by Anne Salazar RH (AHG)
As we wind our way through this process of pandemic, we find ourselves left with many people who are challenged by long term, continuing issues after a COVID illness1. In the largest study to date, looking at 1733 COVID-19 cases, 76% of individuals had persistence of at least one symptom at 6 months after illness onset2. Post-COVID conditions include a broad range of symptoms (physical and/or mental) that develop during or after COVID-19, continue for ≥ 4 weeks, and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis. Several other terms have been used to describe the prolonged symptoms, such as "long-COVID," "post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC)," "post-acute COVID-19," "chronic COVID-19," and "post-COVID syndrome". Whatever you want to call this Post-COVID illness, the fact is that it is real and although they may vary from person to person the main lingering issues we see at Remedy seem to be inflammation, fatigue, and mental fog.
Although these symptoms may seem to be separate issues, as they affect different bodily systems, at the core they are related. Therefore whatever therapeutic choices we use to help with one issue, there will be benefits all the way around.
Although we are still learning more about long-COVID, we do know that integrative medicine has been successfully treating post-viral fatigue for many years. It makes sense that botanicals and nutraceuticals can be helpful here, which we will dive into next.
Sleeping when you’re sick is essential for your recovery. Sleep helps to boost your immune system, so you can fight off your illness more effectively. With Post-Covid this fatigue can last much longer than the acute infection. This can be due to sleep deprivation, or not getting enough sleep. In our western culture many people expect to be able to ramp right back up to the previous activity level after an acute illness, this is just not the case as our bodies recover from this illness. It is very similar to what people experience after mononucleosis viral infections or “Mono” infections. In this case by supporting sleep hygiene, we can go a long way in creating the rest and rejuvenation that comes with quality sleep. Circadian rhythm is key to healthy, rejuvenating rest. Something as simple as morning exposure to sunlight can be restorative of this rhythm. In addition, combining resting/napping with appropriate activity; exercising only up to appropriate tolerance, slowly building as energy increases. Melatonin can also be helpful when circadian rhythms are off.
Diet cannot be emphasized too much when it comes to any situation that requires healing and rejuvenation. Upgrading the intake of quality (organic/seasonal) fruits and vegetables is key. Antioxidants from food sources or concentrated blends are essential for cellular health, and this of utmost importance when your body has increased demands like in illness recovery. In addition, whole sprouted grains, and Omega 3’s as well as non-processed, whole foods should be foundational in the recovery diet. What you add in is as important as what you avoid. Being diligent about decreasing exposure to toxins (ie alcohol, etc) and pollutants is highly beneficial; removing any toxic load is imperative! Supporting a healthy gut biome goes hand in hand with this as it is central to excreting toxins, preventing inflammation, and curbing symptoms3.
Bottom line- a diet high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods is the baseline your body needs to continue to heal.
Medicinal mushrooms are extremely supportive of endocrine function, vitality, immunity4, and are jam packed with antioxidants. All of which can go a long way in supporting rejuvenation of organs and all vital functions in the body. This is applicable for fatigue, and all other issues that can come up with this challenge.
Astragalus is one of many botanicals that can be helpful with fatigue issues5. It has been used traditionally to build and support immunity, assist with post-disease fatigue, digestion, and many other challenges. Other herbs that can be helpful with fatigue include Rhodiola, Ginseng, and the mushrooms Cordyceps and Reishi. And all adaptogenic herbs would be very beneficial; protecting the body from stressors and supporting endocrine/rejuvenating pathways.
As with all the long-COVID symptoms, it is not clear why mental fog is such a problem. But because inflammation is an overall issue with Covid-19, it can be surmised that mitigating inflammatory symptoms can assist in overall improvement. In addition, improving oxygen uptake to the brain can also be of assistance. With that in mind, good quality Turmeric (Curcumin) could definitely be an asset. Turmeric not only is anti-inflammatory for the body, it is also helpful in bringing inflammation down in the brain6. And when it comes to facilitating oxygen to the brain, exercise is always a good idea. Along with that, we know that medicinals mushrooms such as Reishi7 and Lion’s Mane facilitate healthy oxygen and circulation in the brain.
For overall, general brain health and support, a supplement like Vibrant Mind can go a long way in getting the cobwebs out. With classic brain tonic herbs such as Bacopa, Gotu Kola, and Ginkgo along with other select ingredients, it provides multi-targeted mechanisms to support healthy brain oxygenation. We have had great feedback on this particular product!
Although we have already mentioned inflammation in both categories, it is worth mentioning again as it plays a huge role in most if not all of the challenges that come with Covid-19. Other symptoms of inflammation can include muscle pain and joint pain. In addition, inflammation due to dysbiosis of the gut microbiome, can cause symptoms such as appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc8. As regards gut dysbiosis/inflammation, re-establishing a healthy microbiome with a quality probiotic can go a long way in getting digestive health back to balance.
Included in the great, functional, anti-inflammatory category of supplements are Omega 3’s (fish oils)9, EGCG (Green Tea), Co Q10, and Quercetin10. These could all be helpful in mitigating general body inflammation that many experience post-Covid infection.
As always, our professional staff is here to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have. We can help find what is appropriate for you, and your personal situation. And it could be very helpful to schedule an appointment with one of us, for a more intensive look into your challenges. We do have experience with supporting people through the struggles of post-covid symptoms, so know you don’t have to go at it alone!
1.Nalbandian, A., Sehgal, K., Gupta, A. et al. Post-acute COVID-19 syndrome. Nat Med 27, 601–615 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01283-z
2.Huang C, Huang L, Wang Y, et al. 6-month consequences of COVID-19 in patients discharged from hospital: a cohort study. Lancet 2021; (published online Jan 8.) https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32656-8.
3. Baud D, Dimopoulou Agri V, Gibson GR, Reid G, Giannoni E. Using Probiotics to Flatten the Curve of Coronavirus Disease COVID-2019 Pandemic. Front Public Health. 2020;8:186. Published 2020 May 8. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2020.00186
4.Valverde ME, Hernández-Pérez T, Paredes-López O. Edible mushrooms: improving human health and promoting quality life. Int J Microbiol. 2015;2015:376387. doi:10.1155/2015/376387
5.Zhang G, Zhou SM, Zheng SJ, Liu FY, Gao YQ. Astragalus on the anti-fatigue effect in hypoxic mice. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015;8(8):14030-14035. Published 2015 Aug 15.
6.Mishra S, Palanivelu K. The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer's disease: An overview. Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2008;11(1):13-19. doi:10.4103/0972-2327.40220
7.Huang S, Mao J, Ding K, et al. Polysaccharides from Ganoderma lucidum Promote Cognitive Function and Neural Progenitor Proliferation in Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease. Stem Cell Reports. 2017;8(1):84-94. doi:10.1016/j.stemcr.2016.12.00
8.Villapol S. Gastrointestinal symptoms associated with COVID-19: impact on the gut microbiome. Transl Res. 2020;226:57-69. doi:10.1016/j.trsl.2020.08.004
9.Hathaway D, Pandav K, Patel M, et al. Omega 3 Fatty Acids and COVID-19: A Comprehensive Review. Infect Chemother. 2020;52(4):478-495. doi:10.3947/ic.2020.52.4.478
10.Saeedi-Boroujeni, A., Mahmoudian-Sani, MR. Anti-inflammatory potential of Quercetin in COVID-19 treatment. J Inflamm 18, 3 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12950-021-00268-6