition – your peripheral neuropathy. It has not been cured. And what’s worse, the entire time your symptoms and pain were being masked there is a good chance your nerves degenerated further. The purpose of medication is to change your brain chemistry NOT find the root cause of your symptoms. How will you ever regain healthy nerves if you don’t find which of the 5 causes of peripheral neuropathy you are suffering from?

Patient A and Patient B both suffered from peripheral neuropathy. Both had symptoms that were continuing to worsen. Patient A was 57 and Patient B was 62. Both were on Lyrica to minimize pain yet, their pain was slowly increasing, especially the burning foot pain at night.

Patient A suffered from diabetes and blood tests also revealed macrocytic anemia. Both conditions can deprive nerves of adequate fuel and oxygen. Knowing 2 of the causes of peripheral neuropathy are a lack of fuel (nutrients) and a lack of oxygen to the nerves, a fairly simple treatment plan was developed for Patient A. One which got his blood sugar under control and supported the efficient transport of oxygen rich blood. Within 4 months Patient A related that his peripheral neuropathy pain was gone, his use of Lyrica eliminated, and his blood sugar which was 160-180 with meds before treatment was reduced to 85-110 after treatment enabling him to decrease is diabetes medication by 75%.

Patient B, also diabetic, presented a more complex case. In addition to his diabetes, his initial examination showed he was suffering from loss of “wide diameter afferent neurons.” These nerves, when healthy, block pain. With this information treatment was directed to stabilize blood sugar and improve activation of these “wide diameter afferent nerves.” It was explained to Patient B that this treatment would take longer to see results. Five months into the care he related an 80% reduction of pain intensity and he was able to sleep at night with no pain.

Even though their peripheral neuropathy symptoms seemed the same, it took a careful individual assessment to find the underlying cause or causes in each case. Finding the cause of your peripheral neuropathy is the first step in a successful, drug free plan to improve nerve health and live a pain free life.

Corey Kirshner
Why Are My Hands and Feet Always Cold?

Why Are My Hands and Feet Always Cold?

It’s a warm and slightly humid 82 degree end of summer kind of day. Bright sun, kids heading back to school, thoughts of reorganizing and cleaning out the house are pervasive as we move from one season to the next. If you look carefully the outer tips of leaves are starting to change, some have even begun to fall bringing with them thoughts of apple picking, football and pumpkins. A wonderful stirring of emotions until you remember this seasonal change brings with it a drop in temperature and the longing for spring when your hands and feet will be warm again. Unfortunately, some of us don’t even enjoy the reprieve of summer; we spend our days wondering “why are my hands and feet always cold?”

Contrary to popular belief cold hands and feet don’t just happen, they are a symptom of something not working optimally in your body that the warmest of mittens won’t fix. Although there can be a number of CAUSES for your cold hands and feet, it’s important not to fall too quickly into the trap of focusing on one single thing as the culprit.

Possible causes of cold hands and feet:

  • Anemia and other nutritional deficiencies
  • Autoimmune diseases like Raynaud’s and Hashimoto’s
  • Over active sympathetic nerves
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Thyroid Dysfunction 

Chances are you have been researching your condition and understand my caution when reading the above list. For those new to this information let me explain. All of the conditions listed have the ability to cause cold hands and feet on their own BUT they are most often intertwined with one another. We refer to this as a “web of physiologic dysfunction.” For instance, thyroid dysfunction occurs in approximately 30% of women, some will have anemia and cold hands and feet, or the autoimmune condition known as Raynaud’s and an inability to lose weight, others may be experiencing digestive disorders and depression along with their cold hands and feet. So, again it is essential to consider all the possible culprits.

Let’s look at some of the possibilities more closely starting with thyroid conditions.

As mentioned, 30% of women in the US suffer from thyroid related issues. Your thyroid gland controls your metabolism. Metabolism is your body’s process for turning food into energy. If your thyroid is sluggish your metabolism slows down and so do all of the systems of your body that depend upon it. Cold hands and feet can easily be attributed to poor blood flow to peripheral nerves as a result of faulty metabolism. Other metabolic break downs may appear as hair loss, weight gain, depression, fatigue and digestive disorders.

