Immune Support and Health in the COVID-19 Pandemic

written on: April 27th, 2020

Every Thursday morning, more than 60 members of our community come together with Dr. Hennie Fitzpatrick, medical director of The BioMed Center New England, for an immune-support coffee talk hosted by Liz Wiley and our friends at The Marion Institute

We view the current COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of biological or bioregulatory medicine — which looks for the root causes of disease. It answers questions like what led us to get sick to begin with, and how to support our bodies to restore and maintain optimal health.

Through this lens, we answer questions about real health concerns about the COVID-19 virus, and share guidance on measures to: 

  • strengthen the immune system for a milder case of Coronavirus (or no illness at all)
  • mitigate the severity of symptoms if you indeed contract the virus  

Join us at 9am every Thursday, as we continue this virtual holistic “house call” series, and answer your questions. Reserve your place (and listen to past recorded events) here: https://www.marioninstitute.org/coffee-with-dr-hennie/

Table of Contents

Liz Wiley: Welcome everyone. We’re all bombarded with information from all directions, some good, some maybe not so good. We thought it was important to take some time to collectively bring down our level of fear and concern. Hennie, maybe it makes sense for you to give an introduction to biological medicine and how biological medicine views viruses? 

Hennie Fitzpatrick: To me, biological medicine is the most sophisticated and precise understanding of this whole notion of regulation, which means that our bodies and our beings, our minds and our souls are all in flux all of the time. Everything is always changing and responding to something from the environment. So instead of focusing on getting rid of a disease, we seek to really understand how like any other ecosystem, every insult or every good thing that happens to you over your whole lifetime impacts your body’s ability to be well or to be less well. 

That’s not to say that sometimes you don’t need an antibiotic for a bad strep throat. Allopathic medicine has gone down this path of figuring out one cause and then one thing to stop the symptoms or get rid of that infection, and not really paying attention to the fact that our bodies are these precious beings that need to be cultivated and nurtured. 

Because we are so resilient, and have so many systems working on our health, we might notice trouble with sleep or you feel a little sluggish. It’s really the impact of many potential imbalanced systems. We develop a picture of your own system. It’s a real look at your individuality. 

So what is a virus? It’s comforting to understand that viruses are everywhere and they have a lot of good effects. They educate the immune system. Now we have this very toxic virus that human bodies have never been exposed to before. 

As with many viruses, many people won’t know they have it, some may have minor symptoms, but also many that will have severe responses or even die. 

This is putting our health system to the test. We’re seeing whether we really are well equipped. The important thing is that if your immune system is strong, you’re more likely to have a milder illness or no illness.

LW: Thank you Hennie. A lot of the questions that we got were about how do you build up your immune system. Let’s get to the questions that people sent in:

What are the everyday practices that you can follow to boost your immune system? And if you were to come down with the virus, what are your immediate recommendations? 

Focus on minimizing stress is a big part of prevention. Fear, worry, isolation, boredom — all of it adds to the weight of stress on your body.   

Now when you have COVID, the lungs and the throat are the target of this particular virus. When it starts to reproduce, the body’s immune system comes in and starts to fight it. What happens in the people who get very ill is that there’s almost an over-response to the COVID virus, and that sort of excessive response is because you already have inflammation. 

There are four supplements we have talked about on the Institute for Functional Medicine’s list that are proven to be very effective at reducing the progression of the colonization of the illness, and promoting the eradication and inactivation of this virus:  

  • Curcumin, which is the same as turmeric. You can actually find turmeric root in the grocery store and make tea out of it — just chop it up, perhaps with some ginger root too, and put it in hot water. Sweeten it with honey. You can take plenty of it. 
  • Quercetin, which is found in many fruits and vegetables. 
  • Zinc, which has strong anti-viral properties. 
  • Resveratrol, which is found in red wine, berries and peanuts.
  • EGCG which is really just green tea extract

If you take the recommendations that we have on this sheet realize that there are really two kinds of supplements on this list: Ones that boost your immune system, and ones that fight the COVID virus. If you’re exposed to the virus as you’re walking around, these will prevent the spread of the virus inside your bodies. These supplements are from the earth, just like we are, and won’t harm you.

