Boosting the Body’s Ability to Recover
Natural Support for Long COVID
Natural treatments and therapies can support the body’s ability to function properly, which may help COVID long-haulers improve their quality of life.
No matter where someone falls in the COVID debate, there’s no denying some individuals suffer greatly from contracting COVID-19. While research shows that the vast majority of individuals recover within one to two months (or even as long as a year), there are those unlucky few who’s symptoms persist.
This persistence is known as long COVID and the patients within this group have been unofficially dubbed the ‘COVID long-haulers.’ Medical professionals know this syndrome as “postacute sequelae of COVID-19, or PASC,” according to Scientific American’s March 1, 2023 article, ‘Long COVID Now Looks like a Neurological Disease, Helping Doctors to Focus Treatments.’
What is Long COVID?
Undeniably, the number of unknowns is one of the most frustrating things about long COVID. That being said, the vast majority of medical professionals and researchers specializing in COVID “defined long COVID as symptoms that were still present 12 weeks after the initial infection,” according to Dylan Scott’s article, ‘The knowns — and known unknowns — of long Covid,’ published in Vox on March 13, 2023.
The good news is that long COVID is nowhere near as prevalent as it was once believed to be. Despite facing a substantial amount of difficulty collecting data, researchers are seeing one consistent result: chronic aftereffects of COVID (aka those suffering from long COVID) were very few, according to a summary of research studies published in Slate on March 19, 2023.
Why is the research so difficult? For one thing, COVID is a relatively new and unknown disease. Another problem researchers face is that many of the studies, especially initially, conducted were survey-based. This presents an inherent “risk of selection bias, in that people who feel that they have long COVID are more likely to want to complete a questionnaire on the topic,” reported the Slate article.
What are COVID Long-Hauler Symptoms?
Regardless of percentages, COVID long-haulers typically face two consistent challenges:
- Lack of acknowledgment
Both of these challenges can stem from a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which is that long COVID symptoms often mirror other health issues.
Most Common Long COVID Symptoms
The following long COVID symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Extreme Fatigue
- Increased Heart Rate
- ‘Brain Fog’ (aka difficulty concentrating or remembering things)
What About Micro-Blood Clots?
Several research studies have shown a close correlation between COVID and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Saima May Sidik’s article, ‘Heart-disease risk soars after COVID — even with a mild case,’ published in NATURE, reported there is a “substantial rise in risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, after a SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
Scientists believe that the increased risk is closely linked to a higher likelihood of suffering micro-clots. Unfortunately, why this likelihood is presenting itself is largely unknown.
3 Ways to Support Natural Treatment for COVID Long-Haulers
Doctors and scientists are learning more about treating COVID and long COVID every day. Unfortunately, there are still an incredibly high number of unknowns, including:
- A concrete way to diagnose long COVID
- A consistent way to treat long COVID
- A consistent understanding of how long COVID will progress
The following is not intended to be a replacement for any prescribed medicine. Nor are these natural treatments proven to cure or treat long COVID.
Rather, these natural and supportive therapies have been shown to help improve a patient’s overall well-being, as well as nutritional status. Some combination of them could contribute to an improved quality of life for COVID long-haulers and allow for those suffering to improve recovery times and help reduce the chance of recurrence.
1. Replenish B12 Levels with B12 Injections
B12 plays a significant role in a wide range of the body’s functions, not the least of which is helping to balance immune responses to better fight off a viral infection. Even a slight deficiency can have devastating impacts on a person’s well-being. According to Harvard Health Publishing, B12 deficiency symptoms can include:
- Strange sensations, numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, and legs
- Difficulty walking
- A swollen and inflamed tongue
- Cognitive impairment
Many of these symptoms closely mirror long COVID, especially fatigue and weakness. And, some doctors have found that those suffering from long COVID also had a B12 deficiency. In June of 2021, Cambridge Independent reported a detailed account of a patient suffering from long COVID and the positive impact B12 injections offered. Within days, the treatment helped her resume physical activities from which she’d been sidelined, such as bike riding.
2. Optimize Your Diet
Nutrition is at the core of nearly all natural treatments because different foods inherently help increase and reduce a wide variety of symptoms. Health concerns such as inflammation, fatigue, and stress can all be impacted by diet.
According to a cross-sectional study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health poor diet and an increased native impact of COVID-19 were closely linked.