80% of thyroid related issues actually stem from an autoimmune condition call Hashimoto’s. What does that mean for you? Your thyroid symptoms, fatigue, depression, hair loss, dry skin, digestive disorders and yes, cold hands and feet are secondary to an autoimmune condition. Meaning you generally won’t have one without the other. The web of physiologic dysfunction is in play here. If your thyroid condition is treated without considering the autoimmune component or vice versa there is a high probability you will continue to suffer and allow the underlying cause to wreak havoc on your body.

Anemia, hormonal imbalances and nerve issues, all of which may be related to metabolic breakdown, are also listed above as possible culprits of your cold hands and feet. But as you are learning, these may be the primary problem causing your symptoms OR the secondary problem; remember the role the web of physiologic dysfunction plays in your health. The relationship of anemia in thyroid sufferers is well documented, with some studies claiming as many as 43% of hypothyroid patients having some type of anemia.

In reality you are suffering from two things: the SYMPTOMS – cold hands and feet, and the underlying CAUSES of your condition.

The biggest pitfalls in your care will be treating the symptoms as the problem, and focusing only on one possible cause. Avoid these pitfalls and stop asking “Why are my hands and feet always cold?” Get proper testing, including a complete thyroid panel (not just TSH) with thyroid antibodies, check Vitamin D levels, as low Vitamin D is a precursor for many diseases including autoimmune conditions, and when indicated, test for intestinal permeability, a condition that will cause significant nutritional deficits.

Wouldn’t it be a nice change to enjoy a mug of warm apple cider because of the sweet, spicy dance it performs on your tongue instead of holding onto it for dear life as your hand warmer?

Corey Kirshner
Why Can’t I Eat Anything Without Feeling Sick?

One of the most commonly asked questions among IBS, Crohn’s & Colitis patients is “Why can’t I eat anything without feeling sick?” Typically when people are intolerant to may foods they will direct their attention to the “what” question.  “What can I eat? What will calm down the reaction? What do I take to settle my stomach?” Answering the “what” question will lead to many “solutions” but will not uncover the underlying cause.  “What” solutions are many: restrict your diet, take pills and acid blockers, get tested for food allergies. Or, you can start asking Why you can’t eat anything without feeling sick.

By asking why you can’t eat anything without feeling sick , you are seeking the root cause of your condition, not just a resolution to the effects or symptoms from your condition. Although there are other possible reasons you may be reacting to everything you eat, one of the most common causes is a condition called Intestinal Permeability, or Leaky Gut. Your digestive tract begins with your mouth and ends with, well, your other end. Each part of the system has a specific job, from ingesting food to excreting it, the system is finely tuned to keep your body functioning properly. The job of the small intestine, where Leaky Gut can occur is to breakdown the proteins, fats and carbohydrates from the foods you eat before they enter your blood stream to nourish all the cells of your body. A healthy small intestine is lined with densely packed cells that act as a filter for the broken down particles. The space between these cells are referred to as junctions. A healthy intestine will have tight junctions or a very fine filter. Like the screens in your house, the junctions create a barrier that are meant to let the good stuff in while keeping the bad stuff out. Large undigested particles of food, parasites, and bacteria are all able to pass through the weakened junctions of a leaky gut which alerts the body to a foreign invader causing an inflammatory reaction.

Systemic inflammatory reactions related to Intestinal Permeability: 

Nonspecific joint pain
Brain fog
Skin issues
Without fixing this barrier, you will develop more food intolerances and more systemic inflammatory reactions.  

Going back to the most important question-Why? Why would you have Intestinal Permeability? This question has many answers. Foods sensitivities, low Vitamin D, intestinal parasites, medications, stress, and hyperthyroid or hypothyroid are all known culprits. From these culprits your barrier system will be affected in stages, starting with localized inflammation of the intestinal lining. As the lining continues to degrade your whole immune system will join the battle and, even though the damage is confined to the gut, the whole body immune/inflammatory reaction may cause symptoms anywhere in the body. Brain fog, skin conditions like acne or eczema, headaches, joint pain, and of course food sensitivities are all inflammatory reactions to Leaky Gut.  As leaky gut progresses even further you will develop an accumulation of lipopolysaccharides locally in the gut, which is basically an overgrowth of bad bacteria or sludge on the intestinal wall which further affects the inflammatory process and inhibits digestion, creating a state of malnutrition.

