The Collective Immune System: Chronic Disease + Coronavirus
Prevention. How to keep ourselves from being unnecessarily vulnerable. As we take these critical immediate measures, it’s painfully obvious as each day passes that these solutions aren’t sustainable. This is life, but this is no way to live.
The pandemic is showing us how deeply connected we all are, and how even our smallest actions have impact, for better or for worse. The questions we need to ask ourselves right now are:
“What are the sustainable solutions for creating a more resilient society?”
“What is my greatest protection and what can I do to make myself and others less vulnerable?”
Right now, your immune system is your greatest defense. Being in a state of optimal health gives you the greatest fighting chance. According to the CDC, those with chronic health issues and the elderly are the most susceptible to COVID-19. Over 45% of the US population has a chronic health condition and about half of adults have one or more chronic health conditions. While not all chronic conditions are lifestyle diseases, a huge percentage of them are, such as certain types of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and many autoimmune disorders. But diagnosed lifestyle disease is just the tip of the iceberg. The underlying imbalances that lead to these diagnoses often fester below the surface for years before diagnosis, meaning that the statistics account for only a fraction of the whole fragile picture. A chronically sick society lowers our collective immunity, making all of us more vulnerable.
Because chronic lifestyle diseases are so commonplace in the US, we’ve come to normalize them, rather see them as a sign of deep imbalance. But the fact that many of these are lifestyle diseases means that individually and collectively we have the power to create a different reality. Lifestyle disease is preventable and potentially reversible.
As Western science has proven and Eastern Medicine has always known, lifestyle and diet play a massive role in whether or not someone will develop a chronic disease in their lifetime. Yes, we may be genetically predisposed to certain illnesses, but our diet and lifestyle play a huge role in whether or not our body will turn the key and open that door.
When I was extremely ill in my late 20s, I discovered Ayurvedic Medicine and healed my chronic fatigue, anxiety, digestive and immunity issues. I went on to become an Ayurvedic Practitioner in order to empower people to heal themselves. I use natural medicine – namely our diet, habits and herbs – as the foundation of my family’s healthcare, and use Western Medicine for diagnostics and in extreme cases (like my emergency c-section). We have access to the best of both worlds, and so should everyone.
The basic premise of all Eastern Medicine is this: your body has an innate healing intelligence. It is inherently moving in the direction of health, immunity and vitality. When we live in alignment with the cycles of nature, we support that innate healing intelligence and our physiological integrity. When we live out of balance through improper lifestyle and diet, we create massive obstacles to our body’s ability to be in a state of optimal health.To compound this, we have a healthcare system largely focused on suppressing the symptoms of disease rather than on health. We chop off the branches, often harming the whole tree while simultaneously leaving the diseased roots.
My story of healing isn’t unique. Ayurveda and other forms of Eastern Medicine have been in existence for thousands of years. This is not about finding some new way of healing. This is about awakening to what already exists within and around us.
So, what are the statistics of chronic lifestyle disease telling us? Are they telling us that our bodies are inherently broken? That we were born to be sick?
- Or are they telling us that our way of life is broken?
- That our stress epidemic is quite literally killing us?
- That our disconnect from nature is robbing us of our freedom?
- That our dependency upon others to keep us healthy undermines our personal power?
- That a healthcare system focused on profit over prevention is not designed to keep us healthy?
- That an economic system that concentrates wealth into the hands of few means that the rest, in their efforts to survive, will have their health destroyed?
- That the demographics of who develops chronic disease highlight disenfranchisement, not inherent weakness?
Western Medicine is at the frontlines of this pandemic. Its absolute strength lies in diagnostics, surgery, and treating illness when patients are at risk of immediately dying. Rightfully so, we are in awe of those working in our hospitals, risking their own health for strangers. We desperately need our doctors and nurses right now.
Eastern Medicine’s absolute strength lies in prevention of disease and treating chronic illness. If you’re not going to die from an illness right away, there is another way…one less heavy-handed that gets to the root of the issue and doesn’t do harm to the whole body in order to treat one part. Its greatest value is that you and I have the power to learn these healing practices and apply them without needing to be forever dependent on a practitioner. It empowers us with the tools to cultivate health in the single most impactful way – through our daily habits.
So, what do you have the power to do right now to be less vulnerable?
- To make me less vulnerable?
- To make us less vulnerable?
- To make our healthcare workers less vulnerable?
- To make the most vulnerable among us less vulnerable?
- To help you to hug your mother again sooner?
- To help your kids play with their friends again?
- To help people get back to work?
- To help us move out of collective fear into an awe-inspiring level of personal responsibility, resilience and adaptability?
We are not lacking for information. We are lacking faith in a different way and the tools to make sustainable change. But all of this is at your fingertips. Investing your time, energy and resources right now into your own health is your greatest source of power and your greatest gift to humanity. Please use them wisely.