What foods are the most important? The ZOE Health Study leverages machine learning and microbiome sequencing to uncover groundbreaking findings within the healthcare world. Among the findings concerning COVID-19, the ZOE COVID study has found evidence to suggest a protein-rich diet supports patient recovery.
3. Restore Nutrients with Drip IV Therapy
B12 is just one of the key vitamins and minerals that support a patient’s well-being. Research shows us any deficiency can hamper the body’s ability to function properly. In June 2018, a case report published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine looked at the effectiveness of using intravenous therapies (aka IV Drip Therapies) to help treat acute viral infections. The study found that these highly-concentrated IV treatments could help improve recovery and reduce recurrence.
Any vitamin deficiency could be problematic for a patient, However, scientists are starting to see some consistent correlations between COVID long-haulers, above and beyond B12. The two most common are:
- Vitamin D
A 2022 study published in Metabolites (a peer-reviewed, open-access journal) found that both of these deficiencies were frequent among patients suffering from long COVID. Furthermore, the study suggests these deficiencies “may contribute to long-term symptomatic outcome.”
Additional studies, such as the 2022 research article published in PLOS ONE, looked closely at how an initial vitamin D deficiency impacted patients who contracted COVID-19. It found that those with a vitamin D deficiency were “14 times more likely to have severe or critical disease.”
The severity of neurologic and non-neurologic symptoms associated with long COVID appear to be linked to the severity of the initial infection, new research suggests.
However, researchers were also quick to note that the impairments were not one-size-fits-all. Patient symptoms varied. Furthermore, the percentage of patients who contract COVID-19 and subsequently suffer from long COVID is relatively small. But for those who do, it’s extremely debilitating. In January of 2023, New York Times reported that:
An analysis of workers’ compensation claims in New York found that 71 percent of claimants with long Covid needed continuing medical treatment or were unable to work for six months or more.
Firsthand accounts from patients suffering from long COVID have been traumatic, with drastic changes to long-haulers’ quality of life. On March 1, 2023, a Scientific American article closely followed Tara Ghormley — an overachiever veterinary internal medicine specialist. Long COVID has caused Ghormley to get “exhausted quickly, her heartbeat suddenly races, and she goes through periods where she can't concentrate or think clearly.”
Researchers remain uncertain as to precisely how to treat and/or prevent long COVID, but a March 23, 2023 analysis published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine has started to shed some light on who is most likely to suffer from long COVID. The analysis looked at 41 studies published between the beginning of the pandemic and December 5, 2022. In total, it included 860,783 patients.
It found that the risk of suffering from long COVID increased with a patient had one (or more) of the following risk factors:
- Patients were Female: Researchers suggest that this may be closely tied to hormone levels or disruption of hormone production).
- Age — Specifically Being Over 40
- Suffering from Previous Medical Conditions
While some of these risk factors are obviously unavoidable (such as gender, age, and previous medical conditions), others could be reduced or eliminated by lifestyle modifications. Losing weight and not smoking could reduce a patient’s risk of becoming a COVID long-hauler. And for patients who are currently suffering from long COVID, making these changes may promote recovery and reduce recurrence.
Support & Awareness of Long COVID
In addition to the myriad of physical health concerns presented with long COVID are the mental concerns patients face. According to the National Institutes of Health, long COVID was associated with:
- 13% Increase in Depression
- 28% Increase in Anxiety
- 10% Increase in Suicide Ideation
- 20% Increase in PTSD
One of the primary problems that those who suffer from long COVID face, is a lack of awareness — within the medical community, the public, and close friends. In a 2022 interview on NPR’s ‘It’s Been a Minute,’ COVID long-hauler Karla Monterroso describes how this lack of awareness can be difficult.
Monterroso also shares a personal account of how community support can promote recovery. Morterroso is a contributor to The Long COVID Survival Guide, a book that looks at the difficulty of getting diagnosed, navigating long COVID, and creating long-term collective care. This detailed book offers a host of information for both patients and those seeking to support COVID long-haulers.
Get Natural Support for Long COVID Recovery
Our naturopathic medical team does not offer a replacement for COVID treatments. Rather, we partner with you and your current medical providers to provide services that support your current treatment plan.
These natural, non-invasive treatments are the same ones we often use to help cancer patients reduce their symptoms, promote recovery, and reduce the chance of recurrence. Each treatment plan is specifically tailored to your unique needs and health goals.