By allowing the condition to persist you are seriously hindering any chance of regaining health. There are tests available to determine if you have Intestinal Permeability and what type you may have. Uncovering this roadblock will help to answer the question “Why can’t I eat anything without feeling sick?”

Dr. Kirshner  holds Free Workshops where you can learn more about your condition and how to control it without medication.

Corey Kirshner
Should I Take Probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are called “good” microorganisms because they benefit the body, specifically the digestive system. Your gut has more bacteria then total human cells in the body. There are over 500 different strains, or types of bacteria in your gut and each of these live strains, just like you, wants to survive, thrive and multiply. So, should you take probiotics? How does your Gut Health Affect Your Brain Health?

Think of all the bacteria in your gut as being embattled in a world war. Many of these strains are fighting for your benefit by making vitamins, detoxifying, and repairing cells. Some bacteria even create healthy neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout your brain and body, hence the term “Gut-Brain Connection.” This explains studies showing that an improvement of good bacteria often results in a positive emotional benefit. Because your gut and brain have this connection, the opposite will also hold true – bad bacteria may create negative emotional and neurologic effects. Therefore, supporting our allies, the beneficial bacterial is critical.

The Power of Sauerkraut

Across enemy lines lie those bacteria that have little benefit and in fact may cause harm. These bad strains are known to create bloating, inflammation, depression, reduction of healthy vitamins, and reduction of healthy neurotransmitters. This may sound familiar to you as the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. For you to win the war, it is important to send in reinforcements to support the healthy troops. This is the role of probiotics. It is also just as important to feed the troops. This is done by taking prebiotics. The stuff that healthy bacteria feed off of, prebiotics are non-digestible foods that make their way through our digestive system and help good bacteria grow and flourish. One of the healthiest categories of prebiotics can be found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, and kimchee.

One thing that all bacteria have in common, both good and bad, is their food source; carbohydrates. Carbohydrates can be classified loosely into two groups: Simple Carbohydrates which are found in unhealthy forms like refined sugar, and candy, and healthy forms like those in fruits. Complex Carbohydrates, also called starches can be found in less healthy refined forms like pasta, bagels, and bread or their healthier forms found in vegetables, beans and legumes. By eliminating specific carbohydrates you are limiting the fuel source for bacteria. This is the premise of many so called gut health diets like FODMAP, SCD and GAPS. But…

“A diet that significantly reduces carbohydrates can reduce the number of BOTH good and bad bacteria.”

A recent study found that low-carbohydrate weight loss diets reduced the number of certain kinds of bacteria in your intestines. One kind of beneficial bacteria, bifidobacteria, were particularly affected. This is a problem because beneficial bacteria in your gut produce butyrate. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that serves as an anti-inflammatory and “fuel of choice” for the cells lining the colon. It is vital for your intestinal health and helps prevent colon cancer. Doctors are concerned that people on low-carb diets may not have enough good bacteria in their intestines to produce protective butyrate, possibly putting them at risk for cancer.

An effective tool to deduce the health of your gut bacteria is a Functional Stool Test. This 3 day test will check gut bacteria count, it will look for an overgrowth of bad bacteria, and check for imbalances between good and bad bacteria. The findings from this test help determine the necessity of taking probiotics.

Why do you want to take Probiotics?

Should I take probiotics? Let’s answer that question with a question. Why would you take them to begin with? What problem are you trying to solve? The answer is, you are hoping to improve gut health; your health. Given this answer taking probiotics may be an important component for improving gut health but to improve overall health it is often prudent to defend your assets using all the forces available in your arsenal.

If you are trying to improve health, taking probiotics along with other strategies may be a good course of action. If you are suffering from the results of your internal bacterial war, then your best chance of success is consulting with someone who is familiar with the intricacies of this problem and how best to navigate your way to better health.

