There is nothing like a viral pandemic to get one thinking of their immune system and of their health status. Getting sick these days becomes more complicated than staying home and nursing ourselves back to health – the need for testing, waiting for results, self-isolating and contact tracing all add an additional layer of stress to an already stressful situation.
With the guidance of health authorities, we have already introduced necessary adjustments to our routines with a focus solely on stopping viral transmission through wearing masks, enhanced hygiene practices, social distancing and rigorous cleaning. Is this enough to minimize spread and eventually have our lives “return back to normal”?
As history has shown, it is an exceedingly difficult task to eradicate a virus. In addition to our current focus on stopping viral transmission, there needs to also be greater discussion around the promotion of improved individual health and an individual’s susceptibility to viral illness due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
In a commentary published in the Lancet on September 26, 2020, Richard Horton states that “in the case of COVID-19, attacking NCDs will be a prerequisite for successful containment.” He goes on to say “addressing COVID-19 means addressing hypertension, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, and cancer.”
We hope this moment in our history will become a turning point where we all begin to accept greater accountability in taking care of ourselves, while at the same time, as a society, investing our resources toward research and policies designed to promote better health and resilience to disease.
This is what Naturopathic Medicine is all about. Building a strong immune system is not as simple as taking a particular supplement or herbal remedy. The immune system is a powerful part of a healthy, well-functioning body. And this is what we need to strive for. It is not surprising that conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart diseases predict an increased susceptibility to viral illnesses, as these conditions are reflective of an unhealthy body as a whole.
Taking control of our health and building our immune resilience has never been more important. If we have any hopes of overcoming the current viral pandemic, we need to expand the conversation to include the pandemic of chronic illness. Chronic illness has deep roots in the common functioning of society, and addressing that may seem insurmountable at times, but there is no better place to start than with building a strong foundation to our own individual health.
~ Dr. Patti
Horton, Richard. Offline: COVID-19 is not a pandemic. www.thelancet.com Vol 396 September 26, 2020.