Long COVID, or post-COVID, is a post-viral syndrome after having COVID-19 that includes a range of physical and mental symptoms. The CDC currently estimates that one in five adults has long COVID. The exact cause of long COVID is not yet fully understood. In this blog post, we will summarize the available holistic treatments for long COVID and share the most effective ones.
Symptoms of Long Covid
The most common symptom is fatigue, followed by anxiety and depression, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, insomnia, muscle and joint pain, dizziness, and brain fog. Many people also report hormone changes, including hot flashes, night sweats, and more painful or irregular periods after having had COVID-19.
Conventional Treatments for Long COVID
There is no known cure at this time for long COVID. Many clinics are focusing on physical therapy and rehabilitation, and creating programs are designed to increase endurance. Medications include steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs to calm inflammation, antihistamines, and novel drugs are also being studied. However, these medicines focus on symptom relief without addressing the underlying cause.
Holistic Treatments for Long COVID
There are many exciting treatments that practitioners are using successfully with patients. Before adding supplements, the basic foundations of health are always the best place to start. Focusing on hydrating with filtered water, eating a healthy diet, getting 7-9 hours of sleep, reducing stress, getting sunshine, and having loving connections is more beneficial than any individual supplement.
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- Exercise. Acutely exercise stimulates blood flow, activates platelets, and improves mitochondrial function. Depending on the severity of the case, slowly implementing exercise is the safest way to begin. At home programs are nice because patients can take breaks to rest, and implement slowly. Gradual endurance is key, and aerobic training is more helpful than resistance training for long Covid.
- Mitochondrial support. Many, many things can be helpful to the mitochondria.
- Antioxidants: key for supporting the mitochondria! Eating colorful foods and spices such as blueberries, ginger, tumeric, green tea, bell peppers, raspberries, etc is a great starting place. Supplements like quercetin, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and more can also be very helpful.
- Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant and can be very helpful specifically for acute and chronic Covid infections
- Caloric Restriction/Fasting. This has been proposed as a treatment due to stimulating mitochondria and autophagy (the body’s process of recycling damaged cells). Exactly how long to fast isn’t known, but intermittent fasting is generally considered safe for most people, fasting for 16-20 hours a few times per week and eating during the other windows of the day.
- Nattokinase. A proteolytic enzyme that is being studied in regards to potential to dissolve micro-clots.
- Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN). LDN has been used for many years for a variety of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. It can help to improve energy, pain, digestive symptoms, and can modulate the immune system. LDN requires a prescription.
- Diet is always part of a healthy foundation. Studies have been looking at various diets ranging from fully plant based to ketogenic. There isn’t one diet that is best for long Covid, however avoiding alcohol is very helpful for gut health and the immune system. Anecdotally many patients report benefit from a low histamine, low sulfur, or low FODMAP diet.
In summary, long COVID is a challenging condition that currently has no known cure. However, there are many holistic treatments available that can help improve symptoms and enhance overall health. With the basic foundations of health and the right combination of supplements and therapies, it is possible to recover from long COVID and reclaim one’s health.