Functional Medicine in the COVID-19 World

functional medicine - immunisations and vaccines covid 19

It is now more than ever that we need a holistic approach to health. Optimising immune function through good nutrition, exercise, sleep, hormones and mental health is key to ensuring you are in the best position possible if you encounter this virus.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept of functional medicine, it is a more natural, evidenced-based approach to health care which works well in tandem with traditional medicine. Functional medicine helps optimise your immune system and improves general well being. 

Read on to find out more about how functional medicine can help you or loved ones during this time.


Vaccinations

Address your immune function to start by getting all your vaccinations up to date. This will ensure protection against diseases such as whooping cough, measles mumps and rubella, pneumonia bacteria and influenza. It takes approximately 60% of the population to be immune to a pathogen to provide “herd immunity” and stop it from causing widespread disease and fatalities in the vulnerable. The world with COVID-19 is evidence of what happens when we cannot vaccinate to provide herd immunity to protect the vulnerable. 

Azure has this season’s influenza vaccinations, both private and government funded, in stock. This year the WA government is even funding the following people for influenza vaccination:

  • All primary school children
  • Those with chronic medical conditions
  • Pregnant women
  • Those above 65.

This year in particular, it is more important than ever to do your bit to protect yourself and your family and add to the herd immunity in your community.

 

Primary school children to receive free flu vaccines | Azure Medical
Sleep and exercise are important to reducing stress and to support your immune system. Yoga is a great form of exercise to help release stress.

 

Diet, exercise and general wellness

Isolation is a great time for moving forward with positive actions for your health. Another way to optimise your immune function is to ensure your diet, detoxification and exercise is the best it can be for you. Should you do a ketogenic diet? Low carb? Paleo? Vegan? Should you be doing cardio or strength? HIIT? Everything? Should you be taking a supplement? If so – what should you be taking? Should you be doing IV nutritional therapy? Which tests should you be having regularly to monitor your health? We can individualise all of this with the use of an affordable and validated genetic test panel such as the Genomic Wellness Plus test by SmartDNA. All my patients who have done this test have benefited from the information it provided as it enables me to manage them more accurately. 

Nutrient status is also important for immune function. Sub-optimal B12/folate, iron stores, magnesium, zinc and Vitamin D are the most common that I have found on testing. Correcting these low levels of nutrients needs good gut health and may also require injections or infusions. Nutrients thought to be important in fighting off viruses effectively are Zinc and Vitamin C. Physicians in China used high dose intravenous Vitamin C, B, Zinc and Magnesium as well as traditional Chinese medicinal herbs orally such as liquorice and goldenseal with good effect in COVID-19 patients. 

 

functional medicine to boost immunity - kiwi fruit cucumber
Kiwis are full of nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, and potassium.

Sleep and your immune function

Good sleep is paramount for good immune function. Most of my patients who have succumbed to a “common cold” virus have a history of burning the candle at both ends, being run down, stressed and not sleeping well. Melatonin, which is available on script either as a slow release commercial tablet or a compounded troche to regulate the circadian rhythm for good sleep as well as having an anti-inflammatory effect. The anti-inflammatory effect is the reason there are trials running in the US to research the therapeutic use of melatonin in the management of COVID-19 patients.

 

yoga - exercise and sleep to reduce stress
Sleep and exercise are important to reducing stress and to support your immune system. Yoga is a great form of exercise to help release stress.

Mental health and wellbeing

Stress, anxiety and mental health issues have come to the fore during this time of uncertainty and enforced social distancing measures. This Way Up offers online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) courses that have been proven to be as effective as face to face psychological intervention. They have generously offered to waive the registration fees to enable free access.

 

Chronic health conditions and COVID-19 

Chronic health conditions affect the immune system and need to be monitored regularly to be managed well. Most patients in ICU with COVID-19 have a pre-existing chronic medical condition. Health professionals are concerned that patients are ignoring routine health requirements in order to avoid going to the doctor. Remember prevention for good self-care and use your time in isolation to keep on top of this.

 

Azure Medical remains open for all your medical needs.

Aparna Hegde

Aparna is an UWA (1994) graduate who has specialist qualifications in General Practice and Aerospace Medicine. Furthermore, she is a qualified Aviation Medical Examiner. Dr Aparna Hegde completed her training with the Australasian Academy of Anti-Ageing Medicine (A5M). Her special interest is in the management of fatigue, weight loss and hormonal disturbances such as thyroid disorders and menopause. She is experienced in the use of bio-identical hormones and supplements to restore normal physiology.

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