Can you explain how different supplements actually work in the body?

Remember, some supplements enhance the immune system overall. Others actually decrease viral growth. 

To understand how different supplements work, it’s important to understand how this virus actually enters your body, how it spreads and how it causes any level of infection. 

Viruses are not alive until they find a host. Viruses are classified by how they enter the body, and COVID-19 enters through the respiratory system. Humans are exposed to many many viruses which act to educate the immune system. Sometimes a virus is eliminated through the immune system without getting into the cells — and you do not get the illness. When a virus enters a cell it shares its RNA and changes the cell to reproduce the virus, leading to infection.

Your body will then mobilize a complex cascade of immune response first to fight the infection and eventually eliminate the virus which is when you get well. 

The process of getting well includes programming a special branch of your immune system, to create memory immune cells (called antibodies) that will prevent this strain of virus from infecting you again. 

So supplements and eventually perhaps pharmaceuticals can defend against the virus in all of these ways:

  1. Modulate the cellular defense
  2. Modulate virus-induced pathological actions
  3. Promote viral eradication or inactivation 
  4. Promote resolution of collateral damage and restoration of function (recovery)

We study turmeric and quercetin as much as we study the new antiviral called Remdesivir. They are as good antivirals as we have with chemistry. 

Our favorite supplements (listed above) are especially effective in treating this virus and therefore are under investigation by drug companies to identify the molecular parts, and copy them with manufactured ingredients. Drug companies cannot market anything found in nature; we also cannot reproduce nature’s design in the lab. 

Worth noting: Some people may be sensitive to tumeric, which is usually caused by leaky gut. We have diagnostic tests to figure that out. Once you heal the gut, then you will no longer have that sensitivity. 

Most importantly: The healthier your immune system has been — or the less encumbered it is, and the less inflammation you have in other parts of your body — the likely the virus will be successful. The stronger your immune system is when you are exposed to the virus, the less illness you will suffer. 

Our culture of medical care promotes a passive approach to wellness. If we get sick, we go get medicine and hope to get well. If we complain about pain or fatigue or irritable bowel syndrome or insomnia — and the pill doesn’t work, or all your “tests” are normal — you take on a new normal. 

We don’t buy that. Instead, if you take an active approach to maintain and nurture your immune system, your health will change for the better. There is no simpler guarantee.

What is the relationship between our external and internal microbiome and susceptibility to COVID-19?

Our internal microbiome or internal ecosystem is the same as how our external world is organized into ecosystems. Small disruptions can have far reaching effects, like one river that gets polluted by chemical waste really has an effect for miles and miles, if not all over the whole world. The same things apply to our internal environment as the basis of our immune system and our mood chemicals, our neurotransmitters, our endocrine system, and the brain-gut connection. 

With most illness and disease, we usually start by repairing the gut, building up the useful bacteria and getting rid of the un-useful bacteria.

For the first time in human history, beginning at birth we are being colonized with bacteria that cause harm and tax the immune system because of environmental pollution and increased life stresses. Microchemicals are extremely disruptive, and we live in a soup of chemicals. All of the fresh water in the world has residues; including pharmaceutical residues. Soil is depleted because of our industrial farming. Industrially farmed meats are grossly inhumane and thus the meat produced contains enormous levels of stress hormones in addition to antibiotics and growth hormones.

To reduce toxicity, pay attention to avoiding as many chemicals as you can. Eat organic or healthily farmed food. Grow some of your food if you can. Rise or peel all fresh fruits and vegetables.

It’s essential to remember that the external and the internal environments are really separated by a matter of degrees. Our bodies are this area between the inside and the outside. 

In another way, we’re members of a huge beautiful ecosystem and our own internal ecosystems are informed by and created by it. Make sure you cultivate those beautiful bacteria inside you, just like you cultivate your gardens. Everything is connected!

