This blog post accompanies Episode #10 of the Evolve Wellness Experience Podcast.
Over the summer, we’ve received a lot of questions about lingering symptoms from Covid-19, even after recovery. It’s an unfortunate fact that some people do develop long-term symptoms, sometimes called “Long Covid.” For example, a colleague’s mother developed Covid-19, and got over it, but is still hospitalized due to a need for oxygen.
This has encouraged me to look into how to mitigate the effects of Covid, as well as practical solutions to help both during Covid infection and post-infection when “long haul” symptoms might develop.
What Is “Long Haul” Covid?
In order to be classified with “Long Hauler” syndrome, you need to have had symptoms for up to twelve weeks. Any time less than that is in the normal range for this illness.
It’s important to understand that most people don’t die from the SARV-COV2 virus that causes Covid-19 itself, but rather from the effects that happen as the body is fighting the virus, such as cytokine storms and changes in inflammasomes.
What Are Inflammasomes?
“Inflammasomes” are innate immune system receptors and sensors that regulate the Caspace-1 enzyme, which controls the release of cytokines. When you see the “ground glass” appearance of a Covid patient’s lungs on a CAT scan or X-ray, that’s due to the excessive release of cytokines, or a “cytokine storm,” impacting the epithelial tissues in the lungs.
At a cellular level, Covid-19 is an inflammatory disease (like many other illnesses). So much of what we can do to reduce symptoms both during and after Covid is focused on anti-inflammatory treatments.
In Dr. Bill Jensen’s research on Covid-19, he found a study on healthcare workers in Sweden who still had symptoms eight months after mild Covid infections. These were compared to healthy people in a control group who tested negative for Covid. They found that 60 days after testing positive, 26 percent of patients still had some Covid symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath. Only 9 percent in the control group had these symptoms. Eight months later, 16 percent still had lingering symptoms versus only 3 percent in the control group.
What does this mean? Covid-19 symptoms can linger, long after recovery.
Another study of those with more severe symptoms who were hospitalized with the infection found 33 percent still had symptoms eight months later. These symptoms range from coughing to shortness of breath to loss of smell/taste, to neurological and even mental health issues like PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
So What Can Be Done?
Let’s start with cardiopulmonary symptoms of Long Covid, such as coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing, swelling in the lower legs or feet, palpitations, dizziness, etc.*
*Please keep in mind that some of these symptoms can be signs of other serious conditions besides Long Covid, and if you have them you should see your doctor right away to be evaluated.
However, if you’ve been checked out and your tests come back okay but you’re still feeling bad, some of the supplements we’ll recommend later may help.
Neurological symptoms often include brain fog or issues with attention span. You can also have fatigue, memory problems, or other issues.
Issues with the vascular system can lead to blood clotting problems. This is likely due to antibodies circulating in the bloodstream that contribute to coagulation. Symptoms of blood clots overlap with those of the cardiopulmonary system, so again, see your doctor right away if you’re having limb swelling, shortness of breath, chest pains, etc.
Olfactory symptoms are a common first sign of Covid infection. For some, loss of smell or taste can last for months after the initial infection is gone, due to inflammation around the olfactory nerves. Because the nerves themselves aren’t damaged, treatment to reduce inflammation can help, especially if it’s done early.
For loss of smell lasting longer than a month, try this protocol of essential oils:
Then you’ll do a ten-second exposure to each of these two times each. Do this twice a day for up to three months. In a study, 21 percent of people had an improvement on this protocol. The sooner people started it, the more likely they were to improve.
Fatigue is another very common Long Covid symptom. If you think of fatigue, you have to think of mitochondria, the tiny organelles that produce ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. In simple terms, mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, producing energy. They also play a role in immune regulation, such as stopping cytokine storms. We’ve learned that Covid actually hijacks these mitochondria from their regular duties keeping you healthy and producing energy, and turns them into Covid helpers. It’s not hard to imagine how this leads to fatigue.
Dealing With Inflammation
Both during and after a Covid infection, inflammation plays a major role in all of the above categories of symptoms. Here are some ways to lessen inflammation:
- Curcumin. It enhances the immune system, decreases viral growth, and reduces symptoms of viral infections more quickly. You can take 5-1,000mg daily. Higher doses may be better for more severe infection symptoms.
- Quercetin. This opens up cells to allow zinc in, which helps the immune system function better, decreasing viral growth and symptoms.
- For this reason, it’s a good idea to also take zinc. It can be taken orally or as a lozenge. Zinc acetate, zinc citrate, zinc glycinate, and zinc piccolinate are all in pill form. Zinc gluconate is a lozenge. Zinc has strong antiviral properties.
- N-Acetylcysteine. This is a phase II liver detoxifier. It also promotes the production of glutathione, an antioxidant that supports immune function and reduces the severity of flulike symptoms.
- Vitamin D. 65 percent of people hospitalized with Covid-19 are vitamin D deficient. 5,000 IU a day is recommended, and 10,000 IU might be better during active infection.
- Vitamin A. Found in brightly colored fruit, it can be supplemented 10,000-20,000 IUs a day. It reduces upper respiratory infection symptoms.
- Vitamin C. We recommend 1,000-3,000 mg orally a day—but DON’T take it all at once, it can cause digestive problems. Instead try 500mg in multiple doses throughout the day. It supports various immune functions.
- Melatonin. Most people think of this as a sleep aid, which it is. But in addition to promoting sleep, it also reduces inflammation in the body.
- Elderberry juice. This is packed with antioxidants and vitamin C and is often used to prevent influenza. You can take 500mg daily.
- Green tea has EGCG, which enhances the immune system and targets Covid-19 replication. 225mg orally a day is recommended, or about four cups of green tea per day.
- Resveratrol. Found in wine, it has been shown to attack a relative of the Covid-19 virus.
- Beta-glucans are anti-inflammatory and enhance immune function. They benefit upper respiratory infections.
- Medicinial mushrooms like cordyceps and lion’s mane have antioxidant and antiviral effects.
- Licorice root is used in traditional Chinese medicine to support the immune system and reduce viral growth. It should not be used for more than four weeks.
- Mitochondrial support supplements. We recommend Alms Bio—Dr. Bill personally takes it. It contains glutathione, COQ10, and PQQ. These all promote healthy mitochondria, which in turns helps you produce more energy.
- Hormesis. These are small stressors that also promote mitochondrial function. One example is the JOOVV red light therapy we offer here at the office. The infrared light energizes the mitochondria in your cells, producing more ATP output.
- Cold plunge or cryochamber therapy. Cold ice baths or trips to the cryochamber three times a week can also help mitochondrial function.
- Exercise is great for mitochondria and immune function.
To learn more about ways to deal with long-term inflammation and Covid Long Haulers symptoms, watch the full podcast here.
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