Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

If you’re using a different device, our show is available on the following platforms.

View all Platforms
Episode 171
The Doctor's Farmacy

Long-Haul COVID And The Mysteries Of Coronavirus: A Path To Healing

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

If you’re using a different device, our show is available on the following platforms.

View all Platforms

The symptoms of COVID-19 are scary enough. What I personally find even more terrifying, is the long-haulers syndrome so many people struggle with months after “recovering” from acute COVID. 

In many people, lingering symptoms are occurring 6 to 9 months after COVID infection, hence the term long-haulers syndrome. It comes with a slew of symptoms, from fatigue and body aches to difficulty breathing, racing heart, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and more. COVID-19 was originally viewed as a respiratory disease but we’ve now gained a new understanding of its impact on our blood vessels and how that affects the entire body. 

There’s no better person to dig into the vascular nature of COVID with than today’s guest on The Doctor’s Farmacy, Dr. William Li. Dr. Li organized a team of international experts to look at autopsy tissue from those who had died of COVID. They found it not only affected the lungs but also caused microvascular damage, endothelial inflammation, and neuropathy, which better explains the diverse range of symptoms associated with COVID. 

Dr. Li and I have each seen certain approaches benefit those who are struggling with long-term symptoms, like hyperbaric oxygen, and we discuss some exciting prospective treatments, like nitric oxide. The body can be a powerful self-healer when given the right tools and ingredients. Dr. Li and I explore how this pandemic has forced us to rethink medicine and what the future of managing COVID might look like. 

There’s still so much we have to learn about COVID and addressing long-haulers syndrome. Dr. Li’s research provides a better understanding of what we’re dealing with and why integrative therapies could be so beneficial to address multiple systems at once. 

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn:

  1. Dr. Li’s journey studying long-COVID thus far
    (4:19 / 8:44)
  2. What is long-COVID doing to the body? Do long-haulers still have COVID-19?
    (10:48 / 15:13)
  3. Assessing and healing vascular damage from COVID and long-COVID
    (15:44 / 20:09)
  4. How COVID infection can change the genetics of our bone marrow
    (19:20 / 23:45)
  5. Preventing and healing from long-COVID
    (20:26 / 24:51)
  6. Treating COVID-19 and long-COVID with nitric oxide and with repurposed pharmaceuticals
    (25:24 / 30:45)
  7. Why do COVID-19 vaccines improve symptoms in some long-haulers?
    (30:40 / 36:00)
  8. Using Functional Medicine, regenerative medicine, therapies such as hyperbaric oxygen, and the body’s own intelligence to treat long-COVID
    (32:59 / 38:20)
  9. Dr. Li’s perspective on the COVID-19 vaccines and why we saw complications with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in some patients
    (47:18 / 52:39)
  10. Can you get long-COVID if you become infected with COVID-19 after being vaccinated?
    (54:24 / 59:45)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Dr. William Li

Dr. William Li is an internationally renowned physician, scientist and author of one of my favorite books, the New York Times bestseller Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself. His groundbreaking work has led to the development of more than 30 new medical treatments and impacted care for more than 70 diseases including cancer, diabetes, blindness, heart disease and obesity. His TED Talk, “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?” has garnered more than 11 million views. Dr. Li has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, CNBC, Live with Kelly & Ryan and the Dr. Oz Show, and he has been featured in USA Today, Time Magazine, The Atlantic, Parade and O Magazine. He is president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation and is leading research into COVID-19.

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens, BiOptimizers, and TrueDark.

Athletic Greens is offering Doctor’s Farmacy listeners a full year supply of their Vitamin D3/K2 Liquid Formula free with your first purchase, plus 5 free travel packs. Just go to athleticgreens.com/hyman to take advantage of this great offer.

Right now, BiOptimizers is offering Doctor’s Farmacy listeners 10% off your Magnesium Breakthrough order. Just go to magbreakthrough.com/hyman and use code HYMAN10 to receive this amazing offer.

TrueDark Daylights help prevent eye strain and headaches from overexposure to junk light and TrueDark Twilights collection for nighttime helps you get deeper sleep. TrueDark is offering podcast listeners 15% with code DRHYMAN15. Just go to truedark.com/hyman.

Transcript

Dr. William Li:
Once you have system-wide damage or inflammation or imbalances, which is clearly what’s actually happening with long haulers, and we can pinpoint it down to the cellular molecular level. The reality is that it’s very unlikely that a single pill or a single prescription is going to actually do the job.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman. That’s Farmacy with an F, a place for conversations that matter. If you or someone you love has been infected with COVID and you’re not feeling so great even after you’re supposed to be recovered, you might want to listen up for this podcast because it’s with my good friend, Dr. William Li, who is a pioneer scientist, an incredible human being, and is really paving the way for us to understand what we’re now calling long hauler syndrome, which is basically like the chronic fatigue syndrome you get after COVID, that’s not related to the direct infection with the virus, but it’s something.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He’s an incredible guy. He’s an internal medicine physician scientist, author of New York Times bestseller of one of my most favorite books called Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself. If you want to learn more, please listen to our podcasts we did when the book came out. It’s great. Of course, I’m going to say it’s great, but it’s great because William’s great, not because of me. He has done incredible work in the field of understanding blood vessel and blood vessel health.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
His groundbreaking work has led to the development of more than 30 different medical treatments that were never on the planet before and has impacted care for more than 70 diseases. He should win the Nobel Prize. I’d vote for him for that, for sure. He’s impacted to understand cancer, diabetes, blindness, heart disease, obesity. He’s had a great TED Talk. You should listen to called “Can we eat to starve cancers,” seen over 11 million times. He’s been on Good Morning America, CNN, CNBC Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Dr. Oz show in USA Today, Time Magazine, Atlantic, and on and on and on.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He’s the President and Medical Director of the Angiogenesis Foundation and is the leading research in the field of COVID-19, and he’s also a very good friend and my gelato buddy. We have a bunch of experts in nutrition, who basically break out sometimes and go eat gelato together, including the Dean of Nutrition and Science and Policy at Tufts and the former head of Whole foods. It’s very fun. Welcome William.

Dr. William Li:
Thanks. Mark, it’s always great to be back with you. Let’s just say for your viewers and listeners, we eat gelato made with whole fresh fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, right. Really.

Dr. William Li:
No added sugar.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I definitely my broccoli gelato, definitely go for the broccoli gelato every time. Well, we’re going to talk about something that is quite scary to me. COVID is scary enough, but what’s really scary to me is the after effect of COVID that we’re seeing in so many people. With SARS, the original coronavirus infection, there was a 40% chronic fatigue rate at three years in these patients. That’s terrifying to me, because today in America we have had over 30 million cases. We probably have about 500,000 something deaths, but there’s probably a lot more who’ve been infected.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Globally, the numbers are staggering in terms of how many people have actually been infected with COVID. If one in three of these people might get something like chronic fatigue, that’s just a massive burden on our system. We’re beginning to just understand how prevalent this is, how debilitating it is, how scary it is. Honestly, I’m not that scared of getting COVID. I’m scared of getting long hauler syndrome. Tell us what we’ve learned about why our bodies seem to be so vulnerable to this COVID-19 virus, and why these vulnerabilities leave us exposed to getting this long hauler syndrome.