Is there any information about whether or not the bacterial microbiome affects or interacts with Coronavirus?

There’s lots of very good new research. As I pay attention to all of the medical literature, the public health experts, the infectious and allergic disease experts (and it’s interesting that they put infectious and allergic diseases together because they’re actually the same), I’m always shocked that they don’t they talk about what you can eat or what you should cook or whether you should sleep because this is no longer a soft science. There is really good science about that. Certainly the intestinal flora is key to this.

Inside the intestinal flora, the microbiome includes bacteria and viruses. Not only do we have a microbiome, there’s also a virome in there. Research is showing that the virome is very important to us too. We are populated by millions of viruses that do us a lot of good. Just make sure that you keep your intestines as healthy as you can. As you eat clean whole foods, I suggest the rainbow diet and fermented foods. Go online and learn to ferment things!

The rainbow diet is really simple — eat a variety of foods by color, because each color of the rainbow of foods has a health benefit. Red foods are anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and protect intestinal health for example. 

Many of our suggested supplements will heal your gut. Zinc and magnesium are very important to cultivate a good “GI soil” to feed and protect healthy gut flora.

And please make sure that you have a good source of fiber. Pay attention to eating about 35 grams of fiber a day. Fiber is very important. Apple Pectin is a very good simple one. Pectin is in the apple peel. Buy organic apples and easily make a pectin-rich applesauce: Just peel and chop (include the core) and boil the apples with a small amount of water on low heat until the apples are very soft and the small amount of water is mostly gone. Blend and add honey, cinnamon or nutmeg to taste. 

Avoid inflammatory foods, which are fast foods and for some people or foods like dairy and wheat. Read the labels on anything you buy in a package: box, bag, or can. Avoid foods with an ingredient you cannot pronounce and beware of fructose which goes by many names.

We take supplements to help our immune system, but then how much supplement dosing is wasted? What’s the best way to take them to get the most out of them? 

Bingo, you touch on digestion and absorption, which is different for each person. We base doses assuming that you can’t absorb it all, but we can also test these things. But if you’re trying to boost your immune system specifically against COVID, all of the recommended supplements will improve your ability to fight the virus — vitamin C, vitamin D, selenium. 

The doses I recommend will not harm you. Between 100-130 micrograms of Selenium which is actually a small amount. 

I get mine through one or two dark chocolate dipped Brazil nuts. Take one or two Brazil nuts a day dipped in your favorite chocolate, which also delivers magnesium.

In taking all types of supplements, is there a risk of becoming toxic and overloading the liver? 

That’s a good question and some of it depends on YOUR liver and what you’re taking. We tend to use vitamins and supplements that are botanicals and vitamins that are very familiar to our bodies. Yes you can overload with some of the fat soluble vitamins, but I would not be worried that you will overload your liver. It might be hard to digest. Each supplement carries information and the body has to process that information. You can do it in a calculated way.

You recommended 5,000 to 10,000 IU’s of vitamin D for up to two weeks. So what happens after two weeks?

That’s a good question and I’m glad to clarify. The medical world is frightened of a vitamin D overdose. It’s really not in the spectrum of dangerous, and should not stress you out. I should not have added the caveat of “two weeks”. The more the better.

I recommend 10,000 IU’s of vitamin D with vitamin K a day — but at least 5,000 international units a day. Particularly if you’ve had a fairly low vitamin D level and it’s winter, stay on 10,000 IUs a day, forever. You can do that; it will not hurt you. 

This is important for kids as well: 

  • 800 – 1000 IUs of vitamin D from 12 months to 30 lbs 
  • 2000 IUs up to 50 lbs 
  • 4000 IUs up to 100 lbs

Checking your level is always a good idea, which is a blood test you do with your routine labs. The normal range goes from 30-100 — which is a big normal range. I like to see people at least above 50 and optimally it’s between 70-90. Most people run around 30 and they call that normal.
In general if you are trying to prevent a virus, anytime in the future when you’re having that feeling that you might be getting a cold: you have a little scratchy throat or something’s telling you that you might get a cold, research is showing that loading up with 20,000 IUs for four or five days can prevent you from getting fully sick.

