Functional Medicine Docs Answer Your COVID-19 Questions
Functional medicine specialists Dr. Kabran Chapek, Dr. Eboni Cornish, and Dr. Mark Filidei, from Amen Clinics joined forces in a recent webinar to answer your questions. They received so many queries during the event they didn’t have time to respond to all of them. Here are responses to some of the questions about COVID-19 and the immune system they weren’t able to get to during the webinar.
We hear a lot about how to prevent getting COVID-19, but what can you do to quickly rebuild your brain function and immune system after surviving a COVID-19 infection or even a moderate flu?
Dr. Cornish: The only time your immune system has a chance to rebuild is while you’re asleep. Your brain also undergoes several critical processes during sleep. For these reasons, it is important that you maintain a good sleep pattern after surviving an infection. Try to go to bed at the same time nightly and aim for at least 8 hours of restorative sleep. If you have sleep problems, such as snoring (or sleep apnea), restless legs, or insomnia, you may benefit from having them addressed by a medical professional.
In addition, you should eat a diet rich in organic foods, fruits, and vegetables. Take immune-boosting supplements, such as vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, and fish oil. Incorporate a regular exercise routine of at least 15 minutes of cardiovascular activity and continue to engage in good hygiene strategies at all times. Infusions (known as IV Nutrient Therapy) with vitamins like vitamin C, B vitamins, and the antioxidant glutathione may be beneficial for some people.
Do we have any knowledge of how one’s genes could prevent or make one more prone to contracting COVID-19?
Dr. Chapek: With COVID-19 in our minds these days we are all wondering what makes one person susceptible versus another. Genetics is a factor that may shed some light on susceptibility to COVID as well as other SARS infections. Research on the genetics of SARS and coronaviruses has been going on for many years and one gene associated is the TICAM2. This gene codes for the toll-like receptors of the innate immune system that help to recognize foreign microbes and begin dealing with them. However, it’s important to stress that the scientific community still doesn’t fully understand the impact of genetics in this area.
What we do know is that although genetics may have some impact on susceptibility, it doesn’t mean if you are exposed to something you are destined to get it. A better way to think about the role of genetics is that it is simply one part of the big picture when it comes to our individual susceptibilities. For example, eating a lot of sugar makes your more susceptible to infections. Not getting enough sleep or have low levels of vitamin D also make you more vulnerable. On the contrary, exercise, laughing, having balanced blood sugar, and good vitamin D levels make you less susceptible to infections. Rather than worrying about underlying genetic risk, it’s best to focus on the day-to-day habits that boost your immune system and reduce vulnerability to infections.
Is there an inflammatory response from the COVID-19 infection and what can be done to heal the response?
Dr. Cornish: Research shows that an excessive inflammatory response to COVID-19 is thought to be a major cause of disease severity and death in patients with this virus. This leads to a hyperactive immune reaction which falls under the umbrella “cytokine storm.” A high level of inflammation is created and can lead to some of the systemic effects of this virus, including the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. There are several clinical trials of drugs that are used to block this reaction.
Some of the natural strategies for decreasing inflammation include vitamin D, vitamin A, zinc, selenium, probiotics, quercetin, and turmeric, among others. Infrared saunas and Epsom salt baths are great anti-inflammatory treatment strategies. Getting 30 minutes of exercise on a regular basis, having good sleep hygiene, and following anti-inflammatory dietary habits are extremely important. For example, incorporate a rainbow of fruits and vegetables with every meal.
Most importantly, remember that this has been a time of severe stress for our country, and stress is one of the top causes of inflammation. Make yourself a priority and implement good self-care strategies. Make sure you focus on your personal feelings and get the support you need. Optimizing your mood is imperative.
If you missed the webinar, click here for the video and the first round of questions answered.
Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting to get treatment until the pandemic is over is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.
At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples, as well as in-clinic brain scanning and functional medicine evaluations to help our patients. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.