Dr. William Li:
Yeah. Well, Mark, that is the pressing question I think we’re going to be facing as a nation and as a healthcare system, probably for the next decade. Because while I do think that the light is at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic itself, as more people are vaccinated, as the seasons change, and hopefully any mutations or variants will become less problematic for us. That’s the crossing the fingers hope. The fact of the matter is that the tail end, the long tail of this infection is something that is absolutely sobering to actually study.

Dr. William Li:
Let me tell you how I got into this. I’m an internal medicine doc. I’m a vascular biologist. You mentioned all the things I studied like cancer and diabetes and vision loss and cardiovascular disease. The last thing on earth, I thought I would ever study is infectious disease. It was something that I had to deal with in a clinical career, but not something that I would actually, thought that I would actually be on the ship’s prowl of. But one of the things that happened in March, 2020 when everybody was locking down, this became a joint human experience.

Dr. William Li:
There was this new disease that came upon us. As a physician, you probably have a similar situation, what was really stark and puzzling was why the people in the emergency rooms, in the ICU were really flailing. Here we are a very modern medical system, and we were not able to get our arms around the people that were coming in with low oxygen saturations, blood clots, and all these other kinds of problems that we … In a past era, you could explain, but in today’s modern world, you would think that we would actually be more on top of this.

Dr. William Li:
For me, I sat and literally stared out the window from my bedroom wondering, what distinguished ourselves, from people who were dealing with the plague in the middle ages, where they actually ran indoors in their stone homes waiting for the village crier to say, “It’s safe it to go back out into the town square again.” Indeed, that’s what we’re still doing, waiting for the CDC and other authorities to say, “Okay, go out and do your thing, back to normal.”

Dr. William Li:
The thing that was really to me the pressing mission I felt was, as a scientist I had an opportunity to try to throw my weight and contribute to solving this mystery of what this virus was actually doing to the body. What I’ll do is, I’ll actually give you a spoiler alert right now for your listeners and viewers, which is, this virus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 has given us an unexpected twist at almost every turn of this pandemic. Just when we thought we knew something, it would throw another curve ball out of.

Dr. William Li:
First of all, the respiratory virus was causing blood clots, strokes, problems with the heart, kidney failure, not what you would normally expect, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Intestinal problems too, right?

Dr. William Li:
Intestinal problems, COVID toe, just the most puzzling things. The things that we would normally do in the ICU, I used to run an ICU. We would never think about flipping somebody on their stomach in an ICU. That’s like turning a turkey in the oven. We would never do that. We’d have everybody flat on their backs. The rules were changing right before our eyes. I realized that one of the things that I could contribute, that I could make at least a modest contribution to is, trying to figure out what was actually happening, what was happening in the body that this virus was actually causing.

Dr. William Li:
I actually got autopsy tissue from people who had died of COVID, and I organized an international team from Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and the US and we dove into the tissue like a pathologist who went from lung, heart, brain, the whole body. What we found was absolutely amazing and sobering. We found that this respiratory virus was infecting your lungs, but it was also infecting the blood vessels. It was a vascular infection.

Dr. William Li:
We actually saw, the first pictures of the coronavirus getting inside the cells, the endothelial cells, vessels, and we all know from cardiovascular disease and heart health, how important these vascular endothelial cells are. We don’t want them to clot when they have to actually go very smoothly.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s the lining of the blood vessels. Those are what we call endothelial cells. So all the lining.

Dr. William Li:
That’s right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You’ve got 60,000 miles of blood vessels and the lining of that, the endothelium is so important to so many functions, not just like our little skin, it’s actually very active. You’re saying the virus gets into those cells and causes havoc throughout the body?

Dr. William Li:
Right into the cells and it changes the performance of the cells. These cells are supposed to, they’re like a single layer inside a blood vessel, and they make the inside of our blood vessels like an ice skating rink. After a Zamboni cleans an ice skating rink, you can throw a sweater on it and the sweater will go all the way across the rink. After a hockey game, that the ice is all roughed up. If you try to throw even a hockey puck on it, it’ll stay there, right? It’s really hard to skate on it, and that’s what we were seeing.

Dr. William Li:
This coronavirus was actually scuffing up that rink inside our blood vessels, by messing up that single lining. Now that endothelial damage, which was called endothelialitis, just like any other kind of tissue that winds up getting inflamed and damaged, wound up becoming the lead article of a New England Journal of Medicine research paper we wrote, that really opened the door and changed the way that we were thinking about COVID, because now it’s not just a respiratory disease, it’s a vascular disease.

Dr. William Li:
Because every organ is connected to our blood vessels to get oxygen and nutrients, now we began to understand how the organs were damaged. This is acute COVID. Just when we thought that we understood a little bit more about acute COVID and antibodies are coming up and vaccines are being developed, suddenly the people who bounced back from COVID, some were in the hospital, some were not three, six, nine months later, they were crashing with long haulers, which was this bizarre constellation of more than 100 different symptoms ranging from brain fog, chronic fatigue, ringing in the ears, racing heart, extreme muscle weakness, you name it, GI pain, vomiting or diarrhea, or constipation that is not explained.

Dr. William Li:
Patients were actually self-organizing to share their experiences. They called themselves long haulers, like truckers that were driving across the country, and doctors didn’t understand what was going on. Then we had to go figure out what was happening in long haulers.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s so prevalent and I think most of us think, “Oh well, I’m young, I’m healthy, I’m fit. It seems to be affecting mostly the elderly, the obese, the chronically ill.” Those are the ones that are at most risk for hospitalization and dying. What’s striking to me about long hauler is that. even young healthy people who get COVID and recover, then go on to become long haulers, which is terrifying to me because you think, “Oh, it’s just the vulnerable who are really at risk of severe illness,” but it’s not. It turns out it’s not.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Tell us, in terms of your discovery of long haulers syndrome, who is the most at risk for it? How is it working? Is the virus still there? Is it just creating a feed for a cycle of inflammation that gets stuck on, like the gas pedal gets stuck to the floor with the inflammation that can’t stop? What’s actually going on?

Dr. William Li:
Yeah. Those questions you’re asking are exactly at the tip of the spear of research right now, I will tell you there’s so many, there’s over 100 different symptoms and probably two or three dozen diagnoses that physicians are making, doctors are making to try to categorize what’s going on. But the umbrella is long haulers. Rather than try to do what we do so well in medicine unfortunately, it’s to silo everything and try to go an inch wide and a mile deep for every single disease. What I’ve been trying to do is to figure out what are the common denominators of all of these different types of centers?

