A Functional Medicine Approach to COVID-19

TJ Williams, DC, PhD

By TJ Williams, DC, PhD

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to reevaluate so much of our lives, to focus on those we love, and what is important. As an act of self-preservation and as an act of service to our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow Americans it is imperative that we now, more than ever, focus on our personal health and well-being.

The mortality rates for the coronavirus varies depending on the population, but estimates range from 0.6% to around 15% in elderly patients with chronic disease. The fact of the matter is, you are much less likely to suffer significant symptoms from contracting the coronavirus if you are healthy. The bad news is, only about 12% of Americans are metabolically healthy. We know that 75% of us are overweight, 42% are obese, and one in two Americans have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. 

Those with underlying chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.), which currently affects six in ten Americans, are at the greatest risk with mortality rates of five to ten times that of healthy COVID-19 patients. Obesity increases the risk of death almost three-fold. At the time of this writing, we are seeing up to 40% of hospitalizations in 20 to 54-year olds, and most of those are obese and overweight. 

While this is a scary finding, it is something we can quickly begin to change. Each of us must now focus on strengthening our immunity to better fight the risk not only of COVID-19, but of any illness we may get. Then, if we do get sick, the illness is mild and we can unburden the health care system.

I have seen hundreds of patients dramatically transform their lives quickly, recovering from chronic disease in a matter of weeks using the principles of functional medicine. Take our patient John, who at 58 was overweight, a type 2 diabetic on insulin, suffering from heart disease, early kidney failure, high blood pressure, and more. After working with us for three months he was off his insulin, all of his conditions were reversed, and he had lost almost fifty pounds. This is not a miracle. It is science and it is available to everyone now if you are willing to make your health a priority. 

Now more than ever is the time to double down on self-care—not just for ourselves, but as our civic responsibility to contribute to the solution. In every infection, there are two factors at play: the microbe and the host. We can’t control the microbe, but we have extraordinary control over us, the host. Functional medicine is the science of creating health, of creating resilience, and making your system an inhospitable place for disease. 

It is my hope that one positive that comes from the coronavirus pandemic is that it prompts people to take their health more seriously. You can do that by working with a functional medicine practitioner to determine exactly what is going on in your body and getting a plan of action to make sure you are in optimal health. A strong immune system will make you more resilient to infection. Ultimately this is not just about the coronavirus, this is about the need to be the healthiest you possible. You owe it not only to yourself, but to your fellow man.

If you would like more information regarding any of the treatments, therapies, or services offered at The Institute of Natural Health, please contact us at (314) 293-8123 or visit us at inhstl.com. Dr. TJ Williams is the Clinic Director for the Institute of Natural Health and the host of the radio program Wellness 101, which provides common-sense, science-based strategies for a healthy life. Wellness 101 airs Sundays at 2:00pm on FM NewsTalk 97.1.