So many patients are currently on meds for a variety of conditions. Often the MD challenges them that supplements are not FDA-approved and we do not know the side effects. How do you recommend mitigating those concerns? How do we best educate the less-aware MDs? 

Well, this is one of my favorite questions and the answer is complex. Having gone to medical school and being educated in this system, I know there’s a lot of wisdom in allopathic medicine. First we get fascinated by physiology; by your 3rd or 4th year there’s so much pharmacology to learn, with so many elements and treatments that you almost lose sight of that physiology wisdom. The body is capable of so much healing. We just have to cultivate that. 

Biological medicine is not “alternative”. There are double-blinded controlled studies. There is a national registry of natural pharmacy. You can show your doctor these studies that are in their language. They dismiss this only because they know nothing about it. 

It’s astounding to me how many of you have gone to your doctor even with GI complaints and said, “What should I eat?” and they don’t know what to test. What we’re trying to do is start a thinking revolution. 

The reason that so many people are dying of this virus is precisely because so many of us have these chronic persistent illnesses that are new to the 21st century. And so we need a really new look at how to get rid of those if you strengthen and heal your bodies as you go along. 

The particularly difficult reality of COVID-19 illness is that it causes death in too many people which is shocking to all of us. This stark fact is a testament to the fact that allopathic medicine has been unable to provide effective treatments to the very common chronic illnesses of the 21st century. Doctors have medications to control illnesses such as diabetes, coronary artery disease which includes heart attack and stroke, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, chronic Lyme, asthma, allergy and IBS, GERD, etc…

Biological medicine is a new approach to health and disease by providing new and very effective treatments to these chronic illnesses. 

If you are practicing biological medicine, your risk of serious illness from COVID is greatly reduced. You can rely on that.

If you eat whole foods, get sleep, manage your stress — those bodies are not going to get as sick.

If I eat a diet with these supplements, do I still need to take supplements? 

Food is medicine. Go online and look for which foods contain high levels of quercetin. So no, I don’t think you need supplements if you’re getting it all from foods. 

Are there any additional supplements or activities you recommend once you do get the virus? 

If you get very sick, remember to make sure you’re hydrated. You must pay attention to fluids. There are also studies that if you breathe steam — just breathe over a pot of boiling water or steam up the shower. This really helps the upper respiratory system and may stop the virus from adhering.

And don’t get frightened. Make sure you sleep, and take the supplements. 

Now let me talk about fever. The reason your body makes a high fever is to kill the virus. It’s real wisdom. However, depending on what your health was in the first place and depending on how high your fever goes, it can really compromise you or weaken you. 

Having a high fever for a long time is actually okay — but if the fever is preventing you from drinking, or you can’t rest or it’s making you delirious, then you should take a fever reducer. Take an aspirin or ibuprofen, rather than Tylenol which can affect your microbiome.

Most importantly, you need to rest and wash your hands and be distant from everyone else to protect them.

How can I discern the quality of supplements? There’s so much information out there about supplements and everybody does a really good job with their marketing. How do you know which are the best?

First I suggest looking for brands that have been around for a long time, that don’t do much advertising. Read the label and look at the excipients. It’s really important to look at what’s called the inactive ingredients. If there’s anything in there that you don’t know where it grew on the earth. 

There are ways of looking up the inactive ingredients: Go to the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) to look up your supplements. You can also download EWG’s Food Scores mobile app that allows you to scan products and instantly see ratings and quality.  

And then buy from stores like Whole Foods or any vitamin specialty store that have strict quality controls; be careful with Amazon products.

What can you tell us about structured silver that the US government has tested and found effective on SARS? With SARS and COVID-19 being so closely related, is it possible that structured silver may be useful here? 

So you’ll see that many of these lists don’t include silver. And the reason for that is because there are many silvers out there that are actually not properly made. Silver is a heavy metal. It’s also a good mineral. It’s also very antibacterial and somewhat antiviral. Silver is also very hard to study.