Dr. William Li:
How do we understand how the body’s responding? Because just like the body of work you’ve done Mark, and a body of work I’ve done, the human physique, actually the physiology winds up revealing almost everything about what’s actually happening to it. Rather than just trying to label it with something that’s going wrong, what is the reason that is … what is the underlying cause? Here’s what the three things that, the three legs of the stool we found in long haulers.

Dr. William Li:
The microvascular damage from acute COVID seems to continue to be there. Small blood vessels, damaged endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels feeding 60,000 miles of your circulation there, we find it [crosstalk 00:12:22].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Is the virus still there though or is it gone?

Dr. William Li:
This is the thing we don’t yet know, when you swab these people who are suffering from long haulers, the nasal swabs, the saliva test, the fecal test, PCR negative. They don’t actually have the virus. They are by the usual testing methods, not infected. However, the bizarre things about 41% of people who have long hauler who get a vaccine, they report that some of their symptoms actually get better. It’s another twist. How would that be? How could it be that a vaccine would actually heal what’s damaged?

Dr. William Li:
Vaccines are really a shield in general to boost your immune system to prevent more of it. We’re wondering whether or not like in Lyme disease or syphilis or in shingle, could there be-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Or herpes or whatever.

Dr. William Li:
Or herpes, could there be hidden reservoirs of virus that are not detectable with the usual tests that are hanging out somewhere? Could it be in the crevices of our gums? Could they be in the testes? Can they be in all these little, the CRIPs of the intestines? We do know that some of the most important health defenses of our body, our microbiome for example, are thrown out of whack when you actually have COVID. One of the things that we really need to start doing now, is to try to figure out how do we fortify the body?

Dr. William Li:
I think diet and lifestyle is one of them, because biotech and pharmaceuticals they’ll come, but they take way too long. What can we do for people that are recovering? Now, let me give you a statistic that I think is really sobering. Just under 150 million people have gotten COVID. About three-ish million people have died. If you were to divide the deaths over the denominator, it’s not the most fatal disease that we’ve ever had.

Dr. William Li:
On the other hand, if it’s anywhere from a third to 70% of people develop some manifestation of long haulers, let’s be conservative and call it a third. You’re talking about-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
50 million.

Dr. William Li:
… almost 50 million people that actually are at risk for developing long haulers. That is a healthcare system crushing disease. If it actually … this would be a second pandemic to come out of the first. One of the reasons that I’m so passionate about trying to establish what’s going on, who’s most vulnerable, what can we do both on the medical industrial side, which is very important, but also I think on the diet and lifestyle side, because there’s so much we can do to lower inflammation, get better circulation and help improve our nerve function. Those are things that we might be able to actually explore.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I think that’s really key. One is deepening our understanding of what’s going on. Is there some active virus still there? Is it just the residual effects? How do we begin to help the body reset and repair from long hauler syndrome? Is it treatable? I think these are all the questions that are coming up, and traditional medicine I believe has very little to offer in the face of something like long hauler. At Cleveland Clinic, we now have the Recover Clinic, which is a multidisciplinary team that’s working on and looking at the biology of this, looking at what kind of interventions we can use and using again, lifestyle approaches, functional medicine approaches.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That may be part of the answer for people, but what I think would be helpful for people to understand, is that the blood vessels seem to be part of the key to this. You’re an expert in blood vessels. You spent your whole life studying blood vessels. You create the Angiogenesis Foundation, 30 new medical discoveries and 70 different diseases. What can we learn from your work about how to approach the vascular damage from COVID and from long hauler COVID?

Dr. William Li:
Yeah. We’ve actually been actually capturing with imaging, the damage of the blood vessels from COVID in lungs of people that have long haulers, and they don’t have any objective problems by x-ray or CT scan, but they still can’t breathe. You got to listen to the patient, right? That’s the first thing is to listen to what they’re telling us in a medical community, so we can pay attention and too many doctors aren’t listening. This is a new disease. We have to pay super attention. Now, what we’ve actually done is take the CT scans.

Dr. William Li:
I think that you and your listeners are going to find is really cool, we’re able to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to reconstruct the blood vessels from a CT scan. We scan the scan to reconstruct the blood vessels, and we can actually count the blood vessels. We can look at the density. We can compare to 1,000 normal lungs to see where the problems are and how deficient. I’ve had patients who actually are up to 80% deficient in their microcirculation of their lung nine months after recovering from COVID.

Dr. William Li:
To me, you talk about something scary. This patient looks completely fine, except that she can’t breathe very well. She’s in her mid 40s and it doesn’t happen all the time. It happens intermittently, and that’s the scary part. I think you’re absolutely right, the usual medical system is at a huge disadvantage with new diseases, because what do we do in the regular medical system? We go back into our toolkit, which is the medicine chest, and look for what prescriptions to write or what tests to do.

Dr. William Li:
This being new, if you don’t understand the basic pathophysiology, what’s going on underneath the body? We know that blood vessels are missing. One of the pieces of good news, the bright light I can tell you about here that, the cup half full is that blood vessels we know can repair themselves. We can grow new blood vessels in order to restore our organs. If you were to cut out part of your liver, it would grow right back and all the blood vessels would grow right back. We know when you cut yourself or have surgery, when that wound is there, it will grow blood vessels and it’ll heal up the wound that it’ll restore itself.

Dr. William Li:
Angiogenesis itself is an absolutely critical thing. The issue though is with angiogenesis doesn’t work very well when there’s a ton of chronic inflammation. Now, we need to help the blood vessels grow by lowering inflammation so that the healing can take place. Then we want to push the healing faster. What do we actually do? We know that regular exercise and movement actually can actually help grow blood vessels. We know that stress, norepinephrine, catecholomines can actually slow down blood vessel growth, so we want to actually be a little more chill, more Zen and exercise and move more.

Dr. William Li:
We know that when you have a lot of catacholamines in your body, when you’re not sleeping, that slows down to healing as well. Again, back to lifestyle medicine, integrative medicine, a lot of these principles that you’re not going to go to any of the famous name brand medical centers, they’re not going to be writing a prescription for sleep. They’re not going to be writing prescription for yoga. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t real medical interventions, but we don’t have any treatments for this right now. Clinical trials are just getting started.

Dr. William Li:
The other thing I’ll tell you is that, our blood vessels partly restore themselves, grow back to repair using stem cells. These stem cells come from our bone marrow. Something scary and a relatively new finding is that, COVID, SARS-CoV-2, the virus can get into the bone marrow and change the genetics of our bone marrow. That’s truly stunning. The question is, do we need to do something to help restore bone marrow health, right? We’re not going to be giving ourselves HiPo injections, like in the hematology lab to pump out more blood cells.

