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A holistic approach to COVID-19

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By Bella Butler EBS EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

With the physical wellbeing of the global community in jeopardy, the COVID-19 pandemic has instigated many to take an introspective look at personal health, but not everyone is taking the traditional approach.

“I think people are taking a little bit more of an interest in their health, in general, which is exciting,” said Dr. Kaley Burns, owner of Big Sky Natural Health. Dr. Burns is a naturopathic doctor, who approaches patient’s health with a holistic perspective.

“For naturopaths, we look at the whole person,” she said, adding that immunity is a central component to the holistic approach.

On March 16, researchers with the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity published a study in which they examined a 47-year-old Chinese woman who had been diagnosed with COVID-19. After studying the subject’s immune responses over the length of her illness, the researchers concluded that “early adaptive immune responses might correlate with better clinical outcomes.” One of the researchers later said that although COVID-19 is caused by a novel virus, a robust immune system is associated with recovery, according to their study.

Dr. Burns offered what she dubbed “the big three” tips for supporting immunity from the vantage of a naturopath: hydration, nutrition and rest and relaxation. She added that enjoying the outdoors is a bonus to this trifecta, an especially accessible practice in Big Sky and all of southwestern Montana.

Dr. Kaley Burns, owner of Big Sky Natural Health, spends a lot of her time enjoying the outdoors, a practice she describes as being extremely important in maintaining daily mental and physical health. PHOTO COURTESY OF DR. KALEY BURNS

Just as the driving concept behind social distancing is collective cooperation, Dr. Burns added that supporting individual health can have much broader effects. “Each of us focusing on our own health also makes our families and our community healthier,” she said. “There’s kind of that ripple effect of all of us supporting ourselves to support each other.”

Dr. Burns suggested that while she hopes to bolster healthcare options for Big Sky, she believes that naturopathic medicine works really well when paired with conventional medicine. Especially during these times when the healthcare system is overwhelmed, she is hopeful that her clinic as well as other conventional clinics can support the community adequately and collectively.

Using more alternative and homeopathic methods, the Cauldron Apothecary in Big Sky is also tackling COVID-19 from a nonconventional approach. The Cauldron Apothecary’s owner, Tara Gale, describes herself as a healer. Having completed various trainings in herb and aromatherapy, nutrition and energy, Gale uses the Cauldron’s space for various types of health consultations as well as to sell a wide selection of natural remedies and homeopathic medicine.

Gale does 60 percent of her business with clients outside of the community, from Los Angeles to Thailand. Recently, Gale has worked with three out-of-state clients diagnosed with COVID-19. According to Gale, some of these clients reported experiencing a complete reversal of symptoms within 24 hours of receiving intuitive healing from her.

Gale described intuitive healing as looking into the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical realms of the body collectively to identify imbalances of energy. For one specific client with COVID-19 that reported a complete reversal of symptoms, Gale said she did “heart work,” addressing the client’s childhood trauma and how it was still affecting her. Results from intuitive healing, including those shared by Gale, are often self-reported.  

Tara Gale, a self-described healer, is backdropped by rows of homemade remedies, including tinctures, oils and herbal blends. PHOTO COURTESY OF TARA GALE

Dr. Maren Dunn, a physician with the Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center added that mental health does correlate in some instances with physical health and that in some cases untreated depression and anxiety can affect the immune system.

She referenced heart disease patients, such as those that have suffered a heart attack and experience depression instigated by that event. When the depression goes untreated, the patient is more likely, according to Dr. Dunn, to suffer a second heart attack.  

For those seeking less exploratory holistic approaches, Gale reiterated Dr. Burns’ big three, with an emphasis on drinking enough water and eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. Gale also suggested diffusing essential oils with antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Despite the current amplified concern for health and wellbeing, Dr. Burns said our bodies are often stronger than we give them credit for, and that an opportunity for empowerment comes when we take our health into our own hands. There are many fundamental things that we can do to feel better, she said, that give us a lot of control. Gale concurred through her own observations, expressing a belief that bodies know what they need, it’s just a matter of drawing out those needs.

Dr. Burns hopes that the heightened inspiration people are experiencing to take better care of health survives the COVID-19 pandemic. “One of the things I hope can be a takeaway for us is how we approach our health in general,” she said.

“We’ve got a lot of other chronic diseases in the country and I think it would be a great thing for a lot of people to maybe come to an understanding with themselves of how they might want to feel better on a daily basis.”

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