Role of Functional Medicine in COVID and Post-COVID Recovery Affirmed by APEC Health Working Group

Findings of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Come as NIH Starts Enrolling Patients in Long COVID Treatment Trials Where Whole Health Approach Promises to Play a Role

August 22, 2023

The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) — the only organization providing functional medicine certification along with educational programs directly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) — welcomes the July 2023 report from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Health Working Group that found functional medicine interventions “may have broad applications for the prevention and/or management of COVID-19 and [long COVID] as adjuncts to conventional interventions.”

APEC undertook this first-of-its-kind, three-part project to examine, in part, how functional medicine can be beneficial to COVID and post-COVID recovery. Joel Evans, MD, IFM chief of medical affairs and co-clinical lead of IFM’s functional medicine COVID-19 trainings and resources, participated in this project.

“The APEC Health Working Group’s endorsement of functional medicine as beneficial to COVID and long COVID prevention and management is significant,” said Amy R. Mack, MSES/MPA, IFM chief executive officer. “With this distinction, APEC highlights the growing body of research and clinical experience that recognizes the role of functional medicine in the prevention, treatment, and recovery of COVID infection and long COVID.”

The APEC report adds to a growing body of evidence that functional medicine can help with COVID prevention, treatment, and recovery. Research published in Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal details how functional medicine can help patients develop enhanced immunity to better resist COVID. In particular, lifestyle interventions — which are among an evidence-based, functional medicine approach to patient care and include nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress reduction, and interpersonal connection — can provide a foundation for optimal health and immune function.

The APEC findings also come as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it had begun taking steps to enroll patients in clinical trials to test long COVID treatments. Earlier this year, NIH published in JAMA the first results from its study of long COVID patients, which confirmed that long COVID is a complex, multi-faceted disease that requires a comprehensive, personalized, and systematic approach to treatment. Functional medicine offers exactly this kind of personalized, whole health approach to patient care that can help restore healthy function in patients with long COVID and other complex, multi-faceted diseases.

“The work that NIH is supporting will help practitioners better understand the underlying conditions that make some patients more vulnerable to long COVID, ultimately leading to more effective care,” continued Mack. “Taking a whole health approach to COVID prevention, treatment, and recovery – as functional medicine does – will deliver greater patient health and well-being.”

Functional medicine is a vital partner to conventional medicine. By seeking out root causes and treating them with evidence-based, clinically verified methods, a functional medicine approach — paired with conventional medical care — results in improved health outcomes, reduced costs over time, and a greater overall patient experience.

# # #

As the leading voice for functional medicine for more than 30 years, IFM is advancing the transformation of healthcare for patients and practitioners worldwide. IFM is the only organization providing functional medicine certification along with educational programs directly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). For more information, please visit