Dr. William Li:
We’re not going to be giving ourselves blood transfusions, but it does turn out that there are things that we eat that can stun our stem cells and our bone marrow, even before COVID. High saturated fat foods, ultra processed foods, processed meats, artificial sweeteners, all the things that you’ve been talking about Mark for years, I’ve been talking about for years, there’s another reason for us to actually cut down or cut out those things that would stun our Stem cells in our bone marrow. Anything we can do to tip the balance in our body in favor of healing is something we got to do.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What you’re saying basically is despite the advances in modern medicine, the best ways to prevent and ultimately treat right now are focusing on the fundamentals of our lifestyle, a whole foods diet, getting rid of crap, exercise, meditation, sleep. These are the four pillars that help regulate your immune system, regulate inflammation, regulate all the biological functions, and we might minimize those using things not as powerful as medication. But I think often it turns out that they’re far more powerful when you apply them in the right dose, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you do one minute of walking, maybe you won’t help, but if you do half an hour it might help. Or if you have, if you’re drinking 12 sodas a day and you have 10, probably not going to improve things as much. It’s really about how you make those changes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Hey everybody, it’s Dr. Hyman, thanks for tuning into The Doctor’s Farmacy. I hope you’re loving this podcast. It’s one of my favorite things to do, and introduce to you all the experts that I know and I love, and that I’ve learned so much from. I want to tell you about something else I’m doing, which is called Mark’s Picks. It’s my weekly newsletter.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In it, I share my favorite stuff from foods, to supplements, to gadgets, to tools, to enhance your health. It’s all the cool stuff that I use and that my team uses to optimize and enhance our health. I’d love you to sign up for the weekly newsletter. I’ll only send it to you once a week on Fridays. Nothing else, I promise. All you do is go to drhyman.com/picks to sign up. That’s drhyman.com/picks, P-I-C-K-S and sign up for the newsletter, and I’ll share with you my favorite stuff that I use to enhance my health and get healthier and better and live younger longer. Now, back to this week’s episode.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
One of the things I really want to get into with you is, is what is coming around the corner around understanding the vascular biology of COVID 19 long haulers syndrome. Because it seems to me that that’s the missing link that explains all the different symptoms people are having, that it’s almost like a blood vessel disease. You happen to be one of the world’s experts in blood vessels, and you inadvertently got thrown into the mix of COVID, which you weren’t planning on, but it became evident that this is such a vascular problem.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You were forced almost to dive into it and do this research. What are you and your colleagues looking at in terms of other, besides the fundamental lifestyle things coming down the pike in terms of new treatments to repair their blood vessels and their health?

Dr. William Li:
Yeah, so I’ll break it down into different categories. The first thing we’re trying to do is to get our arms around a better way to diagnose the problem. One thing that we’re doing is actually taking CT scans from people who are continuing to have breathing problems in their chest for example, and we’re reconstructing their blood vessels, so we can actually see the blood vessels. Like seeing is believing. That’s important for the patient to understand what’s going on. It’s important for their doctors and the team to understand there is a pathophysiology that’s not invisible-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s not in their head.

Dr. William Li:
… it’s just sitting in plain sight. Not in their head and we can liberate it. This is not something that you give an anxiolytic to try to make it go away. This is real number one. Number two is, what can we measure in the bloodstream that could give us a sense of the damage? It turns out that, the classic inflammatory markers like CRP don’t seem to cut it. What we’re trying to do is go to a deeper level. This is where vascular biology comes into play. Because over the last 20 years, we’ve been finding different particles and different growth factors that reflect blood vessel damage and reflect blood vessel healing.

Dr. William Li:
Is it an Angiopoietin-2 peptide? Is it a soluble receptor for blood vessels they’re trying to fix themselves? In other words, can we detect with a blood test, the supplies that your repair crew for your body’s blood vessels are bringing to all these damaged organs to try to fix it? The answer’s yes. The NIH actually convened a working group, a workshop to really discuss COVID damage. It was not your, just one division of infectious diseases, but it was the neurologist, the pediatrics, the kidney people, the endocrinologists, all these different specialists came by.

Dr. William Li:
Everybody said, “Look, the common currency that we need to talk about are blood vessels and inflammation, which go hand in hand.” What my group is trying to help discover new floating particles we can detect. Another interesting thing that is-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So a way to diagnose it? A way to diagnose it?

Dr. William Li:
Diagnosis, yeah. Then also you want to be able to follow how it changes. Is it getting worse or getting better? I think that’s, so it’s not just the diagnosis, it’s also being able to monitor people to see how well they’re actually doing. Imaging is one of the things. Let’s talk about what’s going on research of treating long haulers syndrome. Now, we don’t fully understand it yet, so it’s hard to come up with a definitive treatment or things that we’re still figuring out. But as I mentioned, three legs of the stool, vascular damage, microvascular damage, tiniest blood vessels.

Dr. William Li:
Number two, inflammation, chronic inflammation, maybe some auto-immunity. The third thing is a neuropathy problem with nerves. One of the things that we’re actually trying to do is to figure out, is there a simple common pathway to repair blood vessels, repair nerves and lower inflammation all at the same time? Sometimes being more complicated isn’t the right solution. Sometimes being as simple as possible can actually at least give you a starting point. It’s always easier to get more complicated.

Dr. William Li:
One of the things we’re looking at is nitric oxide, NO, which is a gas, it’s a natural signaling molecule. It’s the stuff that our cells make to repair themselves. It’s what our blood vessels uses to dilate and to fix themselves, and it’s what my Viagra and Cialis actually cause the body to make with the obvious effects that they’re intended to have.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We actually had Louis Ignarro on our podcast. He was the guy who discovered nitric oxide and won the Nobel Prize for it.

Dr. William Li:
I saw that. Louis is an old friend of mine and an amazing guy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He’s so cute.

Dr. William Li:
What’s amazing about Lou is that, as a senior statesman of research, he is the most friendly, accessible, passionate, brilliant, articulate guy that I know.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s true

Dr. William Li:
I’m glad that he explained that, but I can tell you when this all started, when we first made our discovery about the bloodless of damage, you know who’s the first person I called? Lou Ignarro. Lou and I actually compared the notes on the gene expression, the pictures of the blood vessels and we were thinking about this. Now I’m actually, I’ve continued to move forward. I’m looking at working with some companies now that actually have nitric oxide stimulators. Let’s look through this. There’s some interesting efforts that can actually, they have nitric oxide delivery systems that are in inhalers.