In this time of heightened stress, can you talk about the importance of getting good sleep and how challenging this seems to be right now? 

I would like to talk about sleep and give you a great handout because we feel this information is precious.

The way I like to start my talk about sleep is that it’s interesting that we’re called human beings because actually in the western world we’re human “doings”. The difference between “be” and “do” is the basis of why you don’t get all of your sleep. 

Difference of being versus doing: Your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is getting things done while your parasympathetic nervous system is about just being. The parasympathetic system really needs to be rebalanced. Focus on using this time to just “be” and so we can get back to being human.  

How much sleep you need varies by individual. It also changes as light comes earlier. 

Most importantly, we need to unwind at night, and really practice sleep hygiene. Remember that there are actually phases of sleep, and restorative sleep is most important (not REM).  

Cultivate a ritual in the evening. Get rid of your blue light. Take amino acids and things like melatonin that might help you sleep. You have to practice. 

But in order to sleep you have to exercise. The best thing for parasympathetic activity is gentle exercise. Go for a walk. Go outside on your porch and dance. Right now in Rhode Island all of the trees are blooming. Go outside and just absorb nature and empty your mind.

So allergy season is upon us and those who suffer have a particularly tough time. So what do you recommend? Could allergies protect against COVID or help people recover quickly from it, and what are some natural treatment suggestions that you have?

An allergy is an immune system dysregulation. It’s an overreaction to things in the environment. An allergy is not protective from COVID. And remember that the nuisance symptoms of allergies — which are terrible itching or thousand sneezes in a row and maybe some coughing and congestion — are your body’s way of getting rid of allergies. 

How can you tell an allergy from COVID? Usually with an allergy, it’s not an isolated cough (i.e. without being accompanied by a runny nose, sore throat, sneezing or itchy eyes). Also usually with allergies you don’t lose your smell or your taste. Isolated cough, fatigue and fever are the standard signs of COVID. 

And so as far as what to use for allergies, quercetin is a very good anti-allergy and zinc helps a lot. Natural nose sprays, using a neti pot with some homeopathics in it helps, as does steam or hot vaporized air. 

If you’re absolutely miserable and something like the Claritin helps, then take one.

What breathing exercises do you recommend as preventative or to help with symptoms for clearing the lungs?

Absolutely I can’t say enough about cultivating a breathing practice, playing with your breathing, learning the many different breaths. Explore all of the different places in your lungs — your deep lungs or belly breath, your upper breath. A lot of yoga classes teach this. There are all sorts of apps that have you practice and play with your breathing. 

It’s interesting that kids with asthma know there’s a certain amount of panic if you are regularly having a respiratory discomfort. If you’re coughing all the time or you have asthma or allergies, it’s really scary for your body. When we’re scared, we breathe more shallowly.

Try lying on a wedge, and put your feet up on a chair. If you are feeling like your lungs are congested, just put your lungs below the rest of you and they will drain naturally.

Other kinds of breathing: 

  1. Breathe in and out rapidly for 60 breaths, from your belly with your lips pursed as though blowing out 60 candles on a birthday cake. You actually want to “pump” your belly.
  2. Practice “box breathing”: Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts, hold empty for 4 counts. Repeat. Gradually extend your counts to 5/5/5/5. Can you even do 8–10?
  3. Stick your tongue as far out as possible, and breathe in and out through an open mouth for a minute or two. Do this on all fours and feel the power of a lion or lioness!

Is the use of infrared sauna valuable for supporting the immune system? And if so, is there a temperature, duration and frequency that’s recommended?

People who have access to an infrared sauna are fortunate because it is a really good way of getting rid of viruses. Infrared light actually penetrates below the surface of the skin and detoxes the layers underneath the skin. 

When you go into a wet sauna, which is the kind with hot stones or water, a steam based sauna, that’s also good — sweating is important as well, but that is detoxing at a less deep level.  

