The Functional Medicine Approach to COVID-19

Healing Long-COVID With Functional Medicine

Covid-19 has pushed wellness from a luxurious indulgence to a must-have.

As the world broke through the astounding milestone of 100 million known Covid-19 cases, wellness no longer is seen as a ‘nice-to-have’, but rather a ‘must-have’.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has got us all thinking seriously about our health:  What is wellness? What does immune strength really mean and how do we achieve and sustain it? Am I getting the health care that I need? And even, how do I travel safely? It’s clear that we need to look at our health in ways we haven’t before.

It’s already widely known that complex chronic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes are directly correlated with risk of disease severity and mortality. What is becoming even more clear today is that an individual’s overall health will determine the extent and severity of viral infection and symptoms, as well as the progression of illness and fatality.

Functional Medicine explores lifestyle interventions that have specifically been demonstrated to strengthen host defense, reduce the probability and mitigate the severity of viral infection. Lifestyle interventions, from a Functional Medicine perspective, include nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress reduction, and connection. These factors, when in balance, provide a foundation for optimal health and immune function.


Functional medicine determines how and why illness occurs for an individual and works to restore health by addressing the root causes of disease.

The scope and cost of chronic disease continue to rise. Functional Medicine has proven to reverse this trend by producing better outcomes and cost savings for both patients and the healthcare system in the long term.

As healthcare costs become increasingly unsustainable, it is apparent the heart of the problem faced by patients and payers is the frequency with which costly disease management strategies are applied before exploring the potential of disease reversal. Rather than looking beneath the assortment of diagnoses to find the underlying causes of their health problems, patients with chronic conditions are encouraged to follow costly, often lifelong medication regimens that may buy them occasional symptom-free days, and worse, may create other dependencies and issues.

Functional Medicine offers the potential for achieving unprecedented levels of health restoration and financial savings. By uncovering and addressing the underlying causes of the common conditions that afflict a growing number of people—autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and digestive issues, to name a few—Functional Medicine brings the potential to liberate patients from their dependence on costly medications that are not designed to address the root causes of their disease.

More than one third of people who get COVID experience long-lasting symptoms. Not only are they continuing to suffer from things like fatigue and shortness of breath, but we’re seeing increased risk for things like high blood pressure, insulin dysregulation, and brain inflammation as well.

Functional medicine practitioners use protocols to help these people, along with some of the most powerful prevention strategies we know of to date.

We get into some really interesting facts around COVID and the microbiome, which seems to work in two different directions. If we’re lacking the protection of a robust and diverse microbiome, the risks of COVID are greater. For those who have had COVID, we see a loss of beneficial bacteria with an expansion of bad bacteria, fungi, and yeast.

If we can discover the root cause, or more often causes, we can begin to heal.

Functional medicine also addresses living a healthy life and what that means. The choices we make in regards to diet, exercise, and lifestyle affect our well-being.

Optimizing modifiable lifestyle factors in order to improve overall immune function.

Elena Zorn is a functional medicine practitioner. She specializes in empowering those with autoimmune, weight, and digestive issues to reverse their conditions and regain their health. Elena is a Marketing Consultant and Contributor at Mount Tam Media and Health & Wellness. In addition, she is a mother, and the successful founder of ESSEME Wellness.