Dr. William Li:
Not ready for prime time, in clinical trials for acute COVID. The reason that that happened for acute COVID is because it was a really interesting successful clinical trial of inhaled nitric oxide in pregnant women who are on the ventilator, or heading towards a ventilator. They found that you could actually rescue these women and their babies. Definitely something that can help blood flow and repair, definitely life-saving. One of the interesting [crosstalk 00:27:59] …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Should we all be taking Viagra for our blood vessels?

Dr. William Li:
One end of the spectrum is actually the stuff in clinical trial, but then you so much of COVID has led us to talk about repurposing existing drugs, because we can’t wait 10 years. We’ve got to see what’s available. Like the Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin’s, and a lot of people have been coming up with different good ideas to figure out do they work or not? But it’s really interesting because on the other end of the spectrum of not what is to be invented, but what’s already around is Viagra, Cialis and all kinds of other things.

Dr. William Li:
That’s an interesting clinical trial to be done. Vasodilates, creates nitric oxide, affects repair and nitric oxide causes stem cells to come out of our bone marrow, to repair and regenerate our vessels as well. It can actually help to repair neuropathy, which is another thing and lower inflammation. Again, I’m super interested in … I think there’s huge amounts of promise, and clinical trials actually need to be done for that. I think that there’s also something to be said …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Should we be taking arginine that increases nitric oxide in the body?

Dr. William Li:
Right. Well, so that’s another interesting thing. There’s dietary supplements that actually introduced arginine precursors and L-arginine, right? You can actually have Arginaid and mix it in water. There’s also medical foods like Juven’s that actually are approved for healing wounds. I’m on the board of the American College of Wound Healing and Tissue Repair, and we’ve been talking about long COVID and we are raising this specter, that perhaps the long COVID is like the entire internal part of your body being turned into a chronic wound, stuck in the inflammatory phase, damaged blood vessels, not completing the cycle of actually healing itself up.

Dr. William Li:
What do we do there? What pages can we tear from the playbook for chronic wound healing from the biology to the clinical stuff, to the treatments? I think that it’s really interesting to think about Arginaid, Juven’s wound healing substances, phosphodiesterase and [inaudible 00:30:06] like Viagra and Cialis. It is a whole spectrum. Now, I’m not … Again, we can’t give medical advice on a podcast, but I think what we’re sharing … Mark, you and I are both physicians that think deeply about mechanisms of the disease.

Dr. William Li:
What we’re actually sharing this conversation is really about how medical scientists and physicians that think about the science actually think about how to solve problems. I don’t think the answer is there yet, but I’m actually really encouraged that there are these tools that are out there that we might be able to do. I think one thing that by the way is really important to actually pursue is this clue, why vaccination improves the symptoms in some people.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, explain that because I think it’s sort of counterintuitive, and people have already had COVID are getting vaccines, because you can get COVID again. Some of those people who’ve had long haulers syndrome who’ve had the virus are now getting better, which is surprising, so explain to us.

Dr. William Li:
Totally surprising, totally counterintuitive. As I said, another wrinkle, another twist in the pandemic story, it defies easy understanding. This is where I think the medical community needs to really just admit our humility and to eat some humble pie, right? It doesn’t make sense. Why would that happen? Then you have to put on your scientists hat to say, “Well, a vaccine shouldn’t actually cause that kind of an improvement if there’s damage in the body. A vaccine shouldn’t cause the body to, shouldn’t be repairing the body, but the vaccine might be able to prompt the immune system to fight residual virus.”

Dr. William Li:
Is that parts going on? The other thing, by the way the vaccine might do, is it might actually essentially Control-Alt-Delete and do a hard reboot of your whole immune system. It could be that, like the fire that COVID causes in many people, not all people, never quite goes out. It’s like a forest fire that when it goes out, you still have this burning brush underneath, even though it looks like it’s mostly out, there’s still a flame there. What you need to do to put that thing out is you need to actually just completely restart the hard drive and then it’ll actually go out and reset.

Dr. William Li:
I think you mentioned this earlier, another hypothesis … Listen for your viewers, this is just like medical research thinking in real-time. We don’t have the answers, but we know at least we can actually try to ask questions.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s fascinating to me that the virus may not be obviously detectable when you do the regular test, but maybe I’m wondering if you’re doing biopsies of tissues, if it’d show. Also, I wonder if we’re just stuck in a feed forward cycle, because we see this a lot in functional medicine. People have chronic fatigue syndrome, have also weird crazy symptoms for years and years, just don’t get better. They’ve had Lyme disease. They’ve had Epstine-Barre. They’ve had whatever an infection and they just get stuck where they have gastroenteritis and their gut is never the same.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s this phenomenon medicine, where people get stuck in a feed forward cycle, which is very much like your record skipping. Many of you listening may not have ever had an album, but you and I are old enough to have had record albums and they skip unlike Spotify, and it just got to keep going on and on and on, and it gets stuck. It’s almost like a biological groove that you can’t get out of. A lot of functional medicine is about focusing on how to get people out of that feed forward cycle, and reset their immune system and reset their biology.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We use a lot of different therapies, all of the basic foundational lifestyle things we talked about, diet, exercise, sleep, and stress reduction, meditation, but there’s also a host of other therapies we use to enhance the body’s function, whether it’s just adequate levels of vitamins and minerals, and all their role or adequate levels of phytochemicals or herbs. There’s also a whole field of regenerative medicine, which is looking at various therapies that are biologic in a sense, they’re biologics therapies that use substances that our bodies naturally have, but give them in higher doses to enhance repair and healing such as stem cells.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s obvious one people know about exosomes, which are derived from stem cells and oxidative therapies, which we sometimes use for example in medicine, like hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which can seem to be also helpful for some of these patients. I just had a patient who had long haulers syndrome and she said the most profound thing she did was use hyperbaric oxygen therapy to recover, which increases would healing. That’s what you studied?

Dr. William Li:
Right. Well, yeah [crosstalk 00:34:45].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Let me just finish. There’s a couple of other things as part of the spectrum of things that may push the body to reset like ozone therapy, which is being used in many other countries, but it’s still fringe here, but there’s really good data on how this pushes the body out of this cycle by suppressing the inflammation, activating your anti-inflammatory systems, antioxidant systems, repairing blood vessels. There’s a lot of therapies out there that are on the fringe, that probably actually won’t even be studied by traditional science.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But I think you have some among the most promising benefits. I had the chance to treat a lot of long-hauler patients. I’ve seen that those people who do these other therapies often are the ones who recover the fastest.

Dr. William Li:
No, it makes total sense. Because this is, once you have system-wide damage or inflammation or imbalances, which is clearly what’s actually happening with long haulers, we can pinpoint it down to the cellular molecular level. The reality is that, it’s very unlikely that a single pill or a single prescription is going to actually do the job. While integrative medicine is almost self assigned to be, to use tools that are on the fringe, listen, I think this pandemic pushed the entire human species to the edge.