When we are able to carefully re-open and welcome people back to the BioMed Center New England, we have some other applications of infrared sauna that are special and that we invite you to come and try. There’s actually a way of treating the blood with infrared light — it’s called UVB or ultraviolet blood radiation. It’s a quick closed system that has absolutely no risk, but in other countries it’s being used in hospitals and having very, very good results.

So as far as how to use an infrared sauna, if you are healthy, I would suggest you set it between 130 and 135 degrees — depending on your tolerance of heat and your sense of well-being, that you feel gently warmed. I suggest that you heat up with it, go in with as few clothes as you can or something that you’re happy to sweat in. Make sure you have minerals and a bottle of water. Go in and meditate or do something that makes you happy, but remain in the sauna for 15 or 20 minutes until you get a gentle, comfortable sweat at about 130 degrees.

What do homeopaths recommend putting into the neti pot?

Most importantly, never put any herb or supplement that was extracted in alcohol in a neti pot. 

There’s a company called GUNA out of Italy that makes brilliant homeopathics — they have homeopathic sized human immune system factors that specifically boost what we understand about inflammation. Those pellets all easily dissolve.

Can you speak about post-infection immunity and what efforts are in process to determine who’s on the other side of illness and when we can return to normal a little bit? 

Let’s recall the horrors of the polio virus. The actual number of children or adults who became paralyzed from the polio virus was less than 1% of people who got the virus. For most of the kids, it was a mild virus. 

Now take COVID: If you get the virus, then you are immune. So what we need is to see how many of us are showing that we’ve had the virus before we are allowed to come out of our houses. Some of us have been a little bit sick, some of us haven’t been sick at all. The problem is do we have a right test for that? If you think you had the virus and you test negative, that could be a problem with the test.

I think our scientific community is struggling to understand how to make a test that will work on a variety of levels of health and immunity that we have. That’s always an issue. It’s very important that we have some sort of a test, that people get tested, and because this has become such a scourge, we won’t be able to go out in public if we’re negative.

Will the test show if we already had COVID-19, or just if we have it at the time of testing?

So there’s two kinds of tests, and maybe even two kinds of each kind of test. We need to be tested in different ways. A nose swab is the fairly common one, although the first set of nose swabs in this country were not very reliable. We got a lot of negative tests that should have been positive; we had fewer positive tests saying that you had it when you didn’t. This false-negative problem is because this is a complex virus and there’s lots of different parts of the virus you can test for. 

The nose test you can get over and over. It’ll just show if you have or had the illness. We’re still trying to understand how long that test will be positive even after you’ve had it. 

In the second kind of test, we’re for a specific gene from sequencing the virus. And the second piece of this testing is to look at the antibodies. So this is going to be a blood test. 

Remember, viruses educate your immune system. They don’t necessarily make you sick. Right now as we try to reopen the world, the most important thing is to really know how many of us have already had COVID-19, which requires the blood test. Once you have a positive blood test for the immunity to the virus, you’re not going to be spreading it.

I just heard about epidemiological studies in local communities in California that estimate there’s 40 times the number of people that are infected and than are measured.

It used to be that they wanted to test only people that were already symptomatic and now what we’re suggesting we’ll want to get everybody in line to get tested.

There’s a real push to get tested and so please do get tested. 

Can we be tested without having some symptoms at this point?

Yes, you can now.  That’s the newest move. What you have to do is to get scheduled for the test. And you can call my office. 

The only other thing is go check in with your state department of health. What you see in Rhode Island or Massachusetts or Connecticut or wherever is a little bit different. The guidance is the same, but availability for testing and whether you need to be referred may vary.

What do you see as our best hope for getting through the pandemic? Mass vaccination? Careful, orchestrated herd immunity through exposure?

So getting viruses makes people immune. Eventually the virus gets discouraged and dies out. The idea of herd immunity is if everybody is immune to the virus except one or two people, then those two people aren’t going to get the virus because carriers can’t either.

But this is a wild virus. And what confuses the doctors and specialists is that you can be mildly ill or not appear ill at all. Or you can end up on a respirator, fighting for your life. 

