The World Health Organization (WHO) developed a clinical case definition of long Covid: "Post Covid-19 condition, also known as "long Covid," refers collectively to the constellation of long-term symptoms that some people experience after they have had Covid-19. People who experience post Covid-19 condition sometimes refer to themselves as "long-haulers." While most people who develop Covid-19 fully recover, some people develop a variety of mid- and long-term effects like fatigue, breathlessness and cognitive dysfunction (for example, confusion, forgetfulness, or a lack of mental focus and clarity). Some people also experience psychological effects as part of post Covid-19 condition.
These symptoms might persist from their initial illness or develop after their recovery. They can come and go or relapse over time. Post Covid-19 condition can affect a person's ability to perform daily activities such as work or household chores".
Long Covid can be difficult to identify because many of its symptoms are similar to those of other diseases and conditions. It is also difficult to predict what length of time long Covid will last for any given patient.
The term Long Covid has been defined as signs and symptoms that continue to develop after the acute infection phase and include both ongoing symptomatic Covid-19 (signs and symptoms from four weeks up to 12 weeks) and post-Covid-19 syndrome (>12 weeks).
In our clinical experience, some people never get sick; those who do may recover in days, weeks, or months. Therefore, each case of Covid-19 is unique, and each person will have a different experience in their recovery.
The three prevalent Long Covid symptoms, we see in our clinic are fatigue, shortness of breath, and poor immunity (catching everything that goes around), often lasting for months after the initial infection.
Other persistent symptoms may include:
• Poor cognition e.g., confusion, mind going blank, forgetfulness, lack of focus and clarity
• Brain fog
• Loss of smell or taste
• Muscle aches, pains, and weakness
• Skin rashes
• Reduced nutritional status and weight loss
• Low-grade fever
• Renal impairment
• Insomnia, sleep problems
• Post-traumatic stress disorder following a severe illness
• Pins and needles
• Blood clots in the veins
• Inability to exercise
• Joint stiffness
• Hair shedding
• Gastrointestinal upset
• Liver dysfunction
• Reduced quality of life
• Chest pain
• Myocarditis/ pericarditis
• Deterioration of diabetic control
• Persistent cough
• Sore throat
• Irregular heartbeat
• Osteoporosis due to prolonged immobilisation
Long Covid Natural Health Support will depend on the following:
• The severity and frequency of symptoms.
• The patient was hospitalised with severe symptoms and recovering from lung or other organ damage.
• The patient had pre-existing conditions such as ongoing respiratory symptoms (shortness of breath and cough).
• The patient had dormant viruses that were reactivated. These dormant viruses include the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) (which causes glandular fever), the chickenpox virus (which causes shingles) as well as human herpesvirus 6, which causes herpes simplex viruses, herpes zoster, as well as the common childhood illness sixth disease.
• The patient experiences hyperinflammation. Mast cells are a type of white blood cell found in connective tissue throughout the body. They produce allergy-related symptoms and may be activated by SARS-CoV-2 infection. Following stimulation, they release proinflammatory mediators, such as histamine and cytokines, which may result in neurovascular inflammation. The brain fog, cognitive impairment, and general fatigue reported in Long Covid may be due to mast cell-related neurovascular inflammation.
• The patient's intestinal microbiota balance.
• The patient has autoimmune disease.
• The patient's vaccine status.
• The patient's ability to resolve stress and regulate their nervous system.
• The patient is exposed to daily toxins such as mold, chemicals, etc., in their environment.
• The patient's current medication regime.
• The patient's general health status - sleep, diet, nutritional status, exposure to fresh air & sunlight, hydration, rest, movement, mood & cognition.
Here is a Naturopathic Protocol we have established that has been remarkably effective in supporting the recovery from Long Covid & positioning the mind & body into excellent health for optimal healing.
1. Assess Gut Biome health with a Comprehensive Stool Analysis Test. Addressing bacterial and yeast overgrowth, bacterial undergrowth, and eradicating pathogens. However, results take up to 4 weeks, so while we wait for results, we implement the following...
2. Eliminate sugar, alcohol, recreational drugs, and additives and minimise or eliminate, depending on the severity of symptoms - dairy, gluten, and histamine foods & drinks, e.g., aged & fermented foods & beverages such as vinegar, alcohol, cheese, yoghurt, pickles, deli meats, sourdough, etc.
3. A thorough blood test with the patient's GP to assess nutritional status, inflammation/allergy markers, and general health markers; haematology, biochemistry, lipid studies, glucose, thyroid, and sex hormones.
4. A nutrient-dense, whole food diet including healthy plant & animal fats, healthy plant & animal proteins, and healthy plant carbohydrates.
5. Supplementation will depend on blood test results and patient symptoms. These may include Vitamin A, D, B2, and C, mineral Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium. Special supplements which perform specific actions such as improving energy and cognition and providing pain relief may include CoQ10, Quercitin, Magnesium, Glutathione, Tyrosine, L- Theanine, and Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA). Those that help regulate inflammation may include Curcumin, Probiotics, and Fish oils.
6. Herbal Medicine will depend on specific requirements, symptoms, and a patient's constitution - whether they are robust or sensitive. Immune-regulating medicinal mushrooms may include Reishi and Shitake and herbs such as Astragalus, Garlic, Echinacea, Elder, and Cat's claw. Herbal adaptogens for adrenal fatigue, burnout, and depression may include Rhodiola, Withania, Licorice, and Siberian Ginseng. Anti-inflammatory and pain relieving herbs include Turmeric, Astragalus, Baical skullcap, Cat's claw, Echinacea, Feverfew, Ginger, Licorice, Willow bark, Withania, and Nigella. Antioxidant herbs may include Green tea, Maritime pine, Rosemary, Pomegranate, and Bilberry. Herbs to support cognition may include Bacopa, Schisandra, and Gingko.
7. Regulate the Nervous System's response to overwhelm, fear & anxiety. When stressed - we move from connection (feeling safe, grounded & comfortable) to protection (feeling unsafe, shaky & uncomfortable). The regulated state of our nervous system is also termed Social Engagement. This where we produce plenty of Oxytocin and feel safe & comfortable to connect with ourselves and those around us. Physically, activity in the immune & digestive systems are increased, resisting infection and supporting healthy digestion, absorption & elimination and we are able to rest & recuperate. In a dysregulated state of our nervous system - fight, flight & freeze we are in protection mode. We sense impending danger or discomfort. The goal is survival. Physically, our immune activity plunges as does digestion and our ability to connect and relate also declines.
- Learn about the different states of your nervous system.
- Become aware of what contributes to your fight, flight or freeze responses - past trauma & triggers, overwhelm, relationships, environment, finances, security, career, caffeine, sugar, nutritional deficiencies.
- Create touch points of regulation - a candle, a prayer, a cup of tea, time in nature, connecting with a friend. Find what works best for you. Simple tools to access at any given moment.
- How to build a healthy reserve/ foundation of health from which you can draw on when stressed and to position yourself into optimal healing and living.
Please note that while clinical evidence supports the use of natural medicines for immune support and the management of other symptoms, the recommendations are not intended to replace personalised medical health advice regarding the treatment of Covid and are not a definitive list, nor do I suggest that you need to take it all. Also, herbs, supplements & drug interactions must be reviewed by your health care practitioner.
The Naturopath Guide Long Covid, Herbal Extract Company Published July 2022
If you missed it, read part one - Managing Covid Naturally. Go here
Book in for a naturopathic consultation for a protocol designed just for you. Go here