Dr. William Li:
It’s now time to actually look at those things that may not have been examined in the same way before and pull them up, pull them to the main stage and say, “Is this something that can actually be helpful to us?” This is where it doesn’t really matter what side of the equation you are or whose team you’re on. It’s basically like; let’s look at stuff that can actually help. What’s interesting, I really like what you said about hyperbaric.

Dr. William Li:
A lot of people in the wound healing world misunderstood what hyperbaric oxygen does, because the idea was to pump high oxygen pressure into a wound that’s not healing, because the wound needs more oxygen because the blood vessels aren’t quite as good. Indeed you would actually see blood vessels going pretty profoundly after doing these hyperbaric dives. They call them dive chambers. It turns out there’s a really interesting mechanism that is at play in hyperbaric therapy, that might help to explain your experience with long haulers.

Dr. William Li:
When you’re actually in the chamber, whether it’s 40 minutes or an hour or whatever it is, you’re training the body, you’re resetting the barometer of the body to get used to high oxygen. Now the patient steps out of the hyperbaric tank or the chamber, and now suddenly their body that was used to very high oxygen suddenly is at sea level. Like again, low level oxygen again or not actually having the same amount of hyper oxygen. Now, you actually trigger genes that are caused by hypoxia, not of oxygen and it turns on angiogenesis.

Dr. William Li:
That’s really what the blood vessels are growing in response to the change between chamber and not chamber, chamber and not chamber. It’s that delta between that pulls the trigger. The other thing that happens with hyperbaric is that, one of the things when the trigger gets pulled is the domino effect and Stem cells come out in hyperbaric chamber, regenerative. That to me, if it’s happening in your wound, it could probably happen in your lungs, in your heart, in your brain and that is really, really worthwhile studying. I know that there’s some hyperbaric studies again, looking at the microcirculation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. It’s called an oxidative therapy, which is the opposite of what we typically think of we’d want to do in medicines. You want to take antioxidants, right? Oxidative stress is a bad thing, but it’s not necessarily, it’s just part of our normal regulatory system. When you have too much, it’s bad, when you have not enough, it’s also bad. I think that the effects of hyperbaric or ozone, these are, we call oxygen therapies using oxygen, which is in a sense potentially harmful to the body, pushing it to respond by giving it this little insult, and then the body responds by hitting the repair setting.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Your body has its own innate repair systems, and if you know how to activate those systems, then we can begin the healing process. I think that’s happening with long hauler syndrome. These people are getting stuck in a rut, a biological rut of inflammation, and there needs to be things that push them off of that. You can’t just take Ibuprofen or steroids or any of that. You’ve got to figure out how to get the … Because the body is way smarter and more powerful than any medication.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If we can activate those indogenous or internal innate healing mechanisms, I think we’re going to see a lot of benefit. That’s where I get the most benefit for my patients with chronic fatigue or Lyme or other chronic illnesses that are resistant to traditional treatments.

Dr. William Li:
Yeah, no doubt. I think that this is where we need to look not at the solution as single solutions, but we need to look at the body as in need of multiple solutions and allow its own reset processes, to be able to heal. It’s sort of; let the body complete its cycle of healing, because the body wants to heal itself. We’re hardwired with health defense systems. Our circulation is designed to operate at its optimal, and if you don’t have enough, it’ll grow more. If you have too many, it’ll actually prune it back. Same thing as regeneration, our organs are continuously regenerating.

Dr. William Li:
We’re regenerating from the inside out invisibly and silently, and so when we actually need more repair, we need to be able to kick out some more stem cells. A great example I give you clinically is in the burn clinic. People who suffer bad body burns, like thermal injury, whether it’s a kitchen fire or they’re an industrial fire, when they’ve got bad body burns, that is like this prompt that we need to super repair ourselves, super regenerate. That’s when the stem cells come flying out. You can measure this in the bloodstream.

Dr. William Li:
Another thing that could be done is actually to measure stem cells in the bloodstream for long haulers at diagnosis, and then follow them over time to see if they need to push more stem cells out, because we can actually measure those now.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In the spectrum of what we’re learning around COVID-19 and long hauler syndrome, are you hopeful that we’re going to be able to take care of this? Because to me the prospect of 50 million people globally with long hauler chronic fatigue syndrome, it’s just seems like a healthcare catastrophe. In America you’re talking about, let’s say 30 million people who’ve had COVID, it’s probably twice that easily because those are the ones who’ve been tested positive, and it maybe three times of that, so maybe it’s 100 million.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That means 30 million people in America will be walking around with some type of debilitating symptoms. I don’t know how prevalent it is. It depends perhaps on your infection or your hospitalizations or not. I saw one review that looked at cases out of the, at the hospital where people had been in the hospital with COVID-19 at 60 days, 87% had severe symptoms. That’s almost 90% of people who at two months were still sick. Now maybe it’s less if you’re not in the hospital, but what is your thinking about that?

Dr. William Li:
Well, I think that there’s been two recent studies that actually paint an even more dire picture. There was a study published in Nature, looking, from the Veterans Administration, looking at 70,000 patients. I don’t know if you saw this study, but basically people had recovered from COVID, they had a 59% increase in mortality six months or later afterwards. This is not just something you put up with and get by with, but this actually can trigger even greater illnesses. By the way, don’t forget about all of these other non-communicable diseases like diabetes and obesity and cardiovascular disease that we were struggling with before the pandemic.

Dr. William Li:
This is now a thick layer on top of that, that might actually make the other ones a lot worse. I think that, we’re looking at a new human disease that we have the science, which is what makes me optimistic. We have the ability to think and peer through the veil of this condition to try to figure out what’s going on. What I’m really optimistic about … Well, let me first, before I say that, let me say what I’m not optimistic about. I’m not optimistic that the pharmaceutical industry is going to come up with that race to find that single targeted therapy that’s going to cure long haulers.

Dr. William Li:
That I don’t think is going to happen. I’ve got a lot of experience over 25 years working with biotech. I just don’t think that model is going to succeed. I do think that they will contribute something modestly and it won’t work for everybody, but I do think that there is a bright bulb that has now been turned to white and hot, sort of the white hot heat to really be able to look more at a systems biology approach, a whole person approach. The very things that you talked about, Mark, and you have been talking about, which if anybody has had any doubt that the body needs to heal itself, that we need to actually give the body a chance to heal itself.

Dr. William Li:
We need to actually prompt the body and give it every shot to be able to actually effect and complete the cycle of healing. Those things are usually not found in a prescription pad. Those things are usually not found in a medical clinic. Those things, they exist in people’s own homes. Now we actually have to stitch together this continuum between what happens in a doctor’s office, or the Cleveland Clinic or another great medical center with what actually happens at home. Now this is not alternative. This is mainstream.

