Let me tell you something that will blow your mind! As a functional medicine doctor, here’s what I changed when the Coronavirus hit:
Yeah, that’s right! I continued to do the same things I did before the virus.
From my perspective, my immune system is always under attack from all kinds of pathogens. Viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungus are all out to ruin my life 24/7, 365 days out of the year. Sounds pretty pessimistic doesn’t it? I haven’t always been so pessimistic, but after seeing enough lab reports on my patients, I began to understand how a weak immune system can lead to all kinds of health problems, including vulnerability to pathogens.
YOU CANNOT PREVENT EXPOSURE TO PATHOGENS
I need to bring up some uncomfortable realities.
Exposure to pathogens is going to happen. No matter what we do to try to prevent it, we are exposed to all kinds of pathogens. I’m all for washing hands and keeping our environments clean. (However, some of the cleaners out there are so toxic I’m not sure if the benefit is worth the toxicity. I have the test results to prove it. There are safe and effective alternatives.)
These measures help REDUCE exposure. But nothing we do can prevent all exposure to pathogens. We do not eat sterile food, we do not drink sterile fluids, we do not breath sterile air, we do not live in sterile homes or workplaces, or shop in sterile stores, or interact with sterile people.
I do understand the concern to reduce exposure. In our office we are not treating anyone with any symptoms of fever or upper respiratory tract distress. If anyone working in our office thinks they are getting sick they will not be allowed to work. We are disinfecting our treatment rooms after every patient. All surfaces that get touched like counter-tops are disinfected every hour. We are meeting with our functional medicine patients over the phone and internet.
All that being said, we cannot escape pathogens. They are everywhere. I’ve seen patients with infections that shock me. Giardia (a serious parasite), Salmonella (a serious bacteria), Norovirus (a serious virus) are some examples of pathogens I find in patients on a regular basis. Most of these patients have no idea how they even contracted their infections.
Exposure to a pathogen does not mean that we will get sick.
Just because you are exposed to a virus (including the Coronavirus) does not mean you will get sick! I live in a house with 9 other humans. I work on people, literally. I spend a minimum of 15 minutes with each of my chiropractic patients in a small room, breathing the same air, and touching their bodies as I work on them. I am exposed to everything, but I am rarely sick. In my house, when someone is sick, everyone is exposed, but not everyone gets sick.
So. If we are going to be exposed to pathogens, and if exposure does not equal illness, why do we get sick?
The issue isn’t the Coronavirus, (bacteria, fungus, parasite) but the immune system!
One of the things I want to know about my patients is how healthy their immune system is. The tests tell the story. Often I see a depleted, weakened immune system which can lead to a multitude of problems. The kinds of things that lead to a sick immune system are:
When I have a patient with a weak immune system, I look for these kinds of things and fix them with the right supplements and proper nutrition. And guess what happens! Their immune system starts to recover! Here is an example:
A Functional Medicine Example
A 51 year old female came to me for help for the following problems:
- Frequently sick
- Brain Fog
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The testing we did on this patient uncovered several serious issues:
- Several intestinal bacterial infections
- Intestinal hyperpermeability (Leaky Gut)
- Food Sensitivities
- Dysbiosis (Poor/Unbalanced probiotic colonies)
- Mercury, Cadmium and Arsenic toxicity
- Low AM Cortisol (Adrenal Fatigue)
Now, isn’t that quite a list? When you look at this list, can you imagine why this patient might be experiencing the problems she is having? Is it any wonder that she is frequently sick?
My patient was very committed to her health and stuck with her specific treatment plan and follow up testing. Over time, her symptoms began to disappear and the testing showed that the root problems were no more! This patient recently wrote to me:
This is the first year I can remember that I didn’t get really sick over the winter even with travel and stress.
So thank you for all that you have done to help me. I really feel like I’m in a good place healthwise right now!!!
The Functional Medicine Approach to Coronavirus
The functional medicine approach to infections like the Coronavirus starts with identifying and correcting the problems with the “foundational” systems. As with this patient, we look for chronic infections, toxins, nutrient deficiencies, and poor diet and lifestyle choices. If any of these exist they will impair the immune system.
Functional medicine is all about getting to the root of the problem. Obviously this approach is not something that can be done quickly. Fixing some of these problems can take months.
One of the real lessons of the Coronavirus is that we need to be healthy! There will ALWAYS be pathogens out to get us! Once this virus has come and gone there will be another new bug. If we are healthy and our immune systems are robust, there isn’t anything to be worried about.
Start with your diet!
A great place to start is to improve your diet. I want to encourage you that increasing your intake of fresh, organic produce is extremely beneficial. During the panic buying of the Coronavirus, we’ve noticed that while all the pasta, bread and canned foods were gone from the shelves, there is still plenty of fresh, organic produce available. These clean, fresh vegetables will supply important nutrients for our immune systems.
If you are worried about getting sick from COVID-19, one of the best things you can do is start working with me to get healthy! I can help you even if you don’t live here in Arizona.
Please feel free to comment below. I appreciate and enjoy your comments and will respond!