Answering your questions: Part 1

Grand Opening: The launch of Seaworthy Functional Medicine is a grand re-opening of South Peninsula Hospital Functional Medicine as a statewide state-of-the-art telemedicine practice.  Seaworthy offers education in functional medicine for patients and citizens via a cutting-edge website, podcast interviews with functional medicine
thought leaders, the AthenaNet electronic health record and integrated Qure4U app. Seaworthy can establish care remotely within Alaska with Alaska residents via telemedicine.  Seaworthy can establish care and follow up anywhere in the world with people who live outside Alaska if they visit Homer, Alaska once and become an Alaskan patient via one visit at our brick-and-mortar clinic.

The most common question we must deal with these days is where you find true and reliable information on the pandemic. The novel coronavirus pandemic. People had questions about what minerals do I use to protect myself, during unique times. 

I just want to take a step back for a second and share with everyone our functional medicine perspective on novel coronavirus and the disease that it causes, COVID-19. What we know now is that this virus leverages inflammation. Silent inflammation is part of all of the modern ills that affect Americans as well as people internationally. In that we can’t feel that this inflammation, but it’s part of the genesis of heart attack, cancer, stroke, diabetes, mood disorders, you name it. The more suboptimal the person’s lifestyle is, or their social situation, the more silently inflamed they are. That’s why there’s a desperate impact on people who are socioeconomically disadvantaged; being more affected by COVID-19.

Whether it’s a standard American diet, lack of access to services, stress, not enough sleep, not good nutrition, you name it. The more these situations are true, the more silent inflammation is burning even in ways the person can’t feel. When they get hit by novel coronavirus, the COVID-19 stirs up a firestorm of inflammation in the lungs – it fills up the lungs with fluid. We’re getting data now that it is impacting different organs in the body. 

People that are more inflamed to start with are more at risk of dying or having complications of COVID-19. That’s probably an oversimplification, it’s far more complex than that. You can go to CDC, Centers for Disease Control to learn constant updates about the conventional aspects of COVID-19. For more information, you could go to, that’s India, Foxtrot, – just go to their information for patients right on the top of the banner, click on COVID-19.

It’ll talk to you about the critical importance of sleep. Immune function can drop off immediately if you’re not getting enough sleep, you won’t feel it, but nonetheless, if you’re not getting enough sleep, your immune resilience will drop off. That’s your ability to block the virus from entering the system. The ability to block the virus from replicating so you could recover quickly. 

If you have COVID-19, you’ll find suggestions for sleep on the IFM website, not to mention lots of more specifics. While on the site, check their information posted on vitamins and minerals. Both vitamins and minerals are very critical. Vitamin C is very important, get lots of vitamin C rich foods. You’ll see some dosages are large. If you’re interested in supplementing, zinc is very important. You cannot get zinc from foods easily: check what are the proper supplementation doses. Vitamin D is very important in Alaska and many other Northern and Southern climates. Those are some of the big hitters.

Those of you that want to delve further into the details, I strongly encourage you to check out IFM. It’s also an excellent website about functional medicine. Institute for Functional Medicine, curates the content and because it’s many, many faculty members who’ve been passionate about and built the functional medicine model for years, you can count on it. Not only is the information scientifically validated and well thought out, but many, many individuals have come to consensus. You’re not just hearing one person’s opinion. 

Another question that came up was whether coronavirus is serious. I can absolutely attest as a conventional and functional medicine MD, not to mention as a citizen, that novel coronavirus couldn’t possibly be more serious, whether we measure it by its deadly outcomes for hundreds of thousands of people, nationally and worldwide or by the number of people infected by this virus. Devastating impacts on people’s lives, jobs, wellbeing, and the incredible amount of stress and uncertainty that has created. The barriers to accessing health care, have again morbid and mortal consequences for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people.

I had an individual ask what can be done for wear and tear in the joints. This person wanted to know about their hands, but many of us have wear and tear in our knees, our back, our hands, our elbows, shoulders, you name it. This is called osteoarthritis and it just means wear and tear on the joints

Thankfully, wear and tear on the joints is not a inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, so it’s not the body attacking itself. It’s not an autoimmune condition. The discomfort that we have in the joints that is inflammation. That’s why a legion of people use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to get comfort with these joints.

In functional medicine, we tend to use anti-inflammatory food plans, anti-inflammatory principles like getting enough sleep, eating whole food as medicine, stress management, social connection, moving enough to keep the joints lubricated and comfortable. We also use botanical and nutraceutical anti-inflammatories more so than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAID drugs tend to punch little holes in the gut barrier, what’s called leaky gut. They both quench the symptoms of the degenerative joints and sort of perpetuate the inflammation on a fundamental level. Things like curcumin, Boswellia, bromelain, quercetin, and a host of natural anti-inflammatories peck a hundred little holes in the inflammatory cascade and don’t disrupt the gut barrier. A lot of people like using those things. It is safe to stack them. Also, some people that have joints close to the surface will use a topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory called diclofenac or Voltaren gel, which is very safe, used topically, and doesn’t build up much in the system. So hopefully that addresses that individual’s question.

I had somebody ask if they take a diuretic, where they’re having to pee a lot because of a water pill, then should they still drink the recommended amount of water for ideal body mass in kilos every 24 hours. Unfortunately for the person that asked that question, it needs to be handled by the primary care or the cardiology doctor because it has to do with pump function. 

People with heart conditions have typically had an echocardiogram or can get one, and that measures pump function. The primary care doctor or cardiologist can advise the individual whether they can handle their recommended amount of hydration every 24 hours based on pump function, what’s called ejection fractions, a fancy medical term.

A common answer would be, if there’s no swelling building up in the legs, no shortness of breath getting as close to the hydration target as possible would be a good idea.

-Dr. Rob Downey

PS: We, at Seaworthy Functional Medicine Center, will look for the root cause of disease or how to most rapidly to optimize your vitality. We will address lifestyle modifications to enhance personal wellness and build a functional medicine plan tailored to you. We offer in-person visits at our “brick and mortar” clinic in beautiful Homer, AK or “virtual” telemedicine visits via an app called MyCarePlan from Qure4U. 

Rob Downey, MD

Founder of Seaworthy Functional Medicine