There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic is set to be a feature of our lives for a long time to come, but that does not mean we have to sit back helplessly and hope for a vaccination to come along. Our body has a tremendous in-build natural pharmacy and there is a lot we can do to create the optimal conditions for healing, but first we need to re-visit the way we look at health, healing and ‘medicine’.
Ever since the invention of powerful microscopes, modern medicine has reduced our healthcare protocols to measuring microscopic cells and asking whether the amount they can count in that one glimpse of blood, stool or urine sample falls within the norms for society. Conventional doctors then prescribe drugs to bring those cells back into ‘normal’ balance, but as a practitioner of functional medicine I would argue that there is one HUGE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM….. The patient!
Standardization in every aspect of life has become the norm since the industrial revolution and certainly from the perspective of any government trying to roll out mass solutions to their society, a one-size-fits-all approach is more affordable in the short term and keeps like simple for them. However, we are not all clones of one another, the ‘norms’ are not serving anyone in the long term and we now find ourselves in a society that is becoming increasingly chronically ill.
The western medicine approach is nothing short of miraculous when it comes to emergency medicine, acute conditions and saving peoples’ lives. But the reductionist, standardized approach cannot ever address the chronic health problems that are currently debilitating our society. This has never been made more clear than by the current coronavirus which is manifesting in so many different ways in different patients. We need to stand back and look at what the patients have in common, not zoom in and count individual cells.
Repeat prescriptions to mask symptoms are a dangerous, short-termist and ineffective way of keeping a nation healthy. It has long been recognized that in the UK rates of Type II diabetes are endemic in our society, as is obesity and childhood obesity. Can so many people have ‘got it wrong’ or is there a more fundamental problem that was never addressed? Has our healthcare system been giving us the wrong message? Have we been encouraged to go to the ‘free NHS and ask our GP for a ‘pill for every ill’ because the government has not empowered us to make healthy lifestyle and food choices? It seems unfair to me that people who are obese were villified by Boris Johnson when he spoke in the summer about the ‘war on obesity’. It is a complex issue that needs to be addressed with sensitivity, open-mindedness and in a non-judgemental way. We need to understand the underlying causes of obesity before we can tackle it and that won’t happen by finger-wagging. In functional medicine we take the time to understand our clients, we have long, in-depth sessions with them which may seem like an indulgence in a nation whose GPs are forced to make critical decisions in a 7-minute consultation window, yet failure to understand our patients’ backstory is a false economy.
It is true to say that functional medicine is not going to be as quick to yield results as a sucessful vaccination (if there ever will be such a thing) or as any medication that masks the symptoms. It is also true that many people just want to carry on with their daily lives as quickly as possible, so popping a pill may understandably seem ideal to them. But here is where I believe we need to approach healthcare differently:
- Diagnosis needs to involve the patient. What is stopping your body from healing when that is what it naturally wants to do? Are you overly stressed, tired, worried, are you comfort-eating and hence not getting the nutrients that your body’s healing mechanisms need?
- Lab Testing needs to contribute to the diagnosis, not determine it. Our bodies constantly change and evolve according to our environment, emotional wellbeing, nutritional intake and our own personal circumstances so rather than labeling someone with a condition, let’s do simple, regular affordable tests to see how the body changes as we take control of basic lifestyle habits such as what we eat, when we eat it,how we prepare it, how we focus our mind etc. All these daily actions have a direct and indirect effect on our body’s resilience and adaptability.
- We have a health bank account in our body, sometimes we go out and party and make massive ‘health credit’ withdrawals, other times we focus on everything we believe to be good for us. Long-term suppression of symptoms, burning the candle at both ends, chronic stress at work lack of sleep etc ar all depleting our reserves and simultaneously building up the ‘toxic load’ that our body has to process. if we do not detoxify our body and mind regularly, it leaves us fewer reserves to cope with unexpected illness and strong viruses such as Covid-19 become the straw that broke the camels back.
There is no known cure for Covid-19 or for ‘long covid’ but there do certainly seem to be things that help, typically they are approaches that reduce inflammation in the body.
Top Tips to Tackle Long-Covid
- Traditional Chinese Medicine has recognized inflammation as the foundation for chronic health problems for the last 2000 years. In my experience, acupuncture has been very helpful in reducing inflammation and detoxifying the body. It is also an excellent treatment for the mental and emotional stress that accompanies any long-standing illness.
- Herbal remedies have been put together by international boards of herbalists. There are currently 3 different remedies that are dispensed according to your underlying constitution (again, there’s no one-size-fits-all in Chinese Medicine!). Please get in touch if you want more information.
- Foods that generate inflammation should be avoided, especially dairy produce.
- Never under-estimate the importance of staying very well hydrated! Water can help to flush toxins out of the body, so drink enough water to allow your pee to appear pale yellow. Remember, that coffee and tea are diuretic which means they make you pee more than you drink, so they will not hydrate you at all!
- Eat food that is in its natural form – no processed foods, microwave meals or junk food as these contain empty carbs so will make you feel full but leave you nutritionally depleted so your body will not have the reserves to get better.