Integrative Health Blog

Coronavirus: Healing the Gastrointestinal Tract to Boost Immunity

Posted by Dr. Charles Gant on Sat, Apr 11, 2020


One of the ways to tune up your immune system and give you more resistance to the Coronavirus is to heal your intestines.  A healthy gastrointestinal tract is often synonymous with a healthy immune system, which strengthens your resistance to any and all infections.

Roughly 60% to 80% of our entire immune system is estimated to surround our gastrointestinal tract to keep our microbiome, the bacteria, fungus, parasites and viruses, in check.   If an overgrowth of unfriendly flora occurs or our immune system is reacting to various foods (e.g., food allergy), a lot of our immune systems energy is diverted to the intestines and away from the immune system’s other responsibilities such as resisting or fighting infectious invaders like Coronavirus.

Symptoms of an Unhealthy Microbiome

How can we tell if the immune system is wasting its energy fighting food proteins or the flora growing in our intestines?  One way is to consider symptoms.  If bloating, excess gas, abdominal discomfort, loose stools, acid reflux or constipation are a regular occurrence, you may be suffering with food allergy/sensitivity and/or the overgrowth of unfriendly intestinal flora.  Sometimes it is impossible to figure out which foods are involved, and which micro-organisms are overgrown without diagnostic functional medicine testing, like a stool test, a urine test and blood work.  Once the diagnosis is made, it’s a relatively simple process to correct the flora and get your immune system to then divert its attention away from the intestines to other parts of your body.

Healing the Gut with the 5 R’s

An acronym for healing the intestines is sometimes described as the 5R’s


R#1, often the most challenging, is Removal of the offending flora.  Stool cultures are sometimes needed to determine what the unfriendly flora is and what herbals and antibiotics remove it.  Colon hydrotherapy is offered at NIHA which can be very helpful in the removal process. 


R#2 stands for Reinnoculation of the good flora.  It doesn’t do much good to remove the bad micro-organisms if it’s not replaced with the good “probiotics,” since the bad flora will just come back. 


R#3 is Repair of the lining of the intestines, healing the “leaky gut” or microscopic holes that allowed food to leak through and challenge the immune system.  The lining of the intestines stands between your immune system and the unfriendly flora, which are shooting killer substances (e.g., inflammatory toxins) at each other so it is little wonder that holes form and food leaks. 


R#4 stands for Replenish digestive enzymes.  Most of my patients these days suffer from EPI, Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, and supplementing digestive enzymes helps food get broken down into absorbable elements instead of proceeding on as undigested remnants to feed the unfriendly flora. 


Finally, R#5 is Restoring hepatic (liver) detoxification.  Almost all blood-flow from the intestines passes through the liver which acts like a filtration system to protect the rest of the body.  Here, we rely on genetic testing to give us some idea about one’s ability to break down toxins before they go on to hurt our immune system and the organs of the body.

Assessing the 5R’s and developing a functional medicine treatment plan is one of the most important gifts you can provide your immune system, as its surveillance can then be redirected elsewhere to stop invasive viruses and bacteria, and to track down and destroy cancer cells.  This assessment is available with routine laboratory testing, so if this interests you, call for an appointment.*  We can send you a kit for a stool test to your home.  You simply collect the sample, then send in the mailer to the lab, and few weeks later, the test results return and we can set up a brief phone consult.  Specific interventions unique to you are recommended. 

A healthy gastrointestinal tract is a key component of a healthy immune system. It determines who will get sick and who will stay well. A strong and functioning immune system strengthens your resistance to any virus and all infections.

*Dr. Gant is doing Telemedicine appointments only.

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Dr. Gant functional medicine doctor Wash DCCharles Gant MD, PhD,  is a physician, author and teacher and has practiced Integrative and Functional Medicine for over three decades. He specializes in molecular health and healing, especially as it supports growth and recovery from health issues such as ADHD, chronic diseases, metabolic and immune disorders, infectious disease, substance disorders and more. He is an expert in interpretation of functional medicine testing to diagnose precisely what is deficient in each patient, and then replenish those missing, essential items. 


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Topics: immune system, gut, functional medicine, integrative medicine, virus