The problem right now is that the actual ability to test for this takes a while to develop. It’s also still too early to talk about vaccinations and if it will be mandated.

I am confident that I will fight the virus or be asymptomatic, but very afraid that I will affect elderly people. When exactly can we carry or shed the virus?

So asymptomatic people may or may not have had the virus. The asymptomatic carrier may or may not test positive with antibodies, meaning that they’ve had the virus. Somebody may actually be sick with the virus but isn’t presenting as sick. That’s why we need this test. But remember, you may be negative today and then two weeks later you need to be negative again because it can manifest itself anytime. 

You can carry viruses, you can shed viruses. And that’s why we have to stay home.

So as we think about these 21st century diseases, the assaults on our systems, and all of the pre-existing conditions that people have — from fibromyalgia and lupus to Crohn’s to shingles. We’re suffering, as a country, and then we think about how disproportionately COVID is affecting different races and people of color — we’re seeing how much health inequity we have in this country. 

Biological medicine really speaks to all the people who have new, newly named chronic illnesses — which means that you have lots of symptoms that make you feel very badly and really take away from your quality of life. 

In the last 20 years, this rise of chronic illness has been very, very high. And that’s because we’ve met a tipping point with the standard American diet, standard American stress, the lack of sleep, the bombardment by the internet and the external environment bathing us in a soup of chemicals.

This combination became a tipping point to diseases like fibromyalgia, the new kinds of lupus, all of the autoimmune diseases, chronic Lyme, all the IBDs like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, shingles and chronic pain. These illnesses are on the rise and we’re even seeing them in small children who should never have those diseases. We also see illnesses of the spirit, including depression and anxiety, feeling overwhelmed or just being unable to feel joy anymore. It’s all really a blunting of the human, the healthy human being.

Our biological kind of medicine is really the only answer to that. 

It took us a long time to give fibromyalgia both a name and an ICD-9 code, which just made it real. But it’s always been real. It’s a deep inflammation of the nerves and the muscle. And too many people say that it doesn’t exist cause we can’t find it or we can’t find the cause.  

This is the big shift and the new model of biological, integrative medicine is to understand the way in which we don’t feel well or are ill. It almost doesn’t really matter to me what the illness is called. 

We need to go back to understanding the systems of the body, which interact. The problem with the way we practice medicine right now is that we have ologists — we have the cardiologist who makes your heart better, or the oncologist who gets rid of your lung cancer for two months. But the rest of your ecosystem may lay in ruin. 

So the first part of integrated medicine is understanding all of the root causes of illness and really trying to identify them. We can tell what’s going on in the gut and we can tell what’s going on in the endocrine system. We look at them together and de-stress each of those systems one at a time, which is fairly easy. We’re rebuilding the whole system and that’s what’s missing from medicine.

This pandemic is showing us we have a health system that isn’t working. I think a lot of us are wondering how many people who ended up on a respirator and lost their life were actually chronically ill.

People are not perfectly healthy if they eat the standard American diet, if they’re worried about getting clean, healthy food, if they’re worried about living in poverty or having to live paycheck to paycheck. These are causes of illness. When I see a 36-year old man with kids going into the hospital, it’s not a question to me about whether he was healthy — he wasn’t. And the ways he wasn’t healthy is what allopathic medicine is ignoring. 

It’s important to study the race and the zip codes of the people who are dying. I lived in Santa Fe for a long time and have many, many friends on Indian reservations and these people are being decimated, as always. It’s a tragedy because we need variety as a people and we need integration, right down to our microbiome. 

When I get the opportunity to see people with something like fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis who have been told that this disease is going to be part of their whole lives, I say nonsense. It’s not going to be part of your whole life. We can rebuild your system.


Thank you for your questions, and we are here to support you. I’ve done this kind of medicine for such a long time and there’s still so much joy in being stewards of your body, the same way that you might like to garden or nourish your children or your grandchildren. It’s the same kind of energy, and we need to really understand that. 

Remember, your body is on your side, even in the face of COVID.

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