Corey Kirshner
Should I Take Iodine?

This is a question I am frequently asked by thyroid patients. As with most questions of this nature the answer isn’t a simple yes or no, additional questions need to be addressed.


3 most important questions to ask before taking any supplement:

What problem are you trying to solve?
Can the “solution” actually make the problem worse?
Why would you be deficient in iodine and need to consider supplementation?
What are thyroid hormones T4 and T3 and why are they significant?

First a little background. Your thyroid makes many hormones but the two most commonly talked about are T4 and T3. The numbers 4 and 3 refer to how many iodine molecules are on the thyroid hormone. T4 means there are four iodine molecules, T3 means there are 3 molecules.
Your body has roughly 100 trillion cells, all vying for hormones and to be metabolically active. Cells have receptor sites which are specific to the hormones needed like T4 and T3. Metabolic activity occurs when T4 and T3 successfully enter the cell. If the cells are not functioning well, tissues, organs, your whole body in fact begins to degrade. You may feel this as thyroid symptoms including: fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, brain fog, depression, constipation, and infertility to name a few.

When you are healthy and your thyroid is functioning properly it will predominantly produce T4, then the T4 will travel through the body on a mission to be converted to T3 to maintain the correct hormonal balance. Some T4 will be converted to T3 in the liver, more will be converted in the small intestines, and yet more T4 will be converted to T3 by tissue it passes along the way. This conversion process is critical; remember the thyroid predominantly produces T4 but the more active form of thyroid hormone is T3.    

And one more important consideration before I discuss iodine and the need for iodine:

“70% to 90% of hypothyroid patients are actually suffering from an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s.”
This is a condition where the body is destroying its own thyroid gland. The point is, even though you might be suffering from the results of a hormonal (endocrinological) issue, the underlying cause may actually be an immunological issue.

4 Groups of people who usually consider taking iodine supplements.

1)    People with no known thyroid problem who “just want to supplement.” For this group adding foods to the diet with naturally occurring iodine, like fish, some dairy products, sea vegetables, kelp, dark leafy greens like Swiss chard, mustard greens and spinach should be more than adequate to maintain health.

2)    People who have developed or are at risk for developing goiters because of an iodine deficiency. The deficiency may cause the thyroid to enlarge and in turn develop nodules. Many people with goiters will have an enlarged thyroid with few “thyroid” symptoms and should consider taking iodine in combination with Selenium to mitigate adverse reactions to the iodine.

3)    People with hypothyroid conditions not related to an autoimmune condition often consider supplementing with iodine, but this can become complicated. Your thyroid condition may be the result of underactive thyroid, problems with converting T4 to T3 including stress induced under-conversion of T4 to T3, hormonal imbalances which  will down regulate conversion of T4 to T3 or will deregulate transportation of T4 and T3 through the body. Just taking iodine may not be the answer to your problem. But once again should you decide to supplement with iodine a healthy suggestion would be to include a selenium supplement to mitigate adverse reactions to iodine.

4)    If you have an active autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, taking iodine will create more activity in the thyroid gland. The body may see this increased activity as an increased attack on the body.  The body’s response will be to increase an immune reaction thereby causing more inflammation.  Even though you might be deficient in iodine, the supplementation may cause more harm than the iodine deficiency alone. Once again, if you consider taking iodine, a healthy addition might be to add selenium. But an even healthier alternative would be to investigate a whole body approach that looks for the cause of your iodine deficiency.  Do you have Intestinal Permeability? Do you suffer from food sensitivities? Are you reacting to other triggers that might be the cause of an autoimmune condition?

There is no simple answer to the question “Should I take iodine if I have a thyroid problem?” All aspects of your health should be taken into consideration before taking any supplement. A truly heathy diet should be sufficient to maintain health; however a body in crisis needs to be addressed using different criteria that should include consideration of all systems of the body.

