While many scientists and researchers are fervently searching for the critical, targeted antiviral or anti-inflammatory approach that will effectively treat people who become ill with Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, not to mention a vaccine to prevent it altogether, a third strategy seeks to make people less susceptible to the infection to begin with.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the highest form of praise is reserved for medicines that have nonspecific effects — in other words, remedies that broadly improve a person’s overall well-being. The lowest form of a medicine, by contrast, is said to have a specific effect on a specific problem. This emphasis on supporting broad well-being is a major underlying principle of integrative medicine.
Defined as healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, integrative medicine considers all aspects of a patient’s lifestyle. It is an evidence-based approach that emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient and makes use of all appropriate therapies. Let me parse the definition of integrative medicine with specific regard to the unique challenges posed by the coronavirus.
“Healing-oriented” reflects a commitment to do all that is possible to help a person heal more effectively. As such, many integrative medicine recommendations rest squarely in the realm of healthy lifestyle — which turns out to be critically important in this pandemic.
Aside from the elderly, most people who succumb to the virus have coexisting conditions such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. These chronic diseases are highly correlated with unhealthy lifestyles. Indeed, it has been estimated that 90% of cardiovascular deaths could be prevented if Americans adhered to four preventive health recommendations (not smoking, maintaining a body mass index of