Dr. William Li:
What I would tell you is that, people who are only throwing drugs at patients with long haulers, they’re the ones that’s going to be practicing alternative medicine.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, that’s a very interesting perspective. I’m not sure how that would go over in the major academic centers, but I tend to agree with you. I think that, it’s forcing us to rethink medicine, because what we see with COVID-19 is, it’s not a respiratory disease. It’s a systemic disease. Your work around the effect of COVID on blood vessels helps explain why, but by working in our silos, we’re not going to be able to figure this out. I think that, in a sense to me like autoimmune disease, we can give these powerful drugs to suppress the inflammation, but as soon as you stop those drugs, the disease is still there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The question is, how do you organize a system of thinking to treat the whole system, to create health and activate, as I said the body’s own internal intelligence for healing, which is profound? When you begin to understand, like you said, just saying like you cut yourself and all of a sudden your blood vessels start growing I feel like I get a booboo and I’m like, “Wow, that’s amazing.” I burned myself here on the stove and I’m like, “Wow, look at that. It’s perfect.” Its like, “How does it do that?” I think that’s not just happening on the outside, it’s happening on the inside.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We understand a lot from your work about, how do we enhance the health and the function of our internal systems and internal blood vessels. Your book Eat to Beat Disease is such a great example of how we can use, for example, foods as medicine to start to repair and regulate these systems. The way food and lifestyle works is not by a single pathway, it’s by working on your whole system. I think that’s what’s so different.

Dr. William Li:
Well, it’s interesting that you bring this up because while we were all locked down, with all this downtime to try to think through what is it we can do, as we’ve been talking about, I was busy trying to do the research and trying to figure out what was going on. But along the way, one of the things that I realized is that, this situation of our lives being compromised by the pandemic is really just a super concentrated example of how, and before the pandemic, our lives are also being compromised by all these other things that actually hamper our own ability to be as healthy as possible.

Dr. William Li:
One of the things that I started doing was to say, “We can’t just wait for this stuff to turn into a medical book, to educate a medical doctor. We need to get the word out to people right away.” One thing I did do is, I created an online course. I figured out, how do we get information to people right away? How can we make it immediate? That’s one of the things that I think is really important is that, as more and more people start to spend time online learning, keeping up and researching, there’s just a completely new way of actually communicating information to people as well. That’s basically what I did with my online course.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s so great. That’s a great to start empowering people with the tools they need to really take this on themselves. William, you’re deep into this field and understanding COVID, and recently J&J vaccine caused a set of complications, which is right up your alleyway, which has to do with unexpected blood clots, which is a blood vessel problem. Can you talk about why that’s different with, for example, the J&J or AstraZeneca vaccines that are viral vector vaccines, versus the mRNA vaccines? In general, what’s your perspective on vaccines?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Are they the panacea or are they just one tool or are they going to save us or not? Let’s go into little, we have a few minutes left, so I really want to get your perspective on vaccines.

Dr. William Li:
Yeah. Well, first of all, I believe in vaccines. I was vaccinated for small pox and measles and hepatitis to be a doctor, and a bunch of other things as well, which I haven’t suffered those diseases. I’m a big believer in vaccines and I’ve gotten my complete set of the first set for COVID vaccine as well. I got an mRNA vaccine with Moderna. I’m really proud of it, because I think it’s really quite a miracle that within a year, we were able to go from sequencing the virus’s genome to figuring out what the parts that we can develop a vaccine against, and actually doing it and making it available.

Dr. William Li:
There’s no question in my mind that a vaccine is an important step to moving to the end of this pandemic, to get to the light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s definitely not the only one, because we know that there’s vaccines to flush and things like that, and that it’s not completely curative. It’s still around. I think that CVOID is going to be endemic. It’s going to be a little bit of it around all the time, and we’re just going to adapt to it. But the vaccines are really, really important. I think the politicization of the pandemic and the politicization of the vaccines didn’t help our understanding, but it really is quite a miracle that we actually pulled off these whole series of vaccines so quickly.

Dr. William Li:
Let’s talk about J&J and AstraZeneca for a second, because honestly, another twist, a surprise that I had was that the simple vaccines based on old school delivery, which is antiviral vector that that’s basically how most flu vaccines are designed would actually cause the biggest problem, which are these blood clots that scared a lot of people. Now in truth, Mark, is that, so few people develop this complication compared to being dead from COVID that in fact it’s a minuscule [crosstalk 00:49:44]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Out of 7 million, they were six people who got the vaccine.

Dr. William Li:
Exactly. Exactly. The fact of the matter is that the consequences of COVID and long COVID, which we’ve talked about are so much greater. But we are in a world where we have choices of different vaccines now, so that’s why this matters to be able to understand what’s actually going on. Here’s my best guess from research and what we think is going on with these blood clots with the vaccine. There was something about that spike protein that the vaccine is developed to challenge the immune system on.

Dr. William Li:
The coronavirus is like a little ball. It’s got these little spikes, like a warhead on it. These spikes sticking to the receptor, the ACE2 receptor in our cell. And if we can actually get the spike, it’s kind of like sea urchin and we can get the immune system to target the spike, we can actually knock out the infection. That’s basically how these vaccines work. But something about this spike seems to infect blood vessels and screw up those blood vessels and cause that blood clotting that I showed you, we talked about earlier and that I’ve been looking at.

Dr. William Li:
I think there’s something unique about the armor of the spike protein of this vaccine, that if you actually trigger the body too aggressively, it’ll actually potentially cause some of those vaccines … Sorry, the virus side effects. Here’s the thing, the mRNA vaccine, which is the Pfizer, Moderna once you inject it, pretty much the mRNA is gone within 24 hours. Once you inject, it pretty much gets destroyed afterwards. It’s already triggered the effect it needs to trigger. The adenoviral, the other vaccines stick around for days.

Dr. William Li:
One of the thinking’s is that, perhaps by having that spike protein signature stick around for days, it’s just pissing off the immune system enough that in some people we’re getting this overage overreaction. There’s a side of, it’s mimicked some of what COVID is actually doing. Now, obviously it’s not happening to a lot of people. I tell people, “Get a vaccine. Get the first vaccine you can get. Whatever it is, don’t be too precious about it because we’re going to be winding up getting boosters. If you get a J&J now you’re going to switch over to a different one later, if you get a Pfizer, now you might go get a single shot later on with another one.”