Corey Kirshner
The Underlying Cause of Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome

If you have been dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome you know how frustrating it can be. Always plotting out where the next bathroom will be or knowing when “it” will strike, dealing with countless doctors, enduring invasive tests, trying multiple medications to “fix” the problem- none of it is fun and it doesn't yield the results you are looking for. After helping hundreds of people overcome IBS by finding the underlying cause, I know there is a different approach that works. I like to call it “Big Rocks Before Small Rocks.”

When I say “Big Rocks Before Small Rocks” what I mean is before you try a potentially harmful drug, or the latest and greatest supplement you need to address the big issues first. The reason why this approach is important stems from two lines of reasoning:

1) Most patients find a successful resolution to their IBS concerns by handling the “Big Rocks” first.
2) Handling the “Big Rocks” is a process of creating a healthy foundation within your body. If this doesn’t completely resolve your problem, then you will still benefit from that healthy foundation when tackling the “Small Rocks.” This will greatly enhance your success.

What Does Your Gut Do?
Now when I talk about the big issues first, it’s best to have a basic understanding of the many jobs of your gut. This basic understanding will lay the groundwork of why my approach works.

Your mouth is the beginning of the GI tract and the entryway for food.

I know this sounds stupidly simple but think about just that one statement. Your mouth is the entryway for food. Food is nutrition for the body. Are you eating FOOD that nourishes or are you eating things that appear like food but have no nutritional purpose and may actually be harmful? I mean everything you eat. Even your multivitamin may be filled with stuff that might be causing more harm than good.

What is the Underlying Cause of Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome?Next along the GI tract in our discussion is the stomach. The stomach has many important roles, but two of the most important are to break foods down, especially protein, and to prepare food for further digestion by killing off pathogens (harmful bacteria) before entering the small intestine. The secretion of hydrochloric acid is one of the many processes the stomach employs to break down food. That’s right; your stomach needs an acidic medium to function properly. Not only will acid blockers (known as proton pump inhibitors) hinder your digestion, they may actually cause you more harm in the long run. Many studies have linked these drugs to kidney disease, b-12 deficiencies, magnesium deficiencies, to name a few.

The 23’ long small intestine is next. I am in awe of this area of the GI System, especially a 6’ long layer that is only as thick as one microscopic human cell. This one layer allows broken down food to be absorbed. This one layer, where 80% of our immune system resides, is vigilantly stopping food pathogens from crossing the intestinal barrier. This one layer is beginning to carry waste products out of the body. This one layer is breaking foods down further. This one layer, with connections we are still leaning about, is in direct communication with your brain affecting everything from moods and emotions, to memory and intelligence.

The Large Intestine is where something called your microbiome resides. Your microbiome is a two pound mass consisting of trillions of microorganisms living in your gut. These organisms are vitally important to your health. The disruption of the microbiome has been implicated in a variety of conditions including IBS, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Depression, Mood Disorders, and skin conditions like Eczema. It would be nonsensical to discount the importance of the health of this very important ecosystem if you are having GI distress.

What Can You Do?
What’s the point of all this information? A sensible, successful approach to overcoming life with Irritable Bowel Syndrome must include the examination of all segments of the GI tract. Who is qualified to do this? A doctor who practices Functional Medicine and has seen hundreds of patients and has had the experience of helping patients navigate through this process.
The next best approach is to educate yourself, as you are doing now, and adopt an approach that takes all these systems into consideration.

It all starts with a healthy diet; remember, your mouth is the beginning of the GI tract and the entryway for food. There are many “diets” to choose from: Paleo, Micobiome, Ketogenic, FODMAP, Cellular Healing. It has been my experience that not everyone will respond the same way to each diet. Without knowing which one is best for you (based on blood tests and functional tests), you may consider a simple approach that has only six instructions:

1. Eliminate ALL grains
2. Eliminate all BAD fats
4. Choose free range eggs and grass fed beef
5. Eliminate all processed foods
6. Eat a variety of vegetables (French fries are not a vegetable)

Supplementing with digestive enzymes, probiotics, CoCurcumin, fish oil (unless eating fresh fish twice a week) has also been found to be helpful in some patients.
These simple steps may help, and if they do that’s great. Please let me know your success story. If they don’t, maybe its time to seek expert advice to uncover the underlying cause of your IBS.

Corey Kirshner