Dr. William Li:
Not to worry, but the key is you want to step over the line to be protected, to be able to be maskless, to be able to not hurt yourself or other people who haven’t been able to get the vaccine yet. Just get the vaccine. It’s a simple thing. I always tell people, “I timed it. 90 seconds sitting in a chair, it felt like a mosquito bite or less and then I went on.” Literally I felt emotionally like I stepped over a line. The first shot I got, the second shot, it was like I could breathe again in an odd sort of way. I realized that … I felt like I had a future to actually look forward too.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But the challenge on that is that really true? Because we’re seeing that the vaccine is not 100% effective. We’re seeing that you can still get COVID even if you’ve had the vaccine. We think you might be still able to transmit it even if you’ve been vaccinated, if you get it and it can be transmitted asymptomatically. We’ve seen all the variants against which it may not work as well. Kind of just about the time we get revaccinated vaccinated, now there’s a whole slew of new variants from Brazil and from South Africa, from UK and all of a sudden, maybe the vaccine’s not going to be as effective against those.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We have to come up with new vaccines, with booster shots as you said; this just seems like a never ending story. I worry about, people are getting a false sense of security from being vaccinated and going out and partying. I think that could be a mistake that could lead to increased cases and increased deaths.

Dr. William Li:
Absolutely, absolutely. Let’s pull back for a second to say all the vaccines, like the flu vaccine, you get it every year. You’re supposed to get it every year and it’s not 100% effective, and you can still get the flu even when get the flu vaccine, because it could be a variant of the flu that takes you down, but you’re not going to get as sick. You’re not going to get so sick you might die. Now, even some people who get flu vaccines still die from the flu. I think what we’re aiming to do is to turn this COVID-19 pandemic into something that’s much more manageable.

Dr. William Li:
I will tell you what the data has shown so far. We’ve seen this in Israel, which has done the best job hands down worldwide in getting everybody, as many people as they can vaccinated so far is that, people tend not to die. It really lowers … You can still get it. You might even get sick, but you’re not going to get sick enough where you’re paralyzed that you might go into a ventilator and die. That’s a big deal to me. The unknown question, Mark, is whether or not if you get the vaccine or you get infected, you still develop long haulers.

Dr. William Li:
We think that having a lower number of virus particles in your body might be helpful. Yeah, you can still spread it just like you can spread the flu. If you’ve got a flu shot, you could still spread it to somebody else as well. I think that the other underlying message though that you’re trying to communicate that I so think is so important is that, getting the vaccine is only one part of it. Getting precautions and thinking not only about yourself, but other people and society at large is absolutely critical. The vaccine does not give us permission to go out to party, to go out willy nilly, to start coughing and breathing and going to have concerts again.

Dr. William Li:
Nothing has changed that dramatically with the vaccines that we can suddenly unleash society. I was at a TED conversations live session, listening to a conversation with a consultant, a business consultant, but who’s really a brilliant guy named Simon Sinek, talk about, being asked, “Now that we see the light at the end of the tunnel, what are we going to tell people about going back to normal? What advice can we give people about getting back to normal?”

Dr. William Li:
The answer was really brilliant, which is that’s the wrong question because we are not going back to normal. After World War II, we didn’t say, “Hey, let’s go back to 1939. How do we do that?” After that 1918 flu, we didn’t say, “How do we actually go back the 1914?” We said, “How do we get into the roaring ’20s?” The question is, how do we move forward? How do we actually … Humans are really smart. Americans have real ingenuity like in the country we live in.

Dr. William Li:
But also worldwide, I think that we live in a global community and we have to not forget that, even though people are now starting to try to reacclimate back to going to restaurants and gathering again, there are parts of the world that are suffering dramatically. Latin America, Brazil, India, these are disasters, human disasters that are happening and if it’s happening there, it’s so easy that that could actually come over to hit us as well. I think we are one world, one species, one community and we really, when we think about our health, it’s not a selfish thing.

Dr. William Li:
I think that we also have the one health concept as well when it comes to public health. We have a responsibility to make sure not just ourselves and our families, but the rest of the world is also protected.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Take us down the road two, three years, where are we going to be? Are we hopeful or are we still going to be in this cycle?

Dr. William Li:
I’m actually quite hopeful. If you look at The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, their forecast is that COVID is going to be endemic, which means that it’s just going to be around. We’re going to accept it. It’s going to flare in certain points, like in the fall and winter. Then when it gets warmer with higher temperatures and humidity, it’ll actually go down. It will become a seasonal infection. Hopefully with more variants, it’ll … What we want it to do, we want it to mutate like crazy until it mutates itself out of disease mode.

Dr. William Li:
That’s what we hope. In fact, people are like, “Well, we don’t want more variants.” I would say just the opposite. We want this thing to mutate-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We want the right variants.

Dr. William Li:
… the heck out of itself. We want the right variants until it actually checks itself out. But in the meantime, I think that we all have shell shock. This is post-traumatic stress disorder for humans. The entire civilization, this is the cough that brought civilization to its knees, and now we’re getting back on our feet. I’m optimistic that we are going to be actually find a way to manage control this thing, but we are not out of the woods at this point yet. People need to pony up, get vaccinated, continue to wear precautions, listen to the science and listen to the people who are talking about policies, good policies based on science, and then let’s figure out how we’re going to move to 2022, 2023, 2024.

Dr. William Li:
When you were asking me what do I think is going to happen in the next two or three years, I think that this is going to be in our background. I think vaccinations just going to happen. I hope that as many people as we can get to get behind it will get vaccinated. I think that we’ll actually find cooler and better ways to live to be honest with you. Maybe we’ll be cleaner. Maybe we’ll actually have less flu. I also think that …

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I bet the number of colds and flu has gone way down, because everybody’s hiding in their houses.

Dr. William Li:
Way down. Yeah, exactly. I think that we’re going to have a lot more respect for the power of the body to heal itself. That’s the most optimistic thing I think for folks that have been in the business you and I have. It feels like sometimes we’ve been shouting against a hurricane on the outside. But I think people are starting to listen, because there wasn’t a easy solution you could pull off the pharmacy shelf. Now, we’re actually paying attention to the body and the body tells us it can heal itself.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s a great hopeful message. I think that’s what everybody should focus on is the fact that, the body’s own intelligence can repair given the right conditions. It’s the fundamentals of functional medicine, innovative therapies that you’re developing. It’s things like the regenerative or oxygen therapies that might be helpful. We’re still discovering it all, but I have seen many patients with long hauler syndrome, and I have seen them get better by using a very strategic approach and we’re still learning.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think if you’ve been listening to this podcast and you loved it, please share with your friends and family. If you know someone with long hauler, please send this to them. We’d love to hear your experiences. Leave a comment. What’s your experience with COVID? Is it long hauler or recovering or not, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll see you next time on The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Hey, it’s Dr. Hyman. If you enjoyed this video, you’re going to want to check out this next video coming up.
Speaker 3:
Inflammation, which is what I had, widespread inflammation in my nerves, inflammation in my gut, inflammation-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In your brain.
Speaker 3:
… in my thyroid. Exactly.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In your muscles.
Speaker 3:
It doesn’t qualify as a treatable disease.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Inflammation? No.
Speaker 3:
Right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s what I always joke and